Toward the Smarter Use of Smart Drugs

Perceptions and Experiences of University Students in the Netherlands and Lithuania

The use of cognitive enhancement drugs (CEDs) among university students has raised widespread concerns about non-medical prescription drug use, safety, exam cheating, and study-related stress. While much of the empirical research to date has been conducted in the United States and Australia, this article examines perceptions and experiences of CED use among university students in the Netherlands and Lithuania. Our data come from two qualitative studies and one mixed-methods study and comprise 35 semi-structured interviews (20 in the Netherlands and 15 in Lithuania) and openended online survey responses from a convenience sample of 113 students in the Netherlands. Employing a crowded theory approach to interpret our qualitative data, we found most of our informants turned to CEDs to enhance their studying through better concentration and time management. Students used a broad range of pharmaceuticals (with and without a physician’s prescription), recreational drugs, and nutritional supplements as cognitive enhancers, were generally well informed about the safety and efficacy of the substances they used, experienced both beneficial and adverse effects, and self-regulated their CED use to balance these effects, ensuring that their use remained moderate and thoughtful.

Hupli, Aleksi, Gabija Didžiokaitė, and Marte Ydema. 2016. “Toward the Smarter Use of Smart Drugs: Perceptions and Experiences of University Students in the Netherlands and Lithuania.” Contemporary Drug Problems 43 (3): 242–57.


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