The US military’s drug of choice for helping people stay awake while working long hours is finding its way into the 24/7 workplace, researchers warn.
Billable hours and the pressure to perform is tempting workers to risk their own health to gain a competitive edge.
Leading psychiatrists and drug experts in the US and Australia warn that people are turning to a narcolepsy prescription drug Modafinil because it appears to result in fewer symptoms associated with other cognitive enhancing drugs. Close to 1.4 million scripts were filled last year in Australia for cognitive enhancing drugs including Modafinil and ADHD medications.
Professor of psychiatry Ian Hickie from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre says amphetamine drugs have been increasingly used – and abused – in Australia. People working in law firms and the financial markets could afford to buy them and were often under pressure to stay awake for long hours.
“They have a big downside,” he said. “Generally, people can only do that for a short amount of time before their mood, behaviour and sleep-wake cycle becomes erratic. Modafinil keeps people awake with less chaotic effects.”