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Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:621075. doi: 10.1155/2015/621075. Epub 2015 May 3.

Reflections on Addiction in Students Using Stimulants for Neuroenhancement: A Preliminary Interview Study.

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Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Illinois Institute of Technology, 3241 S. Federal Street, Chicago, IL 60616, USA ; Department of Philosophy, University of Mainz, Jakob Welder-Weg 18, 55099 Mainz, Germany.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre, Untere Zahlbacher Straße 8, 55131 Mainz, Germany.
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Centre, Untere Zahlbacher Straße 8, 55131 Mainz, Germany ; Department of Social Work and Education, University of Neubrandenburg, University of Applied Sciences, Brodaer Straße 2, 17033 Neubrandenburg, Germany.


The use of stimulants for the purpose of pharmacological neuroenhancement (NE) among students is a subject of increasing public awareness. The risk of addiction development by stimulant use for NE is still unanswered. Therefore, face-to-face interviews were carried out among 18 university students experienced in the nonmedical use of methylphenidate and amphetamines for NE assessing aspects of addiction. Interviews were tape-recorded, verbatim-transcribed, and analyzed using a qualitative approach. The interviews showed that participants--the majority had current or lifetime diagnoses of misuse or addiction to alcohol or cannabis-reported an awareness of the risk of addiction development associated with stimulant use and reported various effects which may increase their likelihood of future stimulant use, for example, euphoric effects, increase of self-confidence, and motivation. They also cited measures to counteract the development of addiction as well as measures taken to normalize again after stimulant use. Students were convinced of having control over their stimulant use and of not becoming addicted to stimulants used for NE. We can conclude that behavior and beliefs of the students in our sample appear to be risky in terms of addiction development. However, long-term empirical research is needed to estimate the true risk of addiction.

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