By now, we’ve all seen it – the photo of Michael Phelps smoking a bong at a college party. During the Olympics, Phelps was chemically clean. When Olympic gold medals and multimillion-dollar sports contracts are at stake, we hear all about chemical enhancers. But aren’t we all guilty of using drugs to enhance our performances?
Yes, you. Think about it. We wake up groggy and head straight to the kitchen for our morning cup of coffee in preparation of that nine o’clock meeting at work. To combat the mid-afternoon food coma, we walk down to the corner Starbucks for a get-me-through-the-next-three-hours cup of Joe. And that’s just caffeine. Add in the sleeping pills (OTCs as well as Lunesta, Ambien, and Rozerem) to enhance our sleep, tobacco to enhance our steadiness, and alcohol to enhance our calmness and you’ve got a vicious circle of chemical enhancers.
We heard a lot about Floyd Landis’s use of steroids in the Tour de France. We heard a little about the North Korean shooter who was stripped of his Olympic Silver after testing positive for a beta-blocker taken to steady the hands. But have you heard about poker player Paul Phillips who admitted that Adderall and Provigil helped him rack up $2.3 million in his tournament career? What about the two Air Force pilots who were on speed (Dexedrine) when they dropped a friendly-fire bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers and wounded eight more in Afghanistan?
Wow! Using cognitive enhancers is more widespread and more desired than physical performance enhancers. (Okay, let’s just leave Viagra out of this, shall we?) Cognitive enhancers can help you stay completely clear until the task at hand is accomplished, but doesn’t leave you jittery like caffeine. Most of us know that we’ll never be on the level with world-class athletes who compete for a living. Our livings are made, more and more it seems, in white-collar fields where cognitive enhancers could help us deal better with overbearing bosses and the not-enough-hours-in-the-day syndrome. So we rationalize our use of cognitive enhancers by tsk-tsking the doping athletes while downing the Working Mother’s Little Helper.
So, before the estimated 600 new cognitive enhancers hit the market by the end of the century, maybe we just need to take a look at our out-of-whack ways of living, step away from the medicine cabinet, and just take a nap for a change.
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