62 Percent of Pill-Popping Scientists Use Ritalin

Today, the results are in for a survey conducted by the scientific journal Nature on "enhancement" drug use among its readers. Turns out 1 in 5 of the 1400 respondents have taken drugs to enhance their performance (i.e., recreationally) rather than to cure a problem. The most popular of these drugs was speedy Ritalin: 62 percent of respondents had used it. It was followed closely by concentration-focusing Provigil (44 percent) and anxiety-reducing beta blockers (15 percent). These scientist drug users were of all ages — in this chart, you can see that drug use for "enhancement" is just as popular among the kids as it is among the seniors.

Four-fifths of all respondents in the Nature poll (not just the pill-poppers) thought people should be allowed to take these pills if they wanted to.

62 Percent of Pill-Popping Scientists Use Ritalin


It's interesting to compare these results with those from an annual study done by the National Coffee Association, which reports that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. drinks espresso drinks. They also have a fascinating chart, similar to the chart done for the Nature study, showing what percentage of people drank coffee the day before the survey, and breaking down the answers by age. You can see that recreational coffee use is rampant — up to 70 percent of people drank coffee within the last 24 hours in 2007.

And yet coffee is a crappier stimulant than Ritalin or Provigil, with lots of bad side-effects. So the lesson here? Scientists get the good shit, and the rest of us are left clutching a shakes-inducing mug of Starbucks. Charts via Nature and the National Coffee Association.

Poll Results: Look Who's Doping [Nature]