University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Germany: Every fifth student uses brain doping drugs

Pharmacology survey reveals widespread caffeine, ritalin and amphetamine use

Every fifth student in Germany uses brain doping.

This is according to an article by German scientists at the University in Mainz, Germany in the international journal Pharmacotherapy. The study includes the use of caffeine tablets, ritalin, and amphetamines.

»Preferred substances are prescription drugs such as methylphenidate, stimulants, and modafinil that are prescribed to treat mental disorders (e.g., attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], sleep disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease) and illicit drugs such as illicit stimulants, amphetamines, cocaine, mephedrone, and Ecstasy«.

Men use it more

»Our study suggests that other direct survey techniques have underestimated the use of these drugs. Drug prevention programs need to be established at universities to address this issue,« the scientists write.

See the article here.

A total of 2569 university students completed the questionnaire. The results of the drug taking study were calculated based on the prevalence of students taking drugs only to improve their cognitive performance – not to treat underlying mental disorders such as attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder, depression, and sleep disorders.

The estimated 12-month prevalence of using cognitive-enhancing drugs was 20 per cent, the authors write. 23.7 per cent for men, 17.0 per cent for women.

Most on first semester

The highest rate was for students studying sports-related fields, 25.4 per cent.

Apparently the most drug taking is on the first semester. First semester had a 24.3 per cent rate, beyond first semester, only 16.7 per cent.

Read our earlier interview with the controversial, now former University of Copenhagen, brain scientist Milena Penkowa on brain doping here.

The debate over the results has already taken off on German university media. On the German ‘Die Zeit’ facebook group, where the University Post first picked up this story, a commenter asks »why caffeine pills are classified as brain doping (and mentioned in the same breath with Ritalin and amphetamine) – while coffee, Red Bull & co. are sold in cafeterias without complaints?«.

Stay in the know about news and events happening in Copenhagen by signing up for the University Post’s weekly newsletter here.