Parents are willing to give their kids drugs to improve academic performance and increase focus. Would you? A story posted on makes one wonder how the war on drugs became so utterly confusing.

According to a recent article in the New Yorker, college students are taking neurological drugs like Adderall and Ritalin to help them party hard — while giving them an academic edge. What’s even worse is that this trend isn’t just occurring in colleges. Parents are giving their young kids Ritalin to help them gain a competitive advantage over their peers, even when they’re not suffering from ADD or ADHD.

While it may come as a surprise to many of you, pediatrician Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky isn’t surprised at all: “This is a more common situation and tendency than many might realize,” he says. “Asking for stimulants to beat other competitive school applicants is not a far step from yelling ‘Kill him!’ at a hockey game. It is perhaps worth noting that ours is not a society that eats the runts of its litters, but enough families act as if it were. Giving children these drugs (when they are not medically necessary) can give them an edge over their ‘un-enhanced peers,'” says Belilovsky. “Imagine your thoughts jumping around inside your brain like middle-schoolers at recess,” he explains. “Stimulants make them behave more like Marines on maneuvers.”

Given the list of side effects from these drugs, it’s surprising doctors are prescribing them at all in non-medically necessary cases: paranoia, sleep issues, being hyper-focused, dehydration, crash and burn, appetite loss, and nausea all add up to outweigh any academic benefits, yet many parents don’t seem to agree.

But give an athlete a perfomance enhancing substance and everyone cries foul. At least with these substances there’s a large body of knowledge on usage, dosage and protocols. It’s the athletes, particularly the professionals who can afford to pay the doctors and experts to design a program that produces the results.

We have erectile dysfunction drugs for men to stay virile. How far do we want to push the envelope on aging or performance? It seems to me that we might want to have a conversation about what “being healthy” looks like before we start experimenting on how we’re going to get an edge.

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