Film Review: “Take Your Pills”

“Adderall and Instagram are hand in hand with being the perfect student.” 

Alison Klayman’s look at Adderall is sometimes compelling, but often repetitive. The Netflix documentary, which premiered on March 16th, explores amphetamine use by students, professional athletes and working professionals. Adderall, the film’s focus, is alternatively depicted as a blessing for stressed out students and as an overprescribed crutch in demanding work environments.

Throughout the film, which intersperses subject interviews with the history of amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin), you’re introduced to a variety of subjects. One Silicon Valley coder describes Adderall as “rocket fuel” and credits it with allowing to get a job at Google. A college student uses it to cope around exam time and sincerely hopes she’ll be able to manage her adult life without chemical enhancement. A former NFL offensive tackle described his Adderall use during his playing days to deal with pain and focus on otherwise boring tasks. Other than the coder, the sense was that Adderall was less of an enhancer and more of a way to block outside input, allowing users to complete boring or tedious tasks.

Klayman’s work only briefly touched on the issue authenticity. One student asks if she did her work, or if she and Adderall did her work? Should she value her accomplishments as much, knowing that amphetamines were giving her a lift? The question remains unresolved.

The topics of ethics and fairness never come up in “Take Your Pills.” The apparent view is that Adderall use is so widespread, especially on college campuses, that its use should be expected. If you’re not taking it when it is so readily available, you’re the one missing out. Stimulant use has become completely acceptable, at least on college campuses. And as Klayman accurately points out, adults are now the fastest growing segment of Adderall users. It is only a matter of time before it, and its cousins Ritalin and Provigil (modafinil), make their way into the office.

The documentary’s message is clear: Take your pills, or be left behind in an increasingly dehumanizing work environment.

Cognitive Enhancement Weekly for March 11th, 2018

Cognitive Enhancement Weekly is a weekly email covering the latest news, events, journal articles and other content related to cognitive enhancement, nootropics, biohacking and neuroscience. If you want to get this in your inbox every Sunday, you can subscribe here

This week includes a new book on the impact of nutrition on cognitive performance, the future role of performance enhancement on the battlefield, and why you should check your terms and conditions before embedding a chip into your skin.

Books

Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power

Dr. Lisa Mosconi’s book on improving brain function through nutrition has just been released. The book includes recipes, a nutrition plan, and health assessments. Looking forward to reviewing it later.

https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Food-Surprising-Science-Cognitive/dp/0399573992/ref=sr_1_1

News

Performance Enhancers: From Battlefield to Playing Field

Fascinating look at the history of performance enhancing drugs on the battlefield and what the next generation of enhancement might look like: robotic exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). Also interesting is how the Australian Defense Force is using WADA as a jumping off point for research and policy definition.

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/performance-enhancers-battlefield-playing-field-military-amphetamines-athletes-doping

Pill may be able to mimic the effects of exercise without having to run a single step

Compounds 516 and 14, referred to in the article, may mimic the effects of exercise by triggering a specific genetic circuit allowing patients to gain exercise-related benefits from those unable to exercise. Researchers are targeting specific kinds of muscular dystrophy and sclerosis as a path to regulatory approval, but the possibility of abuse is obvious.

https://www.thestar.com/life/2018/03/09/pill-may-be-able-to-mimic-the-effects-of-exercise-without-having-to-run-a-single-step.html

Take Your Pills, Netflix — the highs and lows of ‘brain-hacking’

The FT has a take on the new Netflix documentary, “Take Your Pills,” exposing the impact of Adderall society on students. “Take Your Pills” is available on March 16th.

https://www.ft.com/content/146c23c6-238d-11e8-add1-0e8958b189ea

New Doccie Delves Deep Into America’s Massive Pharmaceutical Industry

Another Netflix documentary on doping in sport won an Oscar last weekend. “Icarus” details the Russian doping scandal and it’s pretty explosive. No one should be surprised, of course. Some of the most effective performance and cognitive enhancers are based on Russian and Soviet research.

http://www.2oceansvibe.com/2017/08/14/icarus-the-new-doccie-about-doping-in-sport-is-both-brilliant-and-terrifying-trailer/

Six Things You Learn When You Go Deep on Microbiome Research

This is a bit of a different take on biohacking, with a focus on your microbiome – the bacterial world that resides inside you. But regardless of what the article suggests, don’t start showering without soap.

https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/gut-health-microbiome-what-to-know/

The Cybernetic Implant That Attunes You to the Earth’s Poles

How useful would it be to know where magnetic north is? Useful enough to warrant a painful and invasive surgery? Then I’ve got the cyborg implant for you!

http://www.surfacemag.com/articles/north-sense-cybernetic-implant/

Would You Ditch the Gym for a Biohacking Facility?

In another spin-off of the Bulletproof brand, Bulletproof Labs is the company’s first biohacking facility located in Santa Monica. The approach is technology-heavy but appears to lack much in the way of technology rigor.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/359203/would-you-ditch-the-gym-for-a-biohacking-facility

Authorities Deactivate Transit Pass Implanted In Biohacker’s Hand

“Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow cut a chip out of a travel card, encased it in biocompatible plastic, and implanted it under the skin on his left hand.” That clearly violated terms of use and it was disabled.

https://www.coherentnews.com/authorities-deactivate-transit-pass-implanted-in-biohackers-hand/