Americans are turning to drugs like Adderall, that were once only prescribed to help highly distractable children, in an effort to improve their personal productivity at work.
Popular in colleges for years, amphetamine-like stimulants are now making their way into the workforce where millennial workers who are familiar with their boost in productivity now look to get ahead at the office. In the competition for promotions and rewards no advantage can be overlooked.
Anjan Chatterjee, chairman of neurology at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Elliott professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that an increase in workplace competition is leading to a winner take all workplace environment where there are no rewards for second place. Such an incentive system and culture is driving the uptake of drugs, further aided by demographic factors. Children who grew up either being medicated or around kids that were are more likely to resort to drugs in order to gain competitive advantage.
While the drugs are prescription there are obvious negative effects of this trend. Professor Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist and a director at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Neuroscience & Society says that “productivity pills" like Adderall carry substantial addiction risks.
While the military has given such pills to pilots on specific missions the daily use of these drugs to compete at work is the perfect recipe for addiction. Dr. Farah is not against the use of drugs in the workplace however, saying that "if there were a safe and effective drug that could help us in our work on a regular basis, I think that would be great! But Adderall is not that drug."
What will happen as these drugs are more widely used in the workplace? One notable effect is how co-workers handle drug users. The intensity of a drug fuelled manager may not be well received by his subordinates and peers may feel uncomfortable engaging with someone so chemically dependant.
There has been little research into this phenomenon but that should change in the near future. In the meantime we're in uncharted territory and a very modern world.