Surveys have found that young students and teenagers have been using smart drugs, such as modafinil and armodafinil, to perform well in their academics.

Modafinil, sold under the brand name Provigil, is a pharmacological cognitive enhancer, which helps boost the secretion of certain neurotransmitters that promote wakefulness. Also called a nootropic, modafinil causes euphoria and boosts mood, perception, thinking, concentration, and motivation.

Off-label use of this smart drug has significantly increased among students and office-goers – thanks to a number of online pharmacies that sell nootropics without a prescription.

One clinical psychologist from Karachi, Pakistan, told SAMAA Digital, “Students mostly take this drug during their exams, but what they don’t realize is that it leads to severe addiction.”

They have seen many cases in Karachi where people take modafinil along with carbonated drinks to “enjoy their active state for the sake of enjoyment,” according to SAMAA.

Studies have found that long-term use of modafinil could disrupt sleep, causing damage to cognitive function. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use smart drugs under the supervision of a doctor.

Another psychologist from Karachi said drug use is rampant among teenagers, who are especially at a greater risk of developing an addiction. The psychologist, who requested anonymity, told SAMAA Digital that they come across children as young as eight years old for rehabilitation in Malir.

Counselors have a key role in creating an environment and educate people about the dangers of using smart drugs like modafinil for a longer duration than recommended.

The anonymous psychologist said, “We have little control over a patient’s will. Patients who don’t listen are difficult to treat because we cannot force them to accept their condition.”

In 2012, more than 6 million people in Pakistan used smart drugs, with over 4 million of those getting an addiction to the drugs, according to the United Nations. And only 30,000 drug users of the nation received rehabilitation and other treatment.

Earlier this year, Shahryar Khan Afridi, Pakistan’s former additional charge of the Ministry of Narcotics Control, said, “No drug use survey had been conducted in the country since 2012.” The article was originally published in SAMAA Digital, Pakistan’s first private satellite news channel.