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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W. / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie / Tenenbaum, Ariel

CiteScore 2018: 0.79

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.350
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.476

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On the question of non-medical cognitive enhancers among in-school adolescents: prevalence, predictors and potential health-related harms

Eric Janssen
  • Corresponding author
  • French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions (Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies – OFDT), 3 Avenue du Stade de France, 93218 La Plaine, Saint Denis, France, Phone: +33 1 41 62 77 44, Fax: +33 1 41 62 77 00
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  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Stanislas Spilka
  • French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions (Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies – OFDT), Saint Denis, France
  • Research Centre on Population Epidemiology and Health (Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et Santé des Populations – CESP), Unit 1018, INSERM, Villejuif, France
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Olivier Le Nézet
  • French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions (Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies – OFDT), Saint Denis, France
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jalpa Shah
  • French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions (Observatoire Français des Drogues et des Toxicomanies – OFDT), Saint Denis, France
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-07-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2018-0018


Little is known about the use of non-medical cognitive enhancers (NCEs) in the general population, and even less among youth. The study utilises a nationally representative, cross-sectional survey of adolescents attending high schools to provide a comprehensive overview of NCEs and to assess risk factors such as socio-demographics, schooling, mental health and related substance use among French adolescents. A total of 6692 students attending high school (secondary schools) answered an anonymous questionnaire collecting information on demographics, health, psychoactive substance uses (neuroleptics, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, illicit substances) and patterns of sociability. The use of cognitive enhancers appears to be an underestimated phenomenon among youth. Prevalence of use is heavily gender-influenced, with females twice as likely to use NCEs than males. More than daily school commitments, the use of cognitive enhancers is related to the proximity of the national secondary education examination. Moreover, mental health, use of prescribed anxiolytics and other psychoactive substances are significantly independently associated with the use of cognitive enhancers, particularly among females. The unregulated use of cognitive enhancers is a predictor of potential mental frailty and a substance-based response to stressful events, a behaviour likely to persist during adulthood. The study underpins the lack of contextual and comparable data. Systematic monitoring of younger students in neighbouring countries is required to develop reliable prevention programmes.

Keywords: adolescents; France; mental health; non-medical cognitive enhancers; prevalence


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About the article

Received: 2018-01-18

Accepted: 2018-03-18

Published Online: 2018-07-13

Disclosure statement: The authors state that they have no conflict of interest to report.

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 20180018, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2018-0018.

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