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Old 06-11-2006, 03:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Do you take smart drugs?

This long but very interesting. It raises questions I ask below.

‘Smart pills’ are on rise, is taking them wise?
Number of healthy students using bootleg pills seems to be soaring
By Joel Garreau
The Washington Post

Updated: 4:30 p.m. ET June 11, 2006

WASHINGTON - Studying with diligent friends is fine, says Heidi Lessing, a University of Delaware sophomore.

But after a couple of hours, it's time for a break, a little gossip: "I want to talk about somebody walking by in the library."

One of those friends, however, is working too hard for dish — way too hard.

Instead of joining in the gossip, "She says, 'Be quiet,' " Lessing says, astonishment still registering in her voice.

Her friend's attention is laserlike, totally focused on her texts, even after an evening of study. "We were so bored," Lessing says. But the friend was still "really into it. It's annoying."

The reason for the difference: Her pal is fueled with "smart pills" that increase her concentration, focus, wakefulness and short-term memory.

As university students all over the country emerge from final exam hell this month, the number of healthy people using bootleg pharmaceuticals of this sort seems to be soaring.

Such brand-name prescription drugs "were around in high school, but they really exploded in my third and fourth years" of college, says Katie Garrett, a 2005 University of Virginia graduate.

The bootleg use even in her high school years was erupting, according to a study published in February in an international biomedical and psychosocial journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Mining 2002 data, it noted that even then, more than 7 million Americans used bootleg prescription stimulants, and 1.6 million of those users were of student age.

By the time students reach college nowadays, they're already apt to know about these drugs, obtained with or without a prescription.

"I'm a varsity athlete in crew," says Katharine Malone, a George Washington University junior. "So we're pretty careful about what we put in our bodies. So among my personal friends, I'd say the use is only like 50 or 60 percent."

‘Brain steroids’
Seen by some ambitious students as the winner's edge — the difference between a 3.8 average and a 4.0, maybe their ticket to Harvard Law — these "brain steroids" can be purchased on many campuses for as little as $3 to $5 per pill, though they are often obtained free from friends with legitimate prescriptions, students report.

These drugs represent only the first primitive, halting generation of cognitive enhancers. Memory drugs will soon make it to market if human clinical trials continue successfully.

There are lots of the first-generation drugs around. Total sales have increased by more than 300 percent in only four years, topping $3.6 billion last year, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical information company.

They include Adderall, which was originally aimed at people with attention-deficit disorder, and Provigil, which was aimed at narcoleptics, who fall asleep uncontrollably. In the healthy, this class of drugs variously aids concentration, alertness, focus, short-term memory and wakefulness — useful qualities in students working on complex term papers and pulling all-nighters before exams. Adderall sales are up 3,135.6 percent over the same period. Provigil is up 359.7 percent.

In May, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America issued its annual attitude-tracking study on drug use. It is a survey of more than 7,300 seventh- through 12th-graders, designed to be representative of the larger U.S. population, according to Thomas A. Hedrick Jr., a founding director of the organization. It reported that among kids of middle school and high school age, 2.25 million are using stimulants such as Ritalin without a prescription.

That's about one in 10 of the 22 million students in those grades, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Education. Half the time, the study reported, the students were using these drugs not so much to get high as "to help me with my problems" or "to help me with specific tasks." That motivation was growing rapidly, Hedrick says.

Focused overachievement
Why should we be surprised? This generation is the one we have pushed to get into the best high schools and colleges, to have the best grades and résumés. Computer nerds are culture heroes, SAT scores are measures of our worth and the Ivy League is Valhalla. Hermione Granger in "Harry Potter" is a heroine despite being such a goody two-shoes that she doubles up her course load with a spell that allows her to be in two places at once. This is the kind of focused overachievement that is addressed by smart pills.

Smart-pill use has not been the focus of much data collection. This comes as no surprise to researchers such as Richard Restak, a Washington neurologist and president of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, who has written extensively about smart drugs in his 2003 book, "The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind," as well as his forthcoming "The Naked Brain: How the Neurosociety Is Changing How We Live, Work and Love."

Contributing to this dearth, he points out, is that these drugs are not famous for being abused recreationally and they are not being used by people with a disease.

This is not "the type of data collected by the FDA," he says. Law-enforcement activity has been sparse. "Who is the complainant?"

Who is using?
Compared with the kind of drug users who get police attention, "This is an entirely different population of people — from the unmotivated to the super-motivated," Restak says. These "drug users may be at the top of the class, instead of the ones hanging around the corners."

Smart-pill use generally doesn't show up in campus health center reports, he says, because "This is not the kind of stuff that you would overdose on" easily. Amphetamines are associated with addiction and bodily damage, but in use by ambitious students, "if you go a little over you get wired up but it wears off in a couple of hours. And Provigil has a pretty good safety record."

Finally, smart-pill use is a relatively recent development that has not yet achieved widespread attention, much less study, although Restak expects that to change.

"We're going to see it not only in schools, but in businesses, especially where mental endurance matters." Restak can easily imagine a boss saying, " 'You've been here 14 hours; could you do another six?' It's a very competitive world out there, and this gives people an edge."

Generation gap
When you start asking questions about smart pills, the answers you get divide sharply into two groups.

When you ask the grown-ups — deans, crisis counselors, health counselors— they tell you they don't know too much about the subject, but they don't think it is much of a problem at their institutions.

"I'm not sure of the size and scope," says Jonathan Kandell, a psychologist and assistant director at the University of Maryland Counseling Center. "I have heard about it. But I don't get a sense it's a major thing that they come to the center about."

When you ask the students, they ask why you weren't on this story three years ago. Even if some of these drugs are amphetamines, it's medicine parents give to 8-year-olds, they say. It's brand-name stuff, in precise dosages. How bad can it be?

Warning: Side effects
In the name of altering mood, energy and thinking patterns, we have been marinating our brains in chemicals for a very long time.

Caffeine is as old as coffee in Arabia, tea in China, and chocolate in the New World. Alcohol, coca leaves, tobacco and peyote go way back.

What's new is the range, scope, quantity and quality of substances, old and new, aimed at boosting our brains — as well as the increase in what's in the pipeline.

The memory compounds being raced to market by four U.S. companies are initially aimed at the severely impaired, such as early-stage Alzheimer's patients. But researchers expect the market for memory drugs to rapidly extend into the aging population we think of as normal, such as the more than 70 million baby boomers who are tired of forgetting what they meant to buy at the shopping mall and then realizing they've forgotten where they parked their cars, too. Or students who think such drugs could gain them hundreds of points on their SATs.

But there are side effects with every drug. Strattera — the ADHD medicine that is not a stimulant and may be taken for weeks before it shows an effect — comes with a warning that it can result in fatal liver failure. The FDA warns it also may increase thoughts of suicide in young people. For a while last year, Canada pulled a form of Adderall from its markets as a result of sudden unexplained deaths in children with cardiac abnormalities. Provigil can decrease the effectiveness of birth control. All of these drugs come with a raft of side-effect warnings.

Nonetheless, pharmaceutical companies are racing to bring to market new drugs aimed at fundamentally altering our attitudes toward having a healthy brain.

'It ain't worth it'
Is this what smart has come to in the early 21st century? Is Ken Jennings, the "Jeopardy" phenom, our model of smart? Do SATs and grade-point averages measure all of what it means to be intelligent?

If so, these drugs have a potent future. But definitions of intelligence may change — already, some colleges have stopped requiring SAT scores from applicants.

Eric R. Kandel is shocked by the idea that powerful elixirs like the ones he is developing might rapidly trickle down to ambitious college kids. He shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He also founded Memory Pharmaceuticals.

"That's awful! Why should they be taking drugs? They should just study! I think this is absurd. What's so terrible about having a 3.9? The idea that character and functioning and intelligence is to be judged by a small difference on an exam — that's absurd. This is just like Barry Bonds and steroids. Exactly what you want to discourage. These kids are very sensitive. Their brains are still developing. Who knows what might happen. I went to Harvard. I like Harvard. It ain't worth it."

The mind amplifiers he's working on, he insists, could have major effects on lots of needy people — those with mental retardation or Down syndrome, or those with memory loss from depression or Alzheimer's or cancer chemotherapy or schizophrenia. "There are lots of populations out there that really, really need help," he says.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13253938/page/2/
© 2006 MSNBC.com

I know there's many students and young executives
here, so I ask do you take or have friends that take brain enhancing drugs? Were they perscribed for a specific medical deficiency like ADD or similar? Do you buy or borrow pills for studying for tests. Do you take them to keep up in the corporate world?

When I was in school we had white cross & Mountain Dew. LOL!

I'm curious to know if these meds have or do make a difference in your life?
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For my friends and me, it's still coffee and Dew all the way. I actually haven't heard of rampant use of this at my school. That doesn't mean it isn't happening, of course.

As far as my opinion on using these goes, I'm a bit split. On the one hand, there are many things that students can do to enhance their academic performance...we can get sufficient amounts of sleep, eat right, exercise often, etc. This just seems like another way to improve performance.

On the other hand, some of these pills are being obtained illcitly, giving users an unfair advantage over their peers. If these are ever approved for casual use, the pills would give wealthier students an advantage over those with less money. And I've always been against gaining something for nothing...this just seems like cheating, to me. Although some would argue that natural talent is simply another form of "cheating." It's a difficult question.

I do believe that concentration is not a substitute for natural intelligence or healthy habits. And short-term memory enhancers will only aid for tests and quizzes, not so much for finals or standardized tests.

I'm glad that I'll be through the most rigorous years of my schooling soon...the pressure to use will undoubtedly become intense.
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Old 06-11-2006, 04:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I know many people who use Adderall when studying for exams.

"Whatever." is the extent of my opinion on the matter. I don't take them and likely never will, but if other people want to use them, then whatever.
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Old 06-11-2006, 05:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We used to pop No Doz or whatever the cheaper equivelent was with large doses of caffeine... was great at keeping a person up all night -and probably led to my caffeine addiction now...

Concentration? that was something you forced yourself todo... there's now a drug to help with that?
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Old 06-11-2006, 05:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Bad on many levels. There's a reason theyre prescriptions. And yet another thing that cheapens the degree (since that isn't their normal level, they won't be taking them for work most likely).
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Old 06-11-2006, 05:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The people who take the prescription medications without a prescription are the individuals who don't do enough daily work and only cram for exams and write papers at the last minute. Since the normal attention span won't allow for somebody to sit still for 8+ hours while focusing on one subject, they resort to drugs to help them. It is kinda pathetic. They then get the mentality that they can only do work when on the drugs, simply because they concentrate better when on them. It's a vicious cycle.
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Old 06-11-2006, 07:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow. Never came across that in college. Guess we were just so smart we didn't need it--and I'd certainly never try it.
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Old 06-11-2006, 09:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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the first time I ever heard of adderal was on an episode of desperate housewives. Now I am in college and I've never used it, but I hear other kids talking about it. I'm a little bit older than most of the freshman in my classes, I'm 25, and they are 18, so they still feel they can talk freely around me. However, when they are talking about using adderal i'ts not for acedemics, but to get high on, and stay up for days partying at clubs and raves. Also girls use it to control weight. I've heard people talking about how they stayed up for a week or didnt eat for two weeks.
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I know kids that do almost all of their work on aderol. Engineering school here, and a reletivly prestigious one at that.

One friend of mine says theres too many distractions during the day. So instead, he sleeps while hes not at classes, or goofs off, and then stays up all night, blowing lines of aderol, and doing hw/ studying for tests.

On that note, he's got a 3.8, so obviously it works.

He's somewhat of an oddity, though there are plenty like him that I know also. The other group just uses em for all nighters before tests.

I personally don't take it, but hell, whatever, I don't really care what they use to pull grades.
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Old 06-12-2006, 09:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know a few friends who are college students that take Adderall. I would say that it has been growing in popularity. They do not have a medical deficiency like ADD. I thought about trying it but I usually shy away from anything that might change my brain chemistry.

However, they did tell me that if I was going to use it for studying purposes, I should take it sometime just for recreation so I can feel out how my body reacts to the drug. They told me that for some people it helps them study for others it doesn't.

One of my friends said the first time he took Adderall, he did it to help him write a paper. He said that Adderall made him feel overconfident when writing a paper and he thought that his paper was -A material. But, he ended up getting a D. So, if I ever wanted to use it to study, I would take it a couple of days before to test it out before I needed to study.
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Old 06-13-2006, 09:21 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I had to fight myself to finish reading the article and not jump to the bottom to ask where I can get some

I've heard about some brain-enhancing stuff before on the web, but I didn't know how popular it was. I've never heard about it firsthand in my five years of college, but from the looks of the article it's more widespread than I thought. Being obsessed with academic success and having a concentration problem of my own from time to time, I can see what the draw is. Plus with academia getting pretty cut-throat sometimes, a lot of people would do anything for an edge.

Coincidently, I had recently adopted Eric R. Kandel as a personal hero.
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Old 06-13-2006, 09:40 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Fatal liver damage and heart failure aside (!!!), it appears to not have a lot of side effects...not addictive.

I have to say I'd be terribly interested in the memory assist functionality. Not for myself, but for others.

However, people in the typical age range for college tend to over-do and abuse just about everything--I don't mean drugs exclusively, but you know. "If 1 is good then 5 is even better" mentality.

Plus good study habits and memory skills are something you need to develop and train, to have when you go out into the real world, into those jobs you may have qualified for because of those degrees and good grades.

Finally, I don't think there are truely very many college students desperate to turn their 3.8 and 3.9 into 4.0 for Harvard or where ever. I think this would be used most by kids who want to procrastinate and then at the last minute catch up.
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Old 06-13-2006, 01:48 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sultana
I think this would be used most by kids who want to procrastinate and then at the last minute catch up.
Yea, that happens a LOT. I mean, Clarkson U certainly isnt Harvard. But when all of your classes give an assigment a week, and you can be pretty sure that those assignments will take 2-4 hours each... For each of 5 classes. Plus lab write ups. Plus projects. Plus studying, you can find yourself out of time in a real fucking hurry.

I can't blame people for using it to pull all nighters, procrastinating aside. At least they're taking that shortcut, instead of my usual one when I run out of time... Find the answer solutions and start copying.

I think they probably learn more than I do.

The unhealthy part being my friend that stays up for days on end with only 3 or 4 hour naps in between.
And as for abuse... I actually dont know many that take much more than a normal prescription doseage probably... They just take those one or two pills, and blow them a little at a time, each snort giving them a solid probably 2-3 hours of being awake/study time.

Not that its a good habit, but thats how its used.

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Old 06-13-2006, 02:14 PM   #14 (permalink)
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What the fuck is "smart" about Adderall? It's a blend of amphetamines. It stimulates certain areas of the brain, which will make people with insufficient activity in that part concentrate better, and people with normal brain activity hyper and unable to sleep. There's nothing smart about it. I've used Provigil, and I don't get jumpy or hyper like I do with Ritalin, both of those are also amphetamine-like chemicals. If I take Ritalin or Provigil, it's to stay awake, not to concentrate. Nothing smart about them. I don't know why the fuck they got that name.
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:33 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by cookmo
the first time I ever heard of adderal was on an episode of desperate housewives.
Ditto! It was the first thing I thought when I read the article. I'm in the Humanities now so there's not that much pressure compared to my wild youth in Engineering (although the student-bitching about the course load is on the same level... ). Back then the study drugs of choice was mostly coffee and cola. There was an urban myth going around about a guy taking speed in order to stay awake and cram, he took the exam while still high and was utterly convinced he'd aced it. He got it back with a big fat 0 because he'd written "I know this!", "This is easy!" and so on for answers.

So we (not me of course, but I heard about people who...) copied assignments, hid notes in the exam hall toilets or tried to bribe the lab assistant with sexual favours instead.
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Old 06-14-2006, 08:10 PM   #16 (permalink)
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In reference to the question posed: Yes, I do.

I was diagnosed with ADD in 9th grade and was prescribed with Adderall (XR).

As a college freshman at a pretty competitive liberal arts college, I've had a share of experiences. At my school, it's used by some kids non-prescription wise(a small minority, percentage wise, not sure, maybe 5-15% ?!). At school, it's sold between $3-6/pill and I've been asked about ten times this year by others to purchase it (I don't advertise it [the fact I have a Rx for it] I guess word got out from a friend or roommate. All of the times, though, I've declined to sell it to them.

With college (especially at more competitive, elite schools) environments becoming even more competitive than before, every student is looking for an edge; a way to distinguish themselves from other classmates [by producing kick-ass papers through intense concentration, and the ability to stay awake and focused to do all of that research in the library, or excelling on long tests]. We want to maximize our time we put into our school work.
A lot of students who abuse adderall are doing it because they procrastinated and needed to pull an all-nighter. But, I've known some who have taken it because they wanted to put in the hours at the library (not procrasting), and they said they'd do better on a paper if they take it.

To be honest, for me, adderal is scary, for the possibility of abuse and more importantly, for me, dependence; as well as for the difference it has helped me against my ADD.
It seriously helps me concentrate tremendously and stay on task. I don't want to know where I'd be without it. However, it doesn't deserve all the credit, I've also improved my study habits and time management skills. My roomie told me he could when I was on it and when I was not (if the dosage had worn off, or if I forgot to take it). It's a very weird feeling (being on the meds). It's just, my mind is telling me to focus, damn it !!

A turning point that I had was one day at noon, when I was done with class for the day, and had the afternoon to write a paper. I wasn't really hungry (ate breakfast) but I wasn't sure if I should take my afternoon dosage (I sometimes do, sometimes do not; I always take my morning dosage). However, I then wondered if I should even eat lunch, because the drug on the empty stomach is much more potent (I know this just from busying too busy to eat lunch and taking it in the afternoon). I was a bit scared then like a pro wrestler with his steroid needle ready to go before a match.
Although not hungry, I ate lunch. Not having lunch solely for the intent of having an
increase in the drug's effect was a sign of abuse of the drug, and was a wake up call to me.

If you're wondering the difference (between XR and regular Adderall):
XR: extended release. It's supposed to last for 8-10 hrs, I believe. For me, I notice it lasts about 9 hrs.
non-XR: lasts 3-4 hrs (IIRC). I've encountered this kind is more abused by people, because the effects are more 'concentrated' (i was on it very briefly when first prescribed meds, but I forget how it was.) and more importantly, it is able to be snorted for a high. When XR is crushed up, it supposively loses its potency.

I know this ranty, though this an issue close to me.

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Old 06-15-2006, 07:49 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I go back to the days of white cross, and used it one semester, with great results, to cram for finals where I'd not kept up during the term. Happily, I never was able to find any real uppers after that, and readjusted to life without my brain artificially on overdrive. Now, the idea of speeding scares me, although it might be worth a shot to take a drug that is purely memory enhancing...I hate it when I forget where I left my beer.
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Old 06-15-2006, 07:57 AM   #18 (permalink)
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unless a person has ADD, does the drug really work?

A few years agoI was at a customer site, and couldn't help but notice that the woman I was working with was a little more edgey than usual... and was very hyper and couldn't focus... I asked her if she was OK.. because she wasnt acting like herself...

Turns out that morning, she had accidentally taken her son's ADD medication... Which< i thought was basically like Speed... keeps you going but so does copious amounts of coffee.. I didn't think, and clearly in this woman's case it didn't, help her to focus at all, in fact it made her worse - just wide awake and very wired.
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Old 06-15-2006, 08:02 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Taking stimulants to cram?

Been there, done that, failed completly because i ended up going out for long ass walks with all my pent up energy. F00kin' muppets is all i have to say to those people.
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Old 06-15-2006, 11:04 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by maleficent
unless a person has ADD, does the drug really work?

help her to focus at all, in fact it made her worse - just wide awake and very wired.
At least for the college students (that I've encountered) who take it without being diagnosed w/ add, they claim it works (although it could be a placebo, I'd doubt it). For the women you referred to, Mal, that's just the nature of Drugs: the effects it has on a person can vary widly (which is dangerous and beneficial).

I've noticed that if I drink a coffee beverage, I become a lot more wired and have a higher ability to focus although that's another dangerous line to cross (caffeine dependency) and it's detrimental to my ability to focus if I have too much (I just become too wired, wide awake, slightly like a zombie, kind of out of a 'shell/world'.)
Now that's a crazy feeling (sometimes it feels good, sometimes it doesn't, it just varies).

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