Background: Modafinil, methylphenidate and 5-HTP can be used as cognitive enhancers in healthy individuals. More commonly, they are known as ‘study drugs’ that university students use recreationally or in their academic studies. Aims/objectives: This study aims to highlight staff and students’ experiences, attitudes and opinions towards study drugs at the University of Lincoln. Methods: Ten participants took part in a semi-structured interview and in-depth, qualitative data was collected and analysed by thematic analysis. The availability of online pharmacies was assessed by a clear-net search. Results: 9/10 participants abused CEs for NMUPS, both academically and recreationally. 9/10 participants acquired CEs without a prescription. Analysis of the clear-net search showed both modafinil and 5-HTP are highly accessible to those without a prescription and methylphenidate was not available to buy online in this search. Conclusions: Generally, staff and students demonstrated high misconceptions, low levels of knowledge, understanding and high-risk taking behaviour towards CE use, due to students’ experiences of high levels of stress and workload, procrastination, struggles with work/life balance, attempts to self-medicate and the wish to stay awake whilst partying. Study drugs are widely available in the UK via online pharmacies and the question remains if UK universities should address the growing study drug use problem.
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