Getting Smart (Paywalled)

Students are abusing prescription drugs, touted as “brain enhancers,” with dangerous consequences

It was one of the strangest cases of addiction that Xu Jie had ever seen.

A specialist at the Beijing High Tech Rehabilitation Center (BHTRC) for over a decade, Dr. Xu has treated hundreds of patients with drug dependency over the years, yet the case of high-school student “Xiao He” (pseudonym) was exceptional, centering around the growing abuse of so-called “smart drugs.”

Three years ago, Xiao He was among the top-ranked students of her class. As her college entrance exams neared, though, her scores began to slip. Dispirited, Xiao He overheard her peers discussing the use of congming yao, also known as “smart pills” or “study drugs,” and pitched the idea to her grades-obsessed father.

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Getting Smart (Paywalled) is a story from our issue, “The Good Life.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


Han Rubo is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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