This descriptive and analytical study investigated the consumption rates of psychoactive substances among individuals aged 18-25 years in France. More specifically, it enabled assessment of the extent of the neuroenhancement (NE) phenomenon among students in France (including study of the misuse of psychostimulant medicines).
COgnitive enhancement and consumption of psychoactive Substances among Youth Students (COSYS) is a cross-sectional survey of students in France.
Between January and June 2017, a questionnaire was mailed to students. All questionnaires were completed anonymously and included questions regarding the use of all kind of psychoactive substances, motivations for use and socio-economic situations. Statistics for all variables and the results of a multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) are presented.
This study recorded 46,203 respondents, mostly in universities (>60%), mostly women (63.4%), with an average age of 21.4 years. In terms of substance use, medications were cited in the third position after alcohol and tobacco by women (22.48%) and in the fourth position after alcohol, tobacco and cannabis by men (15.14%). Among medications, opiates were the most frequently used, followed by benzodiazepines. Students who declared a non-medical use (NMU) of drugs obtained these through various ways (e.g. family medicine cabinet, a friend, a dealer or via the Internet), or by increasing their recommended doses (e.g. codeine). In total, 18.6% of students consumed psychoactive substances for ‘stress management’ and 14.1% for ‘sleep management’. Results indicated that NE in students is a problem, with 18.6% of students in the COSYS survey confirming the use of psychoactive substances for this reason. There was a very low prevalence for psychostimulant medications (0.57% of men), mostly NMU (67%). MCA yielded three different profiles (doping candidate, experimenter and psychiatric profile) of psychostimulant users, which complicates the implementation of prevention programmes.
It is evident that NMU and ‘conventional’ use of medications are highly prevalent in French students, especially females. NMU is associated with substance use disorders, psychopathology and suicidality. Social norms and social media increase NMU of psychoactive substances, but also provide a potential platform for anti-NMU campaigns.
NCT02954679.

Copyright © 2021 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.