More people think about killing themselves on Mondays than any other day of the week. Not that there is any ironclad data on this dark subject mind you, at least none we cared to spend the first few hours of the work week scouring the Internet to find. But it just seems highly probable that the drones of society (Yep, that’s us!), especially those throat deep in the dead end American workforce (That’s us too!) are most likely to consider ending it all between the time the dastardly alarm wakes them up first thing Monday morning and the second they sign in for the grind a few hours later.
Now, we’re not going to lie and try to convince you, the reader, that this isn’t just the cynical ramblings of a writer who cannot seem to get his shit together when the proverbial bell tolls after a debauched weekend of excess and piss-poor decision making. It totally is. But it is also a cruel reminder that we, as a community, seem to be having one hell of a time staying motivated enough these days to keep breathing, much less inspired to the point of chasing our dreams.
And what is life without a purpose, huh?
Fortunately, there could come a day when us poor slobs are able to find motivation once again through the thrill pill culture. Researchers at the University of Connecticut are currently working with Chronos Therapeutics to devise a pharmaceutical drug that has the power to mend the broken spirit and return motivation back to those who have been savagely beaten down by the world around them.
The drug, which was presented earlier this month at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, is designed to allow dopamine – a naturally produced chemical in the brain that produces warm and fuzzy feelings — to infiltrate transmitters and inspire the user to get off their ass and strive for greatness.
It is a concept reminiscent of the film ‘Limitless,’ in which Bradley Cooper’s character – a writer by the name of Eddie Morra — pops a pill that provides him with the mental superiority to rise about his feelings of hopelessness and find success. Anyone who has watched this flick has probably thought to themselves, “Man, that’s exactly what I need to get off this couch and do something with my life.”
Well, lead researcher John Salamone, Ph.D., is the man trying to see it through.
In 2012, the good doctor discovered that dopamine not only had the power to tickle the reward center in the brain, but it could also inspire people to act – to work harder for satisfactory feelings. His study showed that rats given dopamine in their food went out of their way to get their claws on the chemical-laced sustenance rather than feed on the dopamine-free alternative.
Now, if you are reading this portion of the article and thinking, “Wait a minute, this shit sounds like all they are doing is feeding rats cocaine,” you are not entirely off base. The concept of this motivation drug is rooted in addiction behavior – only without the negative consequences that come from high-powered stimulants.
When someone snorts a line of cocaine, it gives the brain a quick, temporary dopamine boost, providing the user with feelings like everything is right in the world. Pharmaceutical drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have this effect to some degree, but not as intensely as cocaine. But it also lets the user down in the end, which forces them to use more cocaine to achieve the same effect.
“Cocaine rapidly acts on that transporter, so people get a rush when they use cocaine. The dopamine shoots up and then it shoots down,” Salamone told Inverse. “So, you get this very rapid neurochemical change, and it turns out that rapid neurochemical change is something that people who abuse drugs go for.”
However, while the drug Salamone is working on is similar to cocaine, he says it will not be as dangerous. As science has shown, playing with people’s dopamine levels is one of the primary sources of addiction, but researchers argue that the effects of their motivation drug will not provide a “dramatic rush followed by a crash.” Instead, Salamone says the user will “get this slow, ramping increase that lasts for hours,” which sounds a lot like methamphetamine – another go-go drug that has been shown to increase a person’s chance of dropping dead from heart failure. Yet, researchers say the motivation pill will not have meth-like effects, nor will it be as addictive as cocaine.
Researchers know this type of drug could have broad medicinal and recreational appeal. They even understand that it has the potential to become one of the next fan favorites on the black market drug scene. But it is going to take some time before motivation is available in a pharmacy near you. The research is still in its infancy, exclusively examining the effects on laboratory animals. As of right now, there are no plans to conduct clinical trials – something that is necessary before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve a drug for distribution in the United States.
Still, if it works out and the population can one day find motivation by reaching into their medicine cabinets, Mondays will eventually get much easier to deal with, perhaps fewer black coffee psychopaths will roam the land, and the artistic and intellectual contributions of the human race might once again have some backbone. At this point what does society really have to lose?
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