Nootropics are a class of substances used to enhance mental function. These smart drugs range in availability, from common over the counter supplements to prescription medications. Smart drugs are especially popular with college students and people with high-stress professions to help increase concentration and improve mental performance.
Caffeine and nicotine are perhaps the most popular of nootropic substances and are used by millions of people every day. These stimulants can increase alertness and memory, and are easily obtained over the counter. Herbal and nutritional supplements have been used for centuries for their brain-enhancing effects. Ginseng, ginkgo biloba, bacopa monnieri, choline, and omega-3 supplements are all considered to have a positive effect on brain function, and so they fall under the classification of nootropics.
In the US, use of prescription nootropic medications has spread beyond disease based use to healthy people who find benefits from the increased alertness and concentration these smart drugs provide.
Piracetam, known as Nootropil, is considered the original smart drug. It was developed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and improves memory and mood. Piracetam acts by increasing oxygen flow to the brain. It has been found to have a very low possibility of toxicity and virtually no side effects, making it one of the most popular smart drugs. It is not approved by the FDA for sale in the United States, but is imported from other countries.
Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a prescription medication used for the treatment of ADHD. It is a stimulant that acts by increasing neurotransmitter activity. Specifically, it blocks the absorption of dopamine and norepinephrine thereby increasing the concentration of these chemicals in the brain. Ritalin improves memory and concentration while increasing stamina. It has been prescribed for the past 50 years, but its popularity increased in the 1990s, with the increase in ADHD diagnoses.
Adderall (amphetamine) is a prescription stimulant similar to Ritalin. It is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall works by increasing the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. It can cause an irregular heartbeat, as well as feeling of anxiety or euphoria, but these side effects are rare when taken as prescribed. In rare cases, high levels of the drug can produce amphetamine-induced psychosis. Adderall enhances memory, wakefulness, and motivation to complete activities.
Modafinil was approved by the FDA in 1998. It is prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy, because it enhances wakefulness. Modafinil is rapidly becoming one of the most popular smart drugs because it provides a feeling of natural wakefulness without the jittery side effects some people experience with caffeine. People who use Modafinil often feel more focused and motivated.
These prescription smart drugs are all very popular choices for their nootropic effects. With the idea that one is good and more must be better, some people choose to stack one of these prescription medications with over the counter nootropic supplements for added effects or stack combinations of over the counter nootropics together for enhanced brain function. Depending on the combinations used and the medical history of the person involved, this stacking can be potentially harmful.
If you or a loved one are using smart drugs or any other substance that you would like to change your substance use habit with, call today to discuss how you can self-direct the change you feel would suit you best. The Saint Jude Retreats program is one focused on empowerment and self-directed change so you are always in charge of your plan and how to achieve it. It's your life and you're in charge, we're just here to help.