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What Are Smart Drugs?

Learn more smart drugs and their use

What are Smart Drugs

Smart drugs, formally known as nootropics, are medications, supplements, and other substances that improve some aspect of mental function. In the broadest sense, smart drugs can include common stimulants such as caffeine, herbal supplements like ginseng, and prescription medications for conditions such as ADHD, Alzheimer's disease, and narcolepsy. These substances can enhance concentration, memory, and learning.

Common Stimulants

Many over the counter and prescription smart drugs fall under the category of stimulants. These substances contribute to an overall feeling of enhanced alertness and attention, which can improve concentration, focus, and learning. While these substances are often considered safe in moderation, taking too much can cause side effects such as decreased cognition, irregular heartbeat, and cardiovascular problems.

Common stimulant drugs include:

  • Caffeine - Found in foods such as coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate, caffeine is the most commonly consumed substance that can be categorized as a smart drug. It is generally considered safe, though it may cause insomnia, increased heart rate and other side effects.
  • Nicotine - Found in tobacco products, nicotine may enhance memory for certain tasks.
  • Amphetamines and Methypendiate - These substances include the ADHD medications Adderall and Ritalin. They act similarly in the brain to key neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine by increasing cognitive control and memory.
  • Modafinil - This medication is commonly prescribed for narcolepsy and promotes wakefulness and alertness.

Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements have been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Studies have shown that certain herbs may improve memory and cognition, and they can be used to help fight the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. These herbs are considered safe when taken in normal doses, but care should be taken as they may interfere with other medications.

  • Ginseng is believed to improve memory and attention, while reducing signs of fatigue.
  • Bacopa monnieri is thought to improve overall cognitive performance and may enhance memory and learning.
  • Gingko biloba contain flavonoids which may improve attention and memory. It may help reduce the symptoms of dementia.

Smart Drugs

Smart drugs act within the brain speeding up chemical transfers, acting as neurotransmitters, or otherwise altering the exchange of brain chemicals. There are typically very few side effects, and they are considered generally safe when used as indicated. Special care should be used by those who have underlying health conditions, are on other medications, pregnant women, and children, as there is no long-term data on the use and effects of nootropics in these groups.

If you are struggling with smart drug use or any other substance use, contact one of our Family Consultants at 1.888.424.2626 for more information on how you can get help to change your habit with a non-12 Step, self-directed Cognitive Behavioral Learning (CBL) program.

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