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Can I Take Nootropics While in Recovery?

Nootropics, or “smart drugs” are a relatively new phenomenon. They aren’t a clearly defined class of drugs like opioids, benzos, or even stimulants so much as a loose category of substances that are supposed to improve your memory, focus, or intelligence. Nootropics can be vitamins or amino acids, or something like what we typically think of as drugs. They aren’t particularly well regulated, and many n = 1 types advocate their use for greater productivity. These factors sometimes make people believe nootropics are safe and non-addictive, which is not always true.

If you are in recovery, you may wonder whether nootropics are safe for you. It depends on what it is, but the answer is generally that you should avoid them. If you are talking about something like omega-3 fatty acids or B vitamins, it’s fine. You probably don’t get enough of those anyway so they might actually make you smarter as part of your overall nutrition. If it is some chemical compound you aren’t familiar with, it’s best to avoid it. Even if it’s technically legal, it may cause problems, especially for someone in recovery.

One common kind of nootropic is modafinil. Modafinil is intended to treat narcolepsy but improves concentration and reduces the need for sleep in non-narcoleptics. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because the same is true of Adderall, which is an amphetamine commonly used as a study drug. Like Adderall, modafinil impairs your ability to sleep and creates a physical dependence.

There are different kinds of nootropics that have different cognitive effects. Like other drugs, they typically work by changing the abundance or effectiveness of certain neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain. As with other drugs, your brain will eventually adjust to these new levels, creating a tolerance. Some say they have taken various nootropics for an extended period without becoming addicted–although they do often report “brain fog” when they quit–but anyone with a history of addiction should be wary of any substance that alters the balance of neurotransmitters.

If you have a history of addiction and you are considering nootropics, you may be looking for an excuse to relapse. You might say to yourself, “This isn’t about getting high; it’s about being more productive at work.” Maybe it is, but you could say the same about Adderall, which has clear addictive potential. It’s best to avoid taking anything unless it’s under the advice of your doctor and well controlled. Beyond the potential for relapse, these substances are often relatively new and unregulated. No one really knows what their long-term effects are or if you are even taking what you think you are taking.

Don’t let specious reasoning trick into relapse. If a substance changes the way you think or feel, there is potential for dependence. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at