You’d be forgiven for thinking that nootropics were addictive.
People tend not to be casual or one-off users of nootropics. If somebody experiments with brain supplements a few times, they tend to keep using them.
It’s therefore easy to assume that nootropics must be addictive; otherwise people wouldn’t be so obsessed with them!
Luckily for you, nootropics are generally not addictive at all – at least natural nootropics aren’t.
Synthetic brain drugs are, of course, a different matter. Pharmaceutical drugs designed to enhance cognition and treat things like ADHD can create dependencies and withdrawals, which do both mimic addiction. This is particularly true when ADHD drugs are used by people who do not have ADHD!
However, the natural nootropic stacks – of the sort we review on this site – are not typically addictive. In fact, the reason most people use natural nootropic stacks over synthetic brain drugs is that they have a far better health and safety profile and they are generally a lot
In this article, we’ll look at different types of nootropics and the risks of addiction involved when using them.
Natural nootropics and addiction
None of the substances used in the best nootropic supplements currently on the market contain any ingredients thought to be addictive.
These brain supplements typically contain ingredients like Bacopa monnieri, Citicoline and Lion’s Mane Mushroom. These are natural, herbal extracts that do not have pronounced enough effects to cause withdrawals.
None of our recommended nootropics contain any ingredients thought to be even remotely addictive.
This is a strict criteria we employ when rating and ranking brain supplements. Any nootropic which looks like it might be even remotely likely to cause side effects of any magnitude is given a very low score. We include addiction and dependency as side effects, so obviously any nootropic which may become addictive will never make it onto our list of the best nootropics.
Generally speaking, the risk of addiction when dealing with natural nootropics – composed of herbal extracts, amino acids, and so on – is quite low. It is only when stimulants are introduced that addiction becomes a risk. Nootropics such as caffeine are indeed extremely addictive, as is nicotine (obviously).
But for the most part, the ingredients found in the most popular, highest-quality natural nootropic stacks are not thought to be addictive in any way. For information on particular ingredients, consult our individual supplement reviews.
Are synthetic brain drugs addictive?
Synthetic brain drugs are a different story altogether.
Synthetic brain drugs pose many more risks than natural nootropics, and the chances of developing a dependency are also significantly higher when dealing with pharmaceutical-grade brain drugs.
Popular synthetic nootropics include:
These drugs are designed to combat severe ADHD, to help air force pilots stay awake during extended sorties, and other medical/industrial reasons.
These brain drugs are not supposed to be used by people who do not have a diagnosed attention disorder, and they are certainly not supposed to be used without close medical supervision.
Drugs like Modafinil and Piracetam have very strong, very noticeable effects.
They also all produce a kind of “come down” as their effects fade 6-18 hours after first taking them.
This causes a kind of “hangover”, and dependency.
The line between dependency and addiction is a thin one. As it stands, none of these substances can be said to be addictive, but they do seem to cause some degree of dependency in people who use them repeatedly over a short period of time.
Drugs like Modafinil and Aniracetam do unarguably enhance cognitive function by a considerable degree. It’s understandable that people will want to keep using them once they experience their new, enhanced brain power. This is a kind of dependency, and some would even go as far as to describe the desire to retain higher cognitive functions as a kind of addiction.
Yet the risk of addiction with things like Modafinil pale into insignificance when compared to Adderall.
Adderall is probably the most addictive nootropic by some margin. Adderall is actually amphetamine; more specifically, it is a collection of amphetamine salts. These salts augment the speed at which the amphetamine is absorbed, making Adderall at once faster acting than pure amphetamine and longer-lasting.
As it is just amphetamine, you probably know that Adderall is extremely addictive.
For one thing, the “high” you get from Adderall is followed by a precipitous fall. This fall produces a serious “comedown”, which leads you to crave more Adderall to just get back to baseline.
Adderall is classed as having a very high risk of both addiction and abuse. We do not recommend anybody use Adderall for any reason other than to treat a diagnosed medical condition. It must be used under medical supervision.
Are nootropics addictive? Well, that depends very much on which nootropics you’re talking about. If you’re talking about nicotine, caffeine, or Adderall, the answer is a resounding yes. But if you mean things like Citicoline, Bacopa monnieri and Phosphatidylserine, then the risks of addiction are extremely low. The best natural nootropic supplements can provide complete cognitive enhancement without addiction, dependency, or side effects. We think you should consider using natural brain stacks first before even contemplating using things like Adderall or Modafinil.