Nootropics vs Adderall – The brass tacks

It is no secret that Adderall's use (and abuse) is gaining traction due to its euphoric capabilities and talk about the huge side effects that are also coming to light. Due to the increasing number of patients in rehab centres and the manifestation of side effects, a big number of doctors and scientists are speaking about the highly damaging and long term side effects of Adderall.

While long term use and dependency may also cause damage that is irreversible, there are over the counter alternatives for Adderall available to help you kick the habit and provide similar benefits without the side effects involved.

Whether you use Adderall yourself or are concerned about a loved one, it is apparent that you ended up on this page because you want to explore what alternatives are available. While individual situations may and do vary, in general, it is not only a healthier option but a smart move on your part to explore these options. There are, of course, healthier ways of achieving the same effects provided by Adderall while removing the side effects from the picture.

In order to better understand and see the full picture, let’s first discuss how Adderall works and what Adderall is.
What is Adderall?
Commonly prescribed as a stimulant and coming from the amphetamine class of drugs, It’s made out of four salts of the two enantiomers of amphetamine.
Technically and originally, it was made for and prescribed to treat patients suffering from ADHD and narcolepsy but it soon found itself being used (and abused) by the younger crowd and college students.
The reasons for this are quite plain and simple. Adderall creates the feeling of elatedness and euphoria by its physical and mentally stimulating effects and induces a state of wakefulness. It is known to increase libido and physical performance and is also taken by athletes in small doses to increase strength and stamina.
It is quite obvious why students end up using and over-using it but the flip side is that they get hooked. Rehab centres are seeing larger numbers of young people who are absolutely addicted to it.
What they once thought was ‘fun’, becomes a dependency and manifests long term side effects for life.
How does it work?
Adderall has been designed to raise the levels of four core neurotransmitters responsible for most of our happy days. These are adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
In short, adrenaline is responsible for our ‘fight or flight’ response, Serotonin regulates the mood, Dopamine is your ‘feel-good’ transmitter which accounts for our motivation and will power to do something and last but certainly not the least, Norepinephrine which has a dual purpose. Norepinephrine is both a neurotransmitter and a stress hormone. Most of your alertness, arousal and reaction time are based on it.
The main effects that you feel after Adderall can be attributed to these four main neurotransmitters and they usually last for anywhere between 2.5 to 4 hours. After the effects begin to subside, it is followed by a ‘crash’ or a ‘come-down’ which makes the user feel tired, mentally exhausted and irritable.
The Downside
The downsides of Adderall are not only quite severe but are quite often, surprisingly overlooked. A long term use may result in emotional difficulties and slow cognitive abilities due to the reduced dopamine levels. In the short term, they cause insomnia, irritability, dryness of mouth, blurred vision and dizziness. In the long-term, they have been reported to cause cardiovascular problems, lack of concentration, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts.
Long term users increase their chances of a heart attack, stroke even after quitting the use of the drug. It is also extremely neurotoxic. Long term uses damages neurons and makes associative thinking very difficult.
It is quite frankly, quite surprising that doctors are still prescribing it at such a rate and are over-looking the short term as well as long term impact on students and adults alike.
This brings us to the other side of the equation and begs the question. What are the alternatives?
Enter. Nootropics!
Initially, Adderall was thought of as a nootropic but nothing could be farther from the truth. Despite having similar effects, nootropics cannot be considered in the same league as Adderall. Not only do Nootropics not have (read. very few) side effects, some actually increase long term brain health making them a complete opposite to Adderall.
While both of them are stimulants, Adderall can be thought of as more like caffeine and cocaine. Nootropics, on the other hand, are what you may call, ‘smart drugs’. They not only come with considerably fewer side effects, but they also are not as psychoactive as Adderall.
Nootropics, by very definition, are cognitive enhancers and are the top choice for over the counter substitutes for Adderall. An important distinction to make here is, both Adderall and nootropics are cognitive enhancers but not all cognitive enhancers are nootropics.
Having proved increased brain health and benefits compared to Adderall, it is no surprise that the sales are off the chart for Nootropics. In 2015, nootropics sales crossed 1 Billion USD and due to the increasing global demand, they have never looked back since.
Top 3 Alternatives to Adderall
Here, we cover a brief introduction of the top 3 over-the-counter substitutes for Adderall. It is important to note that they do not reproduce the results exactly but the minimal side effects and long term health are reasons enough to let go of the ‘Adderall high’ and choose a safer alternative for performance enhancement.
1. Modafinil
The top 3 effects of Modafinil include boosts in motivation, general alertness, and sustained focus. It has gained popularity as the closest alternative in terms of effects, to Adderall. Please do not expect to go ‘Limitless’ and write a book in a day or speak any language frequently. However, you can definitely use it to help with focus at work for long periods of time and increase overall productivity.
2. Adrafinil
First synthesized in 1974, two years before the discovery of Modafinil so you can see it as a precursor to Modafinil. For all intents and purposes, it pretty much generates the same effects but to achieve the same potency, you may need to increase the dosage. It is also important to note that the effect doesn’t last, nearly as long as Modafinil.
Note: Adrafinil has the potential side-effect of developing liver problems with frequent and long term use.
3. Noopept
A recent contender and an extremely potent one, Noopept was first manufactured in 1996, in Russia. Known for its little dosage and stronger effects, Noopept benefits your learning and memory by facilitating the neuronal management of stimuli and encouraging connections between neurons. It bears a close resemblance to piracetam but is hundreds of times more powerful.
Honorary Mention (Herbal Alternative)
1. Panax (Korean) Ginseng
So far, we’ve only mentioned synthetic substitutes so it is only fair to include a herbal alternative which natural and is perfect if you are not a big fan of pharmaceuticals. Panax Ginseng is without a doubt one of the oldest and by far the most researched nootropic herbs on the planet. For over a millennia, the Chinese have used it as a natural source of medicine and cognitive enhancement.
The effects of Panax Ginseng include reduced mental fatigue, increased reaction time and a faster mental process. It also boosts the immune system and can help alleviate various illnesses.
Panax Ginseng contains ginsenosides, which account for the psychoactive stimulating, cognitive-enhancing and wakefulness-promoting effects. It is important to note that overconsumption may lead to gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, cramps or nausea.
Before we conclude:
If you are getting into the world of nootropics, it is only fair that we introduce you to Stacking. It is a common practice among nootropics users. Stacking is the mixing of certain compounds that complement each other very well, taking full advantage of the combination of results and creating tailor-made experiences. Think synergy.
One of the best things about stacking is that you get more fine-tuned control over the mental state which you want to achieve.
Since everyone experiences nootropics (and substances in general) differently you will have to try out a few combinations to find your ideal mix. Sometimes, taking more of the same compound won’t bring you any benefits. But combining something else with it may boost different neurotransmitters and get you the exact effect you seek.
While leaving Adderall is hard, it is not at all impossible and the use of these safer alternatives surely helps. While there may be some debate out there on what’s the best substitute, our personal recommendation is Modafinil or Panax (if you want to go natural) but we highly recommend finding it out yourself.
The important thing is being aware of the choices and with a bit of personal experience and trying out the alternatives for yourself, you can and will find a long term solution and be able to forget about Adderall, which as we’ve established, has detrimental effects on your overall well-being.
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