Life can get hectic, leaving you wondering how to keep up with the rapid pace and perform at a higher potential. Some people swear by nootropics – also marketed as memory enhancers or brain supplements – to sharpen their focus and improve their cognitive performance. While you may not have heard the word “nootropics,” you’ve probably seen over-the-counter herbal remedies like ginseng and ginkgo biloba and wondered about their safety or efficacy. This guide will explain what nootropics are, how they work and why you should avoid them if you are in recovery.
What Are Nootropics?
Cognitive enhancement has traditionally focused on improving quality of life for people with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, in recent years, interest around the potential of so-called “focus drugs” has increased among young, healthy people.
Initially, the term “nootropics” referred to chemicals that met very specific criteria. Today, any drug with the potential to enhance concentration, attention and creativity falls under the classification of a nootropic. Stimulants like caffeine and Adderall are two examples of nootropics that give users an alert, focused feeling. However, overuse of these substances can have unwanted side effects, like making you jittery. They can also lead you to develop a tolerance and result in withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.
Some herbal nootropics like ginkgo are technically supplements, which means the FDA has not approved their efficacy. That means there is no way to ensure consistent results from one user to the next. Additionally, researchers have conducted clinical trials on ginkgo biloba for years with contradictory outcomes.
Are Nootropics Safe?
While most health experts generally agree that taking a prescription nootropic to manage conditions like Alzheimer’s or ADHD is safe under a doctor’s supervision, the use of brain supplements in cognitively healthy people is controversial. It’s likely that people who believe their mental performance has increased after taking nootropics are merely experiencing the placebo effect.
If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, taking anything else with the potential to alter your brain chemistry is risky, and could lead to you replacing one chemical dependency with another. To avoid jeopardizing your progress, it’s best not to take nootropics, despite the hype you may have heard.
How to Boost Your Cognitive Function Naturally
Fortunately, you can sharpen your focus and improve your energy levels without caffeine, herbal supplements and other nootropics. Here are some strategies to try today.
- Creative pursuits: Challenge yourself and activate different areas of your brain by trying creative activities like painting, writing poetry, journaling or taking a photography class.
- Go outside: Being outdoors, or even viewing photos of nature, can improve your memory and cognitive function.
- Meditate: Meditating is an excellent way to relax and learn to live in the moment, but it can also make you more alert and focused.
Where to Begin Your Recovery Journey
Canyon Crossing is a supportive environment where women can learn to live a fulfilling life with grace and integrity. To learn more about starting on the path to sobriety and wellness, connect with us today.