Over time, the quality of teaching has improved remarkably. Thanks to technology, students can even access learning materials online. Despite the availability of all these reading resources, a great many individuals still have jitters prior to sitting their examinations. It is due to this exam stress that a majority of students resort to nootropics, a class of cognitive-enhancing drugs.
Smart pills, as they are popularly known, have been found to improve the cognitive performance and productivity levels of individuals when used properly. It explains why city bankers and office workers are also beginning to use this medication.
While nootropics confer numerous benefits, they also result in side effects when used inappropriately. The following article describes how these smart drugs work. It also explains the point at which excessive use of nootropics can be harmful to one’s health.
How Do They Work?
The purpose of some nootropics is to enable individuals to stay alert for more extended periods. The very first smart pills to be used for this function were amphetamine and methamphetamine. Bomber pilots would take these drugs before heading to long missions during World War II.
Ideally, the working mechanism of amphetamines involves releasing and re-uptaking specific neurotransmitters, namely dopamine and norepinephrine. But, you should take them in the right proportion as overusing them can result in addiction.
Another commonly used nootropic is the Methylphenidate. It is a modified amphetamine that helps in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), especially in toddlers. But, this smart pill also aids in boosting cognitive functioning.
Also referred to as Ritalin, this nootropic works by increasing dopamine levels, especially those associated with neurons of the prefrontal cortex. Primarily, the prefrontal cortex has three roles, that is, keeping individuals alert, aiding in decision making and controlling impulses.
Drawing The Line
According to a 2016 study conducted at the University of Oxford, at least 15% of their students took smart pills without any prescription. To help curb this situation, the university introduced smart drug workshops. This way, students were enlightened on the right dosage and the uses of each nootropic to avoid abusing them.
We can also not stress enough that smart drugs need only be used for the short-term. Sadly, a majority of nootropic users tend to ignore this fact, opting instead to use them for the long haul. The long-term usage of nootropics can cause an array of health problems, the most common of which is an addiction.
To prevent such complications, we suggest that you visit your physician before using any nootropic. A health expert will be better placed to advise you on the specific smart pill to take, and the duration of taking this medication.
So, just where do you draw the line between the use and misuse or abuse of smart drugs? Based on the factors highlighted below, you can determine the point at which using nootropics becomes unethical and a health hazard.
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Unless your brain is fully-developed, you need not use nootropics consistently. It means that if you have allowed your teenage daughter to use these smart pills, you should ensure that they do not take them for the long haul.
The most crucial stages of the development of the brain happen during teenage years. Subsequently, using nootropics frequently before allowing your brain to develop, can impair some connections; thus, prevent them from being formed. According to health experts, the brain does not develop fully until the age 25.
Another factor that can help you draw the line between the use and abuse of nootropics entails the dose that an individual takes. In fact, taking some nootropics (such as Provigil) in high proportions has been found to trigger sections of the brain involved in substance abuse and reliance.
Each nootropic comes with guidelines for dosing. As such, you need to adhere to these proposed regulations to avoid getting addicted.
But, a majority of users are doing the opposite of this. These individuals have found smart pills so efficient that they have ended up using them beyond the recommended period. What these persons fail to realize is that by increasing the intake of nootropics, you give them more control over your nervous system functioning.
Taking large doses of a particular smart drug for an extensive period, causes your brain to become so dependent on the drug that it cannot function independently without getting this high.
If you find that you have to up your dosage of a smart pill within a given duration, to get the same effects as before, it is likely that your brain is becoming over-reliant on the drug. Ensure that you always take the correct proportions of nootropics.
Frequency of Usage
Advisably, nootropics should be taken on ‘as a need’ basis. It means that the only times you resort to using smart pills is when you want to increase your productivity level and finish a project before its deadline or when you are experiencing a jetlag and need a cognitive boost. Using nootropics in this manner poses fewer health risks than when you take them on a daily basis.
Another aspect worth considering is that different people will be impacted differently when they take nootropics. Based on reviews, there are those who have taken these smart drugs for years and not experienced any side effects.
Others, who have taken high doses for just a few months and then discontinued, have ended up with significant cognitive impairment because of this extended use.
Overall, an individual’s lifestyle, genetics and usage of the particular nootropics taken, come into play when determining their effects. As such, the fact that you did not undergo any physical or mental changes does not mean that other persons will not.
Potential Dangers of Nootropics
There are certain side effects of taking smart drugs in the long-term.
Brain chemistry alterations: Based on research studies, it is evident that long-term use of nootropics alters the functioning of the brain. Some experts even anticipate that certain sections of the brain begin to shrink or expand.
Cognitive deficits: Also, there is a risk of suffering cognitive deficits with extended usage of smart drugs. We can compare this to the side-effects of taking too much nicotine. When used only for a brief period, nicotine is an excellent cognitive booster.
Unfortunately, long-term use results in destabilization, whereby individuals have to take greater amounts of nicotine just to attain normal cognitive performance. This same situation happens if you take nootropics for an extended period.
The cumulative toll on the nervous system: Not all nootropics lead to a collective toll. Nonetheless, a few of the stimulatory smart drugs like Provigil, which cause you to be alert most of the time, can take a toll on your body.
Such nootropics have the effect of forcing your body to generate energy even you feel fatigued. In return, this disrupts the circadian rhythm and utilizes the energy stores; hence, accelerating the aging process and altering how your body mechanisms work.
Minimizing The Dangers of Nootropics
If you intend to use smart pills or are already taking them, there are a couple of things you should adhere to, to prevent potential risks.
Wait for your brain to be fully-developed.
One of the most obvious precautions is to wait until your brain becomes developed. Advisably, you should wait till you reach the age of 20. Some smart pills will pose higher risks than others in the extent to which they influence the brain’s development.
If you notice any changes in your cognitive ability, seek medical care immediately before continuing to use the medication.
Establish the cause for using them.
Also, you need not take smart drugs blindly. There have been reports of students pretending to have symptoms of mental conditions in a bid to get the nootropics. Instead, you should first establish your reason for wanting to use the smart drug.
Afterward, seek advice from your physician or other health experts on how to go about acquiring the smart drugs. Some pharmaceutical companies are just out to make supernormal profits by selling substandard products, which they dub ‘smart pills.’ Before purchasing, you should do some research about the firm to ensure that they are reputable.
The problem with many nootropic users is that they jump into high dosages of these drugs as soon as they purchase them. When you begin using any nootropic, it is advisable that you stick to the minimal effective dosage. Put simply; start with the lowest possible dose that gives you the cognitive-enhancing outcome. Instantly hopping onto high doses can cause detrimental brain complications.
Although useful for cognitive functions, nootropics can also take a toll on your body system. Experts usually recommend individuals to give their bodies a break instead of using these smart drugs consistently. Cycling off is particularly recommended if you suspect that your brain is becoming overly reliant on these medications.
Nootropics have gained plenty of attention in recent years, and for a good reason. A majority of them have been scientifically proven to aid different aspects of an individual’s cognitive performance. These supplements help in boosting memory and learning skills.
Nevertheless, these substances need only be used for a short term. The reason for this is that extended use of nootropics can cause adverse effects including overreliance and addiction, brain chemistry alterations and a cumulative toll on the central nervous system.
Ideally, you should consult with your physician before taking any of these smart pills. This way, you will receive advice regarding the specific nootropic to take, how long you need to take them and where to purchase them from.