Should i take adderall before a test or to study

Adderall for Study - Does it Really Make You Smarter?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 6, 2022.

Pepping Up Exam Time

Addys, Zing, Study Buddies, Smart pills, Uppers, Beans, Pep pills and Black Beauties. These are just some of the street names used for Adderall.

Originally intended as a medication for children with ADHD, Adderall has become something of a thing among older teens and young adults intent on increasing their focus and energy levels on exam days or during all-night study sessions. It's also a popular feature at parties.

25 percent of Michigan University students admitted to using central nervous stimulants such as Adderall to complete class work or to take an exam in one survey. Almost one in two young adults say it's easy to obtain Adderall or similar stimulant-type drugs from friends or classmates. A Boston study of 300 undergraduates aged from 18 to 28 reported one-third misused stimulant drugs. Misusers in this study were more likely to have been diagnosed with ADHD. On average, 1 in 5 students admit to using study drugs such as Adderall.

Staying Up All Night... But At What Cost?

The problem with taking a drug like Adderall, in the absence of a medical condition such as ADD or ADHD, is that your body starts to rely on it, both physically and psychologically.

Your mind starts to play tricks on you and convinces you that you won't be able to accomplish tasks without it. To make matters worse, your body also revolts during your Adderall-free days, and you feel sluggish, tired, unmotivated, and lacking in energy as you come off your Adderall high. The combined forces of your mind and body both prompt you to take another dose. Before you know it, this relentless cycle perpetuates your need to continue taking more of the drug, and it becomes a daily habit. Congratulations, you are now addicted to Adderall.

Sidestepping A Doctor, Also Sidesteps A Risk Assessment

Before doctors prescribe medicine, they always look at how suitable that medicine is for each individual patient. You're unlikely to come across that sort of consultation from the person selling you Adderall in the dorm next door.

Adderall has caused a number of fatal heart attacks and stroke. Most occurred in people with undiagnosed, underlying heart conditions; toxic levels of the drug in their body; or a family history of abnormal heart rhythms. Strenuous exercise and dehydration also appeared to be a contributing factor.

Keen For Some Company Inside Your Head?

Some people are overly sensitive to stimulants and develop confused thought processes, regardless of what dosage they take. Psychiatric side effects reported with Adderall include hearing voices, becoming suspicious for no reason, or becoming manic.

Adderall can also exacerbate symptoms in people already suffering the effects of psychotic disorder or bipolar illness.

Do You Like Your Fingers And Toes?

Stimulants, like Adderall, direct blood flow to your brain and heart, and away from your periphery (arms and legs).

This may cause numbness, pins and needles, or color changes in your fingers and toes, or make them feel cold. Without good blood flow, any small wounds or cuts make take longer to heal and are more likely to become infected.

Crossing your legs or staying in one position for long periods of time (such as when studying), can make symptoms worse.

Looking For A Faster Way To Get To The ED?

Mixing alcohol with Adderall is dangerous, and sometimes fatal. Some people who have only taken one dose of Adderall mixed with one drink have ended up in hospital. Even though Adderall is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, taking the two together does not cancel each other one out; rather it sends the brain mixed messages that can result in paranoia, depression, migraines, sleeplessness and vomiting.

Even the heart can be affected. Adderall prompts the heart to beat harder and faster, whereas alcohol sends signals to slow the heart down. A confused heart is more likely to beat out of rhythm and arrhythmias have been reported after Adderall and alcohol have been taken together.

In addition, Adderall dulls the feeling of being drunk. Which means you drink more and are more likely to get yourself into a situation you would rather not be in, such as a fight or alone with the wrong person.

Not Worth It

Taking a prescription medicine like Adderall for the sole purpose of increasing concentration or pulling an all-nighter study session for school is not worth it. Any short term gains in alertness you may experience are overwhelmingly counteracted by withdrawal symptoms and potentially fatal side effects.

Exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep will do more for your concentration and your grades than any quick-fix pill.

Don't be fooled into taking so-called "smart drugs" in this competitive world. YOU are smart; not Adderall.

Finished: Adderall for Study - Does it Really Make You Smarter?

Next Up

Prescription Drug Addiction - Top Facts for You and Your Family

You may have legal prescription drugs linked with addiction, overdose and death right in your family medicine cabinet. Learn more about prescription drug abuse and what's involved...

Don't Miss

Menopause Symptoms & Stages: What Woman Need to Know

Society tends to treat menopause as a disease; something to be avoided at all costs. But menopause can be positive. No more monthly mood swings, period accidents, or pregnancy worries. Self-confidence and self-knowledge...


  • Norris M. Survey finds that 24 percent of University students use Adderall The Michigan Daily. Sunday, March 25, 2018 the over 1,300 respondents,by a physician or psychiatrist.
  • Adderall Addiction and Abuse. Addiction Center 2022
  • Lakhan SE, Kirchgessner A. Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brain Behav. 2012;2(5):661-677. doi:10.1002/brb3.78
  • Adderall for Studying. The Recovery Village. 29 April 2022.
  • Laskowski A. The Other Side of Adderall. Study drugs come with health risks, BU docs say. BU Today. May 5 2008.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Is The "Study Drug" Safe for Recreational Use?

Adderall’s focus-boosting effects can be tempting to people without an ADHD disorder, but misusing Adderall to study can be risky, addictive and dangerous.

Despite the risks and the fact that it’s a controlled substance, people have started using Adderall for studying. It’s not uncommon on campuses across the country to see students using it for studying on a regular basis. The drug is relatively easy for them to obtain, and the theory is that it allows them to focus for long periods of time without falling asleep or losing interest.

This overview covers how the drug affects the body, why people use it for studying, and the potential risks involved.

The “Study Drug”

Adderall is often referred to as a “study drug,” and students and young professionals frequently use it to increase their focus and level of productivity. Adderall and drugs like it are also called “smart drugs,” and even with the potential risks, 1 in 5 students use study drugs. Many college campuses around the country report that it’s an increasingly significant problem. Along with students using it without a prescription, there has also been a rise in prescription rates.

According to one study of more than 10,000 college students, more than half of the students surveyed were asked to sell their Adderall prescription to other students and peers.

There tends to be a misconception that prescription drugs are safer than drugs sold on the street, but the effects and consequences are often very similar. So, while Adderall may work in the short-term for studying, there are many caveats involved.

Does Adderall Work For Studying?

When Adderall is used for academic purposes, stimulant-abusers often cite using the drug to help them stay awake or focus before an exam. As the effects wear off, however, people will go through a comedown that is similar to what happens with other drugs. During this time, the person will likely feel adverse side effects like anxiety and depression, which can counteract the productivity achieved while on Adderall.

A person can quickly develop a tolerance to Adderall. When someone has a tolerance to a drug, it means the drug no longer has the effect it once did. Instead, it may have a diminished effect or no effect at all. When someone develops a tolerance to a drug, they have to take higher and higher doses for the same effects. Eventually, it may not work at all to help them study.

If someone is regularly relying on Adderall to study, they may become addicted to the drug.

How Does Adderall Help With Studying?

When someone takes Adderall, it acts on the central nervous system in a stimulating way. It does this by affecting specific brain neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Adderall is primarily prescribed for the treatment of ADHD, but it’s also prescribed for narcolepsy in some situations. When someone is diagnosed with ADHD, the stimulant can help them by allowing them to concentrate and focus more, and it can also improve behavioral control.

Adderall comes in different types and doses. Immediate-release versions of the medicine are shorter-acting and usually wear off after a few hours, while the effects of extended-release Adderall can last up to 10 hours in some cases.

Alternatives to Adderall For Studying

People frequently wonder if there are safer alternatives to Adderall for studying. There aren’t going to be many non-prescription products that are as potent as Adderall, which is why it’s a controlled substance that is only legally available by prescription.

However, some products promise to have at least some of the benefits of Adderall without as many of the risks. There’s a field of products called nootropics, which are also often called smart drugs, and they aim to provide cognitive benefits.

Nootropics and other herbal supplements may help boost your energy and cognitive skills, but you’re not likely to experience the euphoric high of Adderall or similar drugs like Ritalin. With that being said, you’re also not likely to have the uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous side effects of so-called prescription “study drugs” either.

The Risks and Side Effects of Adderall

Adderall can be helpful for the disorders it’s prescribed to treat, but it also has potential risks and side effects associated with its use. These side effects can include loss of appetite, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

These are relatively common side effects, even for people who are prescribed the medicine. However, there can also be severe side effects of Adderall use, particularly when it’s used without a prescription. Some of the more serious side effects can include:

  • Mood changes, such as depression
  • Heart-related problems
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure.

It should be noted that if someone likes how they feel when they use this drug, they probably don’t have ADHD, and should not be using Adderall for studying. Research has shown that people who feel euphoric when taking a stimulant like Adderall are less likely to have genes predisposing them to ADHD. This is probably a major reason why people with well-treated ADHD are less likely to abuse substances.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall misuse or addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us today to learn about addiction treatment programs and recovery resources that can work well for your situation.

Editor – Jonathan Strum

Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more

Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD

Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more

Katusic, S.K., Barbaresi, W.J., Colligan, R.C., Weaver, A.L., Leibson, C.L., Jacobsen, S.J. “Psychostimulant treatment and risk for s[…] birth cohort study.” Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 2005. Accessed June 28, 2020.

Maher, B. “Poll results: Look who’s doping.” Nature, 2008. Accessed June 28, 2020.

Shoptaw, S.J., Kao, U., Heinzerling, K., Ling, W. “Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2009. Accessed June 28, 2020.

Garcia, H.S., et al. “Nootropics: Emergent drugs associated wi[…]clinical challenges.” European Psychiatry, 2017. Accessed June 28, 2020.

Aberg, Simon Essig. “Study Drug” Abuse by College Students:[…]at You Need to Know.” National Center for Health Research, 2020. Accessed July 13, 2020.

Kelly, Laura. “16 million U.S. adults on prescription s[…]ulants, study shows.” Washington Times, April 16, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

Adderall Generation

Have you ever been to Anfield? Until the age of 23, when I lived in London and finished my studies, I had not even heard of him. One afternoon, I received a notification that a package I had been looking forward to all day was stuck at customs and was now in a FedEx warehouse in Enfield, an inconspicuous London suburb. I immediately left the apartment and an hour later I was on the train bound for Enfield and looked out the window at the overcast sky. This package was sent from Los Angeles and contained my month's supply of Adderall.

Adderall is the trade name for a mixture of amphetamine salts. Its circulation in the UK is regulated much more strictly than in the US. In the US, where a year earlier I had become one of the millions of people who were prescribed stimulant treatment.

The trip to Enfield was far from the highest extreme I went to in my 10 years with Adderall. It used to be that I scoured someone else's first aid kit, delved into garbage cans, where I had previously thrown out pills in an attempt to quit, wrote essays for classmates in exchange for the coveted drug. Once, when I was living in New Hampshire, I didn't show up for work. Instead, I spent 3 hours driving one way to get to a clinic where my prescription had not yet expired. I have never been more resourceful than when I needed more Adderall.

Adderall is prescribed for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurobehavioral condition that manifests itself in the form of inattention, hyperactivity and short temper. This disease has been included in the D.S.M. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - US Nomenclature of Mental Disorders - approx. Newochem ) in 1987, and it was observed mainly among children. It is also called Attention Disorder Syndrome and has been diagnosed with increasing frequency over the past decades. Thus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 19In the 90s, approximately 3-5% of school-age children were attributed to this disease. By 2013, this figure had reached 11%. It continues to grow, and with it the number of prescribed stimulants. In the 1990s, about 600,000 children took them. Mostly it was Ritalin, which in many cases had to be taken several times a day. In 2013, 3.5 million children were already taking stimulants, and Ritalin was replaced by Adderall, officially launched in 1996 as a new, improved choice for ADD patients, a more effective drug that lasts longer.

The very name of Adderall reflects the hope of its creators to expand the customer base: as Alan Schwartz writes in his new book "A.D.H.D Nation" ("AdV Nation"), the phrase "A.D.D for all" served as the basis for it. When I entered college in 2000—four years after Adderall was released—5 million people had already been prescribed it; in 2005, the year before my graduation, that number almost reached 9 million. Then the total revenue from the sale of drugs for ADHD in the United States was more than $ 2 billion.

By the mid-2000s, the number of adults being prescribed the drug was growing the fastest. In 2012, according to QuintilesIMS, an information service that specializes in medical data, Adderall was prescribed to approximately 16 million people aged 20 to 39. Now Adderall is common on campuses, students take it with or without a doctor's prescription. Let not in the majority, but in many schools, a kind of "black market" for the sale of this drug has appeared. In fact, according to a 2012 study published in Brain and Behavior, non-prescribed stimulant use was the second most common form of illegal drug use in colleges in 2004. Only marijuana gained great popularity.

We know very little about what happens as a result of many years of using Adderall during and after college, together with all the experiences that make up adolescence. To date, there are virtually no studies illuminating the long-term effect on those who take this drug. So, we are, in a way, a walking experiment. We, who were about the same age in high school, were first introduced to Adderall at a time when the drug was literally everywhere, and then, years later, could not get rid of the addiction. The question is, will we ever be able to do it. We, who are barely holding out both physically and mentally, to the point where we can take a potent drug that we don’t need at all, and so on for many, many years. Sometimes I want to call us the Adderall generation.

It is now known that Adderall owes its appearance to chance. In the late 1920s, American chemist Gordon Alles, looking for a way to treat asthma, synthesized a substance related to adrenaline. It definitely helped soften the bronchi. Alles created beta-phenylisopropylamine, better known today as amphetamine. After the test injection, the scientist reported "feeling great" followed by "a rather sleepless night," as can be seen in Nicolas Rasmussen's book Picking Up Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine. K 19The 30th drug, Benzedrine, which was only a trade name for amphetamine, was used to elevate mood, energize and increase focus. During World War II, US Army soldiers were given Benzedrine, which was also called "energy pills." After the war, slightly modified and called Dexedrine, this drug was prescribed for depression. Many people, especially women, loved this drug for its appetite-suppressing side effects and took it to keep from gaining weight. There was even such a weight loss remedy as Obetrol. But at the beginning of 19In the 1970s, when about 10 million people were using amphetamine, the Food and Drug Administration came up with tough regulations, and the drug fell out of such widespread use. More than 20 years later, a pharmaceutical company manager named Roger Griggs decided to "resurrect" the almost forgotten Obetrol. After refining the formula, he named the drug Adderall and put it into production, directing it to millions of children and adolescents who were diagnosed with ADHD. The current version of the drug was released a few years later. Now the time for the drug to enter the bloodstream has been extended, and the possibility of dependence, according to the creators, has decreased, which means it was easier to “get off” from it. In theory.

I first tried Adderall in my second year at Brown University. I complained to my friend about my bitter fate: by the next day I had to write 5 pages about a book that I had just begun to read. "Would you like an Adderall pill?" she offered. “I can't stand him, he makes me want to stay up all night and instead turn the 'wheel' in the hall.”

Could you think of a more tempting description? My friend squeezed two blue pills out of the foil and handed them to me. An hour later, I was in the basement of the library, the Absolutely Quiet Room, and I was in a state of incomparable euphoria. The world no longer existed, there was only me, in love with a book. I read, and thoughts appeared out of nowhere and turned, it seemed, into an incredible treasure. When dawn broke, I sat hunched over in the unkempt living room of our dorm and wrote down my feverish judgments, hardly aware that the sky outside was turning pink. I was alone in my new secret world, and that very loneliness was part of the intoxication. I didn't need anyone or anything.

Again and again I returned to this feeling over the next two years whenever I found Adderall on campus, which happened often, but not enough. The Adderall watch became the most precious watch I've ever seen, far too valuable for a Perfectly Quiet Room, of course. Now I had to sit at the farthest table in the darkest and most neglected corner of the top level of the library, as far away from the noisy life on campus as possible. This life no longer interested me. Instead, the lonely hours that I spent thinking about, for example, Immanuel Kant's judgments about "high" acquired the greatest value.

It suited me. All that was "high," those days spent in unrestricted concentration as I absorbed the complex thoughts in the book before me. I understood everything, my mind was razor-sharp, I literally absorbed books, making them a part of me. More precisely, a part of the person for whom I took myself, that cold, undistracted personality. Of course, I preferred her much more than the lazy, “slowing down” real me, suffering from bouts of fatigue and a destructive passion for Swedish Fish gummies.

Adderall dismissed the question of willpower. Now I could study all night long, then run 10 miles, then casually flip through the weekly issue of the New Yorker, all without stopping, without pausing when I might wonder if I should chat with my friends or go to the movies. That was incredible. I lost weight, which was also very nice. Even though I lashed out at my friends, suddenly displaying a fury of a depth that I could not have imagined before. Once my neighbor went home for the weekend, forgetting to turn off the alarm. He squeaked for two days behind her closed door, and I completely lost control of myself, calling her with abuse in New York. I couldn't remember the last time I slept longer than five hours. What for?

In my last year of college, my workload only increased to almost unbearable limits. For the first time, I couldn't handle it. My playful aristocratic teacher of Russian history gave me a grade for the final semester test. One Friday night in mid-December, when our ideal New England campus was empty for the winter break, I was sitting alone in the Science Library, the only one that didn't close at night. I squinted through my notes on the Russian intelligentsia. And outside the window was a blizzard. Inside, fluorescent lights illuminated the basement room. I felt strange and carefree. It's been a particularly 'chemical' week, I haven't slept for at least a few hours in days, and to make up for that I've been taking more and more pills. I looked up from the notebook, and suddenly the room seemed to expand, giving the impression that I was not in it, but in some strange mirage. Panic seized me, I did not understand what was happening. I tried to breathe, to bring myself back to reality, but nothing worked for me. On shaky legs, I reached the phone and called my friend Dave in the room. “I had some trouble in the science library,” I said in a voice that didn’t belong to me.

An hour later I was in an ambulance taking me through a snowstorm to the nearest hospital. The volunteer paramedic was student Brown, whom I only met once or twice. He held my hand the whole way. "I'm dying?" I asked him over and over again. Dave and I were in the waiting room for 4 hours until I was taken behind a screen and a skeptical looking doctor came to see me. I was not used to the way he looked at me, as if I was crazy, maybe even incompetent. But then I felt better, I was no longer so sure of my imminent death. Lying down on the couch before the examination, I even joked: “I will lie down like an ancient Roman!” His face kept an uninterested expression. I described the drug I was taking. His diagnosis was Amphetamine Use Anxiety Disorder. It was my first panic attack, an unknown and rare reaction to an Adderall overdose. At the hospital, I left a container with blue pills, which I had diligently begged for before. I still remember him lying next to the examination table.

Author: Chad Wys. Original image taken from Getty's Open Content Program. "Portrait of Louise de Kerual, Countess of Portsmouth" by Peter Lely.

A few days later, I corrected my poor academic performance and went home to New York. My father knew about the hospital incident and I promised him that I would stop taking the drug. And I honestly tried. I spent those long winter breaks at the 42nd Street Public Library idly flipping through essays I hadn't had time to sort through while on amphetamines. What I didn't know at the time, and I couldn't have known, was that no one knew if Adderall improved thinking ability when not taken as prescribed by a doctor, or if it really was a nootropic. It took a few years before studies showed that the effects on the cognitive process were more than ambiguous. Martha Farah, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, contributed a lot to this research. She studied the Adderall effect on many standardized tests that measure closure, memory, and creativity. Overall, in tests, they found little to no improvement as a result of Adderall. Ultimately, she says, "people who experience problems improve, those who are more productive may not, and even vice versa, their cognitive performance may deteriorate"

My pill-free period did not last long. I went back to my studies, got grades every day. But as final exams approached that spring, I reverted to the familiar pattern of moments of hard work alone followed by days when I was slowly "falling back." I could do nothing for hours, eating ice cream with spoons straight from the container, satisfying my desperate need for sugar, barely finding the strength to even get to the shower.

After graduating from college, it took me a year to make a decision that determined the next stage of my life for many years to come. For me it was a revelation. I could become independent from those ADHD children who sold their prescription pills at exorbitant prices. I could get my own recipe! This idea came to me when I was walking among the palm trees on the campus of the University of California. By then, I was living in Los Angeles and working as a tutor for high school students, many of whom were taking Adderall themselves. I also took summer courses in psychology and neuroscience in order to then go to graduate school. I decided that I wanted to be a psychologist, which I felt was much more realistic than my secret dream of being a writer. Infinitely more real. Like many people in their 20s, my decisions were made in a panic and rush, but they also depended, of course, on how many pills I had.

I was now surrounded—or surrounded myself—by people who had also fallen into Adderall's trap. Together with my two closest friends, we traveled all over Los Angeles with relentless, false energy, trusting each other like never before. Adderall maintained our friendship, and if one ran out of pills, the other would make up for it. Rolling around sun-drenched Los Angeles, immersed in a trance, I easily lost count and did not know how many pills I managed to take in a day.

As soon as it became clear to me that I could get my own prescription, I ran to the nearest campus computer and searched for "cognitive behavioral psychologist, Westwood, Los Angeles, California." By then I already knew enough about psychology to avoid psychologists who would spend weeks or even months discussing with me the treatment and why I was so sure of the need for drug treatment. No, I could not turn to them - I needed a specialist, a doctor who would focus on achieving results, and all this is 10 minutes from the University of California. The very next day, I was sitting exactly where I needed to be, in a featureless room with gray walls and black leather furniture. I told the young psychologist across from me about how I always had to develop some sort of compensation strategies to keep up with my studies, how difficult it was for me to focus on one thing, how I was best at jobs that meant multitasking, like being a waitress. Of course, none of this was true, I was a focused student and a terrible waitress. I learned all this by looking on the Internet for the symptoms of ADHD and the criteria by which it is diagnosed. These were the answers that were needed for any psychologist to pick up a pencil and write "Adderall, 20 mg, once daily" on a prescription slip. So I took advantage of them.

50 minutes later, I was standing on San Vicente Boulevard in the bright California sun with a recipe in my hand. This is the only doctor's prescription I received in less than an hour, I took it with me wherever I went, whether it was Los Angeles, London (where I used FedEx services), then New Haven, where I got it once a month at a treatment center in Yale, then again in New York, where the doctor I found through insurance prescribed this drug again and again without any problems, based only on my words that I had already been prescribed it before, that I have been taking it for years.

Any book on basic neuroscience explains how Adderall affects the brain and why addiction is so hard to break. For many years, most publications by scientists like Nora Volkov, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have described addiction research that revolved around the neurotransmitter dopamine. Amphetamine stimulates the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, which rapidly spread through the synapses and increase the level of nervous system excitation, concentration, general tone and purposeful motivation. In fact, any experience that gives you a particularly pleasurable sensation, whether it's sex or eating chocolate cake, accompanies the release of dopamine. It is for this reason that dopamine is central to current models of addiction. As soon as a person begins to abuse, the brain, which strives to maintain homeostasis, tries to compensate for the excess of dopamine by blocking its own dopamine receptors. When there are fewer receptors involved, a person needs more and more of the active substance in order to achieve the desired level of euphoria. In addition, a reduction in the number of receptors can explain the withdrawal syndrome: after giving up a stimulant, a person is left to be content with the abilities of his own brain with a reinforcement system that works worse than usual. The question of whether the brain is able to recover after drug withdrawal remains open.

In 2008, three years after receiving my prescription, I found myself in a psychiatric office in New Haven, where I was completing my master's degree. Choking with sobs, I told them that my life no longer belonged to me. For a long time I convinced myself that by using Adderall I was in complete control of my fallible nature, but in reality it was quite the opposite: Adderall made my life unpredictable, raising black hurricanes over my horizon with absolutely no warning. And yet it was impossible to give up. The psychiatrist was probably a Serb, with a completely deadpan expression on his face. He calmly examined me and prescribed Wellbutrin, a mild, fast-acting antidepressant that was supposed to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms by making it less painful to quit Adderall. It sounded reassuring. But very soon I just took both drugs.

When I took Adderall, my life was a paradox. I believed that it was vital to me and at the same time I understood that it acts as a toxin, as a poison for art, love and life. In 2009, I signed a contract for a book on psychoanalysis and neuroscience, and a little later I took a one-day job as a reporter for a news site. I was required to continuously supply short, catchy details: to be lively and easily switch from one to another. The Adderall addiction was perfect for keeping up that kind of pace—and it was in stark contrast to what it takes to write a book slowly and thoughtfully. Week after week, slowness and thoughtfulness seemed more and more unattainable to me. It didn't go unnoticed to me how the internet made possible what happened at 19The 90s, when Adderall swept the market, and these two events, like a blueprint, affected the lives of Americans.

From time to time I tried to stop taking the drug. Each attempt started the same way. Step one: collect all the pills available to me, including those that are stashed in advance in kitchen drawers and closets with clothes. Spend a few hours arguing with yourself about whether to keep one "for emergencies." Break yourself with a sharp effort of will and flush the pills down the toilet. Step two: For a day or two, feel completely normal, as if I can actually handle it. Step three: to feel how time is piling on a gloomy heavy slab, when even the simplest daily actions require huge efforts, and the future is drawn into an endless series of duties that I have long been tired of doing. The work on the book stops. Panic comes. Then Adderall's inner voice suddenly takes over, forcing me to jump up from the table and get a new prescription—it's easy almost every time—or just borrow a few pills from a friend if need be. And the circle closes again. I was ashamed of these moments and kept them a secret. Few people knew the extent to which the drug actually defined my life.

Year after year, various experts in the field have told me that giving up Adderall is not that difficult. Failure will occur relatively quickly and painlessly. And I often imagined that those futile attempts at rejection were my most embarrassing failures in life. I have found some comfort in seeing my experience reflected in the large mass of individual voices coming from websites and forums dedicated to drug withdrawal. I will always remember one of these messages left by a certain mother on

I started Adderall in October 2010. And my story is not particularly different from the rest. … First a honeymoon, then a cliff jump. It seems to me that I no longer remember who I was and what I felt when I spent even one minute without Adderall. I'm looking at pictures of who I was before taking the drug and I can't understand how I could ever be "happy" without it, because now I will be on the verge of a nervous breakdown if I even come close to not taking the drug for a whole day. Sometimes I cried in shame as I put my daughter to bed, because the time she spent that afternoon with her mother was not real.

“No one starts fighting addiction by saying, ‘I’m going to deal with my addiction,’” Jeanette Friedman, a social worker who works with drug addicts, told me when I met her in August in her Upper East Side office. “No one is going to be addicted. However, now taking something like Adderall is commonplace - the harm from taking such drugs seems to be insignificant, or the drug allows you to increase productivity. And in our culture, productivity is, one might say, the most important thing. Society puts a tremendous emphasis on not only being good at what you do, but constantly striving for more.”

Staying face to face with the patient, Friedman explains that what is at stake is his very ability to "become a complete person without a hint of continuous need for anything." Adderall exacerbates the usual addiction dynamics by being strongly associated with productivity, high achievement, and success. “It's very hard to accept the thought of quitting because it seems like you're losing your productive abilities,” she says. “Many recovering patients report that these abilities don't go anywhere. But the fear of losing them makes people keep using.”

I remember having similar fears at school and later at work, and you can feel them in those messages from Internet forums:

Now I feel even worse than when I had ADHD and got hooked on this thing. Right now, I don't feel like I'm capable of defending my Ph. D. I don't feel like I'm capable of doing my term paper, I've lost interest and enthusiasm for the things I used to love. Dear readers, tell me that this will pass.

Harris Stratiner, a psychologist and addiction specialist at the Caron Treatment Center in Manhattan, told me that every year he sees more people who are desperate to get off Adderall. By his count, to date he has had 50 patients ranging in age from 24 to 40 with a similar problem. For the most part, they are creative people who wanted to connect their lives with art. However, many chose other, safer paths, abandoning their dreams without even trying to fulfill them.

“Often they gave up in favor of practicality. Then they decided that they had missed their opportunity. And after taking Adderall, they began to enjoy life again and stopped constantly returning to the idea that they "sold out". Many people take this drug to hide their dissatisfaction with themselves, because it narrows their thoughts to the elementary living day after day, allows them not to think about their goals in life, ”explains the doctor.

“This creates both mental and physical dependence. This is a real drug, and getting rid of it is very difficult, ”admits Stratiner. Side effects reported by patients include nausea, chills, diarrhea, physical discomfort, pain, and even seizures. Sometimes his patients need hospitalization while getting rid of addiction.

Ultimately, I couldn't give up Adderall alone. I had a wonderful psychologist. I'm sure she saved my life. On the wall in her office hung only one painting - a reproduction of the work of Henri Matisse. As the course progressed, Matisse began to personify creativity. You start your journey in one place, painfully go to the unknown to something that can surprise you. We both agreed that Adderall was a twisted version of that journey. I was 30 when I finally got rid of the addiction. The realization of how much precious time I gave to this drug still scares me, even after 3 years.

In the first weeks after giving up Adderall, I was tormented by constant unbearable fatigue - I needed an effort to run even on tiny errands. And the gym was out of the question. I was tormented by craving for the drug. As soon as someone just said the word "Adderall" in my presence, I began to feverishly think of a way to get at least one pill. Or maybe two. I was frightened, horrified at the thought that something irreversible had happened to my brain, and it might turn out that I could not even write without my special pills. I had no idea that only after giving up amphetamines would my book finally become real.

Even in those first weeks of doubt, there was something good. Simple pleasures became available to me again. When talking with friends, I laughed more often and noticed that they did too. I spent many years of my life in a state of needless tension. I kept thinking about whether I should be somewhere else, whether I should work harder and achieve more. It was only in a state of deep depression that I was able to realize that this intrusive desire was caused by a chemical, and that it was this that kept me at a distance from my friends - and from myself too.

One of those first days without my drug, I walked slowly, scared. I had to walk just about anything to get to a meeting that was scheduled in mid-Manhattan. It was a delightful summer evening, the sun was setting. When I got to Bryant Park, I heard the music and wanted to watch. A rock band was playing on the stage. I staggered somewhere at the far edge of the crowd. The singer, muscular and bearded, held the microphone with both hands and put his soul into every word of his song. His voice was in the air of this summer night. Suddenly I realized that tears were rolling down my cheeks. I was embarrassed, but I couldn't stop. I felt like I had never heard music in all these years.

By Casey Schwartz, author of In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis. ("Into the Mind: Discovering the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis").
Original: The New York Times Magazine.

Translated by: Nikita Pinchuk and Natasha Ochkova.
Edited by: Artyom Slobodchikov and Anna Nebolsina.

List of nootropics, the purchase of which will not be a waste of money / Sudo Null IT News

Hello! This is Dmitry, the author of the Nootropics and Brain Overclocking channel, and today I will share with you a selection of drugs for... overclocking the brain.

The big problem is that for everyone this “overclocking” means something different. For example, for me it is the stability of work. When you do not burn out and do not slide into emotional and energy pits, but accelerate to a certain optimal state and work qualitatively in it for 6-8 hours.

For some, this is a kind of super-state, when you move from boring dullness into a world of bright colors, inspiration and can work day and night.

What effect will the preparations from this collection give? Completely different, because nootropics are just a label for a huge pile of drugs. The only thing they have in common is a positive effect on your brain.

Therefore, carefully read the list and choose what is relevant specifically for you. I will try to give typical “cases” where a particular drug can be useful, but focus more on the “effect”.

Important point . The drugs from the list are quite light, do not have serious side effects and contraindications, but do not forget that the body is a complex thing and consultation with a doctor will never be superfluous.

Caffeine tablets

Caffeine-sodium benzoate

One of the most famous and popular nootropic substances that all mankind has been addicted to for hundreds of years through coffee drinks. I will not repeat platitudes about the mechanism of action, a huge list of studies can be found here.

Effects . If you are not an avid coffee lover, then you can count on powerful stimulation and elimination of fatigue. More precisely, you simply cease to feel its signals. Caffeine suppresses the receptors that are responsible for this.

Therefore, if under the influence of caffeine you get carried away with work and forget about rest, then at the end you will have a rather painful retreat.

For whom. For everyone who lacks concentration and has no desire/ability to drink normal coffee. Or if you want to clearly measure the dose and experiment with it.


Noopept from OTCPharm

Causes the body to produce two special proteins. This enhances neuronal growth and brain activity. There are not as many studies proving this as we would like, but they are.

Effect . Of the short-term - "clarity" in the head and concentration. Of the long-term - memory improvement.

For whom . For those who actively absorb new knowledge and skills.

DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)


This drug stimulates the production of acetylcholine. It is a key substance for the growth of new structures in the brain and for maintaining the normal activity of old ones. Research.

Effect . The short-term effect will be especially noticeable if before that you had a very rigid (or wrong) diet or a complete lack of food (we get the bulk of acetylcholine from it). In this case, your head will stop hurting, the confusion of thoughts will disappear and the operational and main memory will begin to normalize.

For whom . For those who actively learn new knowledge and skills or experience severe stress.

Bacopa Monnier

Bacopa Monnier from NOW

This drug interacts with the dopamine and serotonergic systems. In simple words, it lifts the mood and a surge of motivation appears. Mood research.

In addition, scientists noticed (suddenly) that if a person feels happy, then his studies are much more cheerful. A study on how bacopa helps with studies.

Effect . The mood rises and a surge of motivation appears.

For whom . I would say that the effects of this wonderful herb are not only relevant for those who are already retired, live on their own yacht and who are doing great on all fronts. For everyone else, a good mood will never be superfluous.


Theanine from NOW

L-theanine is an amino acid extracted from green tea leaves. One cup of strong brew contains 25 mg, 1-2% by weight.

Theanine's main magic is that it crosses the blood-brain barrier. This is such a “wall” that protects our neurons from pathogens and substances that interfere with normal operation. It allows only the right molecules, of a certain shape and size, to pass through.

In fact, our brain confuses theanine with certain substances, such as glutamate, which regulate mood and mental activity in a positive way. For us, of course, such "holes" in the mechanisms of the central nervous system play only a plus. The substance is almost as well researched as caffeine, so the full list of references is best viewed on a separate page.

Effect . Reduces anxiety and prevents "accelerate" too much. Especially good with caffeine, but more on that below.

For whom. Good for everyone as a simple maintenance supplement.

Aminalon or Picamilon

Aminalon from Organika and Picamilon from Pharmstandard

These two preparations are very similar. Both are a substance called GABA (GABA). Picamilon differs only in that it is supplemented with a particle of nicotine, which allows it to be absorbed a little faster. But the difference is microscopic, so I recommend looking at Aminalon.

An important point. The instructions say that they are dispensed by prescription, but in fact it is the most harmless substance and in pharmacies when buying you have zero questions.

GABA, as the very famous scientist Vyacheslav Dubynin said, is in fact one of the few "real" nootropics, since this substance acts as a direct fuel for our nerve cells.

According to my theory, GABA is one of the secrets of the effectiveness of such a thing as Bouletproof coffee.

Effect . Lightness in the head. My favorite metaphor about a beach on the ocean is here in full force. Especially in the morning.

For whom . For everyone who works with his head and feels that at peak moments she does not take out.

Bonus: Five of the best nootropic bundles

Separately, I would like to mention not only individual substances, but combinations that, when taken simultaneously, give a brighter and more lasting effect. Sorted them according to the complexity of the composition and increasing efficiency.

I do not indicate dosages, since everything is extremely individual. If you decide to drink one of the courses, then consult your doctor, consider all the risks and contraindications.

Caffeine + L-Theanine + Aminalon

The simplest, cheapest and most effective (in terms of efficiency) bundle. Soft stimulating effect, increased attention and memory.

Noopept + Semax

Light stimulation and building connections between neurons. Suitable for everyone, everything is as safe as possible. One caveat - a prescription is required to buy Semax.

Idebenone (Noben) + DMAE + Ginkgo Biloba

Good stimulation, lightness in the body, mood and memory boost.

Ashwagandha, Bacopa Monnieri, Melissa (Lemon Balm), Leuzea, Lion's Mane and Fish Oil

The focus of this bundle is relaxation, concentration, interest in learning and performance.

DMAE, L-Theanine, Bacopa Monnieri, Bioperine, B vitamins, L-Tyrosine, Caffeine and Rhodiola Rosea

That's pretty much everything I listed above. The main task that this combination solves is the pumping of motivation and energy, and then the smooth neutralization of stress.

A cascade effect is obtained: first, gradually increasing stimulation in the morning, and then a gentle relaxation of the head and body towards the end of the day. Neurons need rest, because they are like muscles, they grow during rest, not work. Not many nootropic lovers take into account this nuance.

This bundle is also unique in that it forms the basis of a patented European “mix”, which is officially sold in the Russian Federation under the MindBooster brand. Compatibility of components was checked in laboratories, showed high efficiency and safety.

Learn more