Just Say “No” to Nootropics

Nootropics Pose Danger to Addicts in Recovery

An important question to consider in addiction treatment programs is how safe are supplements? While multivitamins are generally safe, the rise of supplements to enhance physical and mental performance may be risky for the general population and especially those in addiction recovery. A recent class of supplements known as nootropics have been marketed online, especially through social media sources like Facebook. They promise to help with concentration, attention span and overall cognitive function – boosting memory, alertness and mental performance.

The target audience for these supplements are young college age adults and young working professionals and the demand is growing. Take, “Alleradd” for example, a play on the word for the drug “Adderall” that uses this marketing statement: “Alleradd elevates your energy, enhances your memory, and helps you find your focus, even if you are tired or stressed out.” AlternaScript says that among those who use their product are students, entrepreneurs, athletes and business executives. They also say they can deliver these benefits without the side effects of prescription drugs. Such marketing tactics make the unsuspecting believe they must be safe and even beneficial for use.

Unfortunately, these supplements may provide a “gray area” for addicts in recovery who don’t consider supplements mood altering and aren’t considered controlled substances. However, if drugs like Alleradd deliver similar effects to drugs like Adderall, then these pose a risky slippery slope for addicts. They certainly qualify as mood or mind altering, according to their marketing slogans, and may give an addict a “taste” of a high that could lead to a full-blown relapse. The commonly used phrase in Narcotics Anonymous that “one is too many and a thousand is never enough” is highly applicable to these supplements. They likely provide the former stimulant abuser, for example, with a feeling of the high, but not quite enough – which may influence them to seek the real thing.

While addiction treatment programs should educate clients on these supplements, the general population should be cautioned as well. Just like with synthetic drugs, little is known about the physical and mental effects of the combination of supplements like piracetam and tyrosine in nootropics even if they are “natural.” Unfortunately it usually takes a few adverse events for the FDA or other government agencies to ban such products. Until then, education and caution should be used – especially for addicts in recovery who may be vulnerable to the marketing tactics of AlternaScript, the makers of Alleradd.