Nootropics and Addiction
Nootropics were initially developed as safe and effective neuroprotectants and cognitive enhancers, but with the continued research into these drugs multiple other potential benefits have been discovered. From effectiveness at battling depression, assistance in working out, improved sports and athletic prowess as well as recovering from and repairing damage from addiction and drug abuse. In some cases, of course, addiction should be attacked by professionals. With certain substances, the danger of detoxing without medical support can lead to serious life-threatening conditions. It’s always best to seek the help of a medical professional but if you’re cleared by a doctor, the following nootropics may help speed you on your way to recovery.
Sunifiram is a relatively new nootropic and still in somewhat of an experimental stage. As a result, remember to dose low (around 5mg is suggested). Sunifiram is an AMPAkine substance that improves NGF (nerve growth factor) and BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) which is vital to strengthening your neural net, the interconnections between neuronal brain cells. It has some dopaminergic effects as well and is theorized to be a mood booster and energizer. Long term use hasn’t been fully studied so this is one to use sparingly, but for those experiencing anhedonia and sluggishness related to drug abuse recovery it could be helpful.
Noopept is another that is also able to work on BDNF and NGF as well as having some dopaminergic effect. Dopamine is your focus, motivation and pleasure neurotransmitter and most illicit drugs of abuse deplete dopamine stores which will not only result in difficulties feeling pleasure and joy but also can result in a brain fog and demotivated depression. Noopept is also excellent at helping regrow and restore balance to the brain. It’s also been shown to have a psycho-stimulatory effect without being physically stimulating. On top of all this, some find it has some anxiolytic benefit. Anxiety, depression, demotivation, lack of focus and brain fog are common with drug addiction recovery.
Piracetam is the classic cognitive enhancer and original nootropic. It’s an excellent neuroprotector and has been shown to be effective in some trials related to alcohol addiction and withdrawal. Piracetam is shown to be most effective, not in healthy brains but in either aging brains or those that have experienced some organic or trauma based damage. Rodent trials showed a decreased interest in alcohol consumption in addicted rats. A human trial from 1990 related to organic mental disorder brought on by alcohol abuse studied 60 inpatients and found: “While the patients of all three groups showed a significant amelioration during the treatment period, a modest but significant superiority was indicated for the high piracetam dose. There was no difference between the placebo group and the patients receiving low dose piracetam.”
Aniracetam, like piracetam, is great at shoring up deficiencies in brain functioning. In addition to that, anecdotally, there is evidence that it may be a somewhat calming compound. Some users report lessened anxiety in addition to other cognitive benefit. Aniracetam also has some effect on dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine we mentioned earlier, but serotonin is also an important neurotransmitter as far as experiencing pleasure which may help offset some depression and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure or joy) that often accompanies recovery from addiction and abuse.
The third of the original, or classic, nootropics is oxiracetam. It’s considered one of the more energizing racetams and is also touted as a mild mood booster. If motivation and mood are an issue then oxiracetam might be a good choice. If you are going to choose racetams, remember to supplement with choline. If you aren’t getting enough dietary choline (and over 90% of people aren’t) then racetam supplementation could lead to brain fog.
Two of the best choline sources for recovering addicts are Alpha GPC and citicoline. Alpha GPC has been shown to be helpful in some cases with mood disturbances and also shows a slightly dopaminergic effect. Citicoline on the other hand is not only cholinergic but also a precursor to dopamine which has been studied as a possible adjunctive therapy for recovering addicts. According to a fairly recent metareview of the literature regarding citicoline and addiction: “The findings suggest that it is safe and well tolerated. Furthermore, citicoline appears to decrease craving and is associated with a reduction in cocaine use, at least at high doses in patients with both bipolar disorder and cocaine dependence. Limited data suggest citicoline may also hold promise for alcohol and cannabis dependence and in reducing food consumption.”
Agmatine is another nootropic that has been studied in relation to addiction recovery. In addition to lowering the threshold for opiate sensitivity it seems to reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as shakes, tremors and anxiety. The actual mechanism of this action is still not fully understood but believed to be related to NMDA receptor antagonism.
9-me-bc, or 9 methyl-beta-carboline is another substance that has been touted as a possible supplement that could be useful for those working on regrowth and repair of their dopamine after abuse and addiction. Addiction and abuse can do long term damage to the brain’s ability to manufacture dopamine which is one of the mechanisms behind addiction and tolerance that leads to more of the same substance being needed to achieve the same effects. It’s theorized that 9-me-bc may actually help restore some of the dopaminergic production ability of the brain.
Drug addiction, abuse and withdrawal are serious issues that should not be undertaken alone. Whether it’s a self help group or family and friends, a chain of support can go a long way. Also remember that some addiction and withdrawal can literally lead to serious physical and/or mental damage if you attempt to quit cold turkey without medical assistance. Always refer to your personal care practitioner if you’re attempting a serious trial such as attempting to recover from drug abuse and addiction.