Adderall: The Notorious “study drug” and How to Find a Safer Alternative

Adderall and other stimulant use has become widespread nowadays, and with that rise has also come the rise of dangerous side-effects. Certainly, this “study drug” is known to increase focus, memory retention and attention to detail. However, when used improperly, it is also known to have detrimental side effects that may include liver damage, mental effects such as nervousness and restlessness, and some other effects such as drug dependence.

If you’re looking for the best nootropic solution (perhaps for an upcoming exam or a public speaking engagement that would require a huge mental boost), it’s best to look for a safer alternative to Adderall.


Adrafinil is known as a synthetic nootropic supplement that primarily acts as a central nervous system stimulant. It focuses on preventing fatigue and increasing energy and wakefulness. However, Adrafinil does more than just fight sleepiness; it has also been shown to enhance mood, motivation, and reaction time, and its potential cognitive benefits include improved memory, better focus over longer periods, and even increased learning capacity.


It also acts on the adrenergic system – this is the part of the nervous system that releases adrenaline. Typically thought of in terms of the “fight or flight” response, a rapid release of adrenaline consequently boosts energy and increases alertness. While not all of Adrafinil’s actions are completely understood, it is believed to replicate the positive effect of an adrenaline release due to its effects of amplifying adrenergic neurotransmitters.

Adrafinil is actually a synthetic prodrug or precursor, which means that is initially pharmacologically inactive but is converted to an active form inside the body through a normal metabolic process. Adrafinil is metabolized in the liver, where it is converted to Modafinil, a USFDA-approved treatment for wakefulness disorders sold under the brand names Alertec, Modavigil, and Provigil. The pharmacological effects of Adrafinil are virtually identical to those of Modafinil (another famous nootropic).

User reviews on Adrafinil support that its greatest effects are on cognitive performance and memory. They say that Adrafinil significantly increases the cognitive performance – as expected – and sharpens the user’s memory. Other benefits of Adrafinil include an increase in appetite, promoting healthy sleep, and improving alertness and wakefulness.

However, Adrafinil is known to have side effects when taken beyond prescription. Since Adrafinil is metabolized in the liver, heavy dosages of the drug can cause liver damage. Other Adrafinil side effects include increased blood pressure and heart health problems. Unlike most nootropics, adrafinil has some worrisome side effects that should be closely monitored.

To avoid long-term liver damage, individuals should not take more than 600mg-1.2g of adrafinil three times a week for a maximum of five months. Drinking milk thistle could be a solution, and it has a much wider range of dosages. A standard starting dosage is 150mg, but dosages as high as 600mg are common.

Phenylpiracetam is an excellent alternative to both Adrafinil and Modafinil. It provides a major boost in energy as well as cognition without the liver damage and other side effects. It also will not make you jittery as higher caffeine dosages are likely to do. Anecdotal evidence suggests phenylpiracetam is actually stronger than Adrafinil, but this has not been scientifically tested.

In using this drug, individuals should take 100-200mg of Phenylpiracetam 2-3 times per day. Phenylpiracetam works best when taken only when needed (such as before a major exam or when you absolutely must stay awake for an extended period in time) rather than daily.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is defined by the FDA as being a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant with a single-entity amphetamine product combining the neutral salts of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It is a drug that’s more commonly known as a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), however, it is infamous for having many side effects.


The efficacy of Adderall in combating symptoms of ADHD/ADD by augmenting its user’s attention is well known and is, currently, the reason for its primary indication for prescription. A study produced these results: In children, Adderral has been shown to increase IQ scores in 100% (over a period of a year) of the children that participated in the study compared to no change in IQ in children not taking any medication. Its stimulant nature also makes it widely used for patients suffering from conditions of hypersomnolence such as narcolepsy.

Depending on one’s goals, whether treating ADHD/ADD or some other indicated use for Adderall, there seems to be a real benefit to using Adderall over other amphetamines in its quicker onset and longer duration of action. This effect seems to be directly related to the use of a racemic, rather than pure, mixture of amphetamines.

Surely, Adderall has the components of nootropics. People then started to use it as a smart drug. It has been reported that it can increase stimulation, arousal, and promote hyperactivity. Users also say that they have increased alertness, awareness, and wakefulness along with more energy and endurance. There are also reports of enhanced attention, focus, and concentration. However, Adderall has many adverse side effects.

Safe and effective nootropics nowadays should have little to no side effects at all. However, Adderall has reported side effects that include nervousness, restlessness, headaches, anxiety, agitation, tremor, blurred vision, sleep problems (insomnia), dry mouth or unpleasant taste in the mouth, stomach pain and nausea, fever, hair loss, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Blood pressure and heart rate may increase, and patients may experience heart palpitations. More importantly, Adderall is habit forming and chronic use may lead to dependence.


It would be best to try some alternatives to Adderall if you’re looking for a smart drug. Keep in mind that there are several different types of smart drug that can induce improved concentration. Thus, it may be more beneficial to choose other nootropics that can provide the same effects on your ability to focus.

The Caffeine and L-Theanine combination is one of the more famous nootropic solution. It is one of the most studied nootropics currently being sold in the market. Caffeine can stimulate higher focus, concentration and motivation while the L-Theanine negates the drawbacks (such as increased heart rate and blood pressure).

Most importantly, L-Theanine improves the concentration aspects of caffeine while removing jitters and anxiety. Numerous studies show how useful this combination is over that of each individual ingredient alone. It can also improve memory (through BDNF) by 25%.

Another option is to choose Aniracetam. Originally intended to treat memory disorders, Aniracetam is currently one of the Racetams that many people use for improving concentration and focus; Aniracetam has the function of stimulating certain (AMPA and Glutamate) receptors in the brain. The slight structural difference from other Racetams makes Aniracetam a fat soluble compound that has different properties in the human body.

This compound is effective for improving neurological connections to improve concentration, as opposed to stimulating hormone secretion. As an alternative to Adderall, there is no strong dump of neurochemicals (dopamine), but instead, you can experience a more steady clarity.

Racetams are also a family of drugs that has a lot of research done on them already. There have been decades of studies showing it has few side effects on neither animals nor humans. Like Adderall, Aniracetam has mood-enhancing effects, but they are created in a sustainable way. Taking a dose of 750 mg twice per day is a good starting point to replace Adderall.

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