Addiction is a highly complex process within the brain. It involves craving, loss of control, changes within the brain, withdrawal, and much more. There are many drugs on the market that are legal with a prescription, that end in addictive behavior.
Nootropics are considered a safer alternative to many drugs that are currently on the market. Before we examine certain nootropics, we need to focus on addiction. What is it? How Does it Relate to the Brain?
Regardless of the pleasurable experience, our brain processes pleasure in the same way. Within the brain, a satisfying meal will create the same effects as drug administration. The amount of pleasure we experience is based on the neurotransmitter dopamine.
It is believed that the nucleus accumbens is the brain’s pleasure center, since dopamine release is consistently tied to pleasure when released from this area. When you take a drug, your brain releases a powerful surge of dopamine.
There are many factors regarding addiction. We’re still learning new aspects everyday. Whether or not addiction will occur is directly linked to how fast dopamine is released, the intensity, and the reliability that the release will occur. The method is also considered a factor. When one smokes or injects a drug, it is said to produce a stronger dopamine effect in comparison to swallowing a pill.
It was once believed that the pleasurable effects associated with drug use, were enough to create addictive behavior. However, it is more complex than this. Dopamine not only creates pleasurable effects, it is associated with learning and memory.
Addictive substances overload the reward circuit, which is involved in motivation and memory. Repeated exposure produces a connection within your brain. Your brain associates liking something with wanting it. This increases motivation, driving us to seek it out. When we actively seek out this pleasure, we begin to exhibit addictive behavior.
Once you take more and more of that desired substance, you build a tolerance. This means that you no longer experience the same effects, increasing the dosage. Once dosage is increased, individuals often become dependent. This means that when you try to stop taking the drug, you experience withdrawal effects. Since these effects can be uncomfortable, even painful, many continue using.
Withdrawal Effects and Nootropics
If you would like to begin using nootropics, you are probably wondering if you’ll experience addictive behaviors or withdrawal effects. There is no easy answer, as there are so many nootropics available on the market. However, there are some common experiences.
Nootropics are considered to be safe and non-addictive. In some cases, nootropics can create long-term benefits for your brain (even after you terminate usage). Although this is the case for nootropics, this is not necessarily true for ‘smart drugs,’ especially those that act as central nervous system stimulants.
Some have experienced ‘brain fog’ when discontinuing nootropic use. This is due to your brain adjusting to perceptual differences. With that being said, there are no known physical symptoms of withdrawal caused by nootropics.
What Happens to Cognition When Nootropic Use Is Discontinued?
Many people are concerned that they’ll experience a decline in their cognitive abilities once they stop taking their doses. This is understandable, as you do not want to become reliant on any substance (even if it is non-toxic).
This is not the case with nootropics, especially those within the racetam family. When you take Piracetam for instance, you will improve within a variety of cognitive tasks. You’ll experience increased levels of energy, have higher levels of clarity, and experience less ‘brain strain.’
Once you stop using Piracetam, you may revert back to feelings of mental strain. This makes individuals concerned, wondering if this experience is caused by the discontinuation of Piracetam. However, this is because you are no longer experiencing the short-terms effects associated with Piracetam.
It can take a few days to feel ‘normal’ once again. However, you will not regress backwards. You will not decline in terms of cognitive functioning. You will be no different than you were before you began using nootropics such as Aniracetam or Oxiracetam.
Tolerance and Withdrawal Concerns of Sulbutiamine
Sulbutiamine is known to have a positive effect on mood and one’s ability to focus. This vitamin B derivative, is low risk when taken appropriately, however, there are some concerns. Before you begin using this supplement, it’s important to understand its overall effects.
There has been some speculation that Sulbutiamine is addictive for some users. There isn’t any concrete evidence, but this supplement does affect dopamine levels (which is generally associated with addiction).
Although it affects dopamine, it does not have the same effects as most mood enhancers. Sulbutiamine actually decreases the amount of dopamine which is released by neurons. This results in more dopamine receptors within certain areas of the brain. This is one reason that some experts believe that dopamine is not the cause of addiction.
Possible addiction and withdrawal concerns are more likely to occur when doses are extremely high. This may also be magnified when Sulbutiamine is taken with anti-psychotic medications. If users take this supplement 10 days in a row, it’s possible to experience withdrawal for 2 to 5 days. This is why it’s important to moderate the regularity and quantity of doses.
Choline Supplements, Dopamine, and Addiction
When you consume choline, you not only help synthesize acetylcholine, but you increase dopamine receptor density. Due to choline’s effects on dopamine receptors, some have actually used choline to help remove their addiction.
When your dopamine receptor density increases, you’re able to feel much better (as your brain is able to utilize higher levels of dopamine). Cocaine dependence for instance, is directly linked to depleted dopamine levels. A supplement such as Citicoline, increases dopamine levels. This helps reduce cravings, helping eliminate one’s addiction.
Although research is still fairly limited, the existing literature is fairly profound. It has been found that natural choline supplements, help fight addiction, aiding the recovery process. Of course, the recovery process is unique for each individual. However, those that have used choline, recognize its benefits.