Cognitive Enhancement Drugs Pros and Cons

Cognitive enhancement drugs have been around for years and can work to improve brain health and function by increasing the blood flow to the brain.

This, in turn, affects the release of certain chemicals in the prefrontal cortex. The release of these chemicals can improve mental focus, brainpower, mental clarity, cognitive function, and so much more.

But are cognitive enhancers safe? What are the cognitive enhancement drugs pros and cons?

The Cognitive enhancement drugs pros and cons can vary from person to person. In terms of cons, you’re looking a mild side effects possible addiction if you abuse the drug, and insomnia if the nootropic is taken too close to bedtime.

The pros of nootropics use far outweigh the cons.

The pros include improved mental clarity, focus, creativity, attention, energy, and cognitive function.

However, these drugs tend to affect each user differently, so there is no guarantee that a nootropic will work for you the way you need it to.

This is why many people tend to experiment with nootropic use in the beginning, in order to find a product that works the best with their own unique brain chemistry.

Now that you know the pros and cons of nootropics use, you’ll find that many of the side effects can easily be prevented if you use the drug correctly, pay close attention to the recommended daily dose, and avoid taking it too close to your bedtime.

Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of nootropics use and how they have a major impact on your energy level and performance.

Do Cognitive Enhancement Drugs Really Work?

All drugs can have negative or positive effects. Cognitive enhancement drugs are no different. These drugs can provide you with the type of mental focus you need to study for an upcoming exam, finish a presentation for work, and motivate you to get active and get the job done.

Natural nootropics are proven in boosting brain function while at the same time making the brain healthier.[1]

They can even help fight off fatigue, improve your concentration, and can generally help to improve mental focus.

Basically, cognitive enhancement drugs will give you an edge. But unlike illegal street drugs, cognitive enhancement drugs are generally safe to use, with minimal side effects, especially when used correctly.

We know many of these drugs really work, so let’s delve a little deeper and learn more about the benefits they have to offer and how they can give you the mental clarity and energy you need and the mental focus you want.

Pros of Cognitive Enhancement Drugs


Cognitive enhancement drugs can do wonders for your attention span. If you usually struggle to stay on track and focus on the task at hand, then they can be total game-changers, especially when it comes to productivity in the workplace.

Aside from improving your focus, they can also magnify the brain’s storage capacity, improving long-term memory.

Brain Health

These powerful drugs can also protect the brain’s neurons by slowing down age-related degradation of brain tissues. Many researchers believe that the right nootropic has the potential to slow down the process of age-related dementia.[2]

Many types of smart drugs work by inverting the process of brain tissue decomposition to a certain extent. If the decaying process of neurons and brain tissue is slowed down, then the brain can remain healthy for a longer period of time.

Prevents Brain Fog

These drugs can also help to reduce or prevent brain fog, allowing you to work harder, more efficiently, and longer than ever before.[3]

Brain fog usually involves a feeling of constant mental fatigue, anxiety, trouble sleeping, forgetfulness, and the inability to focus. Often, it’s a direct result of stress, usually at work or school.

If you find that you have trouble organizing your thoughts at work or when you’re studying, then a nootropic can help.

Minimize Anxiety and Stress

Certain types of cognitive enhancement drugs can help to reduce both anxiety and stress, naturally elevating mood.[4][5]

Memory Retention

There’s a reason college kids rely on these drugs to study before a big exam. Not only do they help to improve focus, but they can also help you retain new information and can improve both long-term and short-term memory.

A Natural Boost in Energy

Not only can cognitive enhancement drugs improve your focus or help you retain new information for the long haul they can also offer a natural boost in energy, something both your brain and body will appreciate.

Most stimulant nootropics can also be used to improve motivation. Caffeine is actually the most popular and commonly used nootropic and one that works well to help improve focus and energy.[6]

When this stimulant is combined with another nootropic, such as L-theanine, it works to significantly boost your energy, without leaving you feeling anxious or jittery. Instead, users tend to feel naturally energized and motivated.

Cons of Cognitive Enhancement Drugs

Some people believe that nootropics are perfectly safe and tend to overlook the recommended daily dosage of these powerful drugs. But when abused, these drugs can pose a number of health issues, both physically and mentally.

Severe Headaches

Some cognitive enhancement drugs require your brain to use acetylcholine, the use of which can lead to overexcited synapses. This can result in a severe headache or migraine once the drug starts wearing off.

However, you can easily avoid this side effect by taking a daily dose of choline, another popular nootropic.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Overuse can wreak havoc on your stomach. This can cause users to feel nauseated or experience abdominal pain. Severe side effects include vomiting and diarrhea. This can easily be prevented by following the correct dosing instructions.

Additionally, if you’re someone who is very sensitive to stimulants, then you may experience these side effects even when you follow the dosing instructions.

As an example, if you normally experience nausea after drinking a cup of coffee, then you may want to steer clear of any type of nootropic stack that includes caffeine. This is why it’s so crucial that you pay close attention to a product’s ingredients before you buy and try.

If you’re not sure whether or not a certain nootropic can cause GI issues, check out nootropic reviews or speak with your doctor before use.

Sleep Issues

If you take a nootropic stack too close to bedtime, you may experience insomnia. This tends to happen because stimulant cognitive enhancement drugs work to increase your energy. In order to avoid a restless night, take the nootropic at least five to six hours before bedtime.

There are also nootropics available that are actually designed to help you rest better at night. These drugs do not work like your typical sleeping pills.

Instead, they work to increase melatonin production and can provide a calming effect that helps to reduce anxiety and stress. This type of nootropic can obviously be taken close to bedtime.

Other nootropics, the fast-acting stimulant drugs, tend to have the opposite effect and can cause you to lie awake at night. But with the right timing, you can enjoy both types of nootropics and enjoy a healthier sleep pattern and more natural energy throughout the day.

Addiction and Abuse

Just like any drug, some nootropics can be addictive if abused. During use, you should always follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions.

Some types of nootropics can be taken daily, safely, while others should not be. Additionally, if you’re on other over-the-counter or prescribed medications, you should consult your physician prior to use, in order to avoid a drug interaction.


Some people feel that the use of cognitive enhancement drugs is unethical, especially when used right before an exam. They believe that these drugs can give the student an unfair advantage.

But many argue that nootropics have been used for hundreds of years to improve performance. Take coffee, for example, most college students drink it in order to feel more focused, wide awake, alert, and energized, right before they study or right before they take a final exam.

Other nootropics are no different. They offer the same type of results, although some will work better than others.

How to Use Cognitive Enhancement Drugs Wisely

Now that you’ve learned about the advantages and disadvantages of nootropics use, you should have a clearer picture of what you can expect in terms of how these drugs can affect your performance for better or worse.

Everyone will respond to a nootropic differently. What may work for your friend may not work for you. This is due to the fact that the drugs work based on our unique brain chemistry.

If you’re not sure whether a nootropic will work for you or provide the type of results you want, make sure you take a nootropic for the first time at home, not right before an exam or before you head into the office.

This will give you a safe space to monitor how the nootropic makes you feel.

All nootropics have their own unique pros and cons. These drugs work as neurotransmitters, working their way across the blood-brain barrier to speed up the transfer of essential chemicals.

The side effects associated with these drugs are minimal at best. However, extra care should be practiced for users who are taking other medications or those with an underlying medical condition.

Before you try cognitive enhancement drugs, it’s important that you do your own research for each type. You can also do a little digging and learn more about each specific nootropic to find out how the drug affects users, what side effects to expect, how long the nootropic lasts, how quickly it kicks in, and how it helps.

Related Questions

Are Nootropics  Available Over the Counter?

Yes, most types of nootropics are sold over the counter, with no prescription needed, however, there are some countries that restrict the sale of certain types of nootropics.

What are Nootropics Used for?

Nootropics are used to improve cognitive function, boost memory, motivation, creativity, and brainpower. These drugs are available in synthetic or all-natural formulas.

Fast-acting nootropics are often used by professionals and students in need of a serious brain boost.

Slow-acting nootropics can take several weeks to kick in and are usually taken to improve memory, cognitive functions, and general well-being.

Is Nootropics Use Dangerous?

No. While some types of nootropics do have potential side effects when taken correctly, nootropics are perfectly safe. Of course, if you have an underlying health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, it’s recommended that you consult your physician prior to use.

Additionally, if you’re on medication it’s also important to ensure that the nootropics will not cause a drug interaction or have a negative impact on the effectiveness of your routine medication.

In terms of potential dangers, there have been reports of gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches, when used incorrectly.

How Long Does it Take for Nootropics to Kick In?

This will depend on the type of nootropic, the active ingredient, your sensitivity to the active ingredient, your weight, age, and whether the drug was taken on a full or empty stomach.

Fast-acting nootropics can take effect in as little as fifteen minutes to one hour. Other types of nootropics will not kick in for a period of several weeks because they need to build up in your system before you can feel the full effects.

Typically, fast-acting nootropics are not recommended for daily use. Make sure you read the product’s label before you take a new nootropic to determine whether it’s a slow-acting or fast-acting formula. Learn more on how long do nootropics last.

Is the Use of a Cognitive Enhancer Ethical?

Neither the use of prescription nor non-prescription cognitive enhancers are unethical. However, using prescription drugs illegally may be dangerous. Never take cognitive prescription drugs without the supervision of a medical professional.

Final Thoughts

There are many cognitive enhancement pros and cons, depending on the results you’re looking for.

Most nootropics come with no known side effects, while others have mild effects that can cause gastrointestinal distress or a severe headache.

Ultimately, users have found that the pros easily outweigh the cons. Basically, when taken correctly most cognitive enhancement drugs are safe and effective.

If you’re not sure if nootropics are right for you, consult your physician and do your own research to determine if a specific drug offers the types of benefits you’re looking for, without the risks.

Nootropics Pros and Cons Summary


  • Increase Focus 
  • Improves Brain Health
  • Prevents Brain Fog
  • Minimize Anxiety & Stress
  • Improve Memory
  • Increase Energy


  • Headaches  
  • Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Sleep Issues
  • Addiction & Abuse

Taylor Bates

Taylor is a neurohacking expert who has been in the world of nootropics since it gained popularity almost 10 years ago. He overcame his ADD, procrastination and lack of focus with nootropics. Now, he is sharing his knowledge and experience here at to help others navigate the world of cognitive enhancement.
Cognitive Enhancement Drugs: The Pros and Cons
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Cognitive Enhancement Drugs: The Pros and Cons
What are the Pros and Cons of Cognitive Enhancement Drugs? Benefits include focus, memory, energy, brain health and cons may include unwanted side effects.
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