In any discussion of any chemical with any effect on the brain, two words pop up: “drug” and “dependence.” For many, the relationship of nootropics and drugs is in itself a sufficient argument to bypass the “smart pills” per kilometer. For others, there are clear boundaries between the two concepts.
A young business woman, A., with whom I spoke on condition of anonymity, uses piracetam (nootropil) in large doses: “A gram is 6–8 per day, if it can be useful, 5 months”. Nevertheless, A. significantly tense at the mention of drugs: “I am against drugs, you are dumb with them, but with nootropics, thoughts are clear, clear and deep, not parochial.”
What is the difference between nootropic and narcotic? A common criterion is dependence, but this word also requires definition. Most people understand by the word “addiction” any deterioration of the brain during abstinence. The phrase “X is addictive” in this sense means that if you stop using X, then the brain will work for a while worse than before using X.
But the scientific definition of dependence is much narrower. “The very fact that someone uses a drug (the word drug in English means both“ drug ”and“ medicine. ”Approx. Of the author), even regularly, does not tell us whether he has a dependency.” – explains psychologist Karl Hart.
Hart, by his own admission, is a former drug dealer who held a gun in the glove compartment of the car, and now a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Colombia, a drug addiction specialist and a well-known destroyer of drug myths.
“According to the most common definition of addiction in psychiatry textbooks, in order to be considered an addiction, substance use must violate important life functions: parenthood, work, intimate life. It should be maintained, despite the continuing negative consequences and attempts to engage, take a lot of time and mental energy. ”
Coffee, for example, causes “addiction”, expressed in drowsiness during withdrawal. But this drowsiness disappears in a few days without much effort and suffering. In addition, coffee does not harm the work and family, and in recent years, medical literature has tended to believe that its use is generally beneficial for the body. From a scientific point of view, dependence on coffee does not exist.
“Science does not distinguish between legal and illegal drugs in the definition of dependence, as well as the body. These differences are made by society for political or social reasons, ”said Karl Hart.
The criterion of dependence from a scientific point of view is extremely fragile, as the boundary between nootropics and drugs in principle. The fate of “smart pills”, says Professor Hart, is not decided by scientists, but by society and the law. From them, and not from doctors, it depends on which substances are considered good and which are bad.
“For a big urgent job, I took something from a friend that I was named as Ritalin in powder,” journalist M., who wished to remain anonymous, told the editorial office. After Ritalin ended, he asked the same friend yet. This time the powder was a different, yellow color.
“On the same day, on the way home, I was accidentally braked.” The police found a yellow powder from M. “The analysis showed that amphetamine, and made by someone in the garage. Strongly less than a gram, but still 228, a fine of up to 40 thousand, or from a year to three, real or conditional. ”
From a chemical point of view, amphetamine is the same as the popular American nootropic adderol. Apparently, M.’s acquaintance simply considered Ritalin and Adderol interchangeable substances, which, in general, corresponds to the truth.
But chemical structure is only one of the variables in this equation, and often far less significant than the cultural context. The word “adderol” means “smart tablet”, which really helps some people to work and concentrate. And the word “amphetamine” means a drug that can actually lead some people to addiction. If you live in the USA and your doctor prescribes adderol produced by a pharmaceutical company, then you increase your attention and memory.
For the brain, however, “nootropic”, “narcotic” and even “neuromodulator” are simply words with the letter “n”.