A A common concern I’ve heard from people taking nootropics is a worry that they will become dependent on it, develop a tolerance, and have a habit that no longer pays off.  This is legitimate, and there’s a perfect example that I bet every reader here is familiar with:  caffeine.

We’ve all known of someone who started drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, graduated to an afternoon dose, and ended up knocking out a pot of coffee daily.  By the end, they got minimal advantage out of it, and in some cases, put up with caffeine withdrawal to break themselves of the habit.  Not exactly worth it, in the long run.

Use a calendar to track your nootropic days

Use a Calendar to Track Nootropic Cycles

This same effect plays out with most brain chemistry altering substances, and nootropics are certainly in that category.  Not all, incidentally, as in particular L-theanine has a remarkably clean tolerance/withdrawal/habit-forming record.  Even without physical dependence, however, psychological reliance is an issue to look out for.  If you start telling yourself that you “need modafinil/ephedrine/whatever” to get meaningful work done, you risk it becoming an engrained habit.

The way to control this is to regularly cycle your nootropics.  My generic advice here is to use a heuristic (or rule of thumb), which is a pretty safe choice.  “3x/wk. or less” handles the majority of what people consider a nootropic, and even in the case of a rapid-tolerance building substance like caffeine should be sufficient to manage your levels.  Personally, I’ll test the effectiveness of anything I take between 2x to 4x/wk. and base my sustained use on that.

    I can think of one exception offhand, so just in case you consider phenibut a nootropic, be careful to keep it to twice, if not once, a week.  By the way, while I don’t see it on most people’s lists online, it has popped up in forum discussions as being used for creativity in writing books and/or composing music.  I don’t get any nootropic/productivity boosting effects out of it, though I’ve gotten value out of it as an occasional deep sleep inducer.  I’m careful to respect its quick tolerance building and cap it appropriately.

    Anyway, try mixing and matching a few nootropics cycled 3x/wk. or less, and you’ll be able to maintain full effects from them without needing to mega-dose, develop tolerance, or risk the specter of withdrawal symptoms. Oh, and full disclosure:  I am a daily or near-daily caffeine user; I get stable results if I keep my consumption ~400 mg.  I definitely notice if I turn to abusing it, however, and have to wean myself off it then.  It’s most likely genetic, as there are big differences in how people metabolize caffeine that affect how much tolerance-building they risk.  I am, however, militant about cycling everything else. 🙂