Who saw that movie Limitless? I am sorry to reference such a distasteful new-age American film, but the principle behind it has relevance— I promise. Don’t you wish you could take a drug that broadened your capacity to learn? This rings particularly true in the realms of intellect and knowledge. I take pride in what I know and the rate at which I learn things. My ego likes to give its two-cents in areas of life I was oblivious it could possibly influence. While I have come to realize I know very little, and am matter-of-factly a slow learner, nothing projects my arrogance more than being in the right. My pride flag flies high when a person asks how to spell a word, what a word means, the answer to a mathematical equation, the context of a phrase/saying, or what the most suitable use of grammar in writing would be. At some point, I noticed I didn’t have ALL of the answers to these sorts of questions, and my ego took a really hard hit. This drove me to try and learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. It just wasn’t happening as fast as I needed.
I consulted a friend of mine who had elevated academic standing at UC Berkeley (a.k.a., a paid researcher), with regards to my dilemma. I asked him hypothetically what measures one would have to take in order to potentiate his learning curve, making certain not to indicate this as a personal endeavor of mine (God, I’m such an addict). He proceeded to inform me of a class of medication completely unheard of to me: Nootropics. In particular, he suggested Piracetam. Since I was coming from a place of “mere curiosity,” and made clear I had no intention of taking such drastic measures, he gave me a very loose synopsis of the pharmacokinetics/dynamics and mechanism of action at work. I was completely unaware of any possible contraindications or adverse/side effects. I hadn’t the slightest clue what I was getting myself into. Even though I am, to a degree, seasoned in the field of pharmacology, I completely overlooked conducting any personal research on the matter. I simply jumped on the internet and ordered a 90-day supply of Piracetam.
When the parcel arrived at my doorstep, I immediately tore open the packaging, poured out my first dose, and guzzled it down with a handful of methadone. After a while, my mind started throbbing. It felt like it was going to simultaneously explode and implode at the same time. I felt like death. Did the methadone and Piracetam have some sort of negative interaction? I decided at that moment that it would be the most opportune time to read through the information provided with the box of pills. I could barely find the courage to focus my mind on reading. Somehow, I managed to force myself, and in doing so I came across the piece of information I was looking for: The pamphlet stated in big bold letters that Piracetam, when not taken in conjunction with an acetylcholine (the neurotransmitter responsible for memory, among other functions) inhibitor, has the strong potential to cause headaches. Fortunately, I happened to have a bottle of lecithin (a fat compound found in eggs yolks, soybeans, and certain meats) granules lying around that I would use to help potentiate opiates. I remembered reading about lecithin being a precursor to acetylcholine in my pharmacology textbook. I immediately swallowed a couple granule capsules, forced myself to sleep, and woke up a few hours later feeling fine and dandy.
I continued taking the two drugs for a few weeks to get a true unadulterated feel for the rise in cognitive function supposedly achievable through the use of this drug. I wish I could have conducted some sort of double-blind study with a friend, so as to waive the possibility of a placebo effect. What I can say with certainty is I could definitely notice a difference in my retention of information. My long-term memory has always been a precision point of mine. I can remember what you told me about the Dali painting at his museum when we were in Barcelona five years ago. My short-term memory is my shortcoming by comparison. I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast this morning. This was the area in which I benefited the most. I found I could cram for a test the day before and remember significantly more than I would otherwise.
There was a catch: I had to be actively engaged in what I was trying to remember or learn. It DID NOT increase my attention. I suffer from a rather serious case of ADHD- inattentive type. It felt as if I would have a clearer memory of a memory I was pondering in that moment. (You might have to reread that last sentence. I promise it makes sense.) I knew I wanted to focus on what was right in front of me, but my inattentiveness hindered that severely. In a way, it was as if I became a much stronger daydreamer. In the end, on the advice of my doctor, I started taking a stimulant medication to treat my attention deficit. I have found that when I am able to devote my focus to one task at a time, I am able to remember more than is usually required in life. I don’t encourage you to take Nootropics, unless you and your doctor (so long as he isn’t a crooked doc) decide that you would benefit from their GABAergic effects. I have played my own doctor for far too long—and always manage to mess something up more than it was already—every time I self-medicate.
By Andrew T.
Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs, Featured · Tags: acetylcholine inhibitor, addict, Addiction, ADHD, ADHD inattentive type, adverse effects, Alcohol and Drugs, Barcelona, cognitive function, contraindications, Dali, doctor, doctors, double-blind study, ego, GABAergic, granule capsules, inattentiveness, intellect, internet, knowledge, lecithin, Limitless, long-term memory, medication, memory, memory loss, methadone, negative interaction, neurotransmitter, Nootropics, opiates, pharmacokinetics, pharmacology, pills, Piracetam, placebo, placebo effect, Salvador Dali, self-medicate, short-term memory, side effects, slow learner, stimulant, UC Berkeley