Best Smart Drugs for Work
Best Smart Drugs for Work

Best Smart Drugs for Work

Updated July 30, 2021

Written by the WikiJob Team

At various moments in life, there are undoubtedly times when you want to take a pill or supplement to make you smarter.

Whether it's to help you concentrate as you study for an exam, stay up all night studying or simply something to calm your nerves, the advance in pharmaceutical care means that drugs that can make you smarter are now a reality.

Gone are the days when a simple cup of coffee or a can of Red Bull was enough to give you focus and concentration. Instead, we now live in a world where we can use smart drugs to boost creativity, aid concentration, improve memory and enhance motivation.

But what do these smart drugs do? And, more importantly, do they actually work?

In this article, we're going to explore what smart drugs and other nootropics are.

We'll also examine when these supplements can be used and what types of smart drugs are available for work purposes.

What Is a Smart Drug?

A smart drug is a type of legal drug that is designed to increase your cognitive performance.

They are not intended to create a 'high'. Instead, they should improve your work performance, whether that's through improving your concentration or helping you think more creatively.

What Is a Nootropic?

'Nootropic' is another word that is commonly used for smart drugs. It is a substance that can improve your brainpower.

Some nootropics can be purchased freely over the counter, and others may require a prescription from a doctor.

Caffeine is an excellent example of a nootropic, as a regular cup of coffee has long been known to improve your focus.

Omega-3 fatty acids (often found in fish oil supplements) are also renowned for improving your brain health, while creatine supplements (often found in protein powders) can appear to help your short-term memory.

Why Do People Use Smart Drugs for Work?

The use of smart drugs for work purposes is highly controversial, and there isn't much research readily available to showcase what employers really think about them.

Therefore, it's essential to be clear that there is no tangible proof that smart drugs work.

There is also a lack of evidence that confirms whether using them regularly is safe.

So, if their intended usage is disputed, why do so many people seek out smart drugs?

Some people (especially students) want to boost their concentration, allowing them to study for more extended periods.

There may also be medical reasons why a person takes a smart drug. For example, those who are diagnosed as having ADHD may rely on a prescription-only drug to allow them to focus their attention on a single task.

In 2014, almost 20% of Ivy League students admitted to misusing prescription stimulants to gain academic superiority, with a third stating that they did not consider it a form of cheating.

Up-to-date stats are difficult to find, and it may be because fewer people are prepared to admit to using smart drugs or nootropics for work purposes.

Common Prescription-Only Nootropics

The issue with prescription-based smart drugs is that there is evidence that they do work when used for their specific intended purpose.

However, prescription abuse is rife, and there are numerous adverse side effects, which we will list later in this article, that can hinder any progress made.

It's important to note that these are controlled drugs and should only be taken under your doctor's careful supervision.

In addition, there may be legal implications from using these drugs without a prescription.

Adderall and Ritalin

These are prescription nootropics that are commonly used for those diagnosed with ADHD.

Adderall can help people feel more alert and is a common smart drug of choice for high-pressure environments.

However, it is highly addictive and has numerous side effects, such as sweating, nervousness, nausea and the risk of psychosis.

Similarly, Ritalin is another common drug prescribed for those with ADHD. It is often prescribed for those who may have had a brain injury, as it has shown that it can increase concentration and improve your memory.

However, this drug should only ever be used under medical supervision, as the wrong dosage can impair your cognitive function and cause blurred vision and nausea.


A prescription drug, Modafinil is used to treat those diagnosed with narcolepsy and other sleeping disorders.

People believe that they can benefit from better alertness, faster reactions and better motivation if they use this drug. However, long-term or incorrect usage has also been linked with reduced memory capacity.


We may associate nicotine with smoking, and we know that many employers are actively implementing smoke-free workforces.

But did you know that nicotine can also be linked with better motor skills, better memory and increased attention spans?

There are thoughts that nicotine could be considered as effective as ADHD medications. However, those using nicotine regularly risk many smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer or cardiac arrest. It is also highly addictive.

The Downsides of Using a Smart Drug for Work Purposes

As we've mentioned, the use of smart drugs is highly controversial, and there are many downsides, regardless of whether you use a prescription-only smart drug or a natural supplement.

In the workplace, there is little published on how employers view smart drug usage. This may be because they are unaware of any issues, or they could be turning a blind eye.

Some companies in high-pressure industries (such as city finance) could be ignoring the issue of smart drugs, because they actively encourage their employees to work as long and as hard as possible.

There are moral and ethical issues at play.

For example,

  • Is it right that one person gets a promotion over another due to seemingly achieving more during the day, despite being influenced by smart drugs?
  • Could this widen gender or ethnicity pay gaps?
  • Could regular usage of addictive substances for work purposes have legal implications?

There's a lot to consider, and many employers need to implement stringent HR policies that explain their thoughts and feelings on this matter.

It's important to remember that there is no concrete evidence that smart drugs even work.

They could merely have a placebo effect that could risk your overall health and wellbeing for no tangible benefit.

However, even natural supplements, such as caffeine and creatine, can have lasting impacts if you take too much for too long.

It's why you should always seek medical advice before taking any medications for non-medicinal purposes.

If you are adamant that you want to try a smart drug for work, make sure you do comprehensive research.

It's not just about how that supplement could aid you in the workplace. It's also about ensuring that you do not cause lasting damage to your body.

In addition, you should pay close attention to any known side effects – there's little point in taking a pill to improve your concentration if it equally makes you feel nauseous, sweaty, bloated or gives you blurred vision.

Natural Supplements That Can Be Considered a Nootropic

We've spoken about the prescription-only nootropics that people use in the belief that it makes them smarter at work.

Now it's time to look at some of the more natural supplements that can be beneficial in the workplace.

These nootropics have different capabilities and are a natural alternative to prescription drugs. However, as with any supplement, they can also have a lasting impact on your body, so you should be clear on what you are taking and seek medical advice.


Whether you need a boost in the morning to get going or an afternoon 'pick me up', there's little doubt that caffeine is a natural nootropic supplement.

It's something that can give you more energy and alertness and help to improve your concentration.

As well as coffee, caffeine can easily be consumed via caffeine tablets, sports drinks and sodas.

However, it's essential to know your limitations.

For example, too much caffeine can lead to jitters, and those with health conditions or those who are pregnant may need to be mindful of how much caffeine they can consume.

The Smart Drugs and Supplements that Can Improve Your Work
The Smart Drugs and Supplements that Can Improve Your Work


This is an amino acid and can often be found naturally occurring in tea.

Sold in health stores as a natural supplement, L-Theanine has relaxation properties that allow you to improve your attention and alertness.

While this may seem a contradiction, if you can relax your body away from ‘fight’ mode, you can be far more productive and improve your ability to retain specific information.

Omega-3 DHA

For years it has been widely known that omega 3 (aka fish oil supplements) can create a healthy brain.

It has been associated with improved memory and better attention spans. In addition, research has indicated that those who have high DHA levels are far less likely to suffer from dementia.

If you have high DHA levels, you are also more likely to have quicker, more reactive thought processes, better learning ability and improved memory. It's also a helpful supplement for those affected by depression.

However, using fish oil supplements should only ever be done under medical supervision.

This is especially true if you are pregnant, have low blood pressure or are diabetic. Side effects can include diarrhea, stomach ache and burping.


This is an ancient plant that has long been used for medicinal purposes. A dose of between 200 mg and 400 mg a day has been proven to improve memory retention and reduce brain fatigue.

In addition, it can be considered an anti-inflammatory, and, as such, it can reduce pressure around your brain, helping you concentrate far more effectively.

It should be noted that ginseng is best used as a temporary fix. Studies have shown that your body can quickly acclimatize itself to the use of ginseng, rendering it ineffective.

CDP Choline

This is a naturally occurring source that is present in every cell in your body.

Taking a supplement (in either capsule or powder form) can enhance the electrical signals between your neurons. It's been noted to improve memory and cognition and is often used as a study aid.

Choline supplements are beneficial because the body uses more than it naturally produces. It's also considered non-toxic, and there are minimal side effects even after prolonged use.

However, it's crucial to get the dose right. If you take too much, you could suffer from side effects, including insomnia and blood pressure issues.


This is a protein-building amino acid. It may sound like something taken by a bodybuilder, but it can have substantial properties within a work environment.

For example, when you consume creatine, a natural reaction within the body binds it to phosphate.

This resulting molecule can fuel your brain cells, allowing for faster reaction times, better short-term memory and increased reasoning skills.

Creatine has been proven to be safe to take as a supplement. In addition, research has shown that there are no side effects when taking five grams a day on a long-term basis.

Therefore, you can feel confident that you are fuelling your brain as well as your muscles.

Other Cognitive Aids That Can Improve Your Brain Performance

If you want to improve your performance at work, but you're unsure if smart drugs are the way to go, why not consider using a wide range of other cognitive aids that are proven to have a positive effect?

Look After Yourself

It may sound simple but taking care of yourself can be one of the best things you can do to improve your brain power and boost your productivity.

Try to Exercise Regularly

This will not only increase your physical fitness, but it can release hormones into your body, allowing you to destress and reset yourself.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but taking time away from your desk is crucial in boosting your productivity.

There is only so much stress that the body can internalize, and taking time to look after yourself will dramatically improve your work performance.

Get Enough Sleep

Similarly, giving yourself plenty of sleep is another proven way of listening to your body carefully.

Many of these smart drugs are effective because they allow you to stay awake longer – yet there is only so long your body can handle minimal sleep.

You will find that giving your body and brain time to recover will allow you to work far more productively.

You'll rely less on nootropics because your body will not have to cope with the inevitable fluctuations in stress levels or alertness.

If you struggle with insomnia, why not check out our review of the best sleep tracking apps or take a look at some great meditation apps for work?

Your Employer’s Health and Wellbeing Policies

HR teams are increasingly focusing on health and wellbeing policies, because they understand that you're less at risk of professional burnout when you take care of yourself.

Employers want you to work at your most effective, and, as part of this, they need you to be physically and mentally primed.

This could include:

  • Eeating a healthy diet
  • Doing enough physical exercise during the day
  • Incorporating health screenings to check your physicality

Plan Your Work

But if the above advice feels too wishy-washy, why not focus on the things you can control?

People take smart drugs for work purposes because they want to work quicker and more productively.

They want to learn how to make lightning-quick decisions and understand how they can work faster and more effectively.

Perhaps the trick here is to learn how to make better work plans and to-do lists?

By learning how to prioritize tasks or delegate to others, you may find that your productivity is far more effective.

Train Your Brain

Finally, to improve your brainpower, it's important to consider the value of brain training.

Simple exercises and games can help you to improve your cognitive function. We spend considerable time trying to exercise our muscles and bodies, so it stands to reason that our brains could benefit from the same attention.

Games such as Sudoku, crosswords and word searches can use your brain in different ways, as can memory games, logical reasoning games and verbal skills.

There are many braining training apps and exercises freely available online you can use to help improve your brainpower.

Final Thoughts

Using smart drugs brings about many moral and ethical questions, as well as concerns about your health.

However, it's also dubious as to whether smart drugs will really have a noticeable impact on your work performance – or whether it just makes you believe that it does.

You can try many techniques that could improve your functions without resorting to prescription medication or natural supplements. The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself.

Here at WikiJob, we've published many articles discussing how you can incorporate a good work/life balance, and these may be beneficial in helping you to improve your workplace productivity.

If you do decide to use smart drugs for work, then make sure you seek medical advice. You should never misuse prescription medication, and any supplements should be considered with your broader health in mind.

In addition, be aware that some supplements may react badly with other medication and pay close attention to the variety of side effects that smart drugs may cause.

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