Nootropic Thunder

Seems like yesterday I was working with a client who suffered from an addiction to Adderal. He was prescribed the stimulant, many years before we met, to help him focus in school. Now out of school with a wife and kid along with a mortgage, car payments, credit card bills and other financial obligations, he was still using. You see, he’d built up a reliance on it and “couldn’t function without it” or get “anything of value done” because the drug was his “edge.”

His wife had had enough, initiated the counseling and was ready to leave if he didn’t change. Poor bastard didn’t have a fighting chance. That was about 10 years ago and that client is one of literally hundreds of thousands of people who are addicted to psychostimulants.

Had a trader ask about cognitive enhancers the other day and thought I’d write this post. I’d mentioned to her that the trend these days is nootropics or so called smart drugs. All the cool kids use Modafinil, a drug originally designed for narcolepsy, to gain their cognitive edge and stay awake all day. It’s like civilized crystal meth only better. The attraction is that the jitters, euphoria and eventual crash that accompany caffeine and/or amphetamines are non-existent. Get focused with no withdrawals!

Does it work? Just go to a nearby college campus and ask 10 random students and you’ll more than likely get a few yeses. Athletes use it, world travelers use it, students use it, and as long as there’s a market for it, off label of course, Cephalon ($CEPH) will continue to make it. In fact, the follow-up drug Armodafinil is available as well.

Part of the big draw is that the boost in productivity is accomplished without affecting normal sleep patterns. In other words, if I popped a few Modafinil and wrote code for two days straight I could get back to a normal sleep cycle with only 8 hours. As with any drug there’s good and bad and those that push and those that appose. I’ve personally never used any cognitive enhancers other than some research I did a while back on resveratrol.

My take on the whole competitive edge offered by nootropics (or any cognitive enhancer) is that I can do without and suggest others do the same. The mind is a powerful tool that is highly underutilized by many (we are a lazy society, plain and simple). As an example, I haven’t set an alarm clock in years and can literally tell myself when I want to wake up and I am up within 15 minutes of that time the next day. Never fails.

We are all adults here so if you don’t mind a little orofacial dyskinesia in exchange for a few more hours of functioning in a day then be my guest. Success in life takes discipline and addiction to anything, be it trading, television, chocolate, cigarettes, or whiskey shows a lack of discipline. How many failed diets or exercise routines have you experienced? Perhaps the inability to stick to a trading plan is more in-line? I doubt a drug that helps you stay cognitively focused and mentally alert will help in those areas. I’d love to hear from you if you have feedback or experience with any cognitive enhancer.