Nootropics That Get You High? (Legal High Smart Drugs?)

Article by: David Gracey
nootropics that get you high or buzzed

Nootropics are known as smart drugs because they’re psychostimulants that are capable of altering your brain to stimulate the release of certain neurotransmitters.

This leads to improved cognitive performance, better brain health, and enhancement of memory and thinking skills.

They can help you focus more, remember better, and think faster.  Still, many people wonder about their capabilities of getting you to buzzed or hallucinogenic states like some recreational drugs take you.

In other words, they wonder… 

“What Are Some Nootropics That Get You High?”

And that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article.   The facts about nootropics, how they work, and ultimately if they can get you high like recreational drugs can.

So, Can Nootropics Even Get You High?  The answer may not be what you think…

So, Are There Any Nootropics That Get You High or Buzzed?

To answer this question takes a bit of complexity.  Nootropics aren’t meant to work as hallucinogens, recreational drugs, or anything near that.

But they may be able to produce similar effects that certain drugs also have in your brain.   To understand this better, first, we need to know what illicit drugs like MDMA or cocaine actually does in your brain, like what neurotransmitters they inhibit or release.

Certain nootropics can have a high impact on your brain, but they shouldn’t really be labeled as nootropics.

The real ones should only give you cognitive enhancement and not affect your brain to the level of getting you high.

Since those states are usually followed by a hard crash, they’ll be terrible for your health and your experience with the so-called nootropic in general.

Still, the only way that nootropics can get you high, or at least anywhere close to recreational drugs, is that they both can affect neurotransmitters or receptors in your brain.

We’re talking about GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.

optimize brain cells

They’re responsible, when taking nootropics, for your cognitive enhancements and improved mental performance.  They’re also responsible for the pleasure sensation that you feel when you’re high.

But the similarities end here. You can understand this better below.

Nootropics That Get You High Don’t Actually Exist (Those Would Be “Drugs”)

Nootropics can alter your dopamine and serotonin levels (and your GABA receptors too).

This can lead to mood alteration and the sensation of pleasure.  You would feel more relaxed, concentrated, focused, motivated, and many other benefits. 

Still, none of them are actually capable of getting you “high”.

The best that can happen (as far as a drug-like high or buzz) is symptoms like the following:

Nootropics Can Simulate a Drug Induced High Somewhat With:
Mild Euphoria
Faster heartbeat
Sharper thinking
More physical and mental energy

The important word here is mild.

Even though you can feel things like euphoria, which is one of the main effects that drugs have on the brain when you’re high, they’re not at high levels like when you use recreational drugs.  This is one of the main reasons that your brain can get addicted to them as fast as it does.

What nootropics can do for your brain and body similar to some drugs is get you to healthy levels of euphoria, enhanced mental energy, and a lot of times a faster heartbeat.

In the right amount, euphoria is excellent for motivation and mental energy.

When you get too much of it, your brain is depleted from dopamine and it crashes.

This causes headaches and difficulty in processing information.

So, although nootropics can give you sensations such as pleasure and euphoria, they do not actually get you high

This is a good thing since after being in an actual high state, your brain gets depleted and you experience all the negative side effects that are associated with recreational drug use.

How Illicit Drugs, Unlike Nootropics Get you High

By now, you may already have an understanding of how drugs work on your brain.  Now, we’re going to go deeper on the subject.

The first thing is to understand that different drugs work in different ways. This means that cocaine and weed don’t have the same effect either on the level of your intoxication and in what chemicals it releases in your brain.

drugs get you high

Still, most drugs work either by altering your serotonin and dopamine levels or affecting your GABA receptors.

What some drugs do to your brain is inhibit your dopamine and serotonin transmitters.  This increases their levels in your brain because it prevents them from being broken down and transformed into something else.

In other words, the euphoria lasts longer than it should.

When it comes to GABA receptors alteration, the drug antagonizes your receptors.  This increases the pleasure sensation and makes it last longer.

It’s another sensation that the brain enjoys but isn’t the same as euphoria.  Again, this is what gets you high and also what gets you addicted.

That’s why nootropics don’t have the same effect. Otherwise, they’d be addictive substances.

Serotonin Regulates Your Mood


Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that regulates your mood as its main function.  This is one of the main ways that nootropics work on your brain.

When you have the right serotonin levels, you can better manage stress, anxiety, and depression caused by serotonin depletion.

Some nootropics like ashwagandha, l-theanine, and caffeine are historically known for increasing your serotonin levels.

Also See: Does Ashwagandha Increase Serotonin?

They have relaxant effects on your body without causing sleepiness or drowsiness.

So, when your serotonin levels are in balance, your mood gets regulated. This is not what drugs do to your brain, but it’s exactly what certain nootropics can do.

Dopamine Causes Pleasure – Nootropics That Get You High Dopamine Levels

Too much dopamine in your brain will get you euphoric.

When this happens,  it’s because for some reason your brain can’t break down the dopamine molecules.  If you remember your chemistry lessons, every chemical in your body is broken down into something else until the body can absorb it.

When this doesn’t happen, imbalance occurs.

Too much dopamine means that eventually, your brain will suffer a decay.  This is what we know as a crash.

You get tired, form headaches, and feel extremely unfocused afterward. 

While your dopamine levels are high, you experience the following.

High Dopamine Levels Will Cause...

When you have low dopamine levels, you experience depression, lack of motivation,  trouble concentrating, and general unhappiness.

Your stress levels are also harder to manage.  That’s why you need to have your dopamine levels in balance.  It can’t be either too high or too low.

Blocked GABA Receptors Cause Euphoria

GABA receptors are another way that drugs cause euphoria in your brain and give you that high or buzzed feeling.

GABA receptors reduce stress, manage anxiety, and help with fear.

When they’re blocked by the effects of drugs, your brain doesn’t control anxiety, stress, or fear.  That’s why people get paranoid, reckless, and sometimes aggressive when taking certain drugs.

What nootropics do in your brain is control your GABA receptors to optimize their functioning. As you may already know, adaptogens are also nootropics.

What they do is adapt to what your body needs.  In this case, reduce or increase your GABA activity.

That’s why they’re nothing like drugs when it comes to GABA receptors. What can happen is that you may take the wrong dosage of a nootropic and experience euphoria as a side effect or a faster heartbeat, which can come from your anxiety levels being unbalanced.

Ashwagandha Increases Your Serotonin

When it comes to serotonin depletion, ashwagandha is one of the best nootropics to help you regulate it.

Remember that with an imbalance in your serotonin levels, you can’t regulate your mood.  This leads to stress, anxiety, and trouble concentrating.

Although depression is more common when it comes to an imbalance in your dopamine levels, serotonin can also cause depression.  What you can do to increase your serotonin levels is to use ashwagandha.

Just remember that when it comes to possible nootropics that get you high, this is not one of them.

But, it will make you feel great!

My Favorite Ashwagandha Supplement?

There are a dozens of ashwagandha supplements out there,  and I have tried several! they come in both pill and powder form.

My favorite  (the one thst seems to work best for me), is the Organically Grown Ashwagandha from Nutra Herbals.

It’s the perfect balance of potency and price.

(You can Buy it Here…)

best ashwagandha supplement

You just need to be careful with the dosage since it can cause a faster heartbeat, stomach upset, and headaches.

So, if you’re experience trouble concentrating, keep yourself calm, and manage your anxiety, ashwagandha can definitely help you with that!

You can read a more detailed article I wrote all about Ashwagandha here:  Best time to Take Ashwagandha

What Are Some Nootropics That Get You High? Modafinil Comes Closest…   (It Releases Dopamine)

Modafinil has been widely used by students during exam week.  It’s great for boosting learning, focus, and reducing procrastination. 

It’s like everything can be interesting when you take modafinil.  The only thing that you have to watch out for is spending too much time focusing on things that aren’t important to you like answering random emails.

While modafinil can keep you focused, it can also keep you focused on watching 50 Youtube videos back to back if you’re not careful (and disciplined!)

This nootropic releases dopamine in your brain.  It works by inhibiting dopamine, which causes your dopamine levels to increase.

This is great for people with depression, trouble with motivation (which is a sign of depression), and problems concentrating.

Modafinil also enhances the cognitive process that helps your memory, learning abilities, and focus.

So, if you need a boosting of your dopamine levels, modafinil is a great nootropic.

It won’t have the same effect that drugs have with dopamine (but that’s a good thing).

Everything that goes up must come down, and that’s exactly what happens when the effects of any drug are worn off.

Nootropic “Nuvigil” AKA: (armodafinil) Affects Your Dopamine, Serotonin, And GABA Levels

Another nootropic that can affect your brain, and in this case affects all the major players, is nuvigil (also known as armodafinil).

It’s similar to modafinil but it has a greater effect on other neurotransmitters and not just dopamine.

You can read our full comparison Article Here:   Modafinil VS Adrafiil VS Armodafinil

This also affects your serotonin and GABA levels.   It’s important to point out that nuvigil is not a long-term nootropic.

This is something that can only be taken for a few weeks at a time to avoid any negative side effects.  The benefits are better cognition, sharper thinking, and more concentration.

You can also manage anxiety and stressor signals better.

So, when taken in the correct dosage, nugivil does not get you high.  It will however increase your dopamine, serotonin, and GABA levels in your brain.

This will improve your energy, mental performance, and anxiety management.

Nootropics That Get You High – Are There Any? – Final Thoughts

get high happy pills

Well, actually no nootropics can get you “high” at least in the general sense of the term.  

Nootropics do not get you high, but they can come with similar side effects that some recreational drugs come with such as faster heartbeat, euphoria, and increased energy.

This is easily explained by the way they work in the brain, which has some small similarities with other illicit drugs.  At least when it comes to your neurotransmitters and receptors.

So, I’m guessing if you found your way to this article, you were maybe looking for a legal high of sorts, or at least a nootropic that you can actually feel the effects of right after you take it.

The closest thing would be modafinil (Brand name: Provigil) in my opinion.

I mean, there ARE other legal stimulants that you can buy, but those are NOT nootropics, so I’ll save that for another article.

Drop a comment below and let me know what you think!

About David Gracey

About David Gracey

Founder of

Hey! My name is David Gracey.  I am the brain child of and a Cognitive Brain Function Researcher, Avid Biohacker, Lucid Dreamer, Morning Ritual Master, and Self-Proclaimed Nootropic Junkie of Sorts! 

In other words, I am completely obsessed with anything and everything related to cognitive brain enhancement! 

Whether it's nootropic supplements, challenging brain puzzles, or even meditation techniques, chances are, I've tried it!  This website is my outlet to give back and share what I've learned in the past 15+ years in this field of study. 

You Can Read My Other Posts Here: 



Check out these other posts!

About David:

Hey! I’m so glad you’re here. My name is David Gracey. I am a cognitive brain function researcher, avid biohacker, and self-proclaimed nootropic junkie of sorts! (And, yes, a bit of a nerd as well...) I created this website as an outlet to share my passion for self improvement and cognitive brain enhancement. Got questions? Shoot me a message!










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