It’s not unusual to wonder what the closest over the counter drug to Adderall is. If you’re reading this, chances are that Adderall needs no introduction.
It’s a compound that’s medically intended for the management of narcolepsy and ADHD. However, its popularity for off-label use has been gathering traction all along.
Some people often illegally use it as a quick fix to performance and motivation-related issues. Unfortunately, this unregulated use is often linked to shocking outcomes some of which have even dominated mainstream media headlines.
Why Non-Prescribed (Off-Label) Use of Adderall Is Dangerous
Even though this drug is medically recommended for the management of certain mental health conditions, careless use of it may lead to addiction. In some cases, this may also lead to depression – an even more challenging health condition (ref).
Adderall is made up of amphetamine- and dextroamphetamine-based stimulants, and those two can have a direct impact on your productivity (ref).
Unfortunately, since the drug is FDA approved, most people tend to think that it’s okay to buy it from retailers and use it at home. That’s, however, not the case.
Anyone considering taking over the counter Adderall is strongly advised to find alternatives and seek professional medical advice also.
Top Adderall OTC Alternative Stimulants
What’s the closest OTC to Adderall that’s also safe for use at home? You might be wondering. And well, in the next few lines, we’d like to talk about some of the OTC stimulants similar to Adderall, hopefully, to help you make an informed choice.
NB: None of these supplements is 100% as effective as medically prescribed products. Follow your doctor’s advice all the time.
Good Stand-Alone Nootropic Compounds
Let’s face it, ready-made noot stacks don’t come cheap. In that case, if you’re on a tight budget and are looking for something that comes really close to Adderall, the following 13 options would be of help.
In our previous review of Adrafinil, we found that it is a eugeroic supplement since it’s meant to boost alertness without influencing the nervous system. The “smart drug” is available in the gray market and even in some over-the-counter stores.
It is often highlighted as a common alternative to Modafinil. That’s mainly because it yields results that are almost similar to Moda’s. But unlike Moda, it’s a schedule IV regulated dietary supplement which means it can easily be accessed on the markets.
In regards to its use as an Adderall substitute, Adrafinil is believed to stimulate brain energy. Besides that, it may also enhance the effectiveness of your neuropathways effectively increasing speed and mental clarity.
The reason why Adrafinil is one of the closest Adderall non-prescription alternatives is that it doesn’t harbor as many side effects. That’s despite it being a highly powerful and potent drug.
On top of that, Adrafinil has earned a good reputation owing to the belief that it takes a gentle, Adderal-like approach to brain strength and recovery.
Aniracetam nootropic supplements have been reputed for improving brain function. The class of drugs is available under prescription in Europe but is currently unregulated in the US. Safe to say, it’s categorized as a safe over-the-counter supplement alternative to Adderall.
Some of the claimed benefits of using this nootropic compound include the fact that it sharpens memory. It also increases mental alertness and that’s alongside enhancing concentration.
In some cases, Aniracetam is used in the management of ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety disorders. However, evidence that it can be used in the treatment of any of the above-mentioned ailments still remains scanty. So, all we’d like to say for now is that this class of “smart drugs” should only be used therapeutically and a doctor’s advice should always be sought when necessary.
Owing to the limited research around it, we’d be hesitant to recommend it for any health purposes. But judging from its efficacy and mechanism, we’d say that it has all it takes to fit into the shoes of Adderall.
3. Vitamin Bs
Did you know that your brain consumes approximately 50% of the vitamin Bs you consume? To this end, we can confirm that the brain has a voracious appetite for three vitamins, in particular, i.e. Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Folic Acid.
Unfortunately, one can easily run low on any of these three. And in fact, many people usually run low on them without even knowing it. To someone suffering from any of the conditions for which Adderall is used for.
For instance, Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin has the reputation of coming in handy in the synthesis of brain energy elements. Optimal quantities of it in the brain can help improve your academic prowess.
Normally, if you have a shortage of Vitamin Bs, your brain is likely to start feeling foggy and generally slow. On top of that, you might find yourself experiencing difficulties with memory formation.
Therefore, by stocking up on all the essential Vitamin Bs, you can partly help address some of the issues Adderall is meant for. But while at it, it is worth noting that it’s pointless to overdose on vitamin supplements as your body system will automatically flush out any excesses.
4. Zinc Supplements
Zinc is indeed one of the highly powerful natural supplements available out there in the world. And although it’s natural and easily available, its ability to promote a healthy and functioning brain has been lauded.
One thing you have to note is that a shortage of Zinc in the brain can lead to a significant drop in one’s learning abilities. Indeed, this can lead to apathy, lethargy and even mental retardation.
By supplementing on Zinc, you can go a long way in enhancing the permeability of the blood-brain battier. This effectively makes it possible for the brain to function optimally. It also enhances the effectiveness of acetylcholine which also traverses the blood-brain barrier in the quest to power up the brain.
And although research is still ongoing, scientists so far recommend Zinc intake in the management of various cognitive decline related challenges. These include the management of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
And as far as male health is concerned, zinc is an important part of building one’s stamina. Further research is still ongoing on the effects of this supplement in boosting vitality and also sexual performance.
5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil is quite popular an over-the-counter supplement required for the management of mental performance. And indeed, Omega-oil which is sourced from fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel can be a great alternative to Adderall.
But how exactly does it achieve this feat? You might be wondering. Well, Omega 3 contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Those two play a major role in the improvement of your circulatory system.
What’s more? The oil has a significant impact on your brain performance especially due to the fact that it can help in the management of depression and mild memory loss related issues.
Yet another thing you need to keep in mind is that this oil contains both EPA and DHA which form core components of the cell membranes. As such, these are actively involved in the recovery of any dilapidated brain cells.
This may come as a surprise to many but lower DHA levels, in particular, are commonly associated with a shrinking brain size. Yet this is one of the single most common symptoms of aging.
And, therefore, by making sure you get adequate quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids, you can significantly ward-off any detrimental effects that may be tied to your brain function and development.
6. Noopept – The Best Adderall Alternative?
If you are looking for a safe alternative that can match the typical power of Adderall, Noopept would be your best bet. It’s actually a synthetic drug which is thought to be close to 1000 times stronger than piracetam. There has been an ongoing debate about its potency but so far, the verdict seems to be that it is quite effective at helping the brain recover from traumatic experiences.
So, how exactly does Noopept work in terms of filling the shoes of Adderall? To begin with, it boosts your brain’s alpha wave which is an essential component of creative thinking and memory preservation. Besides that, it is reputed for its general ability to ward off mental distraction which basically means it has the ability to keep you focused as well as help you fight anxiety.
One thing that probably catapults this supplement to the top of the markets is the fact that it is 99.9% made up of a pure brain supplement. And, therefore, you only need tiny quantities of it to experience its fully-fledged effects. That’s unlike the case with other supplements that tend to come with fillers.
But once again, we’d like to raise the precaution to the effect that only a small dosage, typically 10mg is recommended for beginners. And although it is a highly safe alternative, you should avoid overusing it, especially on a day-to-day basis.
7. Ginkgo Biloba Nootropics
In a recent study done in China and reported by the BBC, Gingko Biloba was shown to yield significant benefits in brain recovery (Source). In particular, it was reported to have very strong effects on stroke recovery.
However, this natural extract shouldn’t be seen as a treatment for stroke. Rather, the study recommended it for therapeutic use further citing the need for larger and longer studies to confirm its efficacy.
But if Gingko Biloba can catch the attention of scientists with its ability to promote brain recovery to an extent that they examine its potential for stroke recovery, what do you think it can do to an ADHD or Narcolepsy sufferer?
A closer look at its methodology in the brain recovery process reveals that this age-old herb can promote the existence of a healthy neurotransmitter balance inside the brain. Most importantly, it can help in the maintenance of optimal levels of acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin as well as norepinephrine.
The overall benefit of having those neurotransmitters in plenty is that it helps reduce impulsivity besides enhancing your attention span. It’s no wonder, this extract has previously been linked to the reduction of ADHD related symptoms.
One thing we really like about Gingko is that it’s 100% legal and easy to obtain over-the-counter. And besides performing some of the vital roles commonly associated with Adderall it also enhances cerebral blood flows while also boosting overall mental cognition.
8. Bacopa Monnieri Nootropics
Also commonly known as brahmi or water hyssop, Bacopa is an ayurvedic herb that has for centuries been used in the management of thyroid health, anxiety, brain function, and memory. That said, not all of these benefits are supported by clinical evidence.
To this end, preliminary evidence suggests that this herb contains antioxidant properties. These can go a long way in ridding your brain of toxins and further improve the transfer of brain chemicals which are involved in learning, memory, and cognition.
There also exists some level of scientific observation to the extent that this natural supplement can help in the preservation of memory and enhancement of cognitive function. However, more research and well-designed trials are required to ascertain to what extent Bacopa improves cognitive function.
Other than those two, this natural product has been used for many years to help folks cope with stress and anxiety symptoms. And indeed, Bacopa has been singled out as one of the natural extracts with positive cognitive effects.
In other words, a supplementation of Bacopa-rich supplements has immense potential and can play a vital role in the management of ADHD and narcolepsy symptoms in a manner that may mimic what Adderal does.
L-Theanine is primarily found in green tea. It’s basically an amino acid which provides a range of health benefits among them boosting the levels of GABA. Basically, GABA is one of the neurotransmitters that block impulses in between nerve cells.
As we grow old (and also for people with hereditary problems) low levels of GABA may lead to anxiety or mood disorders. In worse off scenarios, it may lead to epilepsy and even chronic pain.
Therefore, by consuming more of L-theanine, it’s possible to avert these problems. And it’s for that reason that we’d recommend it as a possible otc drug that works in almost the same way Adderall does.
When used by folks diagnosed with ADHD, this nootropic compound can lead to a significant reduction in cognitive impairment. What’s more? This amino acid works perfectly when stacked with caffeine particularly in reducing the jitters caused by caffeine consumption.
Numerous studies have shown that caffeine has the potential to improve concentration making it a highly reliable tool for managing ADHD. We all know that coffee is available not just over-the-counter but also in the local stores.
The good thing with caffeine is that it boosts your CNS stimulating your nerve network to transfer impulses faster. Further to that, coffee can lead to the production of dopamine in the brain which is a feel-good hormone required to boost productivity.
On top of all that, caffeine works quite well as a vasoconstrictor which effectively shrinks some of the blood vessels serving the brain just the same way Adderall does. As a result, you’re likely to have an easier time in establishing communication of you partake of this stimulant.
And on top of all that, caffeine increases your likelihood of experiencing brain stability. This can further go a long way in keeping your mind clear and focused. And don’t get me started on the fact that caffeine can also help control brain fog.
11. Phosphatidylserine (PS)
Also, known as PS, Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid. What on earth is that? Well, a phospholipid is a substance that houses the brain cells. It basically helps in maintaining permeability and fluidity of the brain. On top of that, it improves oxygen, nutrients, and enzyme uptake.
Most importantly, PS plays a pivotal role in promoting the functioning of neurons while at the same time it also promotes chemical signaling across neural synapses.
And just like Adderall, PS plays a pivotal role in stimulating the nerve growth factor in addition to supporting long-term potentiation (LTP). It is worth noting that LTP plays a central role in memory formation.
Moving on, this nootropic supplement is involved in the production of mitochondria. As you might be aware (if you took Biology at school that is) mitochondria are the energy sources of the cells. Therefore, PS transform your brain cells into powerhouses thereby making it more effective.
12. Rhodiola Rosea
This is a well-known Scandinavian herb which is thought to contain stimulatory benefits which are almost similar to ones associated with Ritalin, Vyvanse, and indeed Adderall. Fortunately, unlike the mainstream medications recommended for the management of ADHD, Rhodiola doesn’t come with all the negative side-effects.
One thing we can say about this herb is that it’s a potential memory booster that can also enhance mood stabilization. On top of that, it is well known for regulation serotonin and dopamine both being hormones that are required for a sharper and clearer mind.
The Rhodiola roots are considered Adaptogens which basically means they can help your brain recover from stress of degeneration. What’s more? Within the root are over 140 active ingredients with the most potent ones of those being salidroside and rosavin.
Last but not least, this rare extract can go a long way in mproviding your brain with the neurotransmitter balance it needs to function optimally. And for that reason, some health professionals actually prescribe it as a method of correcting neurotransmitter imbalances (Source).
Often named “the safest smart pill available,” Modafinil is widely viewed as a highly safe yet effective stimulant unlike Adderal.
Peter Morgan, a professor of Psychiatry at Yale University was once quoted by the Vice Magazine saying “There is no question in my mind that modafinil is much, much safer to use than any of the amphetamines or amphetamine-like drugs e.g. Adderall and Ritalin” (ref).
However, the same magazine quotes a neuroscientist from Cambridge, Barbara Sahakian who says “The big issue with modafinil is that there are no long-term safety studies in healthy people.”
She, however, went ahead to add that “Even though modafinil seems to be wholly beneficial, there just aren’t enough people studying it” (ref).
Modafinil improves cognitive function by supporting the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Dr. Peter Morgan from Yale University pointed out that this effect can make its users more alert and wakeful.
However, the American Addiction Centers reports that modafinil can be mildly addictive owing to the fact that it supports the production of dopamine (ref). But isn’t that what coffee, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine and other mainstream nootropics do?
Bottom Line: This is a potentially good replacement for Adderall. It’s stronger than commonly available nootropics. However, more long-term studies may need to be done to convince the FDA to change its classification as a schedule IV controlled substance.
Final Thoughts On Alternative Over the Counter Adderall
The reason Adderall is so effective is that it stimulates the CNS. Unfortunately, it is not your typical “smart drug” and, therefore, it can be a real threat to your well-being in the long-term. Fortunately, as we have seen in the run-down of OTC Adderall alternatives and substitutes above, there are quite a few natural and healthier options worth settling for.
And that way, you can still manage your ADHD and improve your productivity in the long-run without endangering your health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have you still got questions on this stimulant and its closely related replacements? Here’s an interactive QnA session meant for you. Kindly tap on a question to view its answer.
Adderall vs Over the Counter Alternatives; which one’s better?
If your doctor recommends Adderall, you should never question their advice.
But if you’re looking for a supplement for recreational use to improve focus, concentration, and wakefulness, then OTC alternatives would be your safest bets.
Even then, only a small list of natural Adderall replacements are truly worth the hype.
What’s the closest thing to Adderall available without a prescription (OTC)?
In our view, the list of nootropics and vitamins provided in the list above has some of those alternatives.
But that’s not to say that they work exactly like Adderall. There’s no perfect substitute for pharmaceutical-grade amphetamine salts.
However, if you weigh the risks vs benefits of Adderall, you’re better off with one of the options mentioned above.
How does Adderall help ADHD?
What’s the best Adderall alternative on Amazon?
Citicoline is a good alternative that can easily be bought on Amazon.
As there are many brands of Citicoline out there, we’d specifically recommend going for the one by Nootropics Depot as it’s highly bioavailable.
Another good alternative is Addrena which is a non-stim brain energy booster that has so far proven quite popular with the Amazon community.
Any OTC stimulants Reddit that you'd recommend?
First off, Reddit isn’t the most credible source of medical information because it’s a social media platform.
You should always take advise from such platform with a pinch of salt.
But even then, we’ve come frequent mentions of L-theanine + Caffeine stacks being suggested on the platform.
There are also some who suggest Adrafinil which is a precursor of Modafinil that’s easily available online.
How do I cleanse my body of Adderall for a urine test?
It takes up to 72 hours for Adderall to completely be eliminated through the urine.
Although there are claims that the use of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) can help in cleansing it faster, there isn’t much scientific data to back such claims.
Also, although masking agents exist, most modern labs have developed technologies that can easily identify such in urine test samples.
The safest alternative is, usually, to let the body cleanse itself. It’s also advisable to drink lots of water.
As a long-term measure, consider switching it for a safer, natural alternative.
Is there an herbal equivalent to Adderall?
As far as scientific studies are concerned, Gingko biloba is a popular herbal alternative for the management of ADHD (source). Marine Pine Bark is also thought to achieve nearly similar effects (source).
Some small studies have indicated that combining these herbs may yield better results than when used alone.
In one Canadian study, children living with ADHD who took Gingko Biloba and American Ginseng were reported to have experienced significant improvements in impulsivity, hyperactivity, and social problems (source).
Can this be taken together with modafinil?
In the modafinil vs Adderall debate people often ask whether it’s ok to take the so-called “smart drugs” together.
However, experts strictly warn against doing that as it may lead to over-stimulation.
By extension, such a move can lead to the development of serious side effects among them nausea, anxiety, and headache.
That said, some doctors may prescribe a combination of the two. In such cases, that’s a decision that should be entirely left up to qualified doctors.
Is there a way to buy Adderall online without a prescription?
Black market outlets exist but we cannot vouch for any of them.
To the best of our knowledge, there’s no way to guarantee quality and safety when taking the non-prescription Adderall route.
We insist that only qualified doctors are in a position to legally prescribe it.
You may also watch the following short video for a better understanding of how the medication works and why it was quite popular among military men, athletes, and boxers back in the day.
Editors Note: This article was last updated on 17-Dec-2020.