Are Nootropics Allowed in the Military?

Updated on March 1, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
Exploring the intersection of nootropic use and military regulations.

Are nootropics actually allowed in the military?

Nootropics, also known as “smart drugs,” are substances that are believed to enhance cognitive function, memory, creativity, and motivation. With their potential benefits, it is natural to question whether these substances can be used in the military. 

However, the use of nootropics in the military is a complex and controversial issue that requires careful consideration. In this article, we will discuss whether you can use nootropics in the military, and share everything you need to know about responsible nootropic use as a military service member. 

Understanding Nootropics and Their Use

Nootropics, also known as cognitive enhancers, smart drugs, brain boosters, memory enhancers, and neuro enhancers, are substances that improve cognitive functions such as memory, focus, creativity, and motivation.(1) These substances can be synthetic or natural and are used by individuals looking to enhance their mental performance.

The benefits of using nootropics are numerous. They increase mental clarity, improve memory retention and recall, enhance concentration, boost energy levels, and promote better mood and motivation. Nootropics are particularly beneficial for individuals who have demanding cognitive tasks or need to maintain focus for extended periods.

Common users of nootropics include:

  1. Students and academics: Nootropics are often used by students and academics to improve cognitive function, enhance learning ability, and increase productivity. These substances can help with studying, memorization, and information processing.
  2. Professionals and entrepreneurs: Many professionals and entrepreneurs use nootropics to gain a competitive edge in their careers. They can enhance creativity, decision-making skills, and problem-solving abilities.
  3. Aging individuals: Nootropics are also commonly used by aging individuals who want to maintain cognitive function and prevent age-related decline. These substances can support brain health and slow down cognitive decline.

It’s important to note that the use of nootropics should be done responsibly and under medical supervision. Different individuals may have different reactions to these substances, and it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and side effects of nootropics.

Nootropics for Military Servicemen: Pros and Cons

Nootropics, also known as cognitive enhancers or smart drugs, are substances that are believed to enhance cognitive functions such as memory, focus, and creativity. While there is growing interest in the use of nootropics for various purposes, including military applications, it is important to carefully consider their potential benefits and risks.


  • Nootropics have the potential to enhance cognitive functions, which could be beneficial in military settings where mental performance is crucial.
  • These substances may improve focus, alertness, and memory, allowing military personnel to perform better in high-pressure situations.


  • Due to the relatively limited research on nootropics, there is a lack of scientific evidence to fully support their effectiveness and safety.
  • Some individuals may experience adverse effects such as headaches, insomnia, or increased heart rate when using certain nootropics.
  • Ethical considerations must be taken into account, as the use of cognitive enhancement may raise concerns about fairness and potential advantages for certain individuals over others.

It is important for military organizations to evaluate the potential benefits and risks of using nootropics in order to make informed decisions regarding their use in military operations. Further research and careful monitoring are necessary to fully understand the potential effects and long-term implications of incorporating these substances into military strategies and protocols.

Nootropics And The Military: An Overview

In recent years, the use of nootropics, also known as “smart drugs,” has gained popularity among individuals looking to enhance their cognitive function. This includes military service members, who often face high-pressure situations that require optimal mental performance. 

Nootropics are substances that improve various aspects of brain function, such as memory, focus, and overall cognitive performance.(2) In the military context, the use of these substances is often driven by the desire to improve military performance, enhance decision-making abilities, and increase stress resistance, particularly in situations characterized by sleep deprivation and high levels of stress.

Military performance is a critical factor in ensuring the success and safety of operations. The ability to think clearly, make fast decisions, and maintain focus is crucial for military personnel. Cognitive enhancement in the military involves optimizing mental capabilities to achieve these objectives.

Nootropics have gained attention for their potential to improve cognitive function and compensate for the adverse effects of sleep deprivation and stress, which are common challenges faced by a military service soldier.

Sleep deprivation is a significant concern in the military, especially during combat operations and extended missions. Lack of sleep can impair cognitive function and decision-making abilities, posing risks to both individuals and the mission. Nootropics that promote wakefulness and improve alertness can be especially valuable in such situations.

These substances help military personnel stay engaged, focused, and mentally sharp, even when sleep is limited.

The Legality of Nootropics in the Military

The use of synthetic substances in the military, such as Racetams, has been illegal since 1960. Any nootropic that has not been approved by the FDA is not allowed in the military. The use of nootropics is regulated tightly to ensure the safety and effectiveness of military operations.

Military regulations, such as the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and various service-specific policies, govern the use of drugs and other substances. These regulations aim to prevent substance abuse, uphold discipline, and maintain the ability of military personnel to carry out their duties effectively.

When it comes to nootropics, the legality of their use in the military depends on several factors, including the specific substance involved and the military’s policies. While some nootropics are classified as banned substances due to their potential for abuse or negative side effects, such as Racetams, others may be approved for use under certain circumstances.

Overall, it is crucial for military personnel to understand and comply with the specific regulations within their service branch. Given the diversity of substances in the market and the potential for variability in their quality and effects, caution must be exercised when considering their use in a military context.

Common Nootropics Used in the Military

While the specific use of nootropics in the military varies among individuals and units, several substances have gained popularity for their potential cognitive-enhancing effects. It is essential to note that the efficacy and safety of the different types of nootropics substances differ, and their use should be approached with caution and under professional guidance.

Here are some common nootropics used in the military, along with potential benefits associated with their use:

  • Modafinil: Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent that can enhance alertness and reduce fatigue. It is often used to combat the effects of sleep deprivation and improve cognitive function during extended missions or operations, such as within the Air Force.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a widely available stimulant that can increase alertness and improve focus. It is commonly found in coffee, energy drinks, and certain supplements. Caffeine helps alleviate fatigue and enhance performance in situations that require sustained attention.
  • L-Theanine: L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves that has calming and relaxing properties. When combined with caffeine, it can promote a state of relaxed focus and clear thinking without the jitters often associated with caffeine alone.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been linked to brain health and cognitive performance. Consuming sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through supplementation or a diet rich in fatty fish may support optimal brain function, and increase dopamine.(3)
  • Rhodiola Rosea: Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that has been traditionally used to combat stress and fatigue.(4) It helps improve mental performance, reduce mental fatigue, and enhances overall well-being.
  • Creatine: Creatine is a naturally occurring compound that plays a role in energy production, particularly during high-intensity activities. Research suggests that creatine supplementation may enhance cognitive performance, memory, and processing speed, especially in stressful situations.

Conclusion: Can You Take Nootropics in The Military?

The military has strict regulations and policies in place to ensure the safety and well-being of its personnel, and the use of substances that may have unknown or potentially harmful side effects is not permitted. However, some nootropics are allowed in certain departments, so it’s best to discuss your supplementation regimen with those who are in charge of your sector.

In conclusion, the military prioritizes the well-being of its personnel and does not allow the use of synthetic drugs that are not FDA-approved. It is essential for military members to abide by these guidelines and discuss the use of nootropics with department leaders in order to understand what is prohibited and what is not.

Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Malik, Ruchi et al. “Towards better brain management: nootropics.” Current medicinal chemistry vol. 14,2 (2007): 123-31. doi:10.2174/092986707779313408 ↩
  2. Malík, Matěj, and Pavel Tlustoš. “Nootropics as Cognitive Enhancers: Types, Dosage and Side Effects of Smart Drugs.” Nutrients vol. 14,16 3367. 17 Aug. 2022, doi:10.3390/nu14163367 ↩
  3. Healy-Stoffel, Michelle, and Beth Levant. “N-3 (Omega-3) Fatty Acids: Effects on Brain Dopamine Systems and Potential Role in the Etiology and Treatment of Neuropsychiatric Disorders.” CNS & neurological disorders drug targets vol. 17,3 (2018): 216-232. doi:10.2174/1871527317666180412153612 ↩
  4. Kelly, G S. “Rhodiola rosea: a possible plant adaptogen.” Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic vol. 6,3 (2001): 293-302. ↩