The terms nootropics and stimulants are often used interchangeably. However, while the two types of compounds may share some similarities, they are ultimately very different from each other.
Both stimulants and nootropics work on a subset of the brain’s receptor groups and neurotransmitters. But, that’s mostly where the similarities end. Stimulants are most certainly not considered nootropics.
The primary differentiating factor is the type of side-effects users experience. Unlike nootropics, stimulants more often than not have numerous and sometimes quite severe adverse effects, including potentially difficult to handle crashes once they wear off. Also, with some types of stimulants, tolerance build up, and even addiction or abuse are of concern.
Both stimulants and nootropics have the potential to enhance their users’ cognition and make them more productive. With the latter, however, the long-term downsides may not be worth the price of admission. Given a choice, nootropics are a much safer and just as effective way forward.