Is there a drug that can help you concentrate, work harder and longer, and perform better? Is there such a thing as a smart pill? Is there a way to accomplish the seemingly superhuman mental tasks performed by the pill-popping character played by Bradley Cooper in the movie Limitless?

It depends on who you ask. Some people believe that those types of drugs exist right now. Often called study drugs or smart drugs, these drugs include Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, modafinil, and piracetam.

The drugs are called study drugs or smart drugs because they help people focus and concentrate. That’s why doctors prescribe them for people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Drugs such as Concerta and Adderall are also types of drugs known as stimulants, which can boost energy.

The added energy is why some people might feel as if drugs such as Adderall or Concerta make them more productive and more creative. Some people use the drugs for that reason, even if doctors haven’t diagnosed them with ADHD.

Armodafinil (Nuvigil) is another drug that some people might consider a smart drug. Doctors prescribe this drug to fight sleepiness caused by sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or irregular work schedules.

People also take Nuvigil for off-label uses similar to how they take other so-called smart drugs. They use Nuvigil for energy and for focus.

Is it a smart idea to use such smart drugs in those ways? Sure, people who use Ritalin and Adderall claim that such drugs have helped them lead productive lives. The drugs are relatively safe if doctors prescribe them and if people follow these prescriptions.

But, people being people and drugs being drugs, people don’t always follow doctors’ prescriptions. Some don’t even have prescriptions at all. They might purchase the drugs online, buy them from others, or even steal them.

Using prescription drugs without prescriptions or medical supervision could be dangerous. Users might not know what the drugs do or how they interact with other substances they’ve been using. They might miscalculate their dosage or stop taking them abruptly when it would’ve been safer to taper off from using them. They might do other things that can harm them because they don’t have the medical or pharmaceutical knowledge to use drugs correctly.

Using potentially powerful drugs without doctors’ prescriptions? That can be dangerous, even foolish. Using smart drugs in these ways is anything but smart.