Nootropics and (productivity boosting) stimulants

Admittedly, I have only done a minimal amount of research on nootropics Before diving in further, I would like to know if they actually increase cognitive function or are just used by depressed nerds seeking an answer and people looking for a new way to get ****ed up. Are there any anecdotes of people successfully using nootropics to gain an edge in academia or anything else? Is there an “end-game” to these things? This might seem like a vague question but countless times I’ve come across substances people claim to be amazing cure-alls, and then 3 months later they quit because the shit doesn’t work anymore or there are too many side effects.