Modafinil is a popular nootropic-like drug used to improve wakefulness in patients. Although the drug was originally designed to treat narcolepsy, modafinil has recently become popular in the nootropic community for its stimulating effects.
What is Modafinil?
Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent traditionally used to treat conditions like narcolepsy. Over the last few years, modafinil has become popular in the nootropic community for its ability to stimulate your mental and physical energy.
The drug goes by different names around the world. In the United States and United Kingdom, it’s known as Provigil. In Australia and New Zealand, it’s Modavigil. And in Canada, it’s Alertec.
Virtually all countries require a prescription to legally use modafinil.
Benefits of Modafinil
Modafinil was traditionally used to treat narcolepsy and other sleepiness-related conditions. However, recent research has shown that modafinil can be adapted for a variety of other uses, including:
This is the key benefit of modafinil: it acts as a stimulant in a different way than caffeine. Weirdly enough, researchers don’t completely understand how these stimulating properties work – they just know that it does work. It’s widely believed that modafinil raises dopamine levels in the brain, although researchers aren’t quite sure why that happens.
Modafinil appears to be an effective treatment for ADHD in children. Unfortunately, during trials for the drug on children, many children developed non-fatal rashes. In 2006, the FDA rejected modafinil as a treatment for ADHD in children and the drug is not currently approved for use in children.
Depersonalization Disorder Treatment
Depersonalization disorder is a mental disorder where the sufferer experiences frequent feelings of derealization or depersonalization (i.e. they perceive the world around them in a foggy, dream-like state). Modafinil has been used as a treatment for certain depersonalization disorder patients. However, it only appears to be effective on a small subgroup of patients (like patients who have attentional impairments, hyperinsomnia, and under-arousal).
Anxiety and Depression Treatment
Early research suggests that modafinil could be an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, among other mental disorders. One randomized double-blind study on modafinil showed that giving patients 400mg of modafinil per day led to mood-elevating effects when compared to that of a placebo group. This treatment was particularly successful on patients who had previously been unable to get help for depression through other treatments (they had treatment-resistant depression).
Modafinil has shown promise as a treatment for cocaine addiction. Two major studies on been performed thus far: in one 2004 study, the number of cocaine-positive urine samples was significantly lower in the modafinil group compared to the placebo group. In another study, researchers noticed that the modafinil group had a larger maximum number of consecutive non-use days for cocaine compared to a placebo group.
Modafinil doesn’t directly lead to weight loss. It does, however, appear to have a powerful appetite suppression effect. There have been numerous weight loss studies involving modafinil over the years.
In one major modafinil study, participants were observed to decrease their total caloric intake by 18% when taking 200mg of modafinil per day. Participants in that same study who took 400mg of modafinil per day experienced a 38% decrease in caloric intake.
Similar studies have indicated that modafinil works in a similar way to amphetamines (they both decrease appetite). However, unlike amphetamines, modafinil does not increase your heart rate, which means it could be a safer type of appetite suppressant.
Modafinil is traditionally used by those who suffer from sleep disorders. When people without sleep disorders take modafinil, however, they can enjoy nootropic-like effects. Research has shown that modafinil can improve alertness – but it can also improve things like working memory, pattern recognition, and spatial memory.
Some studies dispute these nootropic claims and say that modafinil only works on “lower performing subjects” (seriously, that’s the term researchers used for “stupid people”). In any case, more research needs to be done before these effects are considered conclusive.
Athletic Doping Agent
Modafinil is relatively popular in the athletic world, where numerous athletes have been caught using the substance over the last decade. Barry Bonds famously used modafinil in addition to anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, for example. Modafinil was also a part of the infamous BALCO doping scandal that disqualified sprinter Kelli White from competition in 2004.
Modafinil was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List in 2004 because of its stimulating effects. The World Anti-Doping Agency cited one study where modafinil prolonged exercise time to exhaustion at 85% VO2max and reduced the perception of effort needed to maintain that threshold.
How to Use Modafinil
Typically, modafinil users take between 25mg and 200mg of modafinil per day, with some users taking as much as 400mg over the course of a day. It’s common to take modafinil in the morning or at lunch. Since the drug is a wakefulness-promoting agent, it’s recommended that you don’t take it later in the day (unless you’re trying to stay up all night).
How to Buy Modafinil
Virtually all countries require a prescription to use modafinil. Your biggest problem with trying modafinil will be getting a prescription from your doctor.
Most doctors don’t just hand these prescriptions out (although the drug itself is relatively low-risk).
In the United States, doctors may prescribe modafinil for conditions like “shift worker sleep disorder” or narcolepsy. So if you can convince your doctor that you suffer from one of these conditions (or, of course, if you actually have these conditions), then you’re well on your way to getting a prescription.
If you are unable to get a prescription from your doctor, then your next best option is to order modafinil online. If that’s the case, then you’re going to have to deal with lots of shady companies, weird ordering forms, and possible problems getting your order through customs.
Here’s the current legal status of modafinil around the world:
— In the United States, modafinil is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance and it is illegal to import modafinil without a prescription. If you have a legal prescription, however, you can bring modafinil into the country (limit of 50 dosages).
— In Canada, modafinil is a Schedule F prescription drug and is subject to seizure at the border. It is not, however, listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
— In the UK, modafinil has no legal restrictions, although you still need a prescription at all times.
— In Australia, modafinil is a Schedule 4 prescription drug, which means you must have a prescription at all times.
Is Modafinil Safe?
Modafinil appears to be safe to use. In most studies, the drug has been well-tolerated and patients have exhibited few – if any – side effects.
Nevertheless, there are some modafinil risks and side effects, including:
— It stays in your body for 8 to 10 hours, and you will most likely be unable to sleep during that time
— It raises dopamine levels in the brain, which could make it dangerous to use in conjunction with antidepressants
— It reduces appetite, which could be a problem if you’re trying to gain weight or have an existing eating disorder
Just like with most drugs, it’s recommended that you talk to your doctor before using modafinil (you have to have a prescription anyway, remember?).
You should also avoid using modafinil if:
— You have a history of heart problems or heart valve problems
— You are allergic to modafinil or Armodafinil (typically, you’ll develop a rash after use if that’s the case)
Ultimately, modafinil is a relatively safe drug that has exhibited powerful effects as both a physical and cognitive stimulant.