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Modafinil – The Ultimate Smart Drug?

Most people agree that life can be tough. In fact, being an adult can be downright exhausting! We have demanding jobs. We have families to take care of. There are always bills to pay. Stress. Traffic. Difficult people. AGGGHHH!!!! Yes, indeed, the experience of being a human can be enough to make you mad. So, what if we told you there was a magic pill that you could make you more productive, effective, efficient, and capable of managing your daily life? You would probably ask, “Where do I get me some of that?!” This comes as no surprise. Who doesn’t want (and desperately need) a boost in brainpower (in pill form, no less)? This brings us to the trending topic of so-called “smart drugs” – specifically, Modafinil. Many swear by this prescription medication as a way to enhance cognitive functioning and perform at optimal levels. Supposedly, this drug allows users to power through an entire day at max capacity without getting tired. Sounds kind of like superhero science fiction, right? Let’s talk about Modafinil. We will let you be the judge. Is this smart drug worth the risk? Or, is it all just a bunch of hype?   

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What is Modafinil?

First things first. Let’s get down to basics. Modafinil (brand name Provigil) is a prescription medication classified as a eugeroic, which is a “wakefulness promoting agent.” In more recent times, it has become known as a popular nootropic (we’ll get to this!). Commonly referred to as “moda,” this drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 to counteract sleepiness caused by conditions like narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea. Provigil is currently classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance under United States federal law. It is supposed to be taken orally in a pill form (100 or 200 mg) for legitimate medical conditions. However, in the last ten years, moda has gained attention for its off-label uses. It is now commonly used as a nootropic to improve cognitive functioning. In the last five years especially, it has become a favorite smart drug for those seeking a solution for low energy, poor concentration, and a lack of focus. This drug has a reputation for being non-addictive with few known risks. But, there has been a widespread increase in Modafinil consumption across the U.S. recently. This has prompted researchers, doctors, and addiction experts to take a second look at this medication. Also, recent studies have revealed that moda might not be as safe as everyone thinks it is. Additionally, many believe this medication helps to treat cocaine and methamphetamine addiction. We’ll explore all of this in greater depth later in this article.   

What are Nootropics?

Before we talk more about moda more specifically, let’s talk about nootropics in general. Unless you have been swept away by the smart drugs movement, you may have never heard this word.   The word “nootropics” is a combination of two Greek words: nous (or “mind”) and trepein (meaning “to bend”). So, you could quite literally say that nootropic substances are “mind benders.” Today, the terms “nootropics” and “smart drugs” are used interchangeably.   Basically, nootropics are substances that are supposed to boost brainpower. Many come in the form of natural substances. Others are biologically engineered in a laboratory. Some are legal and available at your local health food store. Others are available by prescription only and some are illegal.

What are the Benefits of Nootropics?

Here are just a few of the ways that nootropic supplements supposedly benefit the user (this includes Provigil):

  • Increase a user’s ability to obtain information through the process of learning
  • Help to improve memory
  • Facilitate the transmission of information across neural networks
  • Interrupt disruptive mental conditions (like depression and anxiety)
  • Increase the brain’s resistance to physical injury
  • Promote higher executive brain functioning

Have little or no side effects. People who swear by nootropics take them for these and many other reasons. We can’t say we blame them. Who doesn’t want to gain an edge by boosting brain power? But, the truth is that there is very limited data that suggests smart drugs actually allow users to perform at a higher level of functioning. This is especially true of natural supplements.

A Brief History on Nootropics

Nootropics are often found in nature. They have been used by various cultures around the world for thousands of years. Caffeine, cocaine, and nicotine are good examples. However, in 1964 Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Cornelius E. Giurgea developed the world’s very first synthetic nootropic. It was a medicine called Piracetam,” which was initially created to treat motion sickness. In his studies, Giurgea found that Piracetam showed improved mental performance, memory, and information processing. Upon his discovery, he used Piracetam as a model to establish the criteria for what makes something nootropic – or mind-bending. Interestingly enough, Piracetam is now often prescribed to older people to slow down dementia. Under Giurgea’s definition, a “true” nootropic enhances brain cognition and also produces some degree of mental protection. This means that a smart drug should not harm the brain in the process of cognitive enhancement (i.e., side effects or addiction potential).

Dave Asprey and the Nootropics Movement

Since the advent of Piracetam, there have been extensive efforts among laboratories and scientists to build upon Giurgea’s work. Obviously, the human race could greatly benefit from widespread cognitive enhancement. After all, humans supposedly only use 10 percent of their brains. Imagine what would happen collectively if we started operating at a higher level. And, while nootropics have been around for years, they have greatly increased in popularity since Dave Asprey introduced his Bulletproof Diet to the world. Many credit Asprey as a leading pioneer in the world of “biohacking,” which includes the use of nootropics. Biohacking, according to Asprey, is “to use science, biology, and self-experimentation to take control and upgrade your body, your mind, and your life.” He also defines biohacking as “the art and science of becoming superhuman.” (That’s a bit of a stretch, Dave, don’t you think?) Asprey’s promotion of nootropics and biohacking has made the use of smart drugs cool. People from Wall Street to Silicon Valley (and everywhere in between) are pursuing drugs like Modafinil to gain an edge.

Modafinil – A Commonly Used Nootropic

Here are a few examples of the most commonly used legal nootropics:

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Psychedelics like mushrooms or a microdose of LSD
  • L-theanine
  • Rhodiola rosea
  • Panax ginseng
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Phenylpiracetam
  • Legal amphetamines like Adderall or Ritalin
  • And…. of course… Provigil

Generally, over-the-counter products promoted as smart drugs or nootropic supplements that are sold in the U.S. include vitamins (like B12), a mixture of herbs, certain amino acids, folic acid, minerals like magnesium, green tea extract, and sometimes even fungi. Every brand is different. Each offers its own special mix of ingredients to promote higher cognitive enhancement. In the wake of the nootropics movement, scamsters are out there trying to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. Many supplement companies use unknown substances in their brain pills. Or, they just load them up with caffeine. This includes products made in the United States. Quite often, when you buy a supplement for cognitive enhancement, you don’t know what you are going to get. That is why so many people are turning to Modafinil. Moda is FDA approved. Plus, research suggests that this brain pill may positively affect “higher cognitive functions—mainly executive functions but also attention and learning.” Rather than go for supplements, many reach for the Provigil because they think they will get more bang for their buck.

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The Rise of Smart Drugs in the United States

According to an article published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in June of 2018, there is no doubt that the use of smart drugs is on the rise in the United States. The article revealed results from the annual Global Drug Survey, an anonymous online questionnaire about drug use worldwide. The data shows that U.S. respondents reported the highest rate of use of pharmacological cognitive enhancement drugs (PCEs) in the world. In 2017, almost 30 percent said they had used drugs for PCE at least once in the preceding year, up from just 20 percent in 2015. According to the study, 48 percent of people said they obtained prescription smart drugs through friends. About 10 percent bought them from a dealer or from an online distribution company. About six percent obtained them from a family member and approximately four percent said that they had their own prescription. (This is incredible when you think about it!)

Modafinil and the Corporate Executive Looking For an Edge

Moda has become a favorite among Wall Street brokers and Silicon Valley techies, gaining notoriety as a pep pill. Those who work in high-powered positions are highly motivated to take this drug. They say it helps them navigate long, stressful work days and meet the demands of their jobs. Dave Asprey has certainly had a hand in encouraging corporate execs to take moda to gain an edge. He promotes the drug on his website as one of the best nootropics on the market. Asprey’s followers are in the millions. It’s no surprise that men and women of all ages are rushing to buy this medication as a way to boost brainpower.

Provigil and College Students – An Interesting New Trend

Taking a full course load at a college or university is a major undertaking – to say the least. There are classes to attend, difficult papers to write, and grueling exams to take. Many college students turn to this medication as a way to perform under pressure and make the grades needed to complete their degree plan. Adderall (known as the “study buddy”) is much more popular on college campuses than Modafinil. However, there has been an increasing demand for moda in the last few years among college students. Where there is a demand, there will always be a supply. As a result, the number of prescriptions filled for this medication has increased. Let’s face it – drugs have always been readily available on college campuses across the United States. However, in the past, most college students liked to use alcohol and recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and crystal meth to party. If nothing else, the recent upsurge of available smart drugs like Modafinil on college campuses is interesting. It seems that many students are seeking substances that will help them become better students. This is a definite shift from the days of yesteryear where students were only interested in catching a buzz.

Provigil as a Recreational Drug

Supposedly, moda doesn’t get you high. But, thousands of users who take the stuff to catch a buzz disagree. When taken in much higher doses (more than 2,000 mg, as opposed to the recommended dose of 200 mg), the drug can make people feel speedy. Many will go on a “binge” and take the drug for days on end, staying up for days at a time. All you have to do is read the hundreds of posts on Reddit where users describe their experiences taking Modafinil. Many say they get high on the drug on a regular basis. Others say they take it recreationally because it gives them a “pep in their step.” And, many say they take the drug because it allows them to drink plenty of alcohol without feeling intoxicated. Provigil is still largely unknown on the streets and many people who like to “party” are unfamiliar with the drug. However, it is gaining in popularity. Prescriptions for the medication are up and more people are experimenting with the stuff.

Can Provigil Treat Cocaine and Methamphetamine Addiction?

In the past five years, some research has shown that Modafinil can help those who are addicted to crystal meth or cocaine. Provigil binds to the same receptor sites in the brain as cocaine and crystal meth, only to a much milder extent. This lessens cravings and reduces withdrawal symptoms, which promotes long-term sobriety.. When prescribed for cocaine or crystal meth addiction, Modafinil acts as a medication-assisted therapy (MAT). It is given to those who have made the commitment to get sober and are actively engaged in rehabilitation efforts. Provigil is NOT a magic pill. It will not cause someone to stop using meth or cocaine. It must be used as a recovery aid in conjunction with drug rehab and ongoing therapy.

How Does Modafinil Make You Feel?

Okay, we’ve talked about nootropics and given you a background on how Modafinil is quickly gaining popularity. Now let’s talk more in depth about this supposed smart drug. Many people want to know, “How does Provigil make you feel?” This medication typically lasts for about 10-12 hours and it starts to take effect about one hour after taking it. Users of this smart drug report that it makes them feel alert, awake, and focused. Those who swear by the medication say it greatly improves concentration, which allows them to be more productive. Supposedly, it also promotes mental clarity, higher cognitive functioning, and enhances memory. However, it is important to recognize that – just like any medication – moda affects everyone differently. Some say it gives them an edge and allows them to be more productive and efficient. Others say the drug wires them up and cause them to feel a very unpleasant, super speedy feeling. And others say they experience no effect at all when they take Provigil.

Potential Modafinil Side Effects

Here are some of the most common side effects of Modafinil:

  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Respiratory problems
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Jitters
  • Anxiety
  • Unexplained agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia

If you experience any of these Provigil side effects, you should notify your doctor immediately:

  • High fever
  • Bruising easily
  • Bleeding of the skin
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions or bizarre thoughts
  • Chest pains
  • Increased heart rate, irregular heartbeat
  • Mental confusion
  • Extreme change in mood
  • Suicidal thoughts

Where Do You Buy Modafinil?

In the United States, it is only legal to take moda if you have a prescription from a doctor for a legitimate medical condition. You can’t just go to a doctor and say, “Hey, doc! Gimme some smart pills!” It’s just not that simple. For this reason, many people are turning to alternative methods to obtain the drug. Many people are buying Modafinil online from labs in India, China, Mexico, Canada, and other countries. This is a risky business. When you purchase moda from a foreign source, you have no idea what you are getting. Best case scenario, you get some bunk junk and you waste your money because the stuff doesn’t affect you. Worst case scenario, you ingest unknown harmful toxins that could cause major health complications or even death. It is never a good idea to buy Modafinil online. Not only is it dangerous to do so, but it is also illegal. If your package is intercepted, you could be charged with importing a controlled substance into the United States, which is a federal crime. This could result in your arrest and subsequent incarceration in prison. Ask yourself if it is really worth it.

How Much Does Provigil Cost?

On average, Modafinil costs about $40 for a one month supply of 200 mg pills when you buy it with a prescription covered by insurance. It is available at pharmacies like Walgreens, Walmart, or CVS. This is a 95 percent discount off the $789 retail price. This is what you should expect to pay if you do not have prescription drug insurance or your insurance does not cover it. If you buy this prescription illegally from an online distributor from another country, you should expect to pay anywhere from $100 – $600. Remember, when you buy from a foreign manufacturer, you never know what you are going to get, so buyer beware! And, of course, keep in mind, most of these sellers do not offer a refund.  

Is Modafinil the Same as Adderall?

Moda is NOT the same as Adderall. Adderall is primarily prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) while Modafinil is prescribed for sleep disorders. Adderall shows a much higher rate of addiction than moda – although this may be because there has been much more research conducted on Adderall than Modafinil. Some researchers are now suggesting that both smart drugs have the potential for abuse and addiction. Also, those who take Provigil say it doesn’t give them the jitters, shakes, or wiry feeling that Adderall produces. They say it just elevates their mood, attention span, cognitive functioning – without the nasty side effects.

Is Modafinil Addictive?

The common belief about moda is that it is non-addictive or has a low potential for abuse. However, research shows that when taken in higher doses, Provigil can be addictive and produce withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, moda may not necessarily be physically addictive, but it may be psychologically addictive. Those who count on this drug to function may believe they NEED it in order to be productive. It is important to note that this medication has not been extensively studied to examine whether or not it can cause drug dependence. We continue to learn more about users’ reactions to this drug. Many are reporting they have gotten hooked on it. More studies should be conducted to answer the question, “Is Modafinil addictive?” Keep in mind that many people will take moda as a smart drug and be unprepared for how it affects them personally. As with any other medication, it is not a good idea to take this substance without a legal prescription and under the direct supervision from a doctor.  

How to Know If You Are Addicted to Modafinil

As we have explained, Provigil is can be an addictive drug for some. Those who take this medication without a prescription can get hooked. Addiction is sneaky. It has a way of creeping up on you. One minute, you are enjoying the high. The next minute, your life is spiraling out of control. It is important to keep in mind that denial is a powerful driving force behind any addiction. This is the part of your brain that tells you that you don’t have a problem, that you can quit anytime you want to, or that your drug use isn’t that big of a deal. If you have been using Modafinil, and you think you might have a problem with abuse, we want you to answer a few yes or no questions. Do your best, to be honest with yourself.

  1. Have you ever purchased Provigil illegally?
  2. Have you ever tried to manipulate a doctor to get a prescription for this medication?
  3. Have you been steadily increasing your dosage to achieve the same effect you used to get with a lower dose?
  4. Are you taking an extremely high dosage so you can catch a buzz?
  5. Are you lying to your friends and family or hiding your use of Modafinil?
  6. Have your loved ones expressed concern about your drug use or a change in your behavior?
  7. Do you go several days at a time without sleep because you are wired up on Provigil?
  8. Have you tried to quit using this drug, but you have been unable to do so on your own?
  9. Do you spend a lot of money to get this smart drug?
  10. Do you spend a lot of time thinking about this medication when you don’t have it?

If you answered “yes” to any ONE of these questions, you may have a problem Provigil. Although this medication is said to have a very low potential for abuse, many users ultimately develop an addiction to this drug.

Can You Quit Modafinil Cold Turkey?

Reports indicate that it is not a good idea to quit taking Provigil cold turkey. Doctors recommend slowly lowering the dosage and tapering off over a few weeks rather than stopping it suddenly. This will help prevent a sudden shock to cognitive brain functioning, which can be unpleasant. This medication does not produce typical withdrawal symptoms – like you would expect if you quit taking opioids, for example. However, there will be some mild discomfort if you quit cold turkey. Even if you slowly reduce your dosage, it will take some time for the brain to adjust.

Potential Provigil Withdrawal Symptoms

We have explained that withdrawal from Modafinil is not typical. Nevertheless, when you stop taking the medication, you should expect to experience some of the following: Fatigue – This is the number one complaint among people who quit Provigil. This is to be expected, of course. Remember, this drug is designed to keep you awake and alert. Once you remove this substance from your system, you will feel tired, fatigued, and an overall sense of low energy. You can expect this for about a month. Concentration Problems – If you believe the hype, Modafinil improves cognitive functioning. Take the drug away, and the brain will have to struggle to focus without it for a while. Many people who quit moda say they experience brain fog for several weeks after they stop taking this medication. Depression – This drug is not an antidepressant, but many people say it enhances their mood. Some users will experience mild to moderate depression after stopping Provigil. If you experience suicidal thoughts or extreme depression after you quit this drug, you should talk to your doctor. The severity of these symptoms depends on several factors. These include:

  • How long you have been taking the drug
  • How much of the medication you have been taking
  • If you are using other mood or mind-altering substances, including alcohol
  • If you have a healthy weight
  • Your diet
  • Kidney and liver functions
  • Your overall general health

The worst of these symptoms will take place the first two weeks after stopping moda. After that, you will continue to feel better with time. However, it may take the brain several months to return to normal functioning after you quit due to Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).  Still not sure if you have a problem? Take another self-assessment quiz.

What to Do if You Think You Are Addicted to Provigil

If you think you may be addicted to Modafinil, you should reach out for help and talk to an addiction expert. They can assess your situation and determine if you have a physical or psychological dependence on this medication. If you do, they can help you determine if you would benefit from attending rehab or going to counseling. If you do not feel that you need rehab, but you want help with your problem, you can always attend a meeting at Narcotics Anonymous (NA). NA is a nonprofit fellowship of men and women who are learning to live and enjoy life without the use of drugs. They have literature available to educate you about addiction. Plus, you will meet people who will help support you in your journey to get sober.

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The Takeaway – Are the Potential Drawbacks of Modafinil Worth the Risk?

Many swear by smart drugs as a way to unleash the full potential of the mind. Others take it to catch a buzz. Most medical and mental health professionals will tell you that tinkering with the brain’s biochemistry is a bad idea – no matter what your motivation is for taking it. When you take Provigil without a doctor’s supervision or you start taking the stuff in high doses, you are gambling with their health. Using any kind of prescription drug effects with the brain’s mental neurotransmitters, plain and simple. This can lead to a variety of nasty side effects and you run the risk of getting hooked on the stuff. Plus, we still don’t know if biohacking could actually lead to mental health issues or long-term physical damage. When it comes to Modafinil, we think it’s an all-around bad idea to take the stuff except when it is prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate medical condition. What do you think? Do you have any experience taking Provigil? If so, please leave your comments below.