During the last several months we have been hearing more and more stories about the "smart drug" Modafinil (Modalert, Modvigil) - a new trend for increasing the productivity at work. Unlike some other similar stimulants, Modafinil isn't an illegal substance. In the US and some other countries, you need a prescription to get Modafinil, but it can be completely legally ordered on the Internet from India and Mexico, where this medicine is purchased without the prescription.
Although it is less potent, Modafinil is usually compared to stimulants such as amphetamines. Even a public debate was launched about a treatment of addiction from amphetamines and cocaine by Modafinil. However, it is very successfully used in treating narcolepsy and related disorders, for which it was designed in the first place.
There is also Armodafinil drug (Waklert, Artvigil), which is very similar to Modafinil with the only difference being that the former is more potent. When you read this article about Modafinil, you will think twice before using Armodafinil.
Does Modafinil cause addiction?
People often have high expectations from "smart drugs"; that is why it often leads to overdosing. An immediate short-term consequence is a tremor and insomnia. Misuse of Modafinil can cause high blood pressure and increased heartbeat, too, as well as neurotoxicity due to its psychostimulatory attributes - so says Dr. Svetislav Mitrovic from the Institute of Mental Health.
Dr. Mitrovic is absolutely certain that Modafinil can cause addiction if used for a longer period, since it affects the brain neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, glutamate, dopamine, and the hypocretin system) which indicate an addictive potential is definitely present. It does have much weaker potency than amphetamines because it does not affect dopamine levels to a great extent, but the potential is nevertheless not negligible. On top of everything, you should be aware that effects of "smart drugs" are not yet clarified and researched in entirety.
What happens to your mind after taking the pill?
As a rule, you should take Modafinil in the morning, and it does not matter whether you swallow it with food or on empty stomach. The usual dose for people suffering from sleep disorders is 200 mg (one pill) a day. However, when healthy people use it, even a half of the pill will be more than enough for generating its cognitive-enhancing effects, and particularly if you weigh less than 65 kg.
Approximately an hour after taking the pill, you will sense its effects. It generates a stimulant effect stronger than caffeine effect, and raises energy and concentration levels faster than amphetamines do. Modafinil will give you more energy and will keep you awake. More than that, you won't know where to spend all that excess of energy in your body.
It also improves your confidence, motivation and social behavior, but users report, however, it has a weaker effect on your emotional state than other stimulant drugs, concerning the feeling of euphoria and motivation, as well as your appetite. Despite this, Modafinil and many other nootropic drugs are actually used for weight-loss, which is another off-label use of this stimulant.
Is it worth it?
The plus side of smart drugs is known to many and usually it is that side which people talk about in details, but what about the other side of the story?
Though in the beginning there is a very small possibility any side-effect could appear, unless you are allergic to Modafinil components, nevertheless, you need to know that even after the first pill you will feel literally lost from time to time, as if somebody turned your brain off. Everything will seem to happen too fast. That is the first sign of short memory ability deterioration. Sure, you will become more productive at your work at first, yet the temporal enhanced mental state cannot last forever and without any price.
The positive effects after the first-time use will last for about 6-7 hours, and after that you will feel exhausted, since you artificially forced your body to work harder than it should and can. Nothing surprising, but how long could it last that way before you suffer from physical, emotional and mental exhaustion? Or perhaps a nervous breakdown? Manic behavior, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts? Just find a list of Modafinil side-effects and you will realize these things are possible and can happen to anybody who takes Modafinil and other nootropics for the purpose those drugs were not designed.
Dr. Mitrovic warns that Modafinil is not yet tested enough for a regular usage, and that in any case it should not be used for a longer period. But if a healthy individual starts taking Modafinil in order to improve his mental abilities, what is the probability he will use it "only a few times"? Extreme caution is advised in dealing with these popular stimulant drugs due to their psychostimulatory attributes and addiction potential - Dr. Mitrovic concludes.