Modafinil vs Adderall: Which One Suits Your Purposes?

Provigil vs. Nuvigil (Modafinil vs. Armodafinil) – Aren’t they the same?
December 21, 2017
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Modafinil vs Adderall: Which One Suits Your Purposes?

modafinil vs adderall studying provigil

Modafinil vs Adderall: Which is the best cognitive enhancer?


The long-standing “battle” between Modafinil (Provigil) vs Adderall is often debated among both new and experienced users.

In fact, many people are actually considering to switch from Adderall to Modafinil, for obvious reasons which will be discussed further on.

Adderall is a popular stimulant, initially intended to be used as a treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy. Nowadays, it’s being used for its stimulating properties by healthy individuals too.

Modafinil was initially designed for similar purposes. In recent years it’s becoming more and more popular among those who want an extra edge when it comes to studying or being more productive at work. 

Both Modafinil and Adderall get the job done quite well, yet each has its own upsides and downsides. This article will offer you a better picture so that you can make the best decision for your purposes.


Table of contents

Modafinil vs Adderall: Mechanisms of action compared

Physical Effects of Modafinil and Adderall

Cognitive Effects of Modafinil and Adderall

Uses and Productive Experiences of Modafinil vs Adderall

Side Effects and Addictive Potential of Modafinil vs Adderall

Modafinil vs Adderall for Studying





Modafinil vs Adderall: Which one is best for you?

Modafinil and Adderall Taken Together

Where to buy Modafinil online?


Modafinil vs Adderall: Mechanisms of action compared

Adderall contains two active ingredients that account for its psychoactive effects, both part of the amphetamine class of drugs: dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. The two compounds increase the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine, also triggering the release of epinephrine, serotonin and histamine. The action of the two amphetamines triggers a feeling similar to a “fight or flight” response, producing arousal and considerable energy boost that is more effective at managing ADHD than Modafinil.

Modafinil is a synthetic molecule of the benzhydryl class, comprised of two enantiomers: S-Modafinil and R-Modafinil, the latter accounting for most of its potency. Modafinil’s subtle effects in comparison to Adderall can be attributed to the subtle, yet diverse effects it has on neurotransmitters. Modafinil inhibits GABA production while stimulating dopamine, norepinephrine, histamine and orexin. This leads to a considerably less euphoric, recreational and forced experience when compared to Adderall.


Physical Effects of Modafinil and Adderall

Is Modafinil like Adderall?

Yes, but not quite. Modafinil and Adderall increase the production of certain neurotransmitters which account for the stimulating, yet slightly distinct effects. The mechanism of action is similar and this also leads to somewhat similar effects. 

Is Modafinil a stimulant?

Even though the Modafinil and Adderall can be substituted with each other, the two are from different categories of substances. Adderall is a stimulant and Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent (or a eugeroic).

Modafinil encourages movement and physical activities such as running, playing sports, socializing, and/or exercising. Some users also report jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding. Dehydration is quite common when using even small doses of Modafinil, which is why you should constantly drink water after taking it.

The stimulation experienced on Adderall is more potent, yet forced rather than encouraged as is the case with Modafinil. The experience can produce a significant mood-lift, which is why Adderall is a popular recreational drug. Common side effects include increased heart rate, involuntary movements (like shaking one’s leg) and body tension.

Adderall induces appetite suppression, dehydration and will also lead to a crash once the effects have worn off. Lots of people use Adderall for weight loss also.


Cognitive Effects of Modafinil and Adderall

Both Modafinil (Provigil) and Adderall promote wakefulness, memory retention, recall of information, longer attention spans and increased desire to accomplish daily or long-term goals.

If used in large doses, Adderall will prove inefficient in accomplishing goals that relate to productivity and studying. Also, even in smaller doses, Adderall usually leaves one feeling drained once the effects wear off. The level of fatigue experienced afterward is directly proportionate to the dosage used.

Modafinil has a long half-life of around 15 hours. Its effects last much longer and its after-effects can even be felt nine hours later.

Modafinil doesn’t make you crash and can even be “reactivated” with caffeine, although this might make sleeping at night a bit difficult.


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Uses and Productive Experiences of Modafinil vs Adderall

Modafinil is commonly sold as Provigil or Modalert. Users report significantly reduced brain fog, which can last more than a few days. Also, increased focus, energy and motivation are usually felt over the following days.

Modafinil is famous for making you feel “glued to the chair” because it makes you get very involved in whatever you’re doing at that moment. Users report an increased desire to perform otherwise boring activities and an extra pull to get things done.

Adderall, on the other hand, is a lot more potent as a stimulant. The stimulation feels forced and makes users want to do physical activities such as running, dancing, cleaning, walking, or doing sports.

Users report increased productivity and learning abilities, but its amphetamine side-effects often deter many people from choosing Adderall as a learning aid.

Also, it’s important to note that Modafinil has neuroprotective properties due to the fact that it decreases oxidative levels in the brain.


Modafinil vs Adderall for Studying

As off-label use of Modafinil is increasing in recent years, more and more students are choosing to gain an edge in their studies by using smart drugs or “cognitive enhancers”.

Although you certainly won’t see any prescriptions for healthy individuals, people are going to use Modafinil, Adderall and other cognitive enhancers anyhow.

The main difference between Adderall and Modafinil when it comes to studying is in its comedown. Modafinil is longer-lasting and acts on brain chemistry differently than Adderall or other stimulants.

You won’t crash from Modafinil and the difference between a low dose and a high dose is not that obvious. If you were to consume a high dose of Adderall, then learning would be quite difficult due to the jitteriness and euphoria that it provokes.

A higher dose of Modafinil will increase the “focus” factor and won’t create an actual “high”. Modafinil is a eugeroic, after all, meaning that higher doses will make you feel more awake, not more stimulated. Still, both Modafinil and Adderall are effective study aids.

Adderall can be highly addictive and people are actually entering rehab to quit Adderall.

Modafinil’s side effects are gentle and its addictive potential is low.


Side Effects and Addictive Potential of Modafinil vs Adderall

Both Modafinil (Provigil) and Adderall have their own side-effects and show various levels of toxicity.

Both Modafinil and Adderall may produce unwanted side-effects which include headaches, nausea, dizziness, anxiety and nervousness. However, the two drugs exhibit many differences in long-term and short-term side-effects.

Modafinil is regarded as a safe drug if used in low-to-moderate doses.  Medical studies on human beings did not find it to have severe side effects when several participants were administered different doses in various time periods.

An experiment was made on several users who were given 1000 to 1600 mg of Modafinil for 7 to 21 days. Consecutive days of high-dosing ended with them experiencing severe headaches and nausea. However, the side-effects passed and no long-term damage was recorded.


Is there such thing as a “Modafinil withdrawal”?

No. Modafinil isn’t addictive, but tolerance will be built over a moderate period of time if used frequently. The same studies concluded that after using modafinil for several weeks, users did not feel any physical withdrawal. Nevertheless, there were some uncomfortable mental states due to dopamine depletion.

While Modafinil is considered a safe smart dug, Adderall has many more negative side-effects, making it a more dangerous option for healthy users.

In addition to the already listed side-effects, Adderall damages the bladder, kidneys, and liver. Many users who have taken the drug for a long period of time have reported bladder pain.

Results of various blood examinations showed that daily use of Adderall leads to liver problems due to a decrease in enzymes that are responsible for the metabolism of Adderall. The affected enzymes are responsible for more biotransformations as well.

Adderall addiction is quite an issue in the US. Many users who have stopped taking Adderall experienced a fairly wide range of withdrawal symptoms: insomnia or excessive sleeping, nervousness, irritability, weight loss, depression, tiredness and brain zaps.

Amphetamines have a high risk of potentially developing or worsening psychological issues and/or mental disorders. Overdosing effects of Adderall abuse include tachycardia, nausea, headaches, vomiting and in, higher doses, death.



Both Adderall and Modafinil are used to treat the same sleep-related disorders.

Both are popular cognitive enhancers with rising off-label use.

Modafinil and Adderall produce prominent stimulating effects, even though Modafinil isn’t technically a stimulant.



Modafinil is a eugeroic. Adderall falls under the stimulant category.

Adderall is considerably more addictive than Modafinil.

Modafinil’s effects are more gentle. Adderall’s effects are stronger and more forced.

Adderall’s peak effects are followed by a crash period. Modafinil’s effects wear out over a long period of time.

Adderall is highly addictive while Modafinil has little to no addictive potential.




Both Modafinil and Adderall effects can be intensified by using certain drugs or foods. Carbamazepine (a neuroleptic drug used to treat epilepsy) can potentiate the stimulation caused by the two drugs.

Modafinil can be boosted with caffeine, cocoa, other dopamine-boosting foods or other nootropics. Physical activity can also maximize its effects.

Here’s a more detailed article regarding how to potentiate ModafinilMany use dopamine precursors such as thymine, tyrosine or l-tyrosine found in foods like cocoa, bananas, green tea, almonds etc. to potentiate the effects of Adderall.



The usual dosage of Modafinil in medical practice is 200mgs once a day, but it is recommended to consume a lower dose for study or motivation purposes, research on this topic has shown no difference between 100 mg and 200 mg administration effects.

Some choose to take Modafinil sublingually for a higher rate of absorption and faster come-up.

Adderall has varying recommended dosages, depending on the reason for using it. When used to treat narcolepsy, for example, dosages may range from 5mg to 60mg per day in divided doses.

For those that want to maximize productivity, around 10mgs per day would be enough for those that haven’t developed tolerance yet.


Modafinil vs Adderall: Which one is best for you?

Modafinil and Adderall are both useful in treating narcolepsy ADD/ADHD and are widely used both with and without prescription to boost intellectual activity and increase productivity.

Modafinil is regarded by many as “a stronger cup of coffee”, more gentle in its effects, but still a top choice for many when it comes to smart drugs.

Adderall is an amphetamine. Thus, it packs a stronger punch and has been found to boost focus and energy levels more than Modafinil. This can be a bad thing because one can easily exaggerate dosage, which will yield counterproductive results in the end.

Also, one can feel burned out after the effects of Adderall have worn out, which is not the case with Modafinil.

Thus, it can be concluded that Modafinil is a smarter choice when taken as a productivity and learning enhancer, based on its lower toxicity levels, few side effects, pleasant effects, effectiveness and addiction-free long-term usage. 

Adderall is more potent than Modafinil, but also much more unhealthy and also less effective when it comes to learning and productivity.


Modafinil and Adderall taken together

Even though the two fall in different categories, Modafinil and Adderall are both stimulating, resulting in additive effects. Most likely, when taking the usual dose of both, this combination will result in unpleasant side-effects.

Modafinil amplifies the effect of almost any stimulant and throwing in Adderall in the mix might cause increased heart rate and insomnia.


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modafinil vs adderall


1 Comment

  1. Andrew says:

    I occasionally use Modafinil as a learning aid. It’s really helpful, especially during exam season. It helps me stay focused on my studies. I haven’t noticed any significant side effects, although it does make it a little harder for me to fall asleep if I have caffeine on the same day when I take Modafinil. But in general, I think it’s great.

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