Modafinil vs Adderall: Which is the best cognitive enhancer?
There is a long-standing “battle” between Modafinil (Provigil) vs Adderall. A popular debate among both new and experienced users.
In fact, many people are actually considering to switch from Adderall to Modafinil.
We’ll be discussing the reasons later on.
Adderall is a popular stimulant. Doctors prescribe it as a treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy. Nowadays, it’s popular for its stimulating properties among healthy individuals.
A few decades ago, scientists designed Modafinil for similar purposes. In recent years it’s more popular as a cognitive enhancer. Those who want an edge find it very useful when studying or being more productive at work.
Both Modafinil and Adderall get the job done quite well. Still, 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.
Adderall contains two active ingredients that account for its psychoactive effects. Both are part of the amphetamine class of drugs: dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. The two compounds increase the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, they trigger the release of epinephrine, serotonin and histamine.
The action of the two amphetamines triggers a feeling akin to a “fight or flight” response. This produces arousal and energy that is better suited for ADHD than Modafinil.
Modafinil is a synthetic molecule of the benzhydryl class, comprised of two enantiomers. These are S-Modafinil and R-Modafinil, the latter accounting for most of its potency. Modafinil produces subtle effects when compared to Adderall. This is 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 lower euphoria and a lesser recreational experience compared to Adderall.
Is Modafinil like Adderall?
Yes, but not quite. Modafinil and Adderall increase the production of certain neurotransmitters. These 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?
Modafinil is a good Adderall substitute. Interestingly enough, 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 playing sports and/or exercising. Some users also report jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding. Dehydration is quite common when using even small doses of Modafinil. Don’t forget to constantly drink water after taking it.
Adderall “overpowers” Modafinil
Adderall is more potent, yet forced rather than encouraged as is the case with Modafinil. It’s also quite euphoric, which is why it’s popular as a recreational drug. Common side effects include increased heart rate, involuntary movements (like shaking one’s leg) and body tension.
Furthermore, it induces appetite suppression and severe dehydration. It will also lead to a crash once the effects have worn off. Lots of people use it for weight loss also.
Both Modafinil (Provigil) and Adderall promote wakefulness, memory retention and recall of information. Furthermore, Modafinil and Adderall increase attention spans and motivation to accomplish goals.
If used in large doses, Adderall is inefficient for productivity or studying. Also, even in smaller doses, it usually leaves one feeling drained. 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. It doesn’t make you crash and can even be “reactivated” with caffeine. Be careful, though. This might make sleeping at night a bit difficult.
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.
It’s famous for making you feel “glued to the chair”. No, it won’t make your butt sticky. Your eyes will be glued to the screen, book or whatever you’re focused on in that moment. Users report an increased desire to perform otherwise boring activities.
Adderall is a lot more potent as a stimulant, but the forced stimulation can be uncomfortable. Users report increased productivity and learning abilities. Still, its amphetamine side-effects often deter people from using it as a learning aid.
Fun fact. Modafinil has neuroprotective properties because it decreases oxidative levels in the brain.
Off-label use of Modafinil has been increasing heavily in recent years. More and more students choose to gain an edge by using smart drugs or cognitive enhancers. You won’t see any prescriptions for healthy individuals. Regardless, people are going to use both, as well as other cognitive enhancers.
The main difference between Adderall and Modafinil for studying is the comedown. Modafinil is longer-lasting and acts differently on brain chemistry than Adderall.
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, learning would be quite difficult. That’s because it gives you the jitters and the “giggles”.
A higher dose of Modafinil will increase the “focus” factor and won’t create an actual “high”. After all, it is a wakefulness-enhancing agent. Higher doses will make you feel more awake, not more stimulated. Still, both are effective study aids.
Important to realize that Adderall can be highly addictive. Many people (including children) are actually entering rehab to quit Adderall. On the other hand, Modafinil’s side effects are gentle and its addictive potential is low.
Both Modafinil (Provigil) and Adderall exhibit side-effects and show various levels of toxicity. Both may produce unwanted side-effects, although intensity varies a lot between the two. These include headaches, nausea, dizziness, anxiety and nervousness. However, the two drugs exhibit clear differences with regards to severity.
Modafinil is as a safe smart drug if used in low-to-moderate doses. Studies on human beings did not find it to have severe side effects during clinical trials. 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 occurred.
No. It isn’t addictive at all. Still, tolerance will develop if used frequently. In fact, the same studies came to an interesting conclusion. After using Modafinil for weeks, users did not experience withdrawal. Nevertheless, there were some uncomfortable mental states caused by dopamine depletion.
While Modafinil is a safe smart dug, Adderall has many more negative side-effects. Hence, it’s a more dangerous option for healthy users. Furthermore, it damages the bladder, kidneys, and liver. Many users who have taken the drug for extended periods have reported bladder pain.
Results of various blood examinations showed that daily use of Adderall leads to liver problems. This happens 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 it 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 developing or worsening psychological issue. Adderall overdoses may cause 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.
Both are good for ADHD.
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 feel 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.
You can use certain drugs or eat certain foods to potentiate either of the two. Carbamazepine (a neuroleptic used to treat epilepsy) can potentiate both Adderall and Modafinil.
You can use caffeine, cocoa, other dopamine-boosting foods or other nootropics to boost Modafinil. Physical activity can also maximize its effects.
Here’s a more detailed article regarding how to potentiate Modafinil. Many use dopamine precursors such as thymine, tyrosine or l-tyrosine. These are found in foods like cocoa, bananas, green tea, almonds etc.
The usual dosage of Modafinil in medical practice is 200 mg once a day. It’s best to consume a lower dose for study or motivation. Research on this topic shows no extra benefit when taking more than 100 mg for study or work
Some take Modafinil sublingually for a higher rate of absorption and a 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 5 mg to 60 mg per day in divided doses.
For those who want to maximize productivity, 10 mg per day would be enough. Enough for those who haven’t developed tolerance yet, of course.
Modafinil and Adderall are both useful in treating narcolepsy ADD/ADHD. They are also popular because they boost intellectual activity and increase productivity.
People regard Modafinil as “a stronger cup of coffee”, more gentle in its effects. Still, it’s a top choice for many when it comes to smart drugs.
Adderall is an amphetamine. Thus, it packs a stronger punch, as it boosts focus and energy levels more than Modafinil. This can be a bad thing because one can easily exaggerate dosage. This increases the risk of 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.
In conclusion, Modafinil is a smarter choice when used for productivity and learning. It exhibits lower toxicity levels and few side effects. Its lesser euphoria certainly helps one concentrate better. Addiction-free long-term usage is also a plus.
Adderall is more potent than Modafinil. Unfortunately, it’s also much very unhealthy and less effective for learning and productivity.
It would be unwise to mix the two. Modafinil and Adderall are both stimulating and can induce anxiety. The combination would result in additive effects. Most likely, this combination will result in unpleasant side-effects.
Modafinil amplifies the effect of almost any stimulant. Throwing in Adderall in the mix might cause increased heart rate and insomnia.
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