Modafinil – is it effective?

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Under the mysterious name “Smart drugs” (or “smart drugs”), neurometabolic stimulants are hidden, they are also nootropics.

It is believed that such pharmaceuticals can significantly improve memory functions, concentration, and also have a stimulating effect on the nervous system, allowing you to increase efficiency and temporarily get rid of the need for sleep.

Among a very large group of nootropics, Modafinil (also known as Alertek, Provigil and Modalert), which is banned in Russia but widely used abroad, is of particular interest.

Primary characteristic of a psychostimulant is a psychostimulant developed in the seventies of the twentieth century. The authorship of this tool belongs to the French-American manufacturer Cephalon Corporation, which was looking for an effective tool to combat narcolepsy.

Despite the fact that, according to statistics, such an ailment is quite rare (diagnosed with about 0.025% of the US population), a person suffering from it can quietly fall asleep while driving or in another situation requiring a high concentration of attention. Therefore, the problem is much more serious than it might seem at first glance, and requires competent treatment.

The U.S. Central Administration of Drug and Food Quality Control (FDA) considers Modafinil a relatively safe pharmaceutical that provides an excellent alternative to caffeine, amphetamine, and other popular synthetic stimulants. In the composition of the drug, in addition to the main active substance (modafinil), there are a number of auxiliary components.

Pharmacological profile

Today, little is known about the exact mechanism of the effects of Modafinil on the human body. As a result of large-scale clinical studies, scientists have found that the drug increases the level of serotonin in the anterior cortex and amygdala and stimulates increased release of dopamine, norepinephrine and other monoamines from synoptic clefts.

Under the influence of a medication, the hypothalamus intensely produces histamine, which entails the activation of alpha-1 receptors.

Modafinil affects various parts of the brain. One of the most important and pronounced effects is considered to be an increase in vigor, concentration of attention, ability to remember, comprehend and assimilate new information. With the help of medicine, a person is able to control his voluntary attention, as well as improve the perception of the surrounding reality.

Although Modafinil is not an antidepressant and does not cause euphoria like some other prohibited stimulants, it may well restore good mood and reduce anxiety.

Scope of application

As mentioned above, Modafinil was originally developed as an effective treatment against narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. It was also supposed to be used in order to get rid of chronic lack of sleep and drowsiness arising from the transition to summer / winter time and subsequent shifts in the work schedule.

Unlike amphetamine, which causes euphoria, as well as side effects such as “hangovers” and addiction, Modafinil can significantly increase concentration, alertness and performance without “side effects”.

For experimental purposes, the drug was used and continues to be used to this day for military and space tasks. Scientists from Canada published a detailed report that the nootropic managed to demonstrate very positive results during a long stay of a group of astronauts on the ISS.

In the American army, the use of Provigil by pilots of fighters and military helicopters is permissible, which allows them to maintain a high degree of concentration of attention for up to one and a half days after a single dose of a high dose (600 mg or more).

Some scholars have suggested that the drug can be used to treat addiction to cocaine and some other addictive stimulants. A double study in which patients suffering from a similar problem took part showed that the drug is able to alleviate cocaine withdrawal, however, a positive result is not guaranteed and depends on a number of psychoemotional and other related factors.

According to the results of numerous clinical trials, it was possible to establish that the medication reduces appetite and contributes to intense weight loss. Amphetamine, taken for similar purposes, significantly increases the heart rate, can cause tachycardia and a number of other undesirable effects.

Modafinil also shows outstanding results in the treatment of cognitive impairment, is used to improve memory and eliminates excessive daytime fatigue and drowsiness caused by primary biliary cirrhosis.

Since 2004, tablets with a higher dose of the main active ingredient have been used to treat adolescents and children suffering from hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Provigil and its analogues are currently used to alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as neurological fatigue and depressive states.

After clinical trials of the R-isomer of Modafinil, he very positively established himself as an effective tool for the treatment of bipolar affective disorder.


Use of the medicine is prohibited in the following cases:

  • individual intolerance or increased sensitivity to the constituent components;
  • transferred vascular or heart disease;
  • the presence of phobias, nervous disorders and obsessive depressive states.

The use of Provigil is contraindicated during pregnancy and during lactation. The medication does not combine with alcoholic beverages and can significantly reduce the effectiveness of contraceptives. With cirrhosis and serious liver damage, it is strictly forbidden to use the drug.

It is also necessary to know that Alertek gives a positive result in case of passing a doping control before sports competitions.

Features of application – recommended dosages

For the treatment of drowsiness and narcolepsy, the medicine is used once a day in the morning in an amount of 200-300 mg.

A dosage of 400 mg can lead to difficulty sleeping at night. In studies in which pilots of aircraft and helicopters took part, a dosage of 600 mg, divided into several doses, allowed to maintain high accuracy, good reaction and concentration for a day and a half.

In the case of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, increasing the dose from 200 to 400 mg did not show a noticeable difference in the results.

Overdose and side effects

The most common side effects that occur with an overdose of the drug are headache and nausea.

To date, Provigil is considered a safer stimulant than amphetamine and even caffeine. However, according to a large-scale study by the Canadian Department of Health, it was possible to establish such information regarding side effects and possible complications:

  • the use of the drug is contraindicated for persons suffering from clinically significant mitral valve prolapse, developed on the basis of the use of stimulants;
  • the use of a nootropic is prohibited in the presence of various mental disorders and deviations;
  • hypersensitivity to the components of the drug can provoke a rash, dermatitis, toxic type necrolysis and a number of skin reactions that threaten life;
  • the medication can cause shortness of breath, a feeling of heat, the occurrence of ulcers in the oral cavity and urticaria.

In rare cases, an overdose can lead to anaphylactic shock, dyspeptic disorders, nasal congestion, lower back pain, and Quincke’s edema.

Provigil should not be used by children despite the fact that the results of the studies demonstrated the relative safety of the drug for adolescents and children aged 9 to 17 years….

Drug or not?

Despite the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency has classified Alertek and its analogues as prohibited stimulants, the drug does not cause dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms.

Therefore, it cannot be called a drug in the classical sense of the term.

Over the course of a long period of time, disputes continued on the territory of France and England over whether it is worth withdrawing the drug from free sale, since there were many cases of misuse among young people who actively visit nightclubs and entertainment venues.

In the spring of 2012, Modafinil and its derivatives were included in the list of psychotropic and narcotic drugs of the Russian Federation with a limited turnover, so you can not buy it in pharmacies. The official status of the legality of this drug in Russia is such that any citizen of the country who has at least one tablet is subject to article 228 of the criminal code, which assumes liability in the form of serving a sentence of 3 years.

About the advantages and disadvantages

Modafinil has a minimal number of side effects with a tangible effect, which is manifested in increased working capacity, improved concentration and lack of need for sleep.

That is why today in many military departments of different countries the question arises of the complete replacement of traditional Amphetamine, which is present in the first-aid kit of fighters of special units, with Modafinil. Due to its outstanding qualities, the drug is actively used among astronauts, pilots, and even law enforcement officers.

For example, in some US states, police officers receive 200 mg of Modalert daily to increase labor productivity and improve the response required to capture criminals.

On the other hand, in cases of abuse or excess dosage can be observed: dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and a number of other unpleasant symptoms.

Since this pharmaceutical product increases the level of histamine, people who are prone to allergic reactions should refrain from using it. Buyers from some countries also include the high cost of the drug and the certain complexity associated with its purchase as a minus.

Real stories of real people

Stories – reviews of people who have used or are using Modafinil with some success.

The first time I happened to encounter Modalert, when a very good friend of mine began to recommend it to me very persistently. She took the drug one-time at a dosage of 200 mg on days of increased responsibility and workloads.

After consulting with my doctor, I decided to order one package myself. Half an hour after taking a dosage of 0.2 g, drowsiness disappeared, while there was no rapid pulsation, euphoria and other qualities inherent in the substances of the amphetamine series.

Increasing the dosage to 0.5 grams increased my working capacity so much that the night passed without sleep behind a productive video editing (my main occupation).

It is worth noting the complete lack of appetite and desire to sleep. Perception has become clearer, and concentration has also increased. The absent-mindedness decreased, and productivity can be judged by the project completed by morning, which I planned to finish no earlier than a few days later. The effect of the drug on physical strength, endurance and coordination can only be estimated indirectly.


I got to know Modafinil during a vacation in the Indian state of Goa. There you can buy it at virtually any pharmacy where it is dispensed without a prescription.

The reason for the reception was severe fatigue, resulting from a long flight and acclimatization. About 30 minutes after taking 300 mg of the drug, I felt a surge of vigor, and this was clearly not a placebo effect.

Drowsiness was completely removed, and no tachycardia or dizziness was observed. The action of a single dose lasted for about eight hours. The only mistake was drinking the Red Bull Energy Drink, after which a slight headache and nausea occurred.

Andrey, Moscow

Doctor Review

This drug has certain indications, and its use for other purposes or exceeding the recommended dosages is an unjustified risk in relation to one’s own health.

Despite the fact that Modafinil was synthesized relatively long ago, and more than two dozen large-scale clinical trials have already been implemented, it is definitely impossible to declare the complete safety of this medication.

Any stimulant depletes the nervous system, so I would recommend using the medicine in one-time cases when it is really necessary. It’s best to find for yourself a “legal” energetic and tonic that does not deplete the supply of serotonin and dopamine, such as sports, creativity or sex.

Likhachev Pavel, specialist in the field of neurosurgery

Interesting Facts

Modafinil and its analogues are currently actively used in bodybuilding. Among fans of weightlifting, there is an opinion that the drug not only increases IQ, but also miraculously increases the efficiency from classes in the gym.

In fact, it allows you to provide the maximum level of concentration, which allows you to focus on the training process.

The active component of the drug is part of various pre-workout complexes designed to increase effectiveness and “pumping”.

American and European students also often use Modalert and Provegil, since they can be used to prepare for the session in a matter of days, and the assimilation of information is much more effective.

If you can’t buy, then something needs to be replaced

Drugs under the registered trade names Provigil, Modalert and Alertek in fact do not have significant differences from Modafinil. In one tablet of any of these drugs contains 200 mg of active substance with the addition of excipients.

In the modern European and American market there are numerous generics that are positioned as a budget version of Modafinil.

In fact, clinical trials of such pharmaceuticals have not been conducted, so their use is associated with an unjustified risk to health. A more potent analogue of Modafinil is Methylphenidate (aka Ritalin), but this drug can cause psychological dependence and has a large number of side effects.

At the moment, in the Russian Federation Provigil and any of its analogues are prohibited. Accordingly, there is no opportunity to purchase it with a prescription or without it.

Among the closest analogues of this drug can be identified Phenotropil, which was developed in the Soviet Union specifically for pilots, astronauts and astronauts. However, this nootropic is largely inferior to Provigil, while having a large number of side effects.

Despite the forbidden status, Alertek is contained in some pre-training complexes that are on sale. They are also traded by domestic and Chinese online stores. The cost of 30 tablets with an active ingredient content of 200 mg each is about 2500-3000 Russian rubles.

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