You may be wondering if the Modafinil high — often talked about in online nootropics forums, is a legitimate phenomenon.
Modafinil is arguably the world's most popular smart drug, with its most enthusiastic users reporting several cognitive benefits in relation to mental performance.
Some of these benefits include increased memory retention, the ability to effortlessly pull all-nighters, and an abnormally high volume of productive work completed in a short period of time.
But what does Modafinil feel like? Are people getting high on Modafinil? Is the Modafinil ‘high' distinct from the drug's usual effects?
This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about the Modafinil experience — from start to finish.
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What is Modafinil?
For first-time readers who have never heard of Modafinil, allow us to quickly provide a brief overview of the smart drug and why it has achieved its reputation as the “NZT-48” pill from the movie Limitless.
Modafinil (Brand name: Provigil) is a wakefulness-promoting agent that was initially marketed in France in the 1990s to treat the excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy.
It was later approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the same purpose, in addition to treating obstructive sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder .
However, researchers have taken a great interest in using Modafinil for several off-label conditions associated with mental conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression.
But by and large, the most common off-label use of Modafinil is for enhancing cognitive performance:
“…modafinil (at well-tolerated doses) improves function in several cognitive domains, including working memory and episodic memory, and other processes dependent on prefrontal cortex and cognitive control.
These effects are observed in rodents, healthy adults, and across several psychiatric disorders.”
These findings have attracted the attention of industry professionals who require extremely high levels of focus for several hours a day.
Some of the career paths most commonly associated with Modafinil use — and smart drug use altogether — include day traders, Wall Street professionals, entrepreneurs, surgeons, and high-achieving students :
“Studies of use among high school and university students indicate prevalences of 11–25% in North America and 1–20% elsewhere, including the UK.
A student newspaper survey in The Tab reported that 20% of UK university students had tried modafinil; with Oxford students using it more than any other (26%). Lowest use was among medical students (12%).”
In summation, Modafinil appears to provide a competitive advantage in tasks requiring a high degree of cognition.
Which leads to the next question: Does Provigil get you high as a result of the supposed enhancements in mental acuity, or is it an unwanted side effect?
Modafinil Side Effects and Safety Concerns
Modafinil has one of the best side effect profiles any pharmaceutical company can ask for. Not only is it well-tolerated by the majority of patients, but it rarely leads to harmful side effects when used at the prescribed dose and frequency :
“In worldly experience, the use of modafinil is reported as being well tolerated by the patients with narcolepsy and the majority of side effects are considered light or moderate.
…Among the side effects, the most common was headache (10–26%), followed by nervousness or anxiety, nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea, asthenia and insomnia.
These side effects were resolved with the discontinuation of modafinil, confirming our findings and showing that the side effects prevail as limiting factors for the continuity of treatment with modafinil.”
This finding was confirmed in a 2015 systematic review that examined 24 studies involving the use of Modafinil in healthy adults who did not suffer from any kind of sleep deprivation :
“Nine out of 24 (37.5%) of the studies in our review reported side effects: of these, 78% reported no side effects, and the remaining two reported that a small minority of participants had experienced insomnia, headache, stomach ache or nausea, and dry mouth.”
Although it is extremely unlikely for a first-time user to experience adverse side effects with Modafinil, it should be used in accordance with the prescribed instructions.
If you persistently experience any of the side effects mentioned, or you have a side effect that is more severe in nature, please see a licensed medical professional immediately.
Can You Get High on Modafinil?
In order to appropriately answer whether it is possible for someone to get high on Modafinil, a working definition of the word “high” needs to be established.
To date, there is no working definition of “getting high” that is unanimously approved in the scientific community. But for the sake of this article, we will use the following well-written description from Quora :
“The phrase getting high means elevating one's state of mind. In actuality you are creating an altered state of mind or consciousness.
…'getting high' is about altering the body, mind, and emotional state, bringing you to a place of “feel good” or euphoria.”
Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is entirely subjective and dependent upon the experience of the individual. This is easily seen in people who frequently use marijuana to achieve a state of euphoria :
“The effects of marijuana on mood vary greatly from one person to another, but generally, emotions are exaggerated in a similar way to the intoxication effects of alcohol.
Situations that normally seem emotionally neutral may appear amusing or ridiculous, or conversely, intimidating and upsetting.
…Situations involving real or imagined confrontation can be particularly upsetting and can result in intense paranoia in someone under the influence of marijuana.”
However, Modafinil has not been shown to induce a state of euphoria when used properly. Some studies even show that it may reduce the euphoria induced by drugs such as cocaine :
“Modafinil is very well accepted by patients, who report a reduction of cocaine withdrawal symptoms and a blunting of the effects of cocaine if they begin to relapse while taking the medication.
The medication has not been reported to produce euphoria, and there has been no indication of excessive use or abuse in clinical trials.”
And in individual cases where users report getting high on Modafinil, the dosages used exceed 1,000 mg . This is roughly 5-10x of the daily dose frequently recommended by physicians and nootropics veterans alike!
What Does the Modafinil High Feel Like?
Even though it is impossible to get “high” with Modafinil at therapeutic doses, or in accordance with how medical researchers define the term, the Modafinil experience is a very real phenomenon.
So what does Modafinil feel like? It's difficult to describe as everybody reacts to smart drugs differently. With that being said, there are many common observations consistently reported by test subjects…
Increased Energy Levels
Users frequently claim that Modafinil allows them to tap into an undiscovered reservoir of willpower. In turn, they are able to immediately get started on tasks they have put off for significant periods of time.
As one philosopher at Oxford University put it :
“Modafinil lowers my activation threshold: I’m more motivated to take on tasks I would normally put off. It feels like I have a little bit of extra space in my frontal lobe to deal with slightly more complex or tricky concepts. I can hold them in my mind better.”
Heightened Alertness & Focus
One of the most common outcomes of Modafinil use is the ability to monomaniacally focus on a single task for several hours on end. It provides a “tunnel vision” focus whereby anything not directly to the task at hand is forgotten about.
While it may appear to an outsider that a Modafinil user has increased their IQ, the reality is that Modafinil is making the user more persistent. Because they are so intent on solving the problem at hand, they stick with it longer and eventually get it solved :
“Previously, I could work competently on the fracture-mechanics of high-silica stone (while replicating ancient tool-flaking techniques) for about an hour. With modafinil, I could continue for almost three hours. It did not make me ‘smarter', but extended the length of concentrated focus.”
Modafinil can be useful for individuals who are struggling to find the motivation needed to tackle an uncomfortable project. Once the cognitive benefits of Modafinil start kicking in, it is difficult to feel fatigued or defeated.
The seemingly instant transition from a pessimistic mood to an optimistic mood can be explained by Modafinil's ability to increase one's vigor :
“Although improvements were also seen in all six mood factors defined by the [Profile Of Mood States] (i.e. vigor-activity, fatigue-inertia, confusion-bewilderment, depression-dejection, tension-anxiety, and anger-hostility), the most reliable improvements were demonstrated in fatigue, vigor, and cognition.
Improvements on all of these measures occurred rapidly following initiation of modafinil treatment and persisted throughout the 6-week study.”
“Vigor” in the context of the quoted study refers to the simultaneous presence of enthusiasm and the absence of mood-related fatigue.
And while the study did not have a placebo group participate alongside the group of patients taking Modafinil, the finding points to a common observation of frequent Modafinil users.
Lack Of Jitters / Impulsivity
Modafinil is not like a cup of coffee that makes you feel jittery shortly after taking it. Even when Modafinil achieves peak concentration in the bloodstream, you will not find yourself feeling anxious or restless.
If anything, Modafinil is far more likely to reduce any impulsivity you have when it comes to poor decision-making or bad lifestyle habits. This was observed in a study where pathological gamblers with varying levels of impulsivity took 2o0 mg of Modafinil before playing slot machines :
“Bet size declined uniformly in both high and low impulsivity participants taking modafinil.
In high impulsivity participants, modafinil decreased desire to gamble, salience of gambling words, disinhibition, and risky decision-making. In low impulsivity participants, modafinil increased scores on these indices.”
In the case of the low impulsivity gamblers, one can presume that Modafinil gave them a boost of motivation to take greater risks than they normally would. So how does Modafinil make you feel after you take it? To put it informally, your brain is operating at peak capacity and your mindset transforms into one of domination and supreme confidence.
Not Like Adderall!
The ” Modafinil high” — or the Modafinil experience for that matter — is completely distinctive from Adderall.
While Modafinil's exact mechanism of action is unknown, it is definitively established that it does not work in the same way that Adderall does :
“…[Modafinil] is believed to promote wakefulness more selectively than conventional stimulants such as amphetamine and methylphenidate.
Modafinil does not bind to norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, or benzodiazepine receptors. It might target specific hypothalamic regions such as the tuberomammillary nucleus and orexin neurons, which are peptide neurotransmitters that promote wakefulness.”
Furthermore, as Modafinil is not a “stimulant” in the traditional sense, it does not carry the potential for abuse. Nor does its prolonged use lead to withdrawal symptoms after cessation of use :
“The lack of pharmacological equivalence to amphetamine-like agents, coupled with modafinil’s inability to be injected intravenously or smoked, and its once-daily dosing in the management of excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy, suggest that it does not possess the same public health or safety concerns for abuse compared with the amphetamine-like agents.”
The only true similarity between Modafinil and Adderall is that they are both used as nootropics to increase focus and delay the natural inclination towards sleep at night time. Outside of that, they are in entirely different classes of pharmaceuticals.
Understanding The Modafinil Experience…
Modafinil provides a smooth and clean feeling of concentration. You are attentive to the task without feeling like you have too much energy at your disposal.
Overall, the Modafinil experience is both universal and individual at the same time. While certain outcomes are very common, everyone will notice them manifesting in different ways. One user may feel a small boost in focus, while another user feels a massive surge in concentration.
This is no more evident than when you aggregate all of the personal testimonials and complaints with respect to using Modafinil :
NEGATIVE REVIEW: “There is 4 or 6 hours of jitters, then after that it loses any sort of effectiveness and I feels like I'm ready to go to sleep. Armodafinil, which is a stronger version of that at 150 mgs. works better.”
POSITIVE REVIEW: “This is the best medicine for energy that I have ever taken! I get 6-8 hours of sleep when I sleep. Then I get up and take my morning provigil and I can finally concentrate on work for at least 2 hours at a time.. I have ADD/ and depression it helps with both. This medicine is the best :)”
We would like to provide some additional comments about using the Modafinil “high” to get even more things done.
If you're looking to take Modafinil for the first time, here are a few things to think about:
- Dosage: Beginners should start with 100 mg of Modafinil per day, gradually working up to 200 mg in a single dose or split into two smaller doses. In either scenario, we recommend taking Modafinil no more than 3 days per week.
- Timing: Due to Modafinil's wakefulness-promoting effects, we recommend you avoid taking it past 2:00 pm to ensure you can fall asleep later in the day. Modafinil generally takes 12-18 hours to be completely eliminated from your system.
- Preparation: The most common mistake made by first-time Modafinil users is failing to plan their tasks in advance. If you're re-shuffling your Spotify playlist by the time that Modafinil kicks in, you'll likely end up doing that for several hours on end!
Modafinil ‘High' | The Verdict
The Modafinil high can be incredibly beneficial for any person who wants to be more productive and complete more work in a shorter period of time.
While you cannot get high on Modafinil as you would with traditional euphoria-inducing drugs such as marijuana, you can expect to feel more positive and energetic throughout the day.
The Modafinil experience is not one to be taken lightly, but it can be a life-changing moment for anybody who is serious about optimizing their mental performance.
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