Modafinil Use In Ohio | Effects, Interactions, & Risk Of Abuse

While the mild prescription stimulant drug modafinil is sometimes abused to increase focus and wakefulness, this abuse is known to cause considerable side effects as well as physical and psychological dependence.

When a prescription drug like modafinil is used correctly it can help those with shift work disorder or other forms of hypersomnia lead a better life. However, the stimulant drug modafinil can cause a wide variety of side effects and has been known to generate psychological dependence.

What Is Modafinil?

Modafinil, sold under the brand name Provigil, is a stimulant drug prescribed by healthcare providers to promote wakefulness and manage specific sleep-related medical conditions like shift work sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, and narcolepsy.

Along with excessive daytime sleepiness, modafinil has been used off-label to treat ADHD, post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, and certain other conditions, though its effectiveness in these uses has not yet been supported in double-blind randomized clinical trials.

Mechanism Of Action

Unlike other central nervous system stimulants, including Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts), modafinil is not classified as an amphetamine.

Modafinil acts as a weak, atypical, and selective dopamine transporter inhibitor or dopamine reuptake inhibitor. It also indirectly activates the release of orexin neuropeptides and histamine, all of which collectively increases physical arousal and alertness.

A single dose of modafinil has a half-life of around 10-12 hours, though its inactive metabolites remain in the body somewhat longer.

Is Modafinil A Controlled Substance?

Yes. Modafinil has been classified by the FDA and DEA as a Schedule IV controlled substance, indicating that the drug is considered to have a comparatively low potential for abuse and physical dependence.

This is in contrast with Ritalin and Adderall, which are classified as Schedule II controlled substances with high risks for abuse and dependence.

Effects Of Modafinil

Use of modafinil can cause a variety of different effects related to energy, motivation, and alertness.

Its effects have been described as feeling like an extended coffee buzz but without the jitters, or like a sharper mental focus that cuts through mental fog. This may increase libido, a person’s sense of wellbeing, and overall confidence and assertiveness.

However, modafinil is also associated with a wide variety of potential side effects, some of which can be serious.

Common Side Effects Of Modafinil

The most common side-effects associated with modafinil use are:

  • anxiety
  • back pain
  • chest pain
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • feelings of nervousness
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • trouble sleeping
  • upset stomach

Some patients have also reported experiencing:

  • confusion
  • constipation
  • depression
  • rapid heartbeat
  • tremor
  • vertigo

Serious Side Effects Of Modafinil

While uncommon, serious side-effects and potentially life-threatening adverse events can occur with modafinil use, which may include:

  • allergic reaction, including hives, trouble breathing or swallowing, swelling, rapid heart rate
  • severe skin rash, blisters, and other symptoms of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • vomiting and fever
  • chest pain
  • heart palpitations
  • trouble breathing
  • high blood pressure
  • adverse psychological effects (confusion, depression, anxiety, irritability, psychosis, thoughts of suicide)

If an adverse reaction to modafinil occurs, immediately contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention.

Can You Overdose On Modafinil?

Modafinil has a low toxicity in cases of overdose, but has been involved in fatal overdoses involving a combination of other drugs.

If you take more modafinil than you have been prescribed, it may cause serious adverse effects including those described above.

Risk Of Modafinil Abuse & Addiction

As with other common prescription CNS stimulants, modafinil is often abused by teenagers, college students, and other young adults in order to boost wakefulness, energy, and performance for limited periods of time.

This drug abuse can lead to young people suffering from any combination of the side-effects listed above, along with the many severe effects associated with sleep deprivation or even malnourishment.

And the risks of taking modafinil and experiencing adverse effects only increase if the drug is taken with alcohol or other substances of abuse.

Is Modafinil Addictive?

Modafinil is considered to have a low (but still significant) potential for abuse and dependence.

If misused for a prolonged period of time it is possible that a person can become psychological-dependent on modafinil, effectively learning that they need the drug to function and experiencing discontinuation effects, or withdrawal symptoms, if it isn’t available.

Modafinil can also be abused for its pleasurable effects, with abuse becoming habit-forming over time. And, with chronic use, physical dependence on modafinil can form, similarly to other stimulant drugs like caffeine or amphetamines.

Modafinil Interactions & Warnings

Modafinil induces the in vitro expression of CYP1A2 and CYP3A4/5, and also inhibits CYP2C9, CYP2C19 and CYP3A4/5 activities. This means that the drug can increase or decrease the plasma concentrations of a wide variety of other substances via their hepatic metabolism.

According to medication guide provided with modafinil, the drug:

  • should not be used with steroidal contraceptives
  • may reduce the blood concentrations of cyclosporine
  • increase the exposure of CYP2C19 substrates including omeprazole, phenytoin, and diazepam
  • should be used with caution with monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • should not be used by pediatric patients
  • may cause fetal harm

Consult your medication information and advise your healthcare provider about any potential supplement or drug interactions, pregnancies, breastfeeding, or cardiovascular conditions before beginning modafinil treatment.

If you or a loved one live with prescription stimulant addiction and need help, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — PROVIGIL® (modafinil) HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION
  2. Journal of Psychopharmacology — An evaluation of the abuse potential of modafinil using methylphenidate as a reference
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Modafinil

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: October 31, 2022

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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