How to Avoid Modafinil Tolerance

Modafinil tolerance is a natural response to a prolonged use. Your body is a self-balancing system. When you introduce a foreign substance, over time the balance will shift to accommodate the change. Ultimately, this makes the drug less effective over time.

Whether you are a new user, or you have already experienced Modafinil tolerance, learning to avoid it should be your top priority. If you just keep increasing the dose, you are risking losing the effectiveness of Modafinil. Try our tips instead!

Understanding Tolerance

Tolerance is not addiction and it does not imply you will get withdrawals when you stop taking the drug, either. The simple way to explain tolerance is a gradual decrease in effectiveness. This happens through these main mechanisms:

  • The cells respond less eagerly to the molecule — this is known as pharmacodynamic tolerance. It happens a lot with stimulants, especially those that raise dopamine. Over time, your brain cells lose some of their dopamine receptors. This way they become less sensitive to the increased levels of dopamine. The chemical that causes the increase still acts but the response is not as it used to be.
  • Your body becomes more efficient at eliminating the drug — All drugs are foreign substances. As such, they will eventually be removed from your body. The rate of elimination may increase if you use a drug for long enough. Pharmacokinetic or dispositional tolerance happens when your metabolism simply speeds up to get rid of the unwanted substance. It is very characteristic of cocaine and other drugs, which severely confuse brain cells leaving them unable to cause a more targeted sort of tolerance.
  • Inverse and Reverse Tolerance — Although these are still not well-understood, they refer to an increase in sensitivity toward the substance. This does not happen with Modafinil.
  • Select Tolerance — You don’t experience the full effect of the drug. For instance, when you first use Modafinil, you might find it helps you perform better at the gym. Over time this effect fades away, but the rest remains the same.
  • Behavioral Tolerance —  The human brain is remarkably adaptable to different situations. A drug addict can act completely sober in front of an authority figure and then return to the high. A similar thing happens when you have been drinking and you only realize how drunk you are when you go to the bathroom. While you are dancing or talking to other people you subconsciously convince yourself that you are not as drunk. Only when you are alone does the full effect come to you.

modafinil tolerance

Modafinil Tolerance — How It Happens

Modafinil does not have a single mechanism of action. It affects plenty of mechanisms inside your brain both directly and indirectly. On top of that, behavioural tolerance is very likely as you ease into your Modafinil routine. Once the honeymoon phase is over, behavioural tolerance might appear even before any biochemically provoked tolerance.

Another important sort of Modafinil tolerance is increased enzyme activity.

Modafinil activates the CYP3A4 enzyme in your liver. Over time, this enzyme becomes more abundant and even more active. Not only does this mean you will eliminate Modafinil faster, but it can affect other drugs. If a health issue comes up while you are on Modafinil, it will be smart to tell your doctor about the drug. He can adjust the prescription accordingly.

Finally, some people experience select and pharmacodynamic tolerance to Modafinil. This tolerance is more difficult to reverse. If the desired effect fades away over time, you are better off switching to an alternative Nootropic than increasing the dose.

Behavioural Tolerance, Placebo, And How You Are Screwing Yourself Over

Paradoxically, behavioural tolerance is quite hard to reverse. You often don’t realize you have developed it. Even if you do, changing your subconscious thoughts will require a very conscious effort.

When you first took Modafinil, you probably went wow.

This was not just because of the substance. It was also largely thanks to the placebo effect. When people become convinced a drug will help them, their conviction is so strong that it can actually alter the results the drug has (as compared to a sceptic).

In clinical trials, this could compromise the results. For that reason, doctors must do a double-blind test where neither the subject nor the doctor knows what is ingested.

Funnily enough, sometimes the placebo gives better results than the drug being tested. Your initial response to Modafinil was also in part placebo.

The opposite could happen, too. If you expect to become tolerant, you will become tolerant. Your behaviour will adjust to the expectation.

Since behaviour is ultimately just a bunch of neurochemical reactions, your brain chemistry is affected by your thoughts.

Of course, you can’t prevent yourself from thinking about and researching Modafinil tolerance—you are reading this article, after all 🙂

Here Is What You Do Instead

You visualize.

Yes, this sounds like self-hypnosis and it kind of is. The point is, you want to visualize what you are going to do while on Modafinil. This is a great idea anyways because if you don’t plan your work pre-Modafinil, you might end up wasting the drug.

Visualization also helps convince your brain that you will feel the effects.

Simply repeating to yourself that it’s ok and that it is too early to have actual Modafinil tolerance does not accomplish the same. Your subconscious mind will simply not register it. It will, however, register the visualization—especially if it is vivid enough.

When Your Body Adapts

It is not entirely correct to separate behavioural tolerance from other types of tolerance. After all, your behaviour does change your physiology.

There comes a point, though, where changing your thoughts is not enough to reverse tolerance. Here are a few strategies when that happens:

Eat Grapefruits

Have you noticed how many drugs say you should not consume grapefruits while on the medicine? It is because grapefruits are potent inhibitors of the CYP3A4 liver enzyme.

Yes, this is the same enzyme that gets rid of Modafinil. A grapefruit before your daily Modafinil dose can do the trick and get you rid of that pharmacokinetic tolerance.

Eating before you ingest Modafinil will mean it takes longer to kick in. Plan accordingly!

Only Use On Non-Consecutive Days

This is both a prevention tip and a solution to mild Modafinil tolerance. If you want the honeymoon phase to last longer, only use 3-4 days a week on non-consecutive days. If you have to use it for a longer period, experiment with a lower dose.

100mg will generally give you similar effects (maybe a bit more muted).

When you do need it, take 200mg and they wouldn’t have lost the effectiveness.

The other reason not to use Modafinil for more than 1-2 days in a row is the energy crash.

Although the missed sleep should not affect you in theory, in practice things don’t work exactly this way.

After a few days of Modafinil, your brain will really need at least 24 hours without it. This allows you to reset and restore any damage that the lack of sleep has done. Besides, it serves as a short-term cleanse.

Cycle And Do Washout Periods

Unlike other stimulants, Modafinil does not require cycling. You can use it sporadically, without a long-term scheme, and it will not affect you negatively. However, cycling can still be beneficial for preventing or reversing tolerance.

A sample scheme for you would be to spend 2 months on Modafinil and 2 weeks without any whatsoever. You can adjust that to your needs but make sure to plan ahead or else it might turn out that you have developed tolerance when you most need the drug.

If planning ahead for a cycle is too complicated for you, you could also do a washout period once in a while.

For infrequent users, one week off Modafinil is enough to reverse a developing tolerance. The more time you have spent on Modafinil, the more you will need for your body to reset. Generally speaking though, a month is enough and doing more than that will not bring additional benefit.

Switch Between Armodafinil And Modafinil

This one is purely anecdotal, but I know people who swear by it. Basically, if you want to go on Modafinil for a prolonged period of time you switch between Armodafinil and Modafinil every day.

I would not recommend it for the long-term because you will end up with a stressed out liver.

If done once/twice a year, though, you should be fine. It is the perfect strategy during exam season or periods where you know you will have to work harder than usual.

Prepare for a possible crash afterwards, and ideally do a month of washout.

Finding An Alternative

No two nootropics are alike. If you really love Modafinil and its effects, stick to it. But if you are not such a die-hard fan, you could try different nootropics during your washout periods.

There is plenty choose from. In fact, it might be the perfect opportunity to explore the world of nootropics!

If you are interested in this, check out our other articles where you can learn about some other amazing nootropics! And as usual, don’t hesitate to leave any questions in the comments section.


PS: I get my Modafinil here.

bill - June 23, 2017

Nice tip about using grapefruit to boost the effect of Modafinil. Here in Ecuador we can buy it over the counter cheap, so it is easy to use it too frequently. Next time I over-do it, I will try the grapefruit trick.



    Ben - June 24, 2017

    Let us know how it goes! Always good to hear some extra feedback about these.

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