Is Modafinil Withdrawal A Real Thing? Find Out Inside…

Modafinil is a Schedule IV controlled drug because the government fears it could cause addiction. Naturally, that causes concern, especially if you want to use it for off-label purposes like cognitive enhancement. But are addiction and Modafinil withdrawal a real thing or is the whole thing exaggerated?

Let’s find out…

Modafinil Mechanism Of Action

Before we examine if you can get addicted to Modafinil, you have to know a few basics about how it works. Medicine is not exact science (in spite of what we like to think) and theoretical understanding can only get you so far but still—that is where the basics are at.

Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent.

People like to say it boosts brain function but we have no experimental evidence to prove that.

What Modafinil is great at is keeping you awake, energized, and motivated. In my personal experience it also improves the quality of my work but that could also be the concentrated, single minded state it puts me in.

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Dopamine, Addiction, And Modafinil Withdrawal

There is no consensus on how exactly Modafinil works. We have some pretty solid theories, and here are the main ones:

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, planning, and reward-oriented behavior. Y

our neurons communicate by emitting neurotransmitters in synapses. Once the other cell receives the signal, the dopamine (or the GABA, noradrenalin, etc.) gets sucked back into the neuron that released it though transport proteins.

Dopamine is not the only chemical involved in these pathways but it’s one of the main ones. Traditional stimulants work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. They bind to the dopamine reuptake transporters and so the neurotransmitter hangs out for longer. Ritalin and Adderall are two examples of such stimulants.

Modafinil is not a typical stimulant but it does increase dopamine modestly.

That does explain the effects – high motivation and very high energy – but it does not explain why Modafinil has different side effects. Dopamine is associated with virtually all addictive drugs. Basically anything that you can get addicted to raises your dopamine directly or indirectly.

The government’s concern when it comes to Modafinil is precisely the dopamine.

The thing is, Modafinil binds to the dopamine transporters in a completely different way compared to other stimulants. There are no cases of outright Modafinil addiction and in general it is a very low-risk drug for abuse. That is why it’s a schedule IV and not a schedule II like Adderall.

Withdrawal symptoms are directly related to physical addiction, so in theory Modafinil withdrawal can’t be real.

Is Physical Addiction The End of The Story?

Nope, physical addiction is the most important factor when it comes to withdrawal symptoms. With psychoactive drugs like Modafinil, though, we should always look at how they affect you psychologically.

We often talk about the Modafinil high—but in reality that is not the best way to describe it.

Think of the last time you got drunk. There is a point where you can no longer control the effect. Weed could feel the same, hard drugs almost always do. That is what we could properly call a drug high and Modafinil does not do that.

Although it alters your motivation and boosts your energy, Modafinil does not alter your conscience. In that sense, there is no actual Modafinil high.

Still, the drug feels pretty great and it is very convenient when you are busy (and who isn’t nowadays?). Although you have control at all times, Modafinil can cause a psychological addiction, especially in people who tend to be more sensitive to that kind of thing.

Unhealthy behaviors can be developed even to perfectly healthy things.  At the end of the day, it’s not right to create an attitude where you chiefly rely on chemicals to maintain your motivation.

Modafinil Withdrawal Symptoms

So far no Modafinil users have reported outright Modafinil withdrawal. Animal model experiments haven’t shown anything like that, either. What can happen, though, is that you create a psychological addiction to the medicine.

Modafinil withdrawal in the traditional sense can’t exist but here is what could happen if you abuse Modafinil and then suddenly you stop taking it:

Low energy – when you get your brain used to higher levels of dopamine the natural, unaltered state will eventually feel like lethargy. It’s not that you are actually lacking the energy but that you have gotten accustomed to the boost Modafinil gives you.

Sleep problems – this is a major issue for Modafinil users. In theory, the sleep you skip while you are on the drug, you don’t have to compensate. Both sleep and Modafinil itself, however, are still poorly understood on a physiological and biochemical level. Skipping sleep can have a whole bunch of consequences – hormone levels are altered, your brain chemistry gets messed up, even your mood and motivation can be altered. If you have lost a lot of sleep on Modafinil, then you are risking sleep-related problems which can be both excessive sleepiness and insomnia.

Mood Swings – Traditional (high risk of abuse) narcotics cause an increase in dopamine so high that no non-drug activity can compare. That is why depression is one of the main drug withdrawal symptoms. The Modafinil withdrawal related mood swings can also happen because of the lower dopamine. More often than not, though, they are purely psychological. Getting accustomed to the high motivation that Modafinil gives you can make everyday life feel bland. This, in turn, can translate into depressive periods or another type of mood swings. Sleep deprivation also plays a huge part in this one.

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How To Prevent Modafinil Withdrawal?

Unlike addictive drugs (Adderall and the like), Modafinil withdrawal is hard to predict. It’s kind of like situational depression – you can put two people with a similar character under the same unfortunate circumstances, one comes out stronger than ever, the other one develops depression. Still, there are some precautions you can take to avoid the psychological withdrawal as well as the physical symptoms.

First and most important of all, Modafinil is no excuse to skip sleep.

Yes, it gives you a lot of energy.

Yes, there are more useful things to do with your time instead of sleep.

However, there is truly nothing more important to brain health and cognitive function than sleep. Here are some tips to get good quality sleep even when you are taking Modafinil:

  • Take it 10-12 hours before your intended bedtime. This basically means to take your Modafinil in the morning, which is also convenient, because you get to experience the effect through the work day.
  • At least an hour before sleep turn off all electronic devices that don’t have a night mode. The blue light that their screens emit prevents your body from producing the sleep hormone melatonin. The night mode on most phones reduces the blue light and so it’s fine to use before bedtime.
  • Move more. Exercise is the perfect way to get tired physically and reduce physiological stress. Besides, it’s a cognitive enhancer in itself so all the more reason to do it

The other key thing is to watch your dose and not to take it on consecutive days for too long. One or two days is fine, of course. If you take it for a week or more, however, you risk becoming tolerant. You will have to increase how much you take which in turn increases the side effects and the possible post-Modafinil symptoms.

Thirdly, as Modafinil causes a controlled amount of stress in your body, it is key that you learn to manage outside pressure. This can be tricky because we all know then when you need Moda is when you are the most stressed out. There is good stress and bad stress however. The general anxiety of having a lot of tasks to complete and very little time? Not a good thing.

Modafinil can cause anxiety as a side effect and reducing stress will limit that, too.

Finally, try not to rely on Modafinil as a long-term solution. The best way to be more productive is to get smart and organized about your goals. Modafinil can help you out a lot, it can boost your performance when you most need it, it is a great cognitive enhancer. But it can’t be used every day so you have to get strategic and very disciplined about when you take it.

In Conclusion

Because there is no physical dependence on Modafinil, there can be no actual Modafinil withdrawal. However, you can still grow too fond of the drug psychologically. This is what brings about the ‘withdrawal symptoms’. Be smart about Moda and you will be fine!

Do you have any experiences or thoughts you’d like to share regarding Modafinil withdrawal?

PS: If you need to stock up on Modafinil, we recommend starting here.