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Modafinil vs Adderall:
The Facts (2022)

Adderall and modafinil are both central nervous system stimulants (psychostimulants). Both of these medications have similar properties and applications.
modafinil vs adderall



All about Modafinil vs Adderall. Let’s five in,

Modafinil vs Adderall are both central nervous system stimulants (psychostimulants). Both of these medications have similar properties and applications. They are used both in the treatment of narcolepsy and as covert study aids. The US Drug Enforcement Administration classifies both drugs as controlled substances. 

Though both of these medications can have similar effects on people, they are not the same. Their structural differences translate into vast differences in their addiction potential and risk of side effects. Let’s look at each medication separately to fully understand the differences between Modafinil and Adderall.


Modafinil is a type of medication that acts on the central nervous system, which is sold under the brand name Provigil. It is frequently referred to as a eugeroic medicine, which is a term for a medication that enhances alertness and wakefulness.

Modafinil falls under this category of medication. The Food and Drug Administration has given its blessing for the use of Modafinil as a treatment for daytime sleepiness in patients who suffer from a variety of diseases, including the following: 

  • Narcolepsy 
  • A formal disorder characterized by a disruption of normal sleeping hours brought on by working nights is referred to as shift work disorder. 
  • The excessive daytime sleepiness that might be a symptom of other medical disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea 

Adderall is placed at a far higher level of control and severity than Modafinil, which is despite the fact that Modafinil is also a prohibited narcotic. Modafinil is a prohibited substance that falls under the category of Schedule IV.

The distinction between Adderall and Modafinil in terms of their official classification reflects the consensus among researchers and policymakers at the federal level that Adderall is a substantially more harmful substance of abuse than Modafinil. 

All stimulant medicines have comparable modes of action in how they work. Because of this, even when prescription stimulants that are considered to be relatively mild like Modafinil are compared to stimulants that have a significant potential for abuse (for example, cocaine), the findings indicate that there is a similar mechanism of action for these drugs.

This is the case even when Modafinil is compared to other stimulants. However, this is not always the case, and some sources will try to capitalize on this discovery by stating that comparable mechanisms of action signal similar potentials for misuse. This is not always the case, however.


Adderall, a brand name, is a combination of two medications, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

In order to treat both narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the FDA has authorized the use of this particular medication cocktail (a disorder where a person may experience sleep attacks during the day and during activities such as driving). Both of Adderall’s active components work by stimulating the central nervous system. 

It is hypothesized that Adderall works by boosting the intracellular concentration of the excitatory neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine by releasing them from storage units in neurons and also by preventing the reuptake of these neurotransmitters.

Excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate (which Modafinil is thought to increase) and inhibitory neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (which Modafinil is thought to decrease) are both thought to be affected by Modafinil (GABA). 

Both immediate-release Adderall (Adderall IR) and extended-release Adderall (Adderall XR) are available (Adderall XR). The half-life of immediate-release medication is around 4–6 hours, while that of extended-release medication is around 12 hours. 

Schedule II drugs include stimulants like Adderall. That’s why its potential for abuse and the emergence of physical dependence is so widely recognized as being high.

adderall vs modafinil

Modafinil vs Adderall : Common Applications

Adderall is a stimulant that increases focus, alertness, and attentiveness. Adderall can cause euphoria and hallucinations in high doses.

The medication is frequently used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Adderall helps patients with ADHD reduce symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity.

Patients who take it as directed report being able to handle multi-step tasks, organise their lives, and absorb information better. Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy in addition to ADHD. The drug’s ability to improve wakefulness may be beneficial to those who have difficulty falling asleep during the day. 

Modafinil is primarily used to treat sleep disorders. It increases alertness and makes it more difficult for people to fall asleep at inconvenient times.

Modafinil, like Adderall, is used to treat narcolepsy. It also aids in the treatment of shift work sleep disorder and sleep apnea.

Modafinil does not directly treat obstructive sleep apnea in patients. It instead aids in the excessive daytime sleepiness that some patients may experience.

Modafinil v Adderall : Side-Effects

When comparing Modafinil v Adderall, Modafinil has less side effects than Adderall, but it can considerably raise heart rate and blood pressure and should not be taken by persons with a history of certain heart or heart valve disorders (such as mitral valve prolapse or left ventricular hypertrophy).

A third or more of Modafinil users get headaches, with nausea coming in second (11 percent of people taking Modafinil). Less than 10% of people in clinical trials reported experiencing other adverse symptoms include rhinitis, nervousness and anxiety, back pain, insomnia, and gastrointestinal complaints like diarrhea and indigestion. 

Both oral and implanted medications containing estrogen and progestogen can be rendered less effective by Modafinil because it blocks the enzymes responsible for converting these hormones into their active form. 

There have been extremely rare cases of Modafinil-related life-threatening rashes, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome (DRESS). It’s likely that allergies cause the vast majority of reactions.

Modafinil has been available for almost 20 years, but its effects on the brain after chronic usage are still poorly understood. Problems with sleeping and future sleep ability, increased antisocial tendencies and emotion suppression, and withdrawal symptoms are all causes for concern. 

Because of this, Adderall can cause a wider variety of adverse reactions, and some persons may be more sensitive to its effects than others. Loss of appetite (36%), dry mouth (35%), transient increases in blood pressure (35%), sleeplessness (27%), headache (26%), and abdominal pain (24%) are the most frequently reported adverse effects. Sexual dysfunction, decreased growth in youngsters, increased heart rate, and anxiety are very often reported side effects. 

No matter how much of a stimulant is given to them, some people have an extreme sensitivity to them and end up with clouded thinking. People taking Adderall have reported experiencing psychotic symptoms like hearing voices, developing paranoia for no apparent cause, and experiencing mania. Adderall can make the symptoms of psychotic disorders and manic-depressive illnesses even worse. 

People with a history of substance abuse, glaucoma, an overactive thyroid, heart disease, or moderate to severe hypertension should also avoid its use. Adderall’s potential for creating tolerance and dependency, along with its abuse potential, is one of the drug’s major drawbacks. The abrupt discontinuation of Adderall can lead to withdrawal symptoms (symptoms include extreme tiredness, depression, and sleep disturbances). 

The increased misuse and dependence potential of Adderall led to its placement in Schedule II of prohibited substances, while Modafinil is in Schedule IV in the US.

Interaction with Alcohol

Both Modafinil v Adderall have a negative interaction when combined with alcoholic beverages. Because of the stimulant nature of the drugs, they may compete with the depressive effects of alcohol, disguising signs of drinking too much without truly preventing the problem. At the end of the day, this can result in overdoses of alcohol, cardiac issues, and hostile conduct. 

Adderall has harmful interactions with a wide variety of drugs. MAO inhibitors, serotonergic medications, CYP2D6 inhibitors, proton pump inhibitors, and tricyclic antidepressants are not compatible with this medication and should not be taken together.

Modafinil has a negative interaction with birth control medications that involve hormones. As a result of its inhibitory impact, it has the potential to lessen the efficacy of birth control. It is also possible for it to have a negative interaction with warfarin, MAO inhibitors, CYP2C19 substrates, and CYP3A4/5 substrates.

Likelihood of Addiction

Due to its widespread availability and increased potency, Adderall has a strong potential for abuse. Consider additionally whether the medications produce physical dependence.

If a person is likely to acquire physical dependence on a substance, they may continue to abuse it for extended durations and ultimately develop an addiction. 

Adderall carries a high danger of addiction because it is so simple to grow hooked on the substance. When you take Adderall on a regular basis, your brain adapts to the elevated amounts of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.

When abruptly stopping Adderall use, you may feel physically unwell. Adderall withdrawal might manifest as drowsiness, anxiety, melancholy, irritability, and mental disorientation. It also generates intense cravings, making it extremely difficult to quit without the support of a drug rehabilitation program. 

In the meantime, Modafinil dependence is uncommon. Modafinil addiction has only been documented in a few cases.

This often occurs when a person consumes excessively high doses, such as around 12 times the average amount, for extraordinarily extended periods of time. There are certain desires associated with Modafinil withdrawal, but weariness and depression dominate.

Modafinil addiction is theoretically possible, however nearly anyone who uses the drug will develop a substance use disorder.


Modafinil and Adderall are stimulants of the central nervous system with comparable mechanisms of action and clinical applications, but distinct misuse potentials.

Adderall is regarded as a significantly more dangerous potential substance of addiction than Modafinil. However, case studies reveal that Modafinil has the potential to be abused, particularly when taken in large quantities. 

Always consult your physician before taking substances like Modafinil or Adderall.

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