Modafinil is a generic drug that is classified as a stimulant and used to treat several sleep disorders. While addiction is fairly rare from a biological point of view, there are many people who have developed cravings and use increasing amounts of modafinil as a study drug. We will explore what modafinil is, the signs of addiction, possible side effects from normal use and overdose, and ways to recover if you find yourself craving modafinil or other similar stimulants.
Modafinil and Common Uses
According to WebMD, modafinil is a generic prescription that is used to treat disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and several other sleeping conditions. It is most commonly sold under the brand Provigil, but there are several other brand names as well. While it’s used to help with sleep disorders, modafinil does not help put you to sleep. It is a psychostimulant that helps to keep you awake and focused during the day. It assists with the sleepiness part of these conditions.
WebMD goes on to say that modafinil does not replace sleep and that it does not cure these conditions. It only treats some of the symptoms and makes it easier to get through your day. While it helps with focus and energy, this medication is currently only approved for these sleep conditions. It is not meant to be used as a study aid and is not prescribed for this reason.
Many stimulants like this contain amphetamine, but modafinil does not. This medication directly affects dopamine and is considered a softer burst of energy than amphetamine, which helps you feel more awake but not erratic.
Modafinil and Cocaine Use Disorder
Due to its softer stimulant effect, the National Institute of Health, or NIH, claims that modafinil is sometimes used for medication-assisted treatment or MAT. It specifically helps with cocaine dependence and assists the body in returning to normal functioning. It can also mitigate the withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine use and addiction.
As with any other MAT program, you should only do this with medical supervision. Only a doctor can tell you if this medication is correct. They will also prescribe the proper dose for your needs.
Use as a Study Drug
Using stimulants as study drugs is nothing new. This is commonly done with ADHD medications, but WebMD reports that many people use modafinil due to its ability to make you feel more awake and focused. There are even some proponents saying that adults should be allowed to use medications like modafinil over the counter to help with energy and intellectual creativity.
This has largely been because few people considered modafinil to be addictive. As use has increased for non-prescription reasons, such as for studying or increased energy without a sleep disorder, it has been shown that modafinil might be more addictive than originally expected.
According to WebMD, addiction and cravings tend to be rare with this medication, and doctors aren’t entirely sure why this phenomenon is occurring. Brain scans of those taking modafinil have found that this medication blocks dopamine transporters. These are responsible for removing dopamine from certain receptors. Due to this, the amount of dopamine actually increases along with feelings of alertness and energy. This is similar to using methamphetamine or cocaine, but those substances work much faster and increase dopamine significantly more than modafinil.
Modafinil Side Effects
Like most other medications, modafinil has some potential side effects that can occur from regular use. The most common side effects tend to be mild, but you should report these to your doctor so that he or she is aware of them. Your doctor can then decide if the medication or its dosage needs to be changed.
Some of the most common side effects include:
- Runny nose
- Nausea, diarrhea, or indigestion
- Headache or backache
- Trouble sleeping
- Nervousness or anxious feelings
These are only the most common side effects. If you feel these or any other effects, then be sure to tell your doctor. They can help determine if the side effects are from the modafinil or something else entirely.
Modafinil Overdose Symptoms
Much like modafinil addiction, overdosing on modafinil is considered fairly uncommon and tends to require a significantly higher dose than normally prescribed. That being said, it is still possible to overdose on this medication. The exact amount depends on your tolerance and many biological factors.
Modafinil overdose symptoms may include:
- Fast and irregular heartbeat
- Significant restlessness
Much like the regular side effects from use, these are only the most common overdose symptoms. If you feel any significant symptoms, then tell your doctor or consider heading to a nearby hospital for an evaluation.
Signs of Modafinil Addiction
Just like with other substances, there is a big difference between use and addiction. A case study from NIH discusses a client who suffered from modafinil dependency. Like many others suffering from substance use disorders, this client found himself taking significantly higher doses than what he was prescribed. He soon developed a tolerance and took even higher doses in order to feel the stimulant effect. This client found it difficult to function normally without modafinil.
This case study also reports that the client found himself with sleep issues and received less sleep than normal from his modafinil use. It also resulted in a low mood as the effects from modafinil wore off. A medical detox approach was used to help taper the client off modafinil.
While modafinil is not commonly considered addictive, many people have reported using it for non-prescription reasons and using higher amounts than they should. If you find yourself having trouble controlling your use and your mood is affected when you’re not using modafinil, then you may want to consider a medical detox.
Usually, a medical detox is used to control withdrawal symptoms such as those from heroin or cocaine. A doctor will consider your current use and will either taper the medication, give supplemental medications, or otherwise advise you during the detoxing process. This allows you to reduce and discontinue your use under medical supervision. A doctor will ensure that the process is as comfortable as possible as you get used to functioning without modafinil or any other substance.
Discontinuing substances can sometimes be very difficult. Many people describe this as a vulnerable time because you may reach for stronger substances in order to feel good again. A medical detox program ensures that the process goes as well as possible. This assists with the biological side of addiction, but continued support is also recommended.
Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient Therapies
If you are having difficulties controlling your use with modafinil, then we will likely recommend either outpatient or intensive outpatient care for your needs. Both levels of care allow you to explore your triggers and gain coping skills for sustained recovery.
Outpatient therapy is an individual session with your counselor where you both discuss adequate coping skills, learning how to recognize your triggers and strategies to help sustain abstinence. Since many people use modafinil as a study aid or a way to stay focused, you might find yourself struggling in these areas when you discontinue modafinil. Bring this up to one of our counselors. We can help find strategies that can improve focus and study habits without the use of medication or substances.
If outpatient therapy doesn’t seem like enough or if your addiction is more on the moderate-to-severe side, then intensive outpatient, or IOP, might be better for you. This modality is a form of group therapy that lasts for three hours per session. You will typically have three sessions per week when engaged with IOP therapy.
This type of therapy puts you together with your peers where you all talk about your struggles, coping skills, and methods for recovering from addiction. Not only will you learn from the therapist leading the group, but you will also learn from the other members as you hear about what works for them.
Dual-diagnosis treatment, also known as co-occurring treatment, has become commonplace in the substance use world. This describes when someone is suffering from both a mental illness and substance use simultaneously. It doesn’t matter if one started before the other. What matters is that you get the care you need to ensure your overall recovery.
Modafinil is used for sleep disorders, but it works by increasing dopamine. This improves focus, energy, and attention. If you find that you suffer from low mood, sleepiness, reduced focus, and other similar concerns, then you may have underlying depression. Whether this is the case or if another mental illness is present, our qualified therapists will be able to properly diagnose you and ensure that you get the necessary treatment.
About Granite Recovery Centers
We have been treating substance use disorder and similar concerns for over 10 years. We are stationed in New Hampshire, but many clients come from the surrounding New England area looking for treatment.
We currently provide numerous levels of treatment depending on your needs. Those suffering from modafinil abuse will most likely find that outpatient or IOP treatment is the best for them, but some may need a higher level of care. We also provide partial hospitalization and residential care if you feel that inpatient treatment would suit your needs better.
Not only do we offer numerous levels of care, but we are also experienced with many different treatment theories. While cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is the most common right now, we also provide many other evidence-based treatments based on your needs. Whether you need to learn more about mindfulness, prefer an experiential approach, or need to discuss grief and loss, we have qualified counselors for all these theories and more.
Be sure to contact us and discuss your needs. We will create an appropriate treatment plan for you that respects your needs and preferences. You will be listened to with an empathetic ear as you explain what brought you to us and what services you need from us to help with recovery.
While modafinil addiction is recognized as an uncommon event, we know that it happens and that some people find themselves losing control of their use. Whether you are using this as a study aid or just to feel more awake and alert, the truth is that sometimes you build cravings and need more just to feel good. If you find yourself facing this issue, then contact us, and we can help you with recovery.
From helping with the detox to providing supportive care to ensure you learn useful coping skills, we will provide the care your need to recover fully from modafinil abuse or any other substance. Contact us today, and we will make a treatment plan for your specific needs.