Modafinil treats the excessive sleepiness that some medical conditions cause. These conditions include narcolepsy, hypersomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that makes it impossible for the brain to control the body’s sleep-wake cycles. People with narcolepsy often feel very tired during the day even though they woke up in the morning feeling like they got a good night’s rest. Another characteristic of this disorder is the fact that people with narcolepsy often wake up multiple times during the night.
Narcolepsy can place people in dangerous situations because they can fall asleep when they are in the middle of doing something; it might even occur while they are driving. Sometimes, these people also experience muscle weakness before they fall asleep.
Hypersomnia is when a person is extremely sleepy throughout the day. It can also mean that the person sleeps more than the normal amount during the night. A person with hypersomnia often feels compelled to take a nap at inopportune times, but the naps do not serve as a way to obtain more rest because the person still feels sleepy. These people also find it difficult to wake up after sleeping for long periods.
In addition to fatigue, hypersomnia causes other symptoms including memory loss, hallucinations, loss of appetite, slow speech, slow thinking, restlessness, decreased energy, increased irritation, and anxiety.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that occurs during the night while the person is asleep. At that time, the person’s breathing starts and stops several times because the air passageways are blocked. This occurs because the body relaxes during the night, including the muscles. For most people, the air passageways remain open so that air can still pass through, but obstructive sleep apnea can prevent this, resulting in poor quality of sleep.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Shift work sleep disorder is a condition that people in non-traditional jobs may experience. The body has a natural circadian rhythm that puts it to sleep during the night and that wakes it up in the morning. When some people go against this natural rhythm, they have trouble waking up and sleeping when they need to do so. These people have trouble falling asleep, and they can’t seem to remain asleep when they finally do fall asleep.
Some people experience excessive sleepiness when they are working non-traditional hours, and they can also have difficulties concentrating. Some people also experience headaches and do not feel as energetic as they did in the past.
Misuse of Modafinil
Many people are misusing modafinil because of its cognitive-enhancing properties. People taking the medication for this reason claim that modafinil improves their abilities to concentrate and to focus on a task when they are feeling tired. The majority of people who misuse the drug for this reason are not experiencing any sleep issues.
Studies have demonstrated that modafinil does improve cognitive abilities for people even if they are not being deprived of sleep by a medical condition; this is the majority of the people misusing this medication.
Modafinil has a half-life of 12 to 15 hours, so this makes it one of the longest-lasting medications on the market. Each person’s individual metabolism will determine how long modafinil will last. This is determined by the health of each person’s liver and kidneys as well as his or her genetic makeup.
If a person’s kidneys and liver are not in optimal shape, this may cause the body to metabolize the medication at a much slower rate. Therefore, some people experience modafinil’s effects for a longer period of time than others. In most cases, people enjoy modafinil’s effects for 10 to 12 hours, but some people experience the effects for as long as 15 hours.
The Length of Time That Modafinil Remains in Blood, Hair, and Urine
The body secretes modafinil in two different metabolites. It will either be released as modafinil acid, or it will be secreted as modafinil sulfone. One of these metabolites may exist in urine for as long as 30 hours after the last dose was taken, so it is possible for the drug to show up on a urine test at this time.
Laboratories do not usually test for modafinil when they do drug tests, but it is possible to detect modafinil and modafinil acid in urine, plasma, and hair. Modafinil does not usually present false positive tests for amphetamines or other stimulants.
How Modafinil Works
In brain scans, scientists learned that modafinil blocks dopamine’s transporters. These transporters take dopamine away from the brain’s synapses, and this leads to an increase in the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the reward mechanism in the brain.
Modafinil targets specific dopamine transporters. When dopamine reuptake is inhibited, this causes orexin neuropeptides and histamine to be released, which causes the user to feel more awake.
Methamphetamine and cocaine also cause similar actions in the brain. The difference is that methamphetamine and cocaine do it in a shorter amount of time and provide the user with more powerful results. Modafinil encourages the person taking the substance to be more alert in the same manner as amphetamines.
Taking the Prescription
Ordinarily, people take modafinil once per day. They are advised to take it in the morning if they have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. Those diagnosed with shift work sleep disorder will be advised to take it one hour before their shifts begin.
The medical community includes modafinil in the class of drugs known as “wakefulness promoting agents” because it increases the substances in the brain that regulate sleep and wakefulness.
Modafinil causes several side effects, including:
- Vision problems or pain in the eye
- Numbness, tingling, or burning of the skin
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Pain in the back
- Tight muscles that make it difficult to move
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble falling asleep
- Difficulties remaining asleep
It’s also important to note that if you are currently having problems with your liver, modafinil may make these issues worse. You should share this information with your doctor if you have any liver concerns. If your kidneys are malfunctioning, it can interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize modafinil. In addition, you are more likely to experience complications from modafinil if you are also experiencing cardiovascular issues.
Potential for Misuse
Modafinil is classified as a Schedule IV drug on the Schedules of Controlled Substances. This means that it presents a low potential for being abused and a low risk for developing tolerance.
Modafinil is a substance that the U.S. Air Force gives pilots so that they can remain awake when they are engaged in long missions. Before modafinil was an option, the armed forces prescribed amphetamines, but modafinil is a much better choice. Several governmental agencies use modafinil to combat sleep deprivation in their staffs, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense and the French Foreign Legion.
Is Modafinil Addictive?
Some studies have shown that modafinil does not cause people to develop a tolerance for the drug. The pharmaceutical industry does not warn people that they will experience any withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop ingesting modafinil.
The medical community informs people that taking modafinil can create a dependence on the drug. They advise people not to take larger doses than prescribed by their doctors. It is also not advisable that they continue to take modafinil after their physicians stop refilling their prescriptions. Although tolerance does not build up when taking modafinil, you can develop a habit for taking the medication. For this reason, physicians advise their patients not to take larger doses than they have been prescribed.
The pharmaceutical industry states that modafinil will not cause users to experience any withdrawal symptoms after they stop taking the drug. Even so, many people have stated that they experienced withdrawal symptoms after they stopped ingesting modafinil. These symptoms included the inability to control anger and agitation.
According to reports, some patients developed psychosis after they began taking modafinil. Researchers recommend that physicians follow their patients for symptoms of psychosis whether they are taking low doses or high doses of the medication.
Some people experienced serious skin reactions from taking modafinil. The reactions include sores or ulcers, severe acne or skin rash, red skin lesions, loose skin, and skin that is peeling or blistering.
It has also caused some people to experience anaphylaxis. This is the body’s reaction to a substance that it believes it needs to fight. Therefore, it releases chemicals that may cause you to go into shock. When this occurs, it can induce nausea, vomiting, a skin rash, and a weak and rapid pulse. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency, so if you or someone you know experiences this reaction after taking modafinil, call 911 right away.
Getting Help for a Substance Use Disorder
There is a question as to whether or not modafinil causes withdrawal symptoms, but some people say that they experienced withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the drug. This may be cause for concern for some people who are afraid of what they can expect if they were to stop taking modafinil on their own. If you or a loved one is taking modafinil for its cognitive-enhancing properties, you may not be taking it under a doctor’s supervision, putting you at higher risk for dependency.
If this is the case, you don’t need to be concerned about undergoing the detoxification process all alone. At Granite Recovery Center, we provide our clients with a drug detox program if they need it. In this program, our clients receive treatment from doctors and nurses so that they will be comfortable while their bodies are metabolizing the drugs. This is a safe way for you or your loved one to begin the process of leaving drugs in your past. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Modafinil may cause a psychological dependence, and this needs to be treated in a drug treatment center. Some people refuse to enter drug treatment centers because they don’t want to be away from their families or their jobs and other responsibilities, but this is a step that you must take if you want to recover from your substance use disorder once and for all. You or your loved one may be candidates for our outpatient treatment program that will allow you to live at home during your treatment.
If you or a loved one is having trouble with modafinil use disorder, contact us at the Granite Recovery Center today.