Modafinil is a medication most often prescribed for those with sleep issues such as shift work sleep disorder. While this does not treat the disorder itself, it does ease some of the daytime symptoms associated with these sleep disorders. At the same time, modafinil has become a popular study aid drug because it is a stimulant.
This article will cover what modafinil is, what it’s supposed to be used for, addiction potential and treatment options if you find yourself depending on this medication for daily functioning. If you are facing modafinil addiction, then we want you to know that you’re not alone and there are ways to recover.
What Is Modafinil?
According to Medline, modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent. This means that it helps keep you awake by stimulating dopamine and other neurochemicals associated with attention and energy. This medication is most often prescribed for sleep disorders like sleep apnea, narcolepsy and other similar disorders.
It is important to note that modafinil doesn’t necessarily help you go to sleep at the proper time. It treats the daily sleepiness symptoms that people with these conditions often face. This makes it easier for you to get through the day without feeling tired or sluggish. Modafinil does not replace real sleep, but it will make the sleepiness a little easier to handle.
Study Aid and Energy Boosts
Modafinil is currently only prescribed for the sleepiness associated with sleep disorders, but many people use it for other reasons. According to WebMD, modafinil is often used as a study aid. Many students use this instead of amphetamines or ADHD medications because the focus and energy modafinil brings is considered smoother and easier to handle. At the same time, modafinil can also be habit-forming.
Many people abuse modafinil to increase their energy. For those facing overall lethargy, fatigue or depressive symptoms, modafinil might sound like a cure. WebMD reports that modafinil blocks dopamine transporters. These typically collect dopamine once it has been excreted. Since the transporters are blocked, the dopamine is able to stay in your brain longer. This is similar to the effect of cocaine or methamphetamine but to a smaller extent.
If you find yourself using modafinil for non-prescription purposes or taking more than prescribed to feel awake, focused or energized, then this could be the sign of a dependency or addiction. Speak to your doctor or contact us at Granite Recovery Centers to seek help for this.
Modafinil Side Effects and Overdose
Nearly every medication has side effects, and modafinil is no exception. These side effects are often noted during clinical trials, and the list might expand as more people are prescribed the medication. Some of the most common modafinil side effects according to Medline include:
- Difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep
- Nausea, gas, diarrhea or heartburn
- Dry mouth
These are only the most common modafinil side effects. While these are typically mild, there is a chance that you may experience a rare or severe side effect. If you feel any symptoms occur after taking modafinil, then be sure to alert your doctor. They can determine if the symptom is truly from the medication and how to proceed forward with treating you.
There is also the chance of overdosing. This is more common for those who are forming a modafinil addiction or dependency. It is unlikely that an overdose will happen if you take the prescribed amount. Overdose most commonly happens to those who are taking significantly more than they were prescribed.
The following symptoms could be red flags for a modafinil overdose:
- Severe difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Agitation and restlessness
- Chest pain
- Pounding heartbeat
- Visual or auditory hallucinations
- Severe nervousness
If these symptoms are occurring, then speak to your doctor, seek emergency medical services or call a poison control hotline to get assistance.
Modafinil Addiction Potential
Modafinil is not commonly considered addictive by doctors and other medical professionals. While it shouldn’t be biologically addictive like opioids, many people who use it find themselves craving higher amounts, building tolerance, and seeking out more modafinil for non-prescription purposes. The National Institutes of Health reported that some patients use higher amounts of modafinil in order to feel alert and awake.
While modafinil may not carry the addiction potential of opioids like heroin, it seems that doctors and other medical institutions are slowly beginning to understand that patients may form a dependency on this medication. Medline reports that modafinil may be habit-forming and cautions patients to only take the prescribed amount.
If you are seeking treatment for modafinil dependency, then we are happy to say that there are many ways to treat this addiction. We can treat this and other addictions on multiple levels. From a purely biological perspective, we can assist with detox to ensure that you safely come off modafinil. We also have multiple levels of care and therapy to ensure that you get the support you need to overcome your triggers and cravings.
Discontinuing any medication or substance that affects your mood or that you’ve developed cravings for can be difficult. Our medical detox program connects you with a doctor who can oversee your progress as you reduce your dose and discontinue modafinil. 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.
This process most often involves tapering the medication so that you can slowly get used to functioning without the medication in your system. Other medications may be prescribed to help with any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as needed. If there are any problems during the process, such as increased cravings or severe side effects from not using, then the doctor will be able to help you through that as well.
Some people may believe that this is the end of addiction since they are no longer taking the substance after detox. However, it’s a smart idea to get further support to help you understand your triggers.
Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Care
Outpatient and intensive outpatient, or IOP, levels of care are the most common after detox for modafinil addiction. These levels of care allow you to live your life while receiving treatment for your substance use.
Outpatient care means that you meet individually with your assigned therapist once or twice a week. Once a week is most common, but some clients need a little extra support. This allows you to comfortably speak about your struggles, discover your triggers and develop coping skills to help ease your cravings. This type of therapy works well on its own, or it can also supplement IOP treatment.
IOP is considered the next level up from outpatient care. The two are sometimes used in conjunction to give you more support. IOP treatment is a type of group therapy where you meet with a trained therapist along with a group of peers who are also seeking to recover from their substance use. Group therapy like this allows you to explore yourself while simultaneously learning from other members in a process known as vicarious learning.
IOP treatment is a three-hour session and is typically held three times a week. This gives you enough time to really learn about yourself and to see what is working for other people. The magic of group therapy is that you can hear about what others are doing, what resources they found and what unique coping skills or strategies they discover that might be helpful for you. Not only that, but it gives you a supportive environment of like-minded peers who are on their own recovery journey.
Partial Hospitalization and Residential Treatments
While most people suffering from modafinil dependency should be able to recover with outpatient or IOP treatment, you may find that these don’t provide you with enough support. Maybe you’re facing intense stressors at home, your environment isn’t supportive for recovery, or there are underlying problems that IOP and outpatient treatment aren’t able to address.
If this is the case, then you may want to consider either partial hospitalization or residential treatment options. Both of these allow you to live at the facility, but the amount of time you stay depends on the treatment level and your history.
Partial hospitalization allows you to receive professional care sometime during the day and then go home at night. This is considered the less restrictive of the two. You get the support and care you need for most of the day while the rest can be spent working, sleeping in your own bed, speaking with friends and so on. During the day, you will participate in both group and individual therapy. There will also be activities to help you acclimate to a sober lifestyle while learning more about yourself and your cravings.
If going home at night doesn’t seem like a good idea due to stressors or an unsupportive recovery environment, then you may want to consider residential treatment. This is similar to partial hospitalization, but you stay the whole day while attending therapy and other activities, and you sleep at the facility overnight. This is available if you need to completely separate from your stressors and focus entirely on your recovery.
If you are considering these levels of treatment, then contact us and we can help guide you. Tell us about your needs and preferences. We will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and the amount of support that is required to help you recover.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Modafinil helps ease symptoms of sleepiness, fatigue and low energy levels. While many people use it as a study aid or just to combat general lethargy, others might be attracted to this medication because they want to ease depressive symptoms. If this is the case and you have or believe you have depression, then you might be wondering how that impacts your treatment.
This is known as a dual diagnosis or a co-occurring diagnosis. This is when a client suffers simultaneously from a mental illness like depression and a substance use disorder such as with modafinil. The exact disorders don’t matter; it could be anxiety and heroin or OCD and cocaine.
If this describes your situation, then we want you to know that you’re not alone. Many people suffering from mental illnesses seek out substances or misuse medications to try to treat themselves. That line of thought itself isn’t bad, but there are better ways of going about it. We can help treat both simultaneously while also finding new medications for your treatment to help you be in the best possible health.
Seeking Help for an Addiction
While modafinil itself is not considered addictive by many people, doctors and researchers are finding that it can be habit-forming and are urging patients not to use higher than the prescribed dose. This medication is useful for those who suffer from a sleep disorder and have trouble staying awake throughout the day. However, others are using it to increase their focus and alertness without a sleep disorder.
If you find yourself craving modafinil and using higher than the prescribed amount, then you may have developed an addiction. If this is the case, then contact us and we can help you recover. Let us know your needs, and we will make a recovery plan that treats you with respect.