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Modafinil Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Process

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Modafinil, also known as Provigil, is an FDA-approved prescription that stimulates the central nervous system. This improves the concentration of a patient while enabling them to stay awake and combat fatigue. Because of this, health practitioners use these drugs to treat shift work sleep disorder and narcolepsy. However, some medical professionals use it off-label to treat conditions such as ADHD, excessive fatigue and multiple sclerosis.

How Does Modafinil Work?

Medical experts believe that this drug enhances neurotransmitters’ production, such as dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. Serotonin and dopamine are two monoamines that play a significant role in your gut and brain. Therefore, having imbalanced levels of either of the two can positively or negatively affect your sleep cycle, digestion, and health in general. Since this drug increases patients’ ability to stay awake, most doctors consider it a first-choice treatment option for treating people with sleep disorders.

Is Modafinil a Controlled Substance?

Although Provigil is an FDA-approved and highly effective medication, it provides many of the same effects as other stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Like these drugs, it affects dopamine levels, causing euphoric and psychoactive effects that influence a patient’s perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and moods.

Modafinil is a controlled substance categorized as a Schedule IV drug. This means it is FDA-approved but can cause physiological and physical dependence. Most people in the United States who abuse modafinil take the drug because it can reduce appetite, improve concentration and focus, eradicate the need to sleep, and stimulate the brain.

Medical experts can prescribe modafinil in the form of tablets under the name Provigil. Since it is a Schedule IV controlled substance, the government has special rules on how doctors and other medical personnel can prescribe it.

What Are the Side Effects of Using Modafinil?

Taking modafinil can cause side effects ranging from mild to serious. The most common side effects include headache, dry mouth, nausea, runny nose, anxiety, dizziness, chest pain, back pain, and upset stomach. Some patients experience rare side effects such as confusion, tremor, constipation, vertigo, depression and rapid heartbeat.

Sometimes, patients can experience severe side effects, although they are rare. If you experience any severe side effects, contact your doctor immediately. Severe side effects that may affect patients include a severe rash, allergic reactions, heart-related issues and mental-related issues. When you experience severe rash accompanied by fever and vomiting, contact your medical physician right away since the drug might damage your organs.

Is Modafinil Addictive?

A report from the American Medical Association Journal reported that Provigil’s action method was similar to highly addictive substances such as cocaine and meth. Hence, patients with a history of drug addiction or abuse can experience modafinil addiction or misuse it easily. According to another research study, patients without any drug abuse history can also abuse modafinil, but it’s rare.

There is enough evidence that modafinil can create mild tolerance, meaning some patients may exploit the drug to acquire the same effects of lower doses, causing them to develop physical and physiological dependence.

Modafinil Addiction and Abuse

There have been instances of students misusing the drug to enhance cognitive performance at school. Although this drug increases concentration and focus, it can negatively affect the user and cause them to be more distractible.

Some people, including students, teachers, and other people looking to stay awake for a long period and fight fatigue, abuse modafinil as a study drug. Although this drug has mild stimulant properties compared to other drugs such as Adderall, it can still cause physiological and physical dependence when abused. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse, more than 5 million Americans abused modafinil in 2017.

Side Effects of Abusing Provigil

Although the side effects are rare, abusing modafinil can cause some troubling side effects. These side effects can be mild or severe depending on the patient and modafinil consumption level. Some mild side effects include trouble staying or falling asleep, constipation, dizziness, eye pain, loss of appetite, numbness, tingling, or skin burning.

Excessive use of modafinil can result in severe side effects such as mouth sores, hallucinations, blisters, irregular heartbeat, and suicidal thoughts. In some cases, the patient may experience a change in vision, throat irritation, fever, change in blood levels, change in blood pressure, and memory loss. Misusing modafinil can make a person abnormally excited, leading to difficulty in breathing and increased heartbeat.

Symptoms of Modafinil Addiction or Abuse

Although modafinil is a mild stimulant, it increases dopamine and serotonin production, creating a euphoria feeling. If a patient uses this drug as a cognitive enhancer or without a doctor’s prescription, the patient might display some signs of drug abuse, such as going through painful withdrawal symptoms and behavior changes. Other telltale signs include developing an additional tolerance, lying about the prescription, finishing the dose early, and abusing the drug despite knowing its social, emotional, and physical consequences.

Modafinil Withdrawal

Modafinil withdrawal arises when a patient develops a physiological or physical dependence on the drug. It is rare to experience withdrawal symptoms, but you can experience them if you abuse the drug for an extended time.

Since the drug stimulates the brain, enhancing concentration, withdrawing from it can increase anxiety and depression. Sometimes, a patient might experience inactivity or lack of motivation after withdrawing from the drug. Other withdrawal symptoms include low energy, sleepiness, shortness of breath, fatigue, and poor concentration. If you experience the above symptoms, engaging in a medical detox program can help provide medical treatment and safe stabilization to conquer the withdrawal symptoms.

What Happens If You Stop Taking Provigil?

If you abuse modafinil to enhance your cognitive performance, the best way to stop using it is gradual withdrawal. Through this tapering-off process, your body will acquire some time to adjust to the absence of the drug, reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms. However, like other controlled drugs, you should always consult your medical personnel before changing your dosage or stopping the use of any drug.

If you have developed a physiological and physical dependence on the drug and want to stop, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. In this case, you will need additional help if you want to quit taking modafinil safely and effectively. Through a medical detox program, you can get clinical counseling and medical-assisted treatment to help you manage any side effects of ceasing your modafinil intake.

Depending on your addiction history and the severity of your abuse, you might need to continue with treatment by enrolling in a sober living program, intensive outpatient program, or residential rehab program. When you engage in these treatment options, you can get help coping with craving issues, learn the causes of your behavior and change your life positively.

The Time Taken for Provigil to Leave your Body System

Fortunately, most Provigil users do not encounter withdrawal symptoms, but there is no fixed timeline for patients experiencing the symptoms. Nevertheless, since modafinil has a half-life time of approximately 15 hours, the effects tend to disappear in one day. A patient can typically remain with modafinil traces for a maximum of four days after the first dose.

The possibility of a drug test looking for modafinil is very low, but tests can easily detect it through urine. Esports and professional gaming participants are more likely to receive the drug test since these individuals are prone to abusing the drug more than others.

How to Treat Modafinil Abuse

It can be challenging for users who are physiologically and physically dependent on modafinil to stop using the drug. If your friend or family member is addicted to the drug, the best approach to address their addiction problem is through a medical detox program.

During the program, addiction treatment specialists and clinical counselors will help address an addiction problem by encouraging behavior changes. Drug users can get help through addiction treatment programs such as group therapy, individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family behavior therapy, contingency management, and others.

Get Help From a Certified Rehab Center

When you or a loved one visits a Granite Recover Centers rehab facility, we will perform an evaluation to determine whether medical detoxification is a must. A patient undergoes medical detoxification depending on the severity of addiction and the type of substance. We provide patients with medication programs to make the detox process more comfortable and less stressful. 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.

After completing the detox program, the patient then enrolls in a rehab center for more advanced treatment options. At this point, with the help of an experienced counselor or medical doctor, the patient can choose between outpatient rehab and inpatient rehab. Both programs include therapeutic sessions, educational programs, and support groups.

In an inpatient rehab center, patients stay in the facility and undergo scheduled treatment programs. At Granite Recovery Centers, we have strategically placed our facilities in tranquil locations to stir feelings of mindfulness and peace among patients. Our facilities offer a safe environment and 24/7-hour care to ensure that each patient feels supported. Our facilities are gender-separate, ensuring that we tackle the needs of each gender separately while avoiding discomfort.

An outpatient rehab program is an ideal option for patients who have only a mild addiction. If a patient opts for this option, they will attend the program during the day but return home at night. This option works perfectly for patients who want to attend rehab but need to continue attending classes or working.

After completing our detox and rehab programs, a patient may opt to carry on with other programs such as aftercare and sober living. The latter is a program designed to support patients trying to recover from any addiction such as modafinil or alcohol addiction by offering them a sober and safe place to live. In our sober living centers, we provide patients with support services that help them thrive and adjust to their new life. These services include educational planning, employment assistance, drug testing, and other recovery programming.

We also provide patients with aftercare programs by scheduling weekly visits with them. In these programs, group members challenge themselves personally while offering support to each other in their sobriety.

Finding a rehab center that suits your needs is a vital step to recovery. If you are a modafinil user worried about addiction, consult your doctor to learn what suits you best.

Our goal is to help individuals in their journey to long-term sobriety. If you know someone suffering from any drug addiction, including alcohol, modafinil, or other drugs, contact us today. You can visit with Granite Recovery Centers addiction specialists to learn more about the programs and resources we offer.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.