Patients suffering from ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) or narcolepsy often receive prescription medications that students and entrepreneurs refer to as “nootropics” or “smart drugs.” The two drugs most commonly prescribed are well-known for their off-label use as cognitive enhancers. Many people who seek mental enhancement through prescription medications instead of natural brain boosters wonder which is better when comparing Modafinil vs. Adderall.
A significant portion of the nootropic community prefers Modafinil, but is Modafinil better than Adderall? The answer is not clear cut. Personal preference also plays a role. By analyzing the psychopharmacology behind these two drugs, we hope to provide you with enough information so you can decide for yourself.
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of Modafinil compared to Adderall, the positive aspects of each smart drug, and how each of these psychostimulants specifically affects the brain, cognitive function, and actions of a user. The most common brand name prescription for Modafinil is Provigil. If you're looking for a Provigil vs. Adderall comparison, this article will answer your questions as well.
Is Modafinil like Adderall?
Both drugs share similar characteristics and effects resulting in wakefulness, as well as providing improved levels of focus and attention in the user. The FDA stamped its approval on both Modafinil and Adderall for combating narcolepsy. Each drug can stimulate a sense of alertness to offset the irregular sleep patterns narcoleptic suffers experience.
Doctors also offer Modafinil and Adderall to assist with ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Although, only Adderall receives FDA acceptance for the treatment of this condition. Each drug is unique in chemical makeup. Thus, their usage varies based on the health of the individual, or the type of mental enhancement they seek. While not as potent, Phosphatidylserine for ADHD is an excellent all-natural alternative if you’re hesitant about using prescription medications.
Mechanisms of Modafinil (Provigil)
Modafinil (found in every Provigil generic) is the most popular psychostimulant from the eugeroic, or wakefulness-promoting agent, class of drugs. The mechanisms of Modafinil are not entirely known. However, several studies point to an interesting chemical effect that is created in the brain when an individual uses Modafinil. Its usage may stimulate histamine, glutamate, GABA, and norepinephrine (noradrenaline or noradrenalin) neurotransmitters in the brain. This simultaneous stimulation generates alertness, which can also create more motivation, productivity, stronger focusing capabilities, and an enhanced mood.
Mechanisms of Adderall
When looking at chemical structure, Adderall is very similar to the catecholamine family of neurotransmitters. Adderall stimulates these neurotransmitters in the brain which include dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (adrenaline). This effect can flood the user with feel-good chemicals, leaving you feeling alerted and energized. Adderall also triggers the release of serotonin and histamine. When an individual suffering from ADHD receives this prescription, he or she will find a more balanced sense of focus and increased attention span. If a person takes this drug and does not have either one of these conditions, the drug will reinvigorate the person’s mind and body. This mental stimulation provides many of the cognitive enhancement benefits one would expect when using nootropics or smart drugs.
Which drug is more addictive: Modafinil or Adderall?
Adderall is the most popular psychostimulant from the amphetamines class of drugs. Its chemical composition consists of neutral sulfate salts of the two enantiomers (or optical isomers) of amphetamine (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine). The ingredients combine four salts: dextroamphetamine saccharate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, aspartate sulfate, and aspartate monohydrate.
Unfortunately, this classification and chemical makeup also make Adderall more dangerous than Modafinil or other natural ADHD remedies. Amphetamines are more commonly known for being stimulants in recreational drugs such as methamphetamine, MDMA, or ecstasy. As scary as that sounds, it doesn’t mean that you’ll turn into an addict by taking Adderall a few times. But Adderall certainly presents a higher risk of addiction than you would face with Modafinil.
Like any drug affecting neurotransmitters and dopamine levels, addiction is a real possibility. For example, those who explore the question of which drug is more beneficial for studying may wind up abusing either stimulant if they’re not careful. For the most part, it is safe to have a Modafinil dosage of around 200mg to 400mg per day. Adderall's recommended dose is around 10mg to 30mg. When using the proper dosage, neither smart drug will have extremely severe consequences when taken in moderation.
Adderall (an amphetamine) is a very powerful central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. While your body does create dopamine naturally, Adderall increases its production to levels that are unnatural to humans. This effect may leave us coming back for more. Common signs of addiction include having to consume larger doses to feel the same effects of the drug, feeling like you need Adderall to maintain alertness, or not being able to focus on your work without it. Amphetamines have a significantly higher potential for abuse and dependency issues when used for extended periods.
Modafinil (Provigil) Side Effects
Modafinil compared to Adderall produces a less noticeable brain chemical alteration. Users are less likely to experience excessive stimulation or negative Modafinil side effects in comparison to taking Adderall. Modafinil’s effects stimulate the user but in a more subtle way. The natural energy increase produces less of a jolting effect on the body, while still providing clean energy for extended periods of time. Modafinil is considered by many smart drug users to be the best supplement for focus.
When examining the side effects of Adderall vs. Modafinil, Modafinil emerges as the drug with fewer repercussions. Addiction is less of an issue with Modafinil (Provigil), though still a possibility if abused. People commonly experience minor side effects with the drug. These side effects include nervousness and anxiety mixed with an occasional headache or nausea. Sometimes there are more serious adverse reactions, like strange facial movements or a rash. These Modafinil side effects need to be brought to the attention of a doctor immediately should they occur, but these are rare.
If you experience the side effect of headaches using either of these prescription stimulants, you can offset them by using a cholinergic supplement. The best choline supplements for this purpose are Alpha GPC or Huperzine A.
Adderall Side Effects
In comparison, the side effects of Adderall can include feelings of restlessness and nervousness combined with fear and dizziness. You should seek immediate medical attention for severe Adderall side effects such as hallucinations, strange bodily movements, and heart palpitations. Adderall, as previously stated, is more habit-forming than Modafinil, and may have additional risks when used long-term. It also receives consideration as a gateway drug into other substance abuse problems.
Modafinil vs. Adderall for Studying
For those of you looking for cognitive enhancement for studying, or for work, both drugs offer excellent short term benefits when responsibly used. Keep this in mind: Limitless drugs that turn you into a genius are fictional. No single pill or capsule can solve everyone’s problems. With that said, both Modafinil and Adderall are capable of boosting focus, concentration, and mental energy levels. These drugs require a prescription for a reason. Therefore, use them with caution.
Adderall for Studying
Many students report that Adderall can help them get through the more boring and monotonous aspects of their schooling while providing them with enough motivation to complete their work. Students who could not get themselves interested enough in their assignments before taking the drug found they could accomplish what they needed to while performing well in the process. Bear in mind, the side effects of Adderall are different for everyone. If the adverse reactions distract you from your work, consider using an alternative nootropic or smart drug.
Modafinil for Studying
Modafinil, one of the best supplements for energy and motivation, can effectively increase studying capabilities for most students. Adderall is more well-known than Modafinil, and depending on the individual, Adderall’s effects are also more potent. However, if you’re the type of person that can take Modafinil and find you get plenty of energy, motivation, and increased cognitive function, the recommendation is to stick with Modafinil over Adderall. This way you'll avoid any potential problems that come with the long-term use of Adderall such as sleeplessness, jitters, developing a tolerance for the drug, addiction, etc. With Modafinil, these adverse side effects are much less likely to occur. As an additional benefit, some studies have also linked Modafinil to improvements in memory retention.
Which smart drug is right for you?
Is Modafinil better than Adderall as far as benefits are concerned? Not necessarily. Keep in mind that different chemicals can have varying effects on people. The potency and side effects of psychostimulants will be unique to the individual based on the chemical makeup of their brain. Physiologically, we’re all a little bit different. What works well for one person may have negative side effects on another. The strength of prescription ADHD medications is why most users prefer natural brain fog remedies.
Adderall, when compared to Modafinil (Provigil), stimulates a user much more strongly. The neurotransmitters which are increased by Adderall are vital to the performance of a person’s central nervous system. Once the drug enters your brain, it mimics the effects of neurotransmitters epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine, and norepinephrine at unnaturally high levels. That makes it ideal for combating both fatigue and narcolepsy. The drug also enhances blood flow to the brain, creating an intense feeling of energy and focus. Adderall is more potent than Modafinil but brings the risk of more adverse side effects.
Making a Decision
There is no easy answer to the debate of Modafinil vs. Adderall. Ultimately, the final decision on which drug to use may be up to the individual. The best way to know is to try both, see how your body reacts and weigh the pros and cons of each psychostimulant. As always, if you choose to use prescription strength ADHD medications as smart drugs, use them responsibly and on an “as needed” basis.
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