Modafinil vs Adderall: Comparison of Benefits, Side Effects & Medical Value

Entrepreneurs, executives, and students are always on the hunt for nootropics that spark motivation and focus. Adderall and Modafinil often beeps on the radar. But which one is better, and what’s the differences?

Both are central nervous stimulants (CNS) approved by the FDA to treat narcolepsy. Even if Modafinil is not accepted for ADHD, it’s proven to be useful for this condition as well. (1)(2)

Modafinil half-life is around 8-12 hours and Adderall 11-13 hours.  Depending on your diet, lifestyle, and brain chemistry.

The Differences

Adderall is  more powerful for concentration. It’s available as immediate release (IR) and extended release (XR). It’s cheaper, especially the generics.

Modafinil is only made in tablet form and sold under different brand names across the world. Commonly known as Provigil, Modiodal, and Modvigil. It’s easier to buy Modafinil online.

Adderall is a Schedule II classed drug – meaning it has high potential for abuse that can lead to physiological or psychological dependence.

Modafinil is a Schedule IV classed drug – meaning it has as low potential for abuse and dependence.

Adderall affects epinephrine (adrenaline) norepinephrine, and dopamine. The adrenaline boost increases focus, alertness, and counteracts ADHD. This leaves you with high abilities to stay productive for 4-6 hours.

Modafinil affects more brain chemicals which give it other nootropic benefits. The effects are not as potent as Adderall when it comes to ADHD. But Modafinil works differently than other amphetamine-like stimulants, which lowers the risk to develop drug dependency. And the effect duration is around 5-10 hours.

Even if Modafinil and Adderall share similar effects. They aren’t made up of the same stuff, which gives one of them other medical and nootropic benefits.

Adderall consists of a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

Provigil consist of  “Modafinil” and inactive ingridients inlucding croscarmellose sodium, pregelatinized starch, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, povidone, and microcrystalline cellulose.

Modafinil’s Medical Value 

Medical value sets Adderall and Modafinil apart.

Besides narcolepsy and other forms of sleep disorders. The drug has shown to improve symptoms of depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease. (3)

Another study concludes Modafinil with individual behavior therapy reduces cocaine craving. (4)

A spoonful of studies shows it has the potential to treat schizophrenia. (5) (6) (7)

But like any substance, potential abuse hides around the corner.

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Modafinil vs Adderall: Potential Abuse

Here you’ll learn the dark side of both drugs.

Drugs that affects dopamine have risks that can lead to addiction. Or almost anything affecting this chemical can get out of control. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter your body produce on its own. It’s the “feel good” chemical, critical for the brain’s reward system.

Adderall stimulates norepinephrine and too much dopamine. The addicted brain demands higher doses of Adderall to feel alerted and be productive. Modafinil also affects your dopamine levels but in a friendlier way.

Someone can abuse Modafinil as well. By taking high doses to induce euphoria. Euphoria is a medical condition that amps up your emotions such as happiness, excitement, and well-being. This is, therefore, a reason why someone can abuse Modafinil and become addicted.(8)

But it’s likely to happen with extremely high doses. Over 600 milligrams can cause mild euphoria, which is way over the recommended 150-200mg dose.

Modafinil vs Adderall: Side Effects

Just like most drugs, there’re side effects. Some are serious and some don’t need to happen with the right mindset.

Modafinil is safe with no adverse side effects for healthy individuals.

There’re 2 cases reported of  Steven-Johnsson syndrome, a life-threatening skin condition. But It’s likely to happen someone who has some sort of physiological problems. And with daily consistent use.

Serious side effects which require medical consultant includes;

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Bruising and bleeding
  • Sore inside the mouth or lips
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart beat

The common side effects that can occur include headaches, backache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, and dry mouth.

Allergic reactions include swelling, wheezing, hives, itching, and difficulty breathing.

Avoid Modafinil if you have high blood pressure, kidney and/or liver disease, heart and cardiovascular issues, pregnancy, lactating, and allergic to other medications.

Adderall  has more adverse side effects including:

  • Chest pain
  • Hallucination
  • Seizures
  • Muscle twitches
  • Difficult breathing
  • Fear

The common side effects include stomach pain, insomnia, dry mouth, mood changes, weight loss, headaches, and irregular heartbeat.

Allergic reactions include swelling on your lips, tongue, face, or throat. Plus, difficulty breathing, and hives.

Modafinil vs Adderall: Studying

Adderall and Ritalin are popular among students. How you define what’s better for studying is up to you.

Does Adderall improve grades?

There’s no evidence supporting ADHD drugs like Adderall improves school grades. (9)

Adderall can’t force the brain to learn and remember. The drug can only force the brain to stay sharp and alert, which is key for studying, thought. And for some –laser-like focus is enough.

A substance that improves learning capacity and memory is not present in Adderall. You can improve learning capacities and neuroplasticity with nootropics that work on glutamate transmission and acetylcholine.

Modafinil can improve memory, learning, and decision-making. (10)(11)(12)

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So which one is better for study?

It depends on what you want to achieve. Both Modafinil (Provigil) and Adderall enhance cognitive performance to sit down and learn.

But if you want to improve learning abilities and memory, you can’t rely on Adderall. It’s useful for focus and getting things done. That’s it.

There’s no better choice here. The ultimate thing is to try both and discover what works for your unique self.

People who switched from Adderall to Modafinil says it’s better because of fewer side effects. Modafinil is also accepted to be used more frequently without leading to addiction.

If you decide to give Modafinil a try. Check out this post and you’ll learn how to stay on the right track for the best possible experience.

Modafinil VS Adderall: Conclusion

Both drugs help to banish narcolepsy but Adderall is also approved for ADHD.

Adderall appears to have more serious side effects and higher risk to develop an addiction. It’s addictive even for people diagnosed with ADHD.

No evidence supports Adderall improves learning and school grades. But It’s more effective for concentration.

Both Modafinil and Adderall will spark motivation and increase focus, so you can get to your goals fast with laser-like focus. Adderall can do it better for some people, but Modafinil can be used more often. It’s impossible to say what’s better for you. Since you have a unique chemistry. But you’ll definitely benefit from either one of them.
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