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Modafinil vs Adderall: Which is better in our day and age?

For consumers who thought that amphetamines were fairly new to the contemporary drug scene, a spate of documentaries were recently aired by the History Channel that proved that the use of methamphetamines (aka crystal meth) was likely the reason Wehrmacht troops were able to invade France in just a week.

This early form of speed was produced by Berlin’s Temmler Pharmaceutical Company. It was called Pervitin and this pill was one of the earliest known modern solutions to staying awake for days on end while still having enough energy to keep going–despite the most daunting challenges that lay in the wake of troop’s advancements into surrounding nations.

Time has passed, but the need of busy people for drugs that keep them awake and fully functional has not diminished. For that reason, the current debate over the differences between modafinil (a generic name) and Adderall (a brand name) has remained a hot topic. If you’re among those who are confused about the whole Modafinil vs Adderall thing, this article will help you gain a deeper understanding of both substances.

What’s the difference between modafinil vs Adderall?

Getting down to basics, both Modafinil and Adderall are used mainly for the same purposes. Both are intended to treat narcolepsy, ADHD and a few other mental disorders. Both are mainly used for their cognitive-enhancing effects. But here’s where they part company: Adderall is addictive. Thus, consumers with dependency issues could easily get hooked on it. Withdrawal symptoms associated with Adderall are not pleasant. Side effects range from uncomfortable and exhausting to life-threatening overdoses. In 2005, the Canadian government banned Adderall XR due to 20 deaths that were associated with the drug. C for folks convinced that taking Adderall can increase their intellectual prowess.

Conversely, modafinil isn’t technically classified by the pharma industry as a stimulant, despite the way people behave once they’ve taken it. “It actually does make you smarter,” can be seen in every major forum with regards to Modafinil (Reddit, Quora, Longecity, and so on). While it won’t turn you into a genius, your thoughts are faster, more connected and you are more aware of your inner and outer world.

Furthermore, one would have to take unrealistic quantities of modafinil to overdose. Its side effects are gentle and there is no crash whatsoever. These characteristics are what place Modafinil under the “smart drug” or “nootropics” category. The two key aspects of this category are effectiveness (in increasing cognitive abilities) and safety (subtle or no side effects, non-addictive).

Down to basics

Whether you tolerate Adderall or modafinil best can come down to how your body reacts to each. Regardless, there’s no dispute among scientists when they measure how specific brain chemicals react when either are taken. Both trigger releases of dopamine, glutamate, serotine, histamine and GABA. But alas, the human psyche works in mysterious ways. Even brain experts can’t explain how these neurochemicals alter consciousness.

Adderall was introduced to the public in 1998 and marketed as an FDA-approved pharmaceutical sold to combat narcolepsy. However, additional uses for Adderall came to light. Thus, it was dispensed for people suffering from obstructive sleep disorder and shift workers unable to alter their internal time clocks. Ultimately, practitioners seeking ways to help people deal with fatigue associated with Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis began to prescribe it, too.

Not just for medical diagnoses

Having made the rounds of medical science as an aid for fighting the symptoms of muscular disorders, Adderall’s ability to keep people alert, awake and even more intellectually sharp was not lost on everyday consumers. Students, business professionals and military members wanted to get their hands on generic alternatives to Adderall as soon as they hit the market, and though not officially approved by the FDA for treating ADHD in kids and adults incapable of staying focused, it is still being prescribed in such cases.

We live in a world where even branded drugs are easy to come by. A thriving black market with drugs containing the same mix of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine hit the market. Of course, demand is high among frazzled night workers, executives and students who helped circulate Adderall’s value as a study aid and party drug. Researchers say that up to one-third of all undergraduates say they took either the generic or the real thing to help them get through late-night test prep and survive the challenges associated with college life.

Along came modafinil

It took no time at all for folks seeking an alternative to Adderall to get wind of the fact that a 1970s drug invented by a French pharmaceutical company was being re-introduced to the world. Modafinil’s reputation preceded its formal introduction, also in 1998. Quickly classified as a formula prescribed for people diagnosed with narcolepsy, the FDA only waited one year before adding modafinil to their Schedule IV substance roster. Adderall suddenly had a competitor.

Dubbed “the world’s first safe smart drug” or “the limitless pill,” this drug likely spurred the movie industry to release the film “Limitless” in 2011 starring Bradley Cooper. In his role as struggling writer Eddie Morra, he is given a drug that expanded his brain so dramatically, he was capable of Herculean thinking.

The box office success was not lost on sleep-deprived go-getters eager to justify their use of modafinil by comparing this formulation to Adderall minus the side effects and withdrawal symptoms. One of the strongest motivators associated with modafinil is that it “doesn’t matter how much you take,” says Yale Psychiatry Professor Peter Morgan. You “don’t really feel high when taking it” he added, which is why it is fast becoming a test drug used to treat cocaine and amphetamine addictions.

Expect more side effects if you take Adderall

While the degree with which Adderall consumers experience side effects and reactions is more expansive than those reported when taking modafinil, some people are perfectly happy to deal with the dry mouth, insomnia, headache, appetite loss, temporary blood pressure elevation and abdominal pain associated with Adderall. But in some situations, hearing that impactful reactions that include sexual function disruption, nervousness and tachycardia turn people off. The growth rate in kids can be interrupted if Adderall is administered to treat ADHD, which is why physicians are so cautious with dosages.

Physical manifestations notwithstanding, it’s Adderall’s psychiatric reactions that can scare consumers most of all. Reports of hearing voices, feelings of paranoia and manic episodes in people with no history of manic depression have been documented. For consumers who are already being treated for bipolar disorder or psychotic conditions, Adderall can compound an existing emotional condition. This formulation is also contra-indicated for glaucoma, blood pressure spikes, heart disease and overactive thyroids.

Side effects are less dauting with modafinil

Adderall’s reputation took a hit when consumers discovered how painful and disorienting it was to quit or cut down on their dosage, which is why modafinil’s reputation soared quickly. With both stimulants, blood pressure and heart rates will spike, which is why cardiologists warn their patients to steer clear of both. That stated, one doesn’t get off scot-free when quitting modafinil. Headaches and nausea may be experienced. In some cases, consumers have reported everything from diarrhea and indigestion to anxiety and insomnia.

For women of childbearing age, modafinil is known to interfere with estrogen and progestin-laden birth control drugs’ effectiveness and even IUDs may prove insufficient conception blockers because this drug is so potent. At its most extreme, there are a couple of outcomes that could prove life-threatening if one’s system is sensitive or susceptible to enzyme interference and/or allergies and modafinil is ingested. These include Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), Drug-induced Hypersensitivity Syndrome (Dress) and life-threatening rashes.

Modafinil vs Adderall: Which is right for you?

If you’re in the U.S. military, you don’t get a choice. In 2012, modafinil replaced Adderall and was proclaimed the official go-to pill for all branches of the active service when serving in combat situations. Astronauts are sent into space with modafinil, too. While vertigo, dizziness and nausea were reported by a few armed forces members after taking monafinil, benefits outweighed these side effects. Troops say that taking modafinil improves their judgment, heightens their awareness, raises their confidence and makes them feel hyper-alert while the drug remains in their systems.

Dispensed in dosages that range between 100 mg and 300 mg, modafinil’s effects last for 10- to 12-hours and in some cases, may deliver 15 hours’ worth of heightened performance. Given fewer side effects, less dramatic withdrawal and addiction risks and the fact that modafinil is technically classified as wakefulness promoter rather than a stimulant, you may wonder why there’s a decision to be made.

In fact, for some (and despite those side effects) Adderall is a better alternative—especially since it’s a classic brain stimulant that can truly outperform modafinil in people who find it impossible to focus and/or unable to control their impulsive behaviors and/or hyperactivity.

Doctors prescribe Adderall to people who can’t recall how it felt to enjoy their jobs, but with unleashed brain power, even disgruntled workers have been known to put more energy into a 40-hour week once Adderall unleashes the chemicals that max out brain power and creativity. Mood improvement is a benefit of taking Adderall, too.

Ask yourself these questions when deciding between modafinil vs Adderall.

As you can tell, these two prescriptive drugs share similar characteristics, but your body is unique and your tolerance for either could predetermine which you choose. That stated, use this short check list to match your goals and see which formulation is likely to serve your needs best.

-Has your doctor recommended one over the other because she understands exactly which will work best?

-Have you had addiction issues in the past? If so, you’re probably better off on modafinil.

-Do you need a drug with an extended period of effectiveness? Either will do.

-Will a pill work or do you prefer long-release formulations? Modafinil is only available as a pill; Adderall comes in time-release versions.

-Are you on a tight budget? Adderall can be cheaper, especially if you are prescribed a generic version.

-Is your main focus on upping your productivity? You’ll likely receive a bigger boost by taking Adderall, though the crash may not be worth the high.

-Are you seeking the maximum brain chemical release? Modafinil has been proven to stimulate more brain chemicals than Adderall, hence its “limitless” reputation.

-Are you searching for a formula that improves and heightens memory? Go with monadinil because Adderall won’t help you out in these areas.

-Do you live for 5 p.m. when cocktails are served? Neither drug is alcohol compatible.

-Do you count on approvals from the U.S. National Institutes of Health? Researchers at NIH say, “Modafinil can be used by anyone who wishes to work late, stay awake, enhance their cognitive reactions, or brighten their moods.”

-Are you seeking to improve your IQ? Despite promoting wakefulness, Adderall can’t do it and monafinil may not either.

-Are your biggest concerns addiction and withdrawal? Pick modafinil over Adderall.

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