Do you like how much Modafinil is able to help you but worry about the possibility of addiction?

At the time of writing this article, Modafinil is one of the leading smart drugs on the market, but whether or not it is highly addictive seems to be under fair amounts of scrutiny.

In this article, we are aiming to learn more about Modafinil itself and to discover how likely it is to become addicted to it.  We will define the term addiction, look at the different addiction types and work out how Modafinil could cause addiction to its users.

Discover all you need to know about Modafinil and the related areas of possible addiction, dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

Choosing to use Modafinil

There are two ways in which Modafinil can be used: prescribed and non-prescribed.

Prescribed or on-label Modafinil is used in order to treat very specific conditions which usually involve “excessive sleepiness.”  These can be medical conditions such as narcolepsy and sleep apnoea or can be of assistance to shift workers who have certain sleep issues. There are also cases where on-label Modafinil has been used to treat the symptoms of chronic fatigue associated with multiple sclerosis.

Non-prescribed or off-label Modafinil is commonly considered to be a “study drug.”  By this definition, it means that Modafinil is a cognitive performance-boosting drug which increases the effectiveness of revision.  As it also increases productivity levels, there are many people other than students who choose to use off-label Modafinil when they require increased performance and further productivity.

Who Uses Modafinil?

  • The following are very common people who use Modafinil:
  • Business Execs
  • Creatives
  • Doctors / Medical Professionals
  • Freelancers
  • Military Personnel
  • Pilots
  • Students

It is common for Modafinil to be used by these people because it helps them to remain awake for longer periods of time, keep more alert and increase focus on their job.

Modafinil is also an effective drug for people with ADHD to use because of its proven benefits to focus and concentration levels.

Online Purchase of Modafinil

Online purchase

Buying Modafinil without a prescription is not as hard to do as you may think.  There are many reputable vendors online, though the recommended would be Afinil Express, where more generic versions of Modafinil can be sourced.  Use the code MODAFINILORG to gain a further discount.

The generic equivalent drug to Modafinil is just as good in its quality but is much cheaper than the drugs which have been branded.

Using Modafinil

Modafinil has multiple different effects on the brain so that it can make the brain more effective:

  • A neuropeptide known as orexin is increased altering the sleep/wake cycle.
  • The levels of dopamine are increased aiding with the attention span, emotions, learning process, and memory performance.
  • Norepinephrine is increased creating more energy should a fight or flight response be needed.
  • Histamine levels are increased within the brain giving a comparable effect as the increased orexin, making the user feel more vigilant and more awake.

The general effect of Modafinil is that it makes the user feel increasingly wide awake.  This increased feeling of being wide awake can last for extended periods of time, often hours at a time, enabling more work to be undertaken and to a higher standard.

We have seen how Modafinil is able to increase our ability to study and work better, as well as to make us more wide awake, but how does this equate to Modafinil being a potentially addictive drug that could make users dependent on or tolerant to it?

Addiction and Modafinil

Tablets on a orange jar

When we are looking into the effects of Modafinil, the most important thing to understand is the effect that it has on the dopamine levels within the brain.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, the most commonly associated neurotransmitter when it comes to the topic of addiction.

Being dependent on a drug does not involve the same neurotransmitter, Dopamine, but instead is associated with multiple different neurotransmitters and hormones combined.

The terms addiction, dependence, and tolerance should be analyzed further in specific relation to that of pharmaceutical drugs, like the discussed Modafinil.

Tolerance to Modafinil

To become addicted to a pharmaceutical drug, tolerance first occurs, which is where the analysis will begin.

In simple terms, tolerance occurs when the body becomes resistant to a drug and therefore requires more of the drug to produce the same effects previously induced by a lower dosage.


The majority of drugs, including Modafinil, work by binding to receptors.  Each cell has a receptor which tells it to do something specific.  There are many different types of receptors, including some that are able to control metabolism, the production of neurotransmitters, the breakdown of neurotransmitters and the balancing of hormone levels.

By using an analogy of a plane’s cockpit, we can gain a greater understanding.  When drugs are taken that take the place of a receptor, they have a profound effect upon the body.  All receptors control different things just like the buttons in a cockpit, like the landing gear or the lights.  When a drug is taken, the body attempts to prevent these buttons from being pressed by altering the receptors.  Sticking with the cockpit analogy, if some buttons were taped up, they would need to be pushed with much greater strength for them to be able to be used in the same way.

This is exactly what tolerance is.  More power from the drug is required in order to have the same effect which means that a larger dose is necessary.  Over time, more tape is added to the buttons in the cockpit making it harder for them to be pressed and used.  Again, this is the same for the receptors in the brain.  As time goes on, a higher and higher dose of a drug must be used to create the same effect on the body and to make us feel the way we want to feel.

Addiction and Dependence

The term “addiction” is a commonly known phrase with most people having an understanding to some degree of what the phrase means.

The words “addiction” and “dependence” are not dissimilar in their meaning, though addiction has a much broader definition.  Dependency is much more specific and refers to a type of addiction.

Addiction occurs in two main formats:

1. Physical Addiction or Dependence

Physical dependence can occur with drugs like opioids or alcohol, and they begin with tolerance where physical changes in the body begin to occur.

If we use the cockpit analogy once more, physical dependence is similar to when the tape is applied to the buttons making the dashboard controls much more challenging to use.

When the human body the becomes used to the effects of a particular drug, more of the drug is needed to enable the body to reach the same stage where it also needs the drug in order to function.  When a drug is needed to keep the internal balance, it is known as homeostasis.  If the drug is removed from the human body, the receptors are not activated, and the person with the dependence is unable to function, and if the cockpit analogy is referred back to once more, it would seem that the pilot no longer has the strength to push the buttons he requires as the drugs no longer enable him to do so.

When the effects of a drug begin to wear off a dependent user, they will encounter side effects, will feel ill and withdrawal symptoms will begin.  If the pilot is unable to press the buttons to deploy the landing gear safely, the plane is in danger from crashing.

Using Opiate Addiction as an Example

Opiates activate the correct workings of the receptors responsible for the opioid receptors within the body, which are responsible for keeping the pain transmitters within the body under control, balancing the internal temperature, respiration rate and blood carbon dioxide rates.

When someone takes an opiate, like codeine, fentanyl or morphine, the number of receptors created is reduced.  When someone takes opiates frequently more are them are required to get the same effect, known as the tolerance stage.  Dependence occurs with time when opiates are used because opioid receptors cannot be activated without them.

What Happens When Drugs Wear Off?

When a drug begins to wear off, an ability previously held is lost. Examples of this include:

  • A lack of regulation in temperature so rounds of hot and cold are incurred.
  • A decrease in the respiratory rate with breathing slowing to dangerously low levels.
  • Blockages being caused in one area but severe, widespread pain being caused all over the body.

When someone experiences the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids, the breaking of drug dependency can be hugely painful.

Physical Dependence in relation to Modafinil

It has been thought that Modafinil could be physically addictive because it shares some of the effects of cocaine.

Modafinil works by sticking to the dopamine transporting receptors (DAT), the same receptor used by cocaine to produce feelings of euphoria.

Without further research, it may seem that physical dependence to Modafinil would occur in the same way as cocaine does, but this is incorrect.

Many studies have highlighted that cocaine’s addictive effects are not shared by Modafinil, with long-term Modafinil users indicating no dependence or tolerance to the much-researched drug.

This could be because Modafinil holds less power over the receptors or that it impacts other parts of the brain.  But the true reason is yet to be determined.  Whatever the reason, it seems that there is no physical dependence caused by Modafinil and, interestingly, Modafinil can actually be an effective treatment method for those struggling with certain drug dependencies, like cocaine.

2. Behavioral Addiction or the creation of a habit

Behavioral addiction requires the brain to act as its own reward center.  There are many examples of habit formation, though the most common are:

  • Exercise
  • Food
  • Marijuana
  • Masturbation or Sex
  • Video Gaming

They do not cause physical dependence, no tolerance occurs, and the working method of receptors are not altered in order to respond to them, but they are all still examples of things which are considered to be addictive.  This is because the reward center in the brain is activated, and the body responds to the euphoria which is produced.  This is what is “addictive,” and it is this feeling that makes someone want to repeat their chosen activity over and over.  This is how habits develop.  They are meant to add to our lives by saving time, energy, or increasing our want to perform life-giving activities, such as exercise, eating, and sex.  The feeling of euphoria is also created when we escape from danger like when we land after a skydive or bungee jump.

There are some scenarios where addiction occurs when over-activation of the reward system becomes an obsession when the activity is thought about constantly and when it is not undertaken the person feels incomplete.  This is detrimental as it can cause someone to overeat, over exercise, game too much or need too much sex etc.  This differs depending on the obsession.

Behavioral Addiction and Modafinil

Behavioral addiction can be developed in relation to almost anything.  It just requires a negative mindset towards action and repetition.  For example, if we think of something as if we need it to survive, we will obsess and become addicted to it.  This is unhealthy.

Users of Modafinil are clear as to its benefits using it to increase their workload or work longer hours.  For other users, it is to treat fatigue or disorders of sleep effectively.

There are some people using Modafinil who, once using Modafinil frequently, think they are unable to function if they do not have it.  There is no medical evidence that addiction can occur from Modafinil use, but the obsession that some users get is a psychological or behavioral addiction.  If this mindset is left for long enough, the user will become completely addicted to Modafinil.

Behavioral Addiction

This is very different from an addiction of a physical nature.  There are no withdrawals, the user cannot die if they stop taking the drug in question, though it can be uncomfortable for them.

Mental obsession occurs motivating the user to access more of the drug or activity they want, not need.

These thoughts and obsession can be overcome with strict, long term disciple.

Is Behavioural Addiction to Modafinil Common?

No, and it can generally be avoided very easily.  The group of people at the highest risk are people who use Modafinil to treat a medical condition, like a narcoleptic, or people who have obsessive and addictive natures.

For the majority of people taking Modafinil, they are able to take it every day and suddenly stop with absolutely no problem.

Treating Modafinil Behavioural Addiction

Behavioral addiction is related closely to a habit so can be treated best by focusing on the eradication of the habit.

To form a habit, repetition and time are required, so to eradicate habit patience is required.  There are lots of different ways to break habits, including the system of cue, routine and reward, more of which can be read about in Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit.


Though they are complex, the crux of the matter when it comes to habits look like this:

1.    Cue – The start of the process and the routine trigger.
2.    Routine – The actual habit.
3.    Reward – The bodily benefit the habit creates.  The reward reinforces the cue and the reward, inducing the need to repeat the act to regain the reward.

In his book, Duhigg argues that for a habit to be altered, it is only the routine which requires change.

How Would This Work?

The Example:  Modafinil is taken every morning on your train journey to work.  You always get a cup of coffee when you get off the train.

Cue: The train
Routine: Taking Modafinil
Reward: Coffee

Duhigg suggests that only the routine is changed for the habit to be broken, so in this example, the Modafinil user could take a multivitamin instead.  This must be repeated every day so that behavioral addiction can be broken successfully.  On average, this takes one to three weeks.

Is it always that simple?

A behavioral addiction to Modafinil is usually easy to break if it is encountered at all.  Though, as with anything, changing behaviors for some people is very difficult.  For people struggling with altering their behavior addiction, it could be helpful to see a mindset or habit specialist therapist who can help and guide them closely through the process.

Is Modafinil Addictive?

There are some addictive qualities found within Modafinil.

Modafinil and cocaine both use the same receptors to bind to because they both release dopamine.

Modafinil is not as powerful as cocaine.

Modafinil is not thought of as a high-risk when it comes to addiction.

Cocaine addiction can be treated through the use of Modafinil.

There are some, rare cases, where Modafinil has been seen to cause behavioral addiction, though it is easy to treat.  People of more addictive personalities may be more likely to become behaviourally addicted to Modafinil.

If a behavioral addiction occurs, habits should be changed to break the behavioral addiction.  If this is ineffective, professional help should be found.


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