Is Modafinil a Real Psychostimulant?

Modafinil is a eugeroic primarily used to treat narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness caused by obstructive sleep apnea.

Modafinil As A Real Psychostimulant?

The NIH Environmental Health and Toxicology “Practical Use and Risk of Modafinil, a Novel Waking Drug” says:

A novel class of psychostimulants is eugeroics under which modafinil, adrafinil, and ampakine are categorized. Eugeroic means good arousal; that is, eugeroics show no sign of common side effects of traditional psychostimulants, such as interference in recovery sleep, psychiatric disturbance, and addiction. (NIH)

While Adderall and modafinil are central nervous system stimulants, modafinil does not qualify as a classical psychostimulant like Adderall.

Is Modafinil a Real Psychostimulant?

What Is The Difference Between Adderall and Modafinil

Adderall and modafinil do have similar mechanisms of action as well. Adderall is believed to block the reuptake of the excitatory neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine and increase the intracellular concentration of the neurotransmitters by releasing them from storage in the neurons. Modafinil also affects the excitatory neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate by increasing their availability and by decreasing the availability of inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA.

Modafinil is considered a much milder stimulant than the more powerful drug Adderall, and it has mild stimulant properties. Modafinil can be used in many different situations without the potential of causing anxiety, jitteriness, irritability, or agitation.

More About Adderall and Modafinil

One other big difference between Adderall and Modafinil is that the FDA has not approved modafinil to treat ADHD. Sometimes it is used off-label to treat the condition because studies have shown it has comparable efficacy. Still, since it’s not an approved medication, insurance companies may not approve or pay for the medication if it is prescribed for that purpose.

How Modafinil and Adderall is Related To Abuse

Both Adderall and modafinil are listed as controlled substances by the DEA. However, they are classified differently. Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance which means it has a significant risk for abuse and the development of physical dependence. Modafinil is listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Schedule IV drugs are considered to have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence.

Despite the different risk levels of dependence with each of these drugs, they are both commonly abused medications, especially in someone with a history of addiction. Stimulants flood the dopamine receptors and cause a euphoric feeling and pleasure. Modafinil is said not to produce significant euphoria as Adderall does. And any physical dependence or withdrawal associated with modafinil is said to be primarily emotional symptoms. However, research and survey data do show that the potential for abuse is still there.

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