A narcolepsy drug, dubbed the “Viagra for the brain”, is being used by some people to increase their brain function.
Modafinil, marketed in the US under the brand name Provigil, shot to prominence when a Silicon Valley millionaire credited it with his amazing success.
Dave Asprey, the founder of The Bulletproof Executive and self-described “biohacker” credited the use of Provigil to his success in Silicon Valley.
“I started taking it when I was getting my MBA while working full time at a start-up we sold for $600 million,” Mr. Asprey told news.com.au.
“I ended up taking it pretty much every day from 2001 to 2009. I think it’s been an enormous boost for my career and even my family, having limitless energy and focus is amazing.”
Modafinil was first approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, but since then it’s become better known as a nootropic, a “smart drug,” especially among entrepreneurs.
It is rumored to be the model for the fictional pills in the movie Limitless that allowed Bradley Cooper’s character to use 100 percent of his brain.
Unfortunately, in the movie, Bradley Cooper’s character soon finds out that there are consequences to depending on a drug for success. He begins to have lapses in memory, and finds that he cannot function without the drug. He learns that people that continue to take the drug eventually die or suffer extreme mental impairments.
The real life limitless drug has also been shown to have a downside.
When modafinil was approved, pharmacologists didn’t know exactly how it worked, but said that unlike amphetamines and other dangerous stimulants, it didn’t boost dopamine levels.
However, subsequent research on animals suggested that modafinil does affect dopamine. That suggestion is affirmed by the latest findings in humans, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Increasing dopamine levels is a hallmark of addictive drugs.
Still, more research is needed in regards to modafinil and modafinil addiction. The concern is that the social pressure to take cognition-enhancing drugs could outpace scientific understanding. This social pressure is particularly prominent amongst students.
About 7% of U.S. university students report having taken stimulants “nonmedically” at least once, according to a 2005 study of nearly 11,000 students. On some campuses a full quarter of students admit to nonmedical drug use in the past year, mainly in an attempt to improve grades.
No scientist has conducted a study of modafinil’s long-term effects on healthy brains yet. At the very least, doctors have warned that modafinil can bring about sleep deprivation and neuropsychiatric adverse effects.
Many users report effects similar to other prescription stimulants-dependence, withdrawal, and blackouts, especially when combining modafinil and alcohol.
One user describes how it felt to skip a dose: “I really would feel it. It was sort of like being thrust into dirty, messy reality, as opposed to a clean, neatly organized place. It was like crashing, and I actually found what would happen is the anxiety that got dialed down on the way in, when you were coming off it, all of a sudden you went through the reverse. So I got incredibly anxious. Eventually that concerned me.”
Modafinil is currently classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance under United States federal law. Other examples of Schedule IV drugs include Ambien, Xanax and Ativan.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for Modafinil Addiction, please call us at 800-951-6135.