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Modafinil isn't a stimulant.



Modafinil is most certainly a stimulant.

Its mode of action isn't identical to that of Adderall (amphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) but then again neither is that of caffeine, but it is still a stimulant. Adderall and Ritalin increase extra-cellular concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine. Modafinil has been shown in many studies to elevate dopamine and norepinephrine concentrations in certain regions of the brain. It may not accomplish this as directly as Ritalin or Adderall, but the effect is there. There are additional glutamate-enhancing and GABA-reducing effects to Modafinil as well, which is perhaps where the "Modafinil is not a stimulant" misconception comes from. Still, administering a dopamine antagonist diminishes some of Modafinil's effects, much in the same way it diminishes the effects of Adderall or Ritalin.

But even without delving into the pharmacology of Modafinil, how you can you possibly not call Modafinil a stimulant? It promotes wakefulness, increases concentration, and substitutes for Adderall and Ritalin in narcolepsy treatment. It is also a Schedule IV controlled substance (FYI, do not attempt to import a controlled substance, but Adrafanil is a Modafinil precursor and is not scheduled.) indicating there is even a risk of abuse.


The PDR describes its action as "unknown," and says it is not a stimulant. This is a common error.


The manufacturer and FDA seem to consider it at least similar to a stimulant, with stimulant-like effects and possible dependence problems typical of stimulants.

From the prescribing information:

In addition to its wake-promoting effects and ability to increase locomotor activity in animals, modafinil produces psychoactive and euphoric effects, alterations in mood, perception, thinking, and feelings typical of other CNS stimulants in humans. Modafinil has reinforcing properties, as evidenced by its self-administration in monkeys previously trained to self-administer cocaine. Modafinil was also partially discriminated as stimulant-like.

And from the safety information label:

PROVIGIL is a Schedule IV drug. PROVIGIL produces psychoactive and euphoric effects, alterations in mood, perception, thinking and feelings typical of other CNS stimulants. Physicians should follow patients closely, especially those with a history of drug and/or stimulant abuse.


I don't like the legal speeds. I would not accept a prescription for one.

Modafinil feels very different from the legal speeds, crank, coke, or other heavy stimulants... not that I know that from experience or anything. Just from reading posts on HN and Slashdot and shit. And movies. And ex-girlfriends. And doing drugs. Oh wait.

So I don't sound like I'm in love with modafinil: I have seen a person react unfavorably on it, although I can't be certain it was the modafinil that caused the unfavorable reaction. I have not had any side effects I can tell. Besides the new hairs on the tip of my nose and severe tooth vibrations. [Just kidding, obv.]

It has its place, and it just helped me on a trip to China considerably.


Then what is it? I don't have a PDR on hand, but Wikipedia says it's an "analeptic", a central nervous system stimulant used specifically to control sleepiness.


I find rxlist.com contains essentially the same (straight from the manufacturer) information as a PDR, without the bulk, expense, and latency of paper distribution.


The PDR describes its action as "unknown."


Does that mean something like, "it has stimulant-like effects, but its actual mechanism is more complex and not fully understood"?

Serious question, not trying to sound flippant.


The PDR is very vague on this for a reason- they have no idea. The doctors I have spoken to about it seem to think it is not a stimulant, it is something "better." They are calling it a wakefulness promoting agent. This isn't just PR boobspeak- the docs don't equate it with speed or coke, and with good reason. It has NOT been shown to have the long term damaging effects on dopamine and serotonin receptors those drugs do.


Ok, thanks.

IIRC, the exact mechanism for piracetam isn't fully understood either (something involving acetylcholine) - they decided to create the "nootropic" designation for it rather than classify it as a stimulant. The general consensus is that it's safe (no known LD-50, relatively mild side-effects) and makes orange juice taste horrible.


Please discontinue downvoting the parent comment, it is correct. Provigil is not classed a stimulant in the PDR.


Arguing that Modafinil is not a stimulant is like arguing that alcohol is not a drug. Sure, you can twist words and definitions, but all you're doing is re-drawing the cutoff line between what is and what is not a stimulant.

Modafinil is not a typical stimulant, but it provides stimulation, increases brain activity, increases self-reported measures of aggression, restlessness, and anxiety in double-blind testing, is a controlled substance with recognized abuse potential, and many of the stimulating effects are blocked by the same drugs that block the effects of stimulants.

Cephalon marketing is probably eager to get away and "stimulant" moniker, but this is an argument over semantics rather than pharmacology.

Modafinil is, by all measures and effects, a stimulant.


We are talking about medical and pharmaceutical classification here. "Stimulant" has a medical meaning. Provigil has NOT been classed a stimulant, which has a specific meaning.

The Physician's Drug Reference (PDR) is the last word on this, legally. That is why I keep saying it is not a stimulant. It isn't until the PDR says it is, to any medical professional.

I have taken a lot of Provigil, and I understand why it has not been classified a stimulant. It does not have the physical effects of other stimulants.

With the education and intelligence level being so high here on HN, I'm surprised to see inaccurate information being posited so confidently. It is NOT medically correct, and I'm not sure what the value of the non-medically correct "definition" of stimulant you are giving is supposed to be.


The Physician's Drug Reference (PDR) is not the last word on this. It is literally just a desk reference, as the name implies. It isn't meant to be a definitive guide to medications. It is meant to be a quick and easy way for physicians to get an overview of a medication.

The following is taken directly from the FDA's website for Modafinil ( http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/020... ). This information is also included in the product information sheet you receive with your prescription, and on the Provigil website. To say that Modafinil does not have the physical effects of other stimulants is not true. They are present to a lesser degree, but still exist.

  In addition to its wake-promoting effects and ability to
 increase locomotor activity in animals, modafinil produces 
 psychoactive and euphoric effects, alterations in mood, 
 perception, thinking, and feelings typical of other CNS 
 stimulants in humans. Modafinil has reinforcing properties,
 as evidenced by its self-administration in monkeys previously
 trained to self-administer cocaine. Modafinil was also
 partially discriminated as stimulant-like.


I am prescribed Provigil for a sleep disorder called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_sleep_phase_syndrome

Modafinil has been a help to me while stimulants have NOT been. I have a lot of experience with both, as I have talked about in various posts on this thread.

The difference between "stimulant" and "stimulant-like" is both small and vast. Think Uncanny Valley. "Human" and "human-like..."

Also, I am unsure what point you are trying to argue. I will give you stimulant-like, sure, although it does not make your heart race, a MAJOR PROBLEM with stimulants.

The FDA info you quote DOES NOT CALL MODAFINIL A STIMULANT!


Nor does the FDA info I quoted say that Modafinil is not a stimulant. Either way, you're arguing semantics and using personal anecdotes as your sources. We've already established that the effects of Modafinil are similar to that of other stimulants, and I've linked multiple studies showing that its mode of action overlaps with that of stimulants, and that the side effects of traditional stimulants show up in Modafinil (albeit with reduced frequency and magnitude). You can call it what you want, but none of that changes what I've posted here.

I'm going to step out of this debate, as arguing semantics only detracts from the topic at hand at this point.




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