Modafinil vs Adderall: The smart drug showdown
Slowly but surely, smart drugs are taking over the health world. The individuals of today lead extremely hectic, stress-inducing lives that take a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. To cope with this, people are increasingly turning towards cognitive enhancers, with Modafinil and Adderall ranking high up amongst the favorites.
But how do individuals decide between the two? And what exactly is the process of switching from one to the other?
What is Modafinil?
In its most basic sense, Modafinil a nootropic substance that is composed of two structurally-different enantiomers. The most common association for this is how you would view a left and a right hand. As we all know, there’s always a stronger arm between the two. Hence, scientists have decided that two right arms are better than a right and a left, so they created Armodafinil. Better the benefits, fewer the side effects.
Serving as the synthesized product of the active metabolite, Modafinil makes for a thoroughly effective medication that inhibits a wide range of health-related benefits. Some of its most lauded included better concentration, more effective cognitive functioning, and enhanced wakefulness, among others. Sold under the brand name of Provigil, Modafinil is also available in generic versions such as Modvigil and Modalert.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription drug that is made out of several amphetamine salts including dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. A popular stimulant, Adderall functions as a fairly effective enhancer or stimulnt, both in terms of cognitive and athletic abilities. Also, young people in particular abuse it as a euphoriant and an aphrodisiac. While it does have some medical benefits, Adderall is most commonly used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. As such, it also helps retain wakefulness, particularly in the daytime. Individuals can avail Adderall in two forms, namely, oral tablets and extended-release oral capsules.
Modafinil and Adderall: Totally different backgrounds
A few Google searches will give you a rough image about “where they’re coming from” (literally and figuratively). What does that mean? Well, let’s start with Adderall. A brief web-surf will reveal numerous articles about Adderall addiction, overdoses, long-term health problems due to prolonged use and abuse. And it’s true. Adderall has been proven numerous times as too dangerous to be worth taking it, regardless if it’s off-label or medically-approved use.
Now let’s talk about Modafinil. More than 30 studies conducted over the course of 20 years and none has shown that it may be in any way dangerous. Of course, the fact that it hasn’t been proven to be dangerous yet isn’t an indicator that it’s 100% safe. Still, anecdotal reports from regular users are mainly about the positives, with few actual complaints regarding bad experiences. In 2015, The Guardian called Modafinil “the world’s first safe smart drug”. Numerous publications have called Modafinil “the closest thing to the Limitless pill”, or “the real-life Limitless pill”.
Unfortunately, those who are already hooked on Adderall may find it difficult to make the switch, whatever they may read. It’s just the way addictive drugs work.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to know more about what you’re consuming, regardless of the outcome. Let’s see how Modafinil and Adderall work from a neurobiological perspective, as well as a psychological one…
Modafinil and Adderall: The Differences
On the face of it, both Modafinil and Adderall appear as drugs that are very similar to one another. Not only do they exhibit relatively similar effects since both induce a stimulant-like sensation, but their medical uses also carry a high degree of similarity. For instance, both Modafinil and Adderall are intended for curing narcolepsy and are also widely used for their effectiveness as cognitive enhancers.
However, this degree of similarity does not rule out space for significant differences between the two substances, namely, in terms of their effectiveness and side effects.
Structural differences between Adderall and Modafinil
Modafinil and Adderall differ in terms of their composition. Modafinil is a substance that carries a stimulant-like effect without actually serving as a stimulant itself. In essence, Modafinil works by triggering neurotransmitters within the individual’s brains, including those such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine, glutamate, and histamine, among others.
Adderall, on the other hand, is a combination capsule that inhibits the amphetamine salts in its structure. Being a stimulant (and a pretty strong one, too), its effect is hard-hitting and its crash is just as strong. After all, what goes up must come down.
Effectiveness of Modafinil vs Adderall
While this is a disputed matter, evidence has shown Modafinil to trump Adderall on the matter of effectiveness. One important reason for this is that Adderall’s medicinal effects are often indistinguishable from that of a placebo, rendering it largely ineffective.
In fact, several studies have revealed Adderall to have a deteriorative effect on an individual’s health. It may relieve the effects of disorders such as narcolepsy or ADHD, but it hardly does anything to treat the cause. For instance, one trial proved Adderall to be silent on matters of word acquisition, whereas another research outlined how the substance worsened memory retention in individuals with a high baseline capacity.
In addition, Modafinil carries a more powerful ability to improve cognitive functioning, with some of its effects being:
- Improved executive functioning
- Greater attention span
- Faster memory processing
- Non-verbal cognitive functioning
- Accelerated task fulfillment
- The thought of broader creative concepts
- More accurate reaction time
- Logical reasoning and judgment
- Accurate problem solving
- Greater focus
What is more, while both Modafinil and Adderall are known to cater to the standard health problems, such as narcolepsy and ADHD, Modafinil’s benefits extend beyond this point. Here is just some of what Modafinil has to offer:
- Lowered fatigue levels associated with multiple sclerosis, depression, and cancer
- Boosts weight loss
All in all, it is clear to see that amongst Modafinil and Adderall, it is the former that holds a more credible standing when it comes to judging their effectiveness.
Side effects of Modafinil and Adderall
It is understandable that despite looking at the increased benefits that Modafinil carries, some people may want to stick to using Adderall. After all, concepts such as consumer loyalty and a sense of familiarity and comfort with your medication are very real things and important enough reasons to determine your consumption habits.
But if there is one thing that greatly tips the scales, it is the presence of side effects. While both Modafinil and Adderall are no stranger to their own negative side, one is significantly milder when seen in comparison to the other. And surprise surprise, which smart drug carries greater side effects? Why Adderall, of course.
But before we delve into the full scale of how bad of a turn Adderall consumption can take, let us cover Modafinil side effects as to ease understanding with the help of a comparison point.
Modafinil Side Effects
Side effects associated with Modafinil consumption are usually mild and do not tend to make themselves known very often.
Some of the most common are:
- Stuffy nose
- Dry mouth
Remember, this is no reason to worry. The best that individuals can do is to consult their local or family doctor for guidance prior to consuming the medication.
Adderall Side Effects
Unfortunately, Adderall has been known to cause deteriorative effects on the user, effects that are much more serious than those of Modafinil.
Some of the most common side effects related to Adderall are:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- High blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
Adderall consumption has also been linked to addiction and long-term damage to teeth, blood vessels, and neurotransmitter modulation.
Of course, this is just one article that talks about the huge differences in terms of safety between Modafinil and Adderall. You’ll find different scientifically-backed sources spread throughout this article that will help you get a better picture regarding the differences.
On a final note, the FDA has categorized Adderall as a Schedule II prescription drug, whereas Modafinil is classified as a Schedule IV drug.
You be the judge of it.
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