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Modafinil vs Adderall

If you want to get into Modafinil vs Adderall subject, you should know, for starters, that even though they are both stimulants that can affect our central nervous system, Modafinil and Adderall do not belong to the same category of pharmaceuticals. 

They both can be used for treating narcolepsy and ADHD, but they have different mechanisms of action, and therefore different benefits, addiction potential and different side effects. But let’s first focus on basics – what are Modafinil and Adderall?

This article and all other content created by Moda Wiki is for informational purposes only. It is created for your entertainment. This is not legal or medical advice. Always make sure to seek the advice of your primary physician or medical professional before consuming nootropics, like Modafinil, or other pharmaceutical drugs. Please read our disclaimer.

Modafinil is a nootropic or a smart drug that has FDA-approval for treating sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder and narcolepsy. It is a wakefulness-promoting agent that has the ability to block daytime sleepiness and fatigue and to enhance cognitive skills and executive functions in person. 

Some doctors even prescribe it for ADHD, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s diseases since it’s proven that this drug can be helpful with some of the symptoms, but that’s not its primary purpose. The mechanism of action of this nootropic is yet unknown, but it is familiar that it can affect dopamine and histamine levels in our brain. 

It is a safe drug that has no addictive potential, and it comes with a low risk of abuse. You should also know that Provigil is a brand name Modafinil drug, and the one that’s mostly prescribed by doctors, but that there are other generic versions of Modafinil that are sold under different names.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name drug that’s based on a combination of amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and levoamphetamine. It is a medication that can be prescribed for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as for some severe cases of narcolepsy. Unlike Modafinil, Adderall is a highly addictive substance whose mechanisms of action are not known, but scientists did prove that it has the ability to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in our brain. 

We are talking about a stimulant that’s often misused as a party drug by high school and college students, as well as a study-aid that can bring their level of concentration, memory and focus to the higher level.

Differences between Modafinil and Adderall

Now that we established that both Modafinil and Adderall are nervous system stimulants that are FDA-approved and that they both have the ability to increase levels of dopamine in our brain let’s see how they are different. First, we mentioned that both drugs can be used for treating narcolepsy and ADHD, but the fact is, Adderall is an approved medication for that treatment, and Modafinil is used for that purpose based on its off-label effects. 

Adderall affects areas of the brain that are directly responsible for impulse control and hyperactivity. On the other hand, Modafinil is known for its capacity to remove fatigue and daytime sleepiness attached to several sleep disorders.

The most important difference between Adderall and Modafinil lies in their addiction potential. Modafinil is considered to be a safe drug that’s usually classified as non-addictive Schedule IV pharmaceutical, with low risk of abuse, while Adderall is a Schedule II drug, and it comes with a higher risk of creating an addiction. However, it is important to say that it’s not recommended to mix both of these stimulants with alcohol, because that can lead to some serious side effects, mostly when it comes to Adderall.

Also, there is the matter of the price. Modafinil is a pretty expensive medication, especially when we are talking about a brand name Provigil. In most countries, you can purchase 30 (100mg) pills for around $1200, while the cost of Adderall is significantly lower. You can buy 100 pills (5mg) for the cost of around $800. Bear in mind that there are generic versions of both Modafinil and Adderall that are much cheaper.


Side effects

One of the most important things to have in mind when taking any drug is how your body can react to it and what are the side effects you can expect to face. In the case of Adderall vs Modafinil, things are pretty clear. Side effects of Modafinil are considered to be minor in comparison with those that can come with Adderall usage. You can expect to face light headaches, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, or diarrhea. 

All of those side effects won’t endanger your health, and all of them can be easily handled. However, there are some reports of people experiencing chest pain, hallucination, severe skin rash, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Even though those are extremely rare side effects, you should bear in mind that they can happen, and seek medical help if they do.

In the matter of Adderall side effects, things can be more serious. The most common ones are loss of appetite, headache, dry mouth, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and abdominal pain which are not alarming, but also blood pressure elevation, increased heart rate, sexual dysfunction, hallucinations, muscle spasm, vomiting, allergic reactions, etc. 

Bear in mind that we are here talking about overall healthy individuals who were taking regular doses of these drugs. In the case where people are suffering from some sort of conditions and diseases, side effects can be much more dangerous. Some studies have shown that Adderall can tremendously affect overly sensitive individuals, so they can start hearing voices, or feeling manic. Besides that, it can exacerbate the symptoms of psychotic disorder or bipolar illness.

Drug interactions

There is a huge number of studies that showed Modafinil can interact with numerous drugs. That’s why it is crucial not to use this nootropic on your own as a cognitive enhancer if you are in some sort of therapy, or to consult with your doctor about its usage after you tell him about all the medications you are currently using. It is known that there is an interaction with Sandimmune, Propranolol, Cyclosporine, Inderal, Rimactane, Gengraf, Neoral,  Rifater, etc. but also with Valium, Diazepam, or Versed, which are sedatives.

It’s the same story with Adderall – it is a drug that has high risk of abuse and should not be used with many pharmaceuticals, so make sure to check with your doctor about which medications you can or must not use together with this stimulant. 

Adderall can decrease the effectiveness of some medications when taken together, but that can also lead to some serious side effects. It is known that Adderall interacts with Tricyclic antidepressants, Chlorpromazine, Fentanyl, Antacids/Proton pump inhibitors, Methenamine, Phenobarbital, Hydrochlorothiazide, Lithium, etc.


Which one is more effective?

Given that most people who do not have diagnoses would like to use some sort of a smart drug in order to improve their cognitive skills, their focus, memory, concentration and motivation, we can say Modafinil would be a better choice. There are researches that confirm Modafiln’s ability to improve memory retention, bring alertness to a higher level, and provide a person with more energy. Also, it is certain that it can put a stop on daytime drowsiness and fatigue. 

On the other side, there are very few studies that were conducted in order to determine if there is a connection between Adderall and improved cognitive functions. And most of those that were placed in motion didn’t confirm the existence of that link. What’s sure is that in the case of Modafinil vs Adderall as wakefulness agents, they both do the job quite well.


Is it smart switching from Adderall to Modafinil?

According to many doctors, the idea to transit from Adderall to Modafinil is a good one, mostly because there are reports of Adderall creating some negative lasting effects on people’s health after it’s been used for a long period of time. The reason you should switch to Modafinil also lies in a fact that this nootropic is not addictive, and Adderall is – it’s Schedule II medication while Modafinil is Schedule IV. So even if you consume it for years, you will not get addicted to Modafinil, nor you will be experiencing withdrawal effects. Adderall can be much more dangerous to your health, some people even had heart attacks because of it.

Can Modafinil and Adderall be used together?

If you have in mind that both Adderall and Modafinil are stimulants that affect our central nervous system, it should be clear that mixing them cannot be a good decision. It is not recommended to take pills of both drugs at the same time because that can lead to over-stimulation, which can be quite dangerous. That way, you will be drastically increasing chances of facing some serious side effects. 

The truth is, sometimes doctors tend to prescribe this combination of drugs to patients who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but they are always closely monitored the whole time.

Which one is better for studying - Modafinil or Adderall?

This is a really common question since students have a habit of using one of these stimulants for the purpose of increasing their productivity. So when it comes to Modafinil vs Adderall for studying, we will give advantage to Modafinil for several reasons, even though you should know that neither of these drugs was primarily made for that purpose. We are here talking about their off-label usage.

As we concluded, Modafinil is a much safer drug, given it doesn’t create addiction and is followed mostly with some minor side effects. Also, numerous studies proved it has the ability to affect our cognitive skills and improve our motivation, alertness, concentration, and memory retention. On the other hand, Adderall does have a capacity to enhance a person’s focus, but it doesn’t have ingredients that can help the brain to retain information.


  1. Modafinil vs Adderall: What’s the difference?;
  2. Drug Interactions between Adderall and modafinil,
  3. Adderall vs. Modafinil: How Do They Compare?;

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