With modafinil use on the rise in students around the world, researchers are stopping to ask an important question: Is modafinil addictive, and if so, should we be concerned?
Modafinil enthusiasts highlight several case studies that show that modafinil is not addictive, but some outlying examples have shaken that theory up. In addition, the studies that are out there have not looked at the whole spectrum of addiction, which means modafinil could be more addictive than we previously thought.
The different kinds of addictive
Broadly speaking you can classify addictions into two distinct categories. First, you have physical dependency. This is when your body literally craves the drug. Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms appear with physically addictive substances. Nicotine and Caffeine are two of the most common physically addictive chemicals we consume on a daily basis. Think about that headache you get if you miss your morning coffee, or how you can become irritable and jittery without your cigarette.
But that’s not the only type of addiction out there. Substances can also be psychologically, or mentally addictive. This occurs when you simply want more of the drug because you like its effects, but don’t necessarily feel a physical need to take it. Cocaine, surprisingly, is not very addictive physically, but psychologically it can be very powerful. With mental addictions, users often dose in a specific set of circumstances.
The repeated use of a drug in a certain circumstance forms a habit that can be difficult to break.
Modafinil: Not physically addictive
Numerous studies have shown that modafinil has little to no potential for dependency. One rare case was found by Indian doctors, but the patient in that case had a psychotic breakdown years prior due to his father’s death. He reportedly took larger doses of modafinil than normal, which led to him developing dependence. Outside of this severe case, no study has shown a solid link between modafinil and physical addiction.
Modafinil can be psychologically addictive
Teenrehabcenter.org recently added a section about modafinil abuse in young adults. The problem appears to be growing as more teens compete to get high marks on exams and enter the best universities.
For some students, modafinil can be a game changer. Imagine taking a pill and suddenly seeing your performance improve. That rush of positive feelings can push you to take more. Before you know it, you can’t study or take a test without modafinil. This dangerous cycle is what modafinil’s psychological addiction looks like. Parents are concerned.
Preventing modafinil addiction
The key to avoiding psychological dependence is to use modafinil, or any drug, sparingly and in moderate amounts. Save it for emergencies. Don’t make it an every-day habit even though you might benefit from it in the short term. It’s important to be able to be you without a pill.
When you do take modafinil, keep it to the 200mg standard dose. The shreds of evidence that support modafinil being addictive always involve higher doses.
Modafinil is extremely well tolerated and, in general, people have nothing to worry about. But if used improperly there is a slight potential for abuse. Stick to the guidelines here and you should have no trouble with modafinil.