Provigil (also known as "Modafinal") is a medication that is prescribed to treat and improve alertness levels in adults, especially those that suffer from such conditions as Narcolepsy, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (also known as OSA), or Shift Work Disorder (SWD.)

When Provigil is prescribed for off label purposes, it is used to help treat various mood disorders and used to help improve cognitive impairment issues, such as those experienced with ADHD.

How Provigil Works

Provigil works on the Hypothalamus to enhance and increase the production of Histamine, a known component for promoting wakefulness in adults. It is believed to interrupt the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect the brain's wake/sleep cycles. It helps to suppress Dopamine "transporters", thus making more Dopamine available for the brain to use. While it is not known exactly how Provigil works in the brain, it does appear to have a direct effect on the brain's neurotransmitters.

Who Should Not Take Provigil

Provigil is to be prescribed to ADULTS ONLY. It should NOT be prescribed to ANYONE UNDER 17 years old, for ANY medical condition.

Serious symptoms in children under the age of 17 years old include, but are not limited to:

  • Sudden muscle weakness and loss of tone
  • Hostility
  • Vivid Hallucinations
  • Low White Blood Cell Counts
  • Tourette's syndrome

Pregnant women, or women that are trying to become pregnant, should discuss this medication with their doctor. At this time, it is not known whether or not Provigil is dangerous to unborn children. Studies are being conducted, via a Pregnancy Registry, to determine what the effects may have on pregnancies in the future. It is highly recommended that pregnant patients taking Provigil ask their treating physician for more detailed information, for the purpose of making a well-informed decision about the risks of taking Provigil.

Possible Side Effects of taking Provigil

A few of the more common side effects that anyone taking Provigil may experience included:

  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Symptoms of Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Stuffy Nose
  • Headaches
  • Back Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Upset

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of the following side effects, seek emergency medical attention. They may be signs of a Provigil overdose or a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction:

Provigil may cause a serious allergic reaction that may affect your liver or your blood cells. This reaction could be serious enough to require hospitalization, and could become life-threatening.

Provigil could cause a serious disabling or disfiguring rash on portions of the body.

Provigil use could result in psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, aggressive behavior, depression, suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors, manic behavior, hallucinations, or other mental issues.

Provigil could cause heart-related symptoms difficulty breathing, symptoms associated with irregular heartbeat, and chest pains (angina.)

Potential for Provigil Abuse

Provigil is regulated as a controlled substance, due to its potential for abuse. It acts as Central Nervous System Stimulant. The euphoric side effects that many experience while taking the medication may lead to abuse and addiction behaviors, especially if they have a history of substance abuse. The most common method of Provigil abuse is to snort the drug. It enters the bloodstream quicker than it would if taken orally; therefore the stimulating "high" is achieved much faster.

Provigil vs. Adderall: Which is the better treatment?

When treating a patient for symptoms of ADHD, it is believed that Provigil may be the better course of prescription treatment.

Adderall is comprised of 4 different types of amphetamine components. Amphetamines are known to be some of the most powerful pharmacological stimulants available today.

While Adderall is without a doubt a powerful medication, that power comes at a high physical price for the patient it is prescribed to. Patients taking Adderall for treatment of ADHD symptoms report an abundance of often disturbing side effects, including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Verbal difficulties
  • Rapid, often unhealthy, Weight Loss
  • Digestive issues such as Diarrhea and Stomach Pain
  • Increased Tolerance levels and decreased effectiveness of the medication
  • Adderall also appears to burn muscle tissue in order to produce energy
  • Adderall is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE


Provigil can treat the same ADHD symptoms as Adderall, but with a much lower risk of abuse and with a higher degree of effective treatment without experiencing the dangerous side effects that are common to Adderall use. Make no mistake: Provigil is just as strong of a medication as Adderall, when prescribed for the treatment of ADHD, but it does not carry the high risks and damaging side effects that Adderall treatment does.

What Should You and Your Doctor Discuss Before You Begin Taking Provigil?

Remember to tell your doctor about any medications you are taking, both the prescription kinds and any over-the-counter medicines.

Tell your doctor if you have a history of mental health issues or conditions, if you have ever had a heart attack or other cardiac health conditions. Let your doctor know if you have any liver or kidney problems or if you have high blood pressure. Make certain to tell your doctor if you have ever been addicted to or have abused drugs or alcohol in the past.

If you are pregnant, are planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding, your doctor needs to be made aware of this as well.

If you are using hormonal birth control methods such as pills, or other devices, Provigil can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives. This is especially important to know if you have been advised not to become pregnant due to a health-related risk. Discuss this with your doctor. You and your doctor can work together to find a more appropriate and effective method of birth control to use while you are taking Provigil.

If you are schedule to have surgery while taking Provigil, inform your surgeon you are taking Provigil.

Other Things to Be Aware of While Taking Provigil

This medication can cause impaired judgment. Do not drive or operate other dangerous equipment until you know how your body will respond to this treatment. To do so could have life-threatening results.

Avoid alcohol will taking this medication. Drinking while taking Provigil can potentially further impair your judgment skills. It can also magnify any side effects you may experience from taking this medication.

Check with your doctor to see if grapefruit or grapefruit juice will interfere with this medicine.


If your doctor prescribes Provigil for you to take, it is because they believe it is the best medicine of choice to treat your condition or symptoms. Follow your doctor's prescribing instructions and take the medicine as directed. If you experience any side effects that are not tolerable or any that get worse, contact your doctor right away. Sometimes they may be able to make dosage adjustments that may help with any problems related to any side effects.

If you miss your regularly scheduled dose, take your next dose on time. Do not double your dose in an attempt to make up for the missed one. Do not take a larger dose than what is prescribed for you on the medicine label. To do so could result in a dangerous overdose requiring emergency medical treatment.

Do not share your medication with anyone. It was prescribed specifically for you, under circumstances that are unique to your condition, symptoms and course of treatment. Every person's medical conditions and history are different, even though they may appear to have similar symptoms. Only a doctor is qualified to diagnose and medically treat another person. Giving your medication to someone it is not prescribed to is not only illegal; it could create a life-threatening medical emergency.

If there is anything about your condition or your medication you do not understand, do not hesitate to contact your doctor. He/she is the best qualified person to answer any questions you may have.

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