Provigil: What Is It and How It Works?

Provigil got off to a relatively pedestrian start. It was a drug that was to be used to treat narcolepsy, excessive fatigue due to sleep apnoea, and the exhaustion caused by shift work sleep disruption.

Could optimizing your mental performance and achieving ultimate success be as easy as popping a pill? Those who use Provigil say that’s a definite “Yes”. Sales of the drug have soared by 75 percent in the last four years, and much of that use is recreational.

The internet is abuzz with blogs telling you how to persuade a doctor to prescribe it for you, and now that generic is out there, the controlled substance has become much cheaper, and available online without a prescription. We explore the facts behind the pill that many successful executives claim is giving them the edge.

What Is Provigil?

Although the trade name, “Provigil” may have had a certain ring to it, the actual chemical inside this “Viagra for the brain”, Modafinil, didn’t sound particularly exciting. But what is Provigil really? Many are hailing it as the ultimate performance enhancing drug for the brain.

People are finding out how to get it from doctors or online, taking it off-label for recreational use and for mental performance enhancement. They say it makes them feel more alive, that they can focus intensely for hours at a time without a break, and that they can see connections between pieces of information that aren’t apparent to others.

One thing is certain: the vast majority of people currently taking Provigil aren’t using it for the disrupted sleep conditions it was meant to be used for. You can also by ordering it online.

Provigil: What Is It and How It Works?

Provigil Recreational Use

Although a drug that makes your mind hyper-alert may be difficult to equate with recreational use, using Provigil to boost your mental muscle instead of using it to treat sleep-related disorders constitutes recreational use.

Users claim that they feel more motivated, and they say they’re convinced that Provigil boosts their cognitive powers. In an informal test, journalists asked a Provigil user to complete a test of cognitive abilities with and without Provigil. The results confirmed what everyone has been saying about the drug. Enhanced cognitive ability seemed to be among the benefits.

What do doctors say? They do not advise Provigil use for recreational purposes. Thus, the only way to get a prescription is to suffer from extreme sleepiness or shift work disorder. If you want to use Provigil with insurance claims, this is the only way to do it.

How Does Provigil Work?

How does Provigil achieve this almost sci-fi effect on the human brain? Apparently, orexin and hypocretin have a lot to do with it. Certain neurons are sensitive to these molecules, and when they pick up their presence, they stimulate dopamine and norepinephrine secretion while boosting histamine levels. Would you like to know more about this mechanism of action? Here’s how it works:

Dopamine

Dopamine is your reward neurotransmitter, and it tells you you’re feeling good about what you’re doing. Increased motivation is therefore easily explained.

Another dopamine effect may explain the heightened cognitive abilities that users report. It improves the flow of messages between neurons. Normally, dopamine is quickly removed from the synapses, but when you are using modafinil, that’ not the case. The dopamine hangs around.

Histamine

Histamine is also a neurotransmitter, and the message it sends out is to wake up and be more alert. Now we know why Provigil helps to keep us awake, even when we haven’t had enough sleep.

Norepinephrine

You may be more familiar with this compound under the name “Noradrenalin”, and it has very similar effects to adrenalin. Again, we have heightened alertness and wakefulness with a touch of “fight or flight” focus.

Serotonin

This is the “feel good” hormone that brightens up your mood and helps you to feel positive. Serotonin levels are also boosted by Provigil, with all the feel-good effects associated with this messenger molecule.

Glutamate

Glutamate is associated with improved attention and the learning and remembering process. It is also heightened when using Provigil, meaning that the duration of time we remember new information could be extended.

Is Provigil Safe?

Provigil, it seems, is remarkably safe. Very few people report any side effects at all, and of these, a mild headache and a slight stomach upset appear to be the primary complaints. The boost in histamine very rarely causes a rash akin to that you’d get if you had an allergy, but again, this side effect is exceptionally rare. However, if you do experience it, you should discontinue use immediately.

The same is true if you experience hallucinations or get high, and you should definitely consult a doctor if you experience chest pain or difficulty in breathing.

Most users say that if there’s a price to pay for their heightened sharpness, it hasn’t showed up yet, but some doctors worry that the long-term effects of Provigil use have not yet been determined. So far, nothing bad has come up, but they worry that any damaging effects may only surface much later.

Meanwhile, yuppies and achievers are shrugging their shoulders, opting for the advantages of Provigil, and willing to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

What Are the Contraindications for Provigil?

If you have a preexisting medical condition or use any kind of prescription medication, or even a supplement, you should consult your doctor before attempting to use Provigil. Possible issues that might preclude Provigil use include:

  • angina;
  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • mental illness or psychosis;
  • drug addiction.

If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction, discontinue use immediately, and if this includes a particularly bad rash or other alarming symptoms, get immediate medical help. Lastly, women using the contraceptive pill might find that it is no longer effective when using Provigil. Consider an alternative means of contraception.

Dosage

Application Dose Timing
Narcolepsy 200 mg Mornings with or without food
Sleep Apnea / Hypopnea 200mg Mornings with or without food
Shift work sleep disorder 200mg Mornings, or an hour before shift commencement
ADD in children Not recommended Not recommended

With the exception of ADD in children, for which Provigil is not recommended, these are the only approved uses for Provigil.

Is It Legal to Buy Provigil at an Online Pharmacy?

Provigil is a schedule IV drug. That means it’s seen as being about the same as Valium or Xanax. So, here’s the legal standpoint. Legally speaking, you must have a prescription from a doctor to use Provigil.

Just having a prescription may to be altogether enough if you want to import medications at better prices. The FDA technically allows it if the drug is not available in the US, but Provigil is available. The bottom line?  Technically speaking it’s not legal, but in practice there are few if any prosecutions.

Remember, we are not talking about a schedule I or even a schedule II or III one, and many people feel that since Provigil vs generic prices differ so much, it’s a chance worth taking. After all, Provigil under a generic name has the same active ingredient, so it’s basically the same thing, made of the same ingredients at a fraction of what you’d ordinarily pay.

With a drug listed in its classification as having a “low potential for abuse”, you’re not likely to attract a SWAT team just because you bought it abroad. Reports indicate that confiscation is generally the only consequence.

What Else I Should Know?

It’s worth remembering that we become habituated to any drug we use every day. It may begin to seem less effective, but increasing your dose beyond recommended levels is not an option you should consider.

If you choose to use Provigil recreationally, you should ideally limit your use to days when you know you have to perform beyond your regular best, taking breaks in between to prevent tolerance from developing. Do not use Provigil daily for more than 12 weeks, bearing in mind that Provigil can be addictive. It is also illegal for you to sell or give away Provigil to others.

If you use Provigil occasionally, remember to check the expiration date, since expired medications can be ineffective or even dangerous.  Note that Provigil’s half-life is 15 hours, and it may cause sleep disturbance if taken too late in the day. Although Provigil can keep you awake, doctors warn that it cannot replace sleep, noting that sleep is also necessary for proper cognitive performance.

In addition, prolonged lack of sleep can trigger dangerous effects such as heart attacks, and people who have not experienced side effects before may experience them when weakened by lack of sleep.

Stick to the Right Dose

A look at online forums is enough to show that nootropic drugs can be seductive. “If it makes me so much smarter and more alert at 200mg, what if I take 600mg?” people wonder. As a final take away, it’s wise to remember that you can have too much of a good thing.

You will reach an optimal peak, and after that, taking more Provigil is not going to improve your focus any more. Instead, it will keep you awake when you should be sleeping, may skew your judgment owing to extreme fatigue, and increases your chance of experiencing side effects.

In fact, some people report that 100mg is enough for them to experience the benefits of Provigil, so if you are going to start using it, start at this dose and then compare it to a 200mg dose. If there doesn’t seem to be any difference, 100mg is enough for you.

Remember that this is a prescription drug, and treat it with respect and caution. Do not take unnecessary risks by exceeding the recommended dose.