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Modafinil Vs. Adderall: A Detailed Comparison

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Post Uploaded Date : June 21, 2024 Last Updated Date : June 22, 2024
In Modafinil Vs. Adderall, Modafinil is a more potent nootropic with longer duration of half-life and milder side effects.

Modafinil and Adderall are two stimulants well-known for their wakefulness properties.

The  guide Modafinil Vs. Adderall brings out a detailed comparison between both the nootropics and which is the more preferred choice.

What Is Modafinil?

Modafinil, is a prescription medication developed in the 1970s,  primarily prescribed to treat excessive sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder. It operates by increasing the chemical neurotransmitters in the brain to promote wakefulness. The FDA approved the use of the medication in 1998.
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Adderall:an overview

Adderall,is a medication that combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and has been  proven to be a treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy. It has a significant potential for abuse, as it belongs to schedule II controlled substance.

Fact Box Of Both The Drugs

Drug class Wakefulness promoting stimulant Central nervous system stimulant
Brand names Provigil, Modvigil Adderall XR, Mydayis
Generic name Modafinil Amphetamine salts
Form of treatment Long-term use Long-term use
Age restrictions People in the age group of 17 to 65 years Children from the age of 3 years and older
Pregnancy Category Category C Category C
Legal status Modafinil is a  schedule IV controlled substance. Schedule II controlled substance
Addiction liability Very low to Low Moderate
Elimination half-life 12-15 hours 9 to 14 hours

Comparing The Working Mechanism Of Both The Nootropics

Modafinil and Adderall work by impacting different chemical neurotransmitters in the brain,such as orexin, histamine, serotonin, with Modafinil primarily increasing dopamine levels. Adderall affects both dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Efficacy Of Both The Nootropics In Treating Conditions


Both Modafinil and Adderall are effective in treating FDA-approved uses such as:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Shift work sleep disorder

However, the medication’s effectiveness varies based on the individual’s specific health condition and reaction to the drug.

Modafinil Vs. Adderall: Dosage Guidelines

Both Adderall and Modafinil differ in their dosages and modes of administration. The proper medication intake is essential to ensure the best results of the drug and avoid possible side effects.

Let’s go through the table to know the proper dosage strengths of the nootropics.

Modafinil Adderall
Mode of administration Oral Oral, insufflation, rectal, sublingual [3]
Form of doses Tablets double-scored tablets
Available doses Modafinil 100mg and 200mg Immediate release- 5mg, 7.5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 30mg

Extended release- 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 35mg, 30mg

Maximum doses 400mg 40 mg/day for adults and 30 mg/day for children
Number of doses 1 pill a day 2 to 3 pills a day
Intake of meal It can be taken with or without food as the doctor prescribes. Taking a light meal is advisable

Side Effects and Health Risks

Modafinil’s side effects are milder in nature as compared to Adderall, with a higher risk of addiction and dependency. Modafinil’s milder side effect profile makes it a safer option for some patients.

The table below gives the detailed view of the side effects of both the nootropics:

Adverse effects Modafinil Adderall
Applicable Frequency Applicable Frequency
Headache Yes 34% No NA
Insomnia Yes 5% Yes Info not available
Nausea Yes 11% No NA
Weight loss Yes Info not available Yes Info not available
Vomiting No NA Yes Info not available
Nervousness Yes 7% No NA
Dry mouth Yes 4% Yes Info not available
Anxiety Yes 5% No NA
Tachycardia Yes 2% Yes Info not available
Chest pain Yes 3% No NA
Dizziness Yes 5% Yes Info not available
Palpitation Yes 2% Yes

Regulations and Classifications

Both the nootropics are controlled substances, both drugs are regulated, but Adderall is classified at a higher level due to its greater potential for abuse.

Off-Label Uses and Concerns

Modafinil and Adderall are sometimes used for off-label purposes such as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Cognitive enhancement

Though this practice is not approved by the FDA, there are many people benefitted from the nootropics for the above off-label uses.

Patient Considerations and Prescribing Practices

To choose between Modafinil and Adderall depends on individual factors like medical history, the specific disorder, and the patient’s overall health profile. Physicians must carefully assess these factors before prescribing either medication.

Precautionary Facts On Modafinil And Adderall

There are certain health conditions where the use of Modafinil and Adderall is not advisable. The following precautions ensure the safe use of these stimulants.

  • Adderall is often associated with increased strokes and myocardial infarctions. Thus, patients with cardiac disorders should take this medicine under the supervision of a doctor [5].
  • These drugs can moderately increase the user’s blood pressure. So, people with hypertension should not take them without a valid medical prescription.
  • Adderall and Modafinil should not be taken by patients who are prone to allergies.
  • Pregnant and lactating women can take the stimulants after consulting a doctor. This might harm your baby and you should also avoid taking contraceptives while taking the nootropics.
  • Brain stimulants are not safe for people over the age of 65 years and below 17 years. Such people should consult a doctor before taking the medication.
  • Avoid taking alcohol while taking the stimulants, this might make you feel more dizzy

Our Final Verdict

To conclude, in the comparative analysis between Modafinil and Adderall, Modafinil is the safer option with milder side effects. Modafinil also have a low potency for abuse and dependency as compared to Adderall.


What is more preferred Modafinil or Adderall?

Modafinil is the more preferred option as compared to Adderall with chances of milder side effects.

What is the half-life of Modafinil?

The half-life of Modafinil is 12-15 hours.

What is the half-life of Adderall?

The half-life of Adderall is 9-14 hours.

What is the recommended dosage of Modafinil?

Modafinil 200mg is the standard recommended dosage for adults above 17 years.

Is Adderall a controlled substance?

Yes, Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance.


  1. Modafinil Vs. Adderall,

  2. Adderall Vs. Modafinil, How do they Compare? American addiction centers.

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