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Modafinil vs Adderall – What Are Studies Saying?

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Ever wished you could just pop a pill and turn into an Einstein-like genius? The truth is it’s pretty hard for a normal person to turn into a genius, let alone match wits with Einstein. But thanks to smart drugs, often also referred to as nootropics, you can significantly improve how your brain functions and transform yourself into a super-smart version of you.

By simple definition, a smart drug is a drug, supplement, or any other substance used to enhance cognitive functions such as problem-solving, memory, perception and motor skills among others. They are not really new, but they just started to gain mainstream popularity in the last half a decade or so, and since then, they have taken the world by storm. Need proof? Check out the following market facts about nootropics:

  • The global smart drugs industry is estimated to be worth $1 trillion and should hit $1.4 trillion by 2020.
  • The US alone commands 44.5% of the total market
  • Consumption cuts across various demographics with the biggest consumers comprising of people in high-pressure careers, students, and scientists.

Leading the smart drugs pack are two very popular brands; Modafinil and Adderall.

Modafinil improves communication between brain neurons and therefore prevents fatigue and improves brain functionality; without the edginess that comes with stimulants.

On the other hand, Adderall works with your central nervous system to ensure that you gain and maintain focus. It prevents your thoughts from wandering, blocks stray thoughts and brings about impulse control.

Both Modafinil and Adderall are increasingly being used in schools and at the workplace to increase productivity and also in the treatment of ADHD symptoms (although Adderall is considered more effective for the latter use) .

If you’re thinking of either, it might be good to know how do they compare and contrast?


As far as promotion of wakefulness goes, both drugs will do the trick equally fine. That is why they are both good if you are interested in clocking in more hours, be it at school or work. They are also used to treat narcoleptic patients and symptoms of ADHD, but only Adderall has the FDA’s approval.

Effects on the brain

Modafinil generates stimulation by working on multiple brain processes simultaneously. It affects a number of neurotransmitters including the Histamine, GABA, and Glutamate and that is why when you take it you find it easy to stay awake and alert for a very long time.

Adderall creates a psychostimulating effect by working on various neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The end result is that it will calm your brain and enable you to focus on the task at hand by blocking distractions.


Which of the two drugs is more efficient? That’s a harder question than it seems. For starters, head-to-head comparison studies have never been conducted and each drug might have different effects on different people. Therefore, it is safe to say that the efficiency level of each drug is highly dependent on individual variations.

That said, you should probably know that Modafinil is a nootropic and therefore might offer better cognitive enhancement. But Adderall really excels in the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD symptoms. So, which of the two is more efficient? Depends on what you want to achieve.

Potential benefits

Both drugs come with so many benefits. In fact, they have some common ones. For instance, they both improve focus and concentration by offering feelings of physical and mental rejuvenation. On top of that, Modafinil increases your attention span and heightens all your sense, but without causing overstimulation. Some users have reported that compared to Adderall, it comes with very little to no edginess. That said, Adderall has its own unique benefits. Top on the list is its impulse control ability.

Potential side effects

The popular belief is that every drug comes with side effects. With these two, you can actually enjoy them without suffering from any side effects, as long as you take them in the right dosages. However, in rare cases, you might experience nervousness, anxiety, headaches, fear, and nausea when taking any of the two drugs.

One excellent news is that Modafinil is categorized as a Schedule IV drug, meaning it has a very low potential for abuse. Adderall is a Schedule II, and that means its potential for abuse is a bit higher than Modafinil.

Final Thoughts

If you are comparing the two for the sole purpose of treating narcolepsy or ADHD symptoms, then you should go for Adderall. After all, it is approved by the FDA for that. But if you are shopping around for a smart drug then both are equally good. Always make sure you buy from a reputable source. Remember to seek medical attention if you experience any unusual reactions.

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