Provigil, the brand name for the generic modafinil, has a troubled history concerning certain severe side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug, and questions that arose when various efforts began to promote the drug for non FDA-approved usages, such as treating ADHD in children (which use was ultimately denied FDA-approval), or as a “smart drug”, and other uses.
Individuals may want to thoroughly research the drug either before starting to take it, or to address safety concerns especially in the case where adverse symptoms may have led to considering quitting the drug. The most frequently asked questions section below may provide a good starting point for such research. More information is freely available on request.
The FDA-approved uses for Provigil (modafinil) are to treat the following conditions:
The drug is also used “off-label” for wakefulness, for instance; students needing to stay up all night in preparation for exams, or at the workplace if an energy boost is desired that is long lasting, even through the next day. More information on this topic is below.
NOTE: ALL PEDIATRIC USE OF PROVIGIL IS BANNED BY THE FDA. IN EUROPE PRESCRIBING THE DRUG TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 IS RESTRICTED.
Stimulant drugs are popularized on the street, and have also become increasingly common in workplace settings, in schools, and in military use to keep soldiers awake during long-duration missions. Slang terminology refers to these types of drugs as go-pills, uppers or speed.
Modafinil is the generic name and is sold and prescribed under numerous trade names, including Provigil, Modiodal, Movigal, Alertex, Intensit, Vigil, Wakelert, Modiwake, and many others in various countries.
Perhaps in an attempt to continue to promote non-FDA approved use, Provigil is also referred to in certain literature as a “cognitive enhancer” or a “smart drug”. Provigil has been added to a group of stimulants called nootropic drugs. Ritalin is one example of this drug class, which is promoted “off-label” as a cognitive enhancement drug.
The drug may sound like a good idea but does come with risks. Due to the possibility of life-threatening side effects, adverse reactions need to be carefully watched for.
The drug has never been FDA approved for prescribing to children.
Some side effects of Provigil are severe and can be life-threatening requiring immediate medical intervention regardless off age. The drug can produce a wide range of reactions, including these:
Some individuals have reported an absence of any significant withdrawal symptoms on stopping the drug. Clinical trials on the topic are scarce; however, one study showed a correlation between discontinuation and the emergence of life-threatening symptoms. (1)
These were reported to be:
IMPORTANT NOTE ON PROVIGAL (MODAFINIL) WITHDRAWALS: The FDA recommends to immediately stop the drug if signs of a rash appear and seek medical attention at once. The study also reported that discontinuation did not prevent a rash from becoming life-threatening, nor did it prevent life-long disfigurement or becoming disabled as a result. (1)
Where emergence of a rash or other severe or life-threatening adverse effects require withdrawal, such as Stevens – Johnson syndrome, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, etc., the process would be best managed for safety reasons, in an inpatient setting, where adequate monitoring and treatment are readily available.
Discontinuation symptoms can appear within some hours, days or even weeks after the drug is stopped, and include the following according to FDA-required labeling information:
Coming off a prescription drug like Provigil sometimes needs to be done without delay when taking the drug has induced a life-threatening reaction; however, this must only be done in a medical setting where risk to life can be mitigated, as in an ICU.
The drug is reportedly easily found and purchased online, where safety information is not adequately provided. This is important to note, where young people can become vulnerable targets, especially if they feel under pressure to perform well in school and are lacking guidance and direction towards better solutions.
In some situations, a person may intend to keep their use of Provigil undisclosed; thereby resulting in possible tragic health consequences as proper treatment may not be able to be administered appropriately because the immediate causative agent remains unknown.
Several questions regarding Provigil can be hard to find definitive answers for, but such information is nonetheless vital to ensure personal safety and health.
In the below section, we have attempted to provide information on some of these questions as much as possible concerning some of the legal issues, mechanism of action, and other frequently asked questions.
An individual may want to better understand and resolve such questions before engaging in taking Provigil or other brand name and generic equivalents.
If a person has found the adverse effects of Provigil have outweighed the benefits, we can help a person to safely recover. One strategically important part of recovery that is sometimes overlooked is the advantage of being able to discover and fully address the root causes of symptoms that led to taking prescription drugs in the first place.
For instance, if the causes of lack of energy or sleep disturbances were never exhaustively searched for, and fully addressed, these problems can likely return after stopping the prescription, leaving a person in roughly the same shape or perhaps worse off than before. The root causes can be discovered through lab testing and other diagnostic measures and can be resolved through non-drug means, including testing for and clearing toxic burden out of the body, rebalancing chemistry in the body through targeted nutrition and supplementation, learning de-stressing techniques, and many other actions.
Please contact us at the Alternative to Meds Center for more detailed information on how our program can help with possible lingering after effects of Provigil, and assist in regaining robust energy and good health that lasts much longer than the temporary effects of drugs that did not satisfy your health goals fully.
Dr Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine. Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.