Modafinil vs Adderall

Would you be able to concentrate on this article without your regular dose of caffeine? For most of you, the answer would be a resounding no! Some grab a cup of Jo, others have Red Bull, while Lagerfeld swears by diet coke. All of these drinks are mild forms of Nootropics that kickstart your brain into proper functional mode. But there are still more of us who need more than just coffee…which brings us to the drugs under the scanner today, Modafinil vAdderall.

Let us make it very clear at the outset that one works as a psychostimulant performance enhancer while the other is a eugeroic that enhances wakefulness. Just like how narcolepsy isn’t analogous to ADHD, so aren't the two drugs, and the way they effect the neural pathways.

Adderall vs Modafnil: Which one is the best?

Let us begin with Adderall.

What initially started as a treatment for narcolepsy and ADHD, has now been absorbed in the mainstream as a performance enhancing drug. Adderall is a combination drug with amphetamine salts that interacts with trace amines in the brain and increases dopamine concentration by inhibiting its reuptake. This results in improved cognitive function. It makes the user super attentive, more aware and there’s an increase in uptake and processing of information which results in faster responses and expedition of tasks.

While it’s been a prescription drug approved by the FDA, it is a potentially habit forming drug that can be used for purposes not medicinal in nature, hence it’s status as a Schedule II drug that’s strictly monitored. Since it was first developed to treat narcolepsy, the drug isn’t suitable for children. Consulting a doctor and getting a custom prescription based on your needs is recommended. Use of Adderall shouldn’t exceed 60mg per day. When taken in higher doses, it can lead to impairment of cognitive responses, paranoia and delusions, and muscular damage.


Modafinil on the other hand belongs to a class of drugs called Eugeroics that help you stay awake longer, feel rested despite sleep deprivation, and combat the negative effects of a disturbed circadian rhythm. Unlike Adderall, Modafinil isn’t addictive and hence a ‘Schedule IV’ prescription drug that’s not as strictly monitored. A 200mg oral tablet per day is the preferred dosage for Modafinil. Extended use doesn’t lead to addiction but watch out for side effects and allergic reactions.

Let’s look at both the drugs side by side to understand their benefits and drawbacks better.

To put it simply, both drugs kickstart the brain by different methods. If coffee sets your brain on a bicycle ride, Modafinil upgrades you to a motorbike while Adderall takes it to another level by replacing said bike with a Ducati complete with motor judder et al! Neither drug effectively treats the underlying symptoms of the diseases they are approved for, i.e., ADHD and Narcolepsy. But both Adderall and Modanifil find a lot of traction as Nootropics. Adderall provides a harsher kick and high than the more subtle Modafinil, but at a cost.

Modafinil’s working mechanism isn’t completely mapped out yet so there might be more to its effects than is currently known. A recent study shows that it improves electrical synapses coupling resulting in increased gamma waves in the brain and improved neural communication. It is also considered a better weight loss drug than Adderall. It is also being used in treatment of Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, jet lag and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Having said that, Adderall is clearly the more popular of the two drugs given its turbo charged effect in cognitive enhancement compared to the subtle play of Modafinil. Abusing Adderall could lead to abnormally fast reflexes, rapid breathing, muscle pain, increased blood pressure and in severe cases coma. It’s rarely ever fatal though. Abrupt discontinuation leads to withdrawal symptoms like depression, fatigue, low motivation and sleeplessness, which are quite ironical considering why you started taking to begin with.

The most interesting thing about both drugs is that, when prescribed in proper medical dosage, they have no effect whatsoever on a person with no symptoms of narcolepsy, ADHD and the likes. If you are already working at your maximum potential, the drugs are wasted on you. Stick to the coffee kids!

Kelly is a personal fitness trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with clients all over the world. With over 15 years in the health and fitness industry she will be sharing her knowledge with the Fitness Fixation community.