The 2022 Ultimate Guide to Modafinil UK | Nootropics Review

Benjamin Martin  - 2 December 2022

Modafinil uk

Life is speeding up. We're creating a more hectic and pressured world for ourselves, which places even more significant burdens on people who want to succeed. Some people want to push themselves further and for longer but need help. That's where Modafinil comes in as a nootropic or smart drug.

We asked our team of experts to run through Modafinil uses, side effects, and its availability in the UK. We'll also tell you about a natural, plant-based alternative to Modafinil made right here in the UK that works just as efficiently and costs less without causing any side effects!

Contents

  • What is Modafinil?
  • Uses of Modafinil
  • Is Modafinil Available in the UK?
  • What are the Side Effects of Modafinil?
  • Reviews of Modafinil
  • What are Alternatives to Modafinil?
  • Conclusion

What is Modafinil?

First, let's talk about the background of the drug itself. Modafinil is a eugeroic, wakefulness-promoting agent and traces its roots back to Adrafinil, invented in 1974 by French chemists.

They found that it produces hyperactivity in mice, leading to an interest in using it as a treatment for sleep disorders. Modafinil was identified as the active part of Adrafinil and was subsequently isolated and trialled in the 90s.

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The drug is believed to work by inhibiting dopamine uptake, leading to increased dopamine levels in the brain. This uptake increases motivation, wakefulness and other aspects of cognition.

Modafinil might also increase levels of histamines in the brain to generate some of these effects, having the opposite effect of hayfever tablets, which usually contain antihistamines. Its exact method of action has yet to be fully discovered.

According to estimates, up to 1 in 5 people have tried a pharmaceutical nootropic like Modafinil in the UK. The figure rises to up to 1 in 3 in the US.

Uses of Modafinil

The NHS suggests that Modafinil is used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. The NHS website refers to Modafinil as a 'stimulant' and says it can cause the following side effects: headaches, nausea, nervousness, difficulty sleeping at night (insomnia), stomach aches, irritability and weight loss.

However, the most common use of Modafinil is as an off-label study drug and stimulant. Many take it for that quick burst of wakefulness when deadlines approach. Modafinil is the undisputed king of wakefulness drugs, hence why many shift workers use it.

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Is Modafinil Available in the UK?

Modafinil is classed as a prescription-only drug, meaning it is only available to those who have been prescribed it by a doctor.

However, this only means that it is illegal to sell in the UK, not to buy or consume it. If you purchase Modafinil from outside the UK, it is legal to hold up to a 3-month supply for personal use.

If you buy Modafinil online, it comes from an unregulated pharmacy operating illegally. This means you don't know what's in the pills, which could lead to higher risks. There have also been reports of people buying packs online, and when they arrive, only half of the tablets did anything, and the other half were complete duds.

Be very careful if you use Modafinil without a prescription or buy it from an online source.

A recent study by Nature found that only 10% of people using pharmaceutical smart drugs such as Modafinil got them online, as opposed to 4% who had a prescription, 6% from a family member and 48% through friends.

It seems then that most people who use Modafinil, Adrafinil or other pharmaceutical nootropics get them through friends, who usually are prescribed too much or buy them themselves from the internet.

In the UK, Modafinil is generally sold under the brand name Provigil. Usually, Provigil is more expensive than regular unbranded Modafinil, sold unlicensed and unregulated on the internet as Modalert and similar names.

It is also expensive: buying it from an online pharmacy usually sets you back around £50-60 for 30 200mg pills of generic Modafinil.

Take our quiz below to see what’s the best Modafinil alternative for you.

What are the Side Effects of Modafinil?

The effects of Modafinil creep up on you slowly. Most recommend taking it first thing in the morning, as it can disrupt your regular sleeping pattern.

Some people report a slight euphoria, most likely due to the increased dopamine in the brain. This makes finishing tasks feel more enjoyable. Dopamine is also released during eating, sex and when you get a notification on your phone.

Tunnel vision is a commonly reported effect. This can be useful if you are working on one task and need undivided attention and focus for a long time.

However, this tunnel vision can also be a double-edged sword. If you decide to play a game on your phone or console whilst on Modafinil, good luck trying not to play it for the next 6 hours straight.

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This is also true for activities such as walking, reading and running. The tunnel vision that Modafinil provides you may motivate you to spend way too long on the wrong task, making what should have been a productive day into a not-so-productive day.

People taking Modafinil may also experience mood swings - especially when someone messes with or interrupts their work.

Going to a university library can sometimes be quite a sociable experience, but if you've taken Modafinil, you won't want anybody talking to you. You can get annoyed if someone distracts you from your work, wants to chat or even if they send you a message.

Due to the prevalence of Modafinil and other smart drugs at UK universities, the student press has also discussed the phenomenon. However, the overall reviews of Modafinil from students in the UK are mixed.

The Tab, in particular, has run several articles on smart drugs, sometimes finding Modafinil helpful for studying and concluding that it is only as beneficial as 'naps and coffee'.

Other student papers have been more critical of Modafinil and study drugs in general.

Oxford University's Cherwell paper said: "There are significant risks often associated with study drug abuse, namely addiction and permanently impaired cognitive function." They also highlighted high rates of Modafinil use amongst Oxford students.

Watch: Modafinil side effects - a detailed breakdown

Bristol's Epigram was similarly critical of smart drug use, including Modafinil.

They stated: "There is limited knowledge on the long-term effects of many drugs in humans. Long-term use leads to permanent changes in your brain. It is not uncommon for people to let taking smart drugs become the norm, and they may become dependent on them to work or even develop drug-seeking behaviours."

Aside from student media, reviews of Modafinil directly from students are ambivalent.

Some students claim Modafinil made them "feel incredible" and helped them "work head down for 4-5 hours." Others say that Modafinil gave them mood swings and caused insomnia in addition to further problems. They also say that taking Modafinil or other smart drugs can make socialising more difficult.

Some students say they can pull all-nighters after using Modafinil for studying but subsequently suffer from side effects like an elevated heart rate.

As the BBC reported, students occasionally report being "dulled" by Modafinil use or that it provides misdirected focus onto the wrong subject.

Make sure you consider the Modafinil side effects before trying it for the first time.

In 2008, the manufacturers of Modafinil sent a letter to doctors in the UK. This letter detailed new Modafinil side effects that they had identified in their products.

The first of these new issues is severe skin rashes that can result in hospitalisation. This can happen to both children and adults who use Modafinil.

They also reported something slightly more worrying, psychiatric adverse events. These can include psychosis, mania, delusions, hallucinations, suicidal ideas and aggression. Doctors warn that if these symptoms creep up, stop taking Modafinil immediately.

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You can easily buy natural (and legal) alternatives to Modafinil with little to no side effects at a much lower cost, such as Brainzyme® FOCUS PRO™, which is made and regulated in the UK.

Reviews of Modafinil

When looking on the internet for peoples' experiences with Modafinil, it is easy to get confused. Reviews can be very mixed.

Some claim Modafinil saved their degree or even their life, whereas others claim it didn't give them any positive benefits, just side effects such as headaches and nausea.

Most accounts agree that Modafinil isn't good to use daily for an extended period. Instead, it is better to have it as a secret weapon if you need to pull an all-nighter to complete an assignment. It will certainly keep you awake longer than coffee!

Although Modafinil makes formulaic tasks more pleasurable to get through and finish, it may impair creativity. That may be why Modafinil is popular among STEM students.

It can be a bad idea to plan an essay while on Modafinil, as severe tunnel vision and impaired creativity can mean the quality of your work suffers.

Important Note: The NHS published an article in 2014 titled 'Smart drug' Modafinil may not make you brainier. They analysed a study that gave 64 people either a placebo or Modafinil. When recalling words, those who took Modafinil took longer than those with the placebo. They were also less accurate.

What are Alternatives to Modafinil?

Due to the potential side effects associated with Modafinil and the issues surrounding the legality of Modafinil in the UK, we recommend that you look at the alternatives to Modafinil available to you

 For a Modafinil alternative to be effective, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Better value for money than Modafinil
  • Equally or more effective than Modafinil
  • Fewer side effects than Modafinil
  • Legal to use over the counter

Great alternatives that meet all these requirements are available and cost less than Modafinil.

One such natural alternative to Modafinil is the brain supplement Brainzyme® FOCUS PRO™. This 100% plant-powered alternative is made in the UK and costs less than half the price of Modafinil.

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Brainzyme Focus Pro is a great nootropic alternative

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Conclusion

Considering all of the above, we would not recommend using Modafinil if it is not prescribed to you by a medical professional. The severe side effects alone overshadow any positive results you may get from using the drug. Instead we suggest trying an alternative such as Brainzyme® FOCUS PRO™ as a natural nootropic for focus to help you concentrate on tasks and stay motivated. 

References

MHRA (April 3, 2013). "MHRA license for Modafinil in UK" (PDF). London: MHRA.

Kooij JJ, Bijlenga D, Salerno L, Jaeschke R, Bitter I, Balázs J, et al. (February 2019). "Updated European Consensus Statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD". European Psychiatry. 56: 14–34. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.11.001. PMID 30453134. S2CID 53714228

Students used to take drugs to get high. now they take them to get higher grades (2015) The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/15/students-smart-drugs-higher-grades-adderall-modafinil (Accessed: November 11, 2022).

Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast

Benjamin Martin

Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast who has tried every type of performance-boosting supplement under the sun. He uses his expertise to produce educational content for the Brainzyme® blogs.

Based in Edinburgh, Benjamin loves spending his free time in nature whenever he gets the chance.

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