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NuVigil (Armodafinil) Withdrawal Symptoms: Do They Exist?

Nuvigil (Armodafinil) is a medication that was developed to promote vigilance and is medically classified as a “eugeroic.” It is very similar to the drug Provigil (Modafinil), but differs in that it only contains the R-stereoisomer of Modafinil. In other words, it is considered an improved version of the older drug Provigil. It was originally approved by the FDA in 2007 to treat excessive daytime sleepiness as the result of conditions like sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and shift work disorder.

It has also been used as an off-label treatment for a variety of conditions such as: ADHD, chronic fatigue, depression, jet lag, and to help increase on-the-job alertness in air traffic controllers. Those who take this drug are able to maintain energy and don’t need as much sleep in order to function. Those who take this drug may become used to the drug to provide them with energy throughout the day for functioning.

Many doctors consider this drug to have minimal or no withdrawals, but most people still report a variety of symptoms. Typically these symptoms are a “comedown” or the opposite of the stimulating properties of the drug. Therefore most people will notice decreases in energy, sleepiness, and reduced alertness. Compared to many other psychotropic drugs, the withdrawals from NuVigil are regarded as “mild.”

Factors that influence NuVigil withdrawal

When withdrawing from any medication, there are several prominent factors that tend to influence the severity and duration of symptoms that a person experiences. These factors include: duration over which a person took the drug, their dosage, individual physiology, and how quickly a person tapered.

1. Time Span

How long did you take NuVigil? In general, when a person takes a drug for a long period of time, their body and physiology becomes increasingly reliant on the drug for functioning. Long-term usage is more likely to elicit more severe withdrawal symptoms for a greater duration than short-term usage. Those who used NuVigil over the short-term may not notice anything and/or have minimal withdrawal symptoms.

2. Dosage (150 mg to 250 mg)

In general, the greater the dose you take of the drug, the more influence it will have over your physiology. Discontinuing from higher dosages tends to yield more severe and longer-lasting withdrawals than quitting from a low dose. Those who take a low dose (e.g. under 150 mg) may not notice anything in terms of withdrawal symptoms.

Most people who take NuVigil end up taking 150 mg daily to help them stay awake and vigilant – this is the standard dosing. There is no scientific evidence supporting increased efficacy beyond the dosage of 150 mg. That being said, some doctors are willing to prescribe higher doses in patients that may have build a tolerance or found lower doses less effective.

3. Individual Physiology

In addition to time span and dosing, individual physiology will have a big influence over how someone responds to medication discontinuation. Some people may have nervous systems that recover back to baseline quicker than others. Others may experience withdrawal symptoms for weeks and have a longer phase of readjustment to functioning without the influence of NuVigil. It is important to realize that just because one person doesn’t experience any sort of discontinuation effects that this experience is universal; others may have noticeable withdrawals.

4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

Since professionals claim that this drug isn’t associated with any withdrawal symptoms, most feel comfortable telling their patients to quit cold turkey. Many people quit cold turkey without any major withdrawals and are fine. However, among those that experience withdrawals, abrupt discontinuation of any psychotropic drug is thought to exacerbate symptoms. If you want to play it safe, be sure to gradually taper from your prescribed dose – this will help minimize the severity of symptoms.

NuVigil Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

It should be noted that many people discontinuing NuVigil may not notice much in terms of withdrawal symptoms. However, since the drug promotes wakefulness, many people notice the opposite when they quit. Most common withdrawal symptoms include: sleepiness, fatigue, and slowed cognition.  Since the drug is similar in nature to its predecessor, there will be significant overlap between NuVigil and Provigil withdrawal symptoms – they are nearly identical.

  • Depression: Some individuals actually claim to get a minor antidepressant effect from this medication. When discontinued, reduced arousal and lack of vigilance can make a person feel depressed. As a person’s brain readjusts to functioning without the drug and they regain some energy, depression should subside.
  • Fatigue: Among the most common withdrawal symptoms is that of fatigue. You may feel fatigued for days or weeks following your last dose of NuVigil. If you had fatigue prior to taking the medication, it may be temporarily worse during early stages of withdrawal.
  • Foggy thinking: Those who abruptly discontinue after long-term daily usage may notice that their thinking becomes less clear or foggy. If you experience “brain fog,” it is likely a result of your brain expecting to receive the drug to help its cognition. It will take some time before the brain reestablishes normal activity and clarity of thinking returns.
  • Low energy: It is common to feel as if you have no energy after you’ve quit the medication. The lack of energy may last for several days or weeks. In most cases, people notice that their baseline level of energy returns within a week or two. If you feel especially lethargic after quitting, give your physiology some time to recover.
  • Memory problems: Some people have reported minor degrees of memory impairment during withdrawal. In some cases people notice that the drug helps improve all aspects of cognition, including memory. When discontinued, people notice a temporary reduction in their memory functioning.
  • Poor concentration: Although not approved to treat ADHD, many people that take NuVigil have noted that it helps increase concentration. When a person quits taking it, they may have a difficult time regaining focus until their brain readjusts to functioning without the drug.
  • Sleepiness: If you originally took this medication to help prevent daytime sleepiness, a reemergence of the sleepiness will likely occur upon discontinuation and may be temporarily more problematic than usual. It should also be noted that people taking this drug for other conditions may notice that they become increasingly sleepy during withdrawal.

NuVigil Withdrawal Length: How long does it last?

There is currently no specific timeline that can be followed for withdrawal from NuVigil. The drug has a half life of 12-15 hours, meaning it will take slightly over a day to fully clear from your system. A majority of individuals who discontinue this medication do not report long-term withdrawal symptoms.

In general, people may experience a significant degree of fatigue, lethargy, or poor concentration for a few weeks after they stop. It will take some time before your physiology readjusts to normal functioning without the drug, but your energy and focus should eventually return to its homeostatic baseline. Additionally, it should be noted that there is a difference between “withdrawal” symptoms and merely no longer having the drug enhancing your cognition.

People that take NuVigil for a long period of time may become used to the cognitive boost provided by the drug and mistakenly believe that this is normative functioning. Upon withdrawal, most people will dip below a baseline in terms of energy, focus, and cognition. If you discontinued NuVigil and withdrawal symptoms seem to be debilitating, it may be worth going back on the drug and conducting more of a gradual taper.

Engaging in healthy activities that stimulate the brain and heal the physiology such as: exercise, socialization, and puzzles are thought to help. If you have taken NuVigil and noticed withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. You may help someone else who is dealing with something similar.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • MJR May 14, 2015, 4:36 pm

    I take one 250mg tablet per day – 1/2 in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. I ran out of Nuvigil last Sunday and let me tell you, the last few days have been awful. Brain fog, sleepiness, depression… the whole 9 yards. If I had a week or two off work it might not be so bad, but trying to work when your brain won’t is just terrible. I finally got my prescription yesterday evening and the difference is night and day. I never want to feel that way again.

  • mouse January 5, 2016, 12:38 am

    Nuvigil helps the fibromyalgia pain, when stopping it abruptly the fibro came on with a vengeance. I couldn’t move my shoulders, hands were sore, bursa of hips sore, very tired and had brain fog. Vyvanse also helps fibro pain.

  • Bill Martin January 14, 2016, 12:44 am

    I’ve been taking nuvugil 150 mg for about 3 months and decided to stop because of muscle fatigue and feeling tired in the early PM. I believe it has caused sleepiness at night despite going to bed early around 9. There is a noticeable residual effect remaining in system 2 days after I stopped still causing some afternoon fatigue and needing a nap.

    I realize that my decision to stop is correct due to lingering side effect. Hopefully nothing else is going on in my system to cause these feelings. Once it is out of my system, I will determine if it may be OK to use occasionally, but not on a daily basis. There are great benefits when needed, but not everyday. I’ll see and discuss with my Dr. I am 64 in good health and eat a vegetarian diet primarily although meat is OK occasionally. No smoking or alcohol.

  • Daphne Costin February 21, 2016, 4:05 pm

    I have been on Nuvigil for two and a half years. Would it be OK if I could skip a day or two without having withdrawal symptoms?

  • Kathy April 22, 2016, 4:40 am

    I inadvertently went off of my nuvigil for several days (not sure exactly how long because I didn’t realize I wasn’t taking it). I felt agitated, like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I’ve been taking it for about 10 years. I was so tired but couldn’t stop moving, and thought I was having multiple panic attacks.

    My insurance will stop paying for it in one week. I’m scared to death. I can’t go through that again! I almost called the ambulance twice because I couldn’t take it!! I can’t begin to describe it! SEVERE agitation, having to move constantly. I was unable to concentrate or focus!

    I wanted to crawl out of my skin!!! I finally realized that I hadn’t been taking it and within an hour of taking a dose, I was normal again! I don’t know what to do! I just cannot go through that again! Now I want completely off of it! Help! What do I do?

  • robin June 27, 2016, 2:10 pm

    I am tapering off Nuvigil 250mg daily. I stopped cold turkey in 2012 and it was awful. The moodiness and depression were terrible. I cried all the time. I supposedly have sleep apnea, although my last sleep test says my AHI is 1, so technically I don’t have it. I also have Mitral Valve prolapse syndrome, which Nuvigil is contraindicated.

    So I’ve decided to get off of it for good. I’ve been taking 3/4 pill for 2 days. Tomorrow I will go to 1/2 for 2 days and then a 1/3 for 2 days…and then I have a long weekend. I will not take it after then. I hope I can function until then and if I can, I think I’ll be ok.

  • candace August 6, 2016, 1:15 pm

    Most sites I’ve seen down-play the withdrawal from this drug! Rest assured, you WILL feel some significant discomfort from Nuvigil if you’ve been on it for a year or maybe even less. This drug is a god-send to those of us who are chronic pain patients, battling opiate induced somnolence. It gave me my life back.

    To live “couch bound” was beyond depressing and Nuvigil saved me from that fate. Due to insurance screw up, I couldn’t fill my script for over a week. I was dumped into such a profound depression I could barely function. Something too, I noticed, my pain meds which usually hold me pretty well, well NOT holding me at all.

    I was in significant amount of pain, lots of break thru pain, had to take more vicodin than normally, adding to my fatigue. The fatigue was awful. I couldn’t move! Lots of coffee, gave me an upset stomach but still unmotivated. By three days in, I was having crying jags daily… sooo tired, soooo “DULL”!

    Very glad to be back on it now! I did, however, want to warn others that the info on withdrawal is sorely understated, and no, you’re not crazy… you will feel really LOUSY for a week or so. It does improve as days go by, but expect a week at least.

  • Gilbert October 27, 2016, 8:26 pm

    My wife was taking Nuvigil for several years 250mg dosage. She quit cold Turkey. Now based on what the doctors have told us Nuvigil was not responsible, but as a case of anecdotal caution I do not recommend this method. The week my wife stopped taking nuvigil, for drowsiness, she began experiencing auditory hallucinations to the point were she was hospitalized. Roughly 2 years later the hallucinations have reduced but are still there.

    She’s just not the same. Again, this isn’t listed as a known side effect and there’s really no way to know if her stopping Nuvigil was the cause, but as it was the only change in her life…well again, this is intended to be a completely anecdotal piece of caution.

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