Provigil (Modafinil) is a drug that promotes vigilance and is considered a “eugeroic” medication. It was originally proved by the FDA to help treat wakefulness disorders and is commonly used in patients with narcolepsy. It has also been found to help people with shift work sleep disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness as a result of sleep apnea. Many people really like this medication because it not only gets the job done, there are relatively minimal side effects associated with taking it.
Many people also use it for off-label purposes as a nootropic or “smart drug” to get a cognitive benefit. It also has been used to help treat depression, chronic fatigue, and is being investigated to help treat cocaine addiction. In other words, there are a variety of uses for this particular drug so many individuals have been taking it. Although there aren’t a lot of commonly reported “withdrawal” effects, many people experience symptoms upon discontinuation.
Factors that influence Provigil (Modafinil) withdrawal
Perhaps the biggest factor associated with Provigil withdrawal is that of “time span” – how long you took the medication. The longer you took it, the more dependent you become on it for everyday functioning. Other factors that are thought to have an influence on withdrawal include dosage, your individual physiology, and whether you quit cold turkey or taper.
1. Time Span
How long have you been on Provigil? If you have been on this drug for years and decide to quit, your withdrawal symptoms may be more obvious than someone who has only taken Provigil for a few months. If you simply take Provigil “as-needed” you may not experience as much of a withdrawal.
2. Dosage (200 mg to 400 mg)
Provigil has not been found to have additional therapeutic effects beyond a dose of 200 mg per day. Some people take up to 400 mg per day, but the extra 200 mg are not associated with any additional benefit. Most people will be on a dose of 200 mg which is the official recommended daily dose. If you take less than 200 mg and find benefit, then you may have less of a withdrawal compared to someone who is on 200 mg or more.
3. Individual Physiology
How you react to quitting Provigil will have a lot to do with your individual physiology. You may not notice any symptoms or you may experience some fatigue. Everyone responds differently when they discontinue a drug like Provigil. A majority of people do not have significant symptoms compared to a psychostimulant medication like Adderall (read: Adderall withdrawal symptoms).
4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering
Most people have suggested that if you have taken Provigil for an extended period of time (e.g. years) and you quit cold turkey, you will notice withdrawal symptoms. Since you have constantly been feeding your brain a wakefulness promoting agent for such a long period of time, it has become accustomed to receiving the drug every single day.
If you were to stop cold turkey, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms. Tapering is recommended for anyone that has been on this medication daily for an extended period of time. Work with your doctor or gradually reduce your dose over a span of weeks.
Provigil Withdrawal Symptoms: Modafinil Discontinuation
There aren’t any major symptoms associated with Provigil withdrawal, but you may experience something. Most people notice that they are more tired than average, have poorer concentration, and overall low energy when they stop taking this drug. A majority of doctors do not know the long term effects of this medication and don’t know much about the discontinuation effects.
- Concentration problems: Most people report that they experience “poor focus” when they stop taking Provigil. This may be due to the fact that they had an enhanced cognition while they were on the drug and there is a contrast to functioning without it. This also could be a temporary cognitive slowing as a result of withdrawal.
- Depression: Although many people do not notice an antidepressant effect from taking this drug, some people do. Additionally, some people experience depression when they stop taking Provigil.
- Fatigue: If you are taking this drug to treat fatigue and sleepiness and you stop it, it is likely that you are going to relapse. However even individuals that take this drug for ADHD for an extended period of time have found that they experience fatigue during withdrawal.
- Low energy: Some people have really low energy levels during the first week or two of quitting this drug. Most energy will return within a few weeks of discontinuation.
- Shortness of breath: There have been reports that people experience shortness of breath accompanied by heart rate changes when they stop the Provigil.
- Sleepiness: People that were taking Provigil to help treat narcolepsy tend to experience a return in their original sleepiness when they stop taking the medication.
How long does Provigil withdrawal last?
There is no exact timeline for withdrawal from Provigil, but the withdrawal is not known as being a long term ordeal. Many people experience extreme levels of fatigue within the first week that they stop taking it. Some people don’t even notice an effect when they stop taking it, while others revert back to their normal energy levels (e.g. wakefulness pre-Provigil).
It is important to distinguish between “withdrawal symptoms” and simply functioning without the cognitive enhancement that Provigil provides. Most people are going to notice that they have less energy and feel more “fatigued” than their drug-enhanced state of functioning on the Provigil. If you do experience a withdrawal, it probably will not last for more than a few weeks.
If symptoms persist and you had been on this drug for a long period of time, do not rule out the fact that your body and brain are likely trying to cope without the drug. If the withdrawal is severe, you may want to go back on the drug and conduct a more gradual taper in order to minimize the withdrawal effects. If you experienced a “withdrawal” from this medication, please share your experience in the comments section below.