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.