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Is Provigil Addictive?

Addiction Risk Seen in Wakefulness Drug Provigil

Provigil: How Addictive Is It? continued...

Weinshenker and Vogel both note that because it blocks the brain receptors needed by cocaine and methamphetamine, researchers are exploring whether Provigil might help wean addicts from these life-threatening addictions.

But Volkow maintains that because drugs have very different effects in different people, Provigil may very well be dangerously addictive to vulnerable individuals.

"A vulnerable person would be anyone who has a present or past history of addiction, whether to alcohol, nicotine, or cocaine," Volkow says. "Or, your family history may indicate your risk, if you have close relatives with a history of addiction. But if you don't have this history, it does not mean you are completely safe."

Anecdotal evidence of Provigil addiction can be found on the non-judgmental Erowid web site, in a section where drug users report their experiences.

"It is now day 5 and I am back up to 1200 mg per day and cannot imagine not having this stuff," writes one user, who started off with one 200 milligram pill from her husband's Provigil prescription. "I guess I’m the one person out of a million that can actually get addicted to this miraculous 'non-addictive' drug."

Along with Xanax and Ambien, Provigil is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule IV drug -- a controlled substance with low potential for abuse relative to Schedule III drugs such as codeine or anabolic steroids.

Provigil maker Cephalon agrees with the NIDA position that Provigil should not be taken by healthy individuals. But the company says the product's label accurately describes the drug's abuse potential.

"After 10 years on the market, millions of patients treated, as well as ongoing monitoring of abuse and diversion by Cephalon, the DEA, the FDA, and other international regulatory agencies, we believe that the potential risk of abuse and dependence is accurately reflected in the product labeling," Cephalon spokeswoman Candace Steele tells WebMD. "We believe that there is a low relative potential for abuse with modafinil, which is at least consistent with the DEA scheduling for Provigil."

The Volkow study appears in the March 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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