Is Provigil Addictive?
Addiction Risk Seen in Wakefulness Drug Provigil
WebMD News Archive
Provigil: How Addictive Is It?
David Weinshenker, PhD, associate professor of human genetics at Emory
University, Atlanta, has performed some of the mouse studies Volkow cites.
Weinshenker agrees with Volkow that Provigil shares at least one brain
receptor with cocaine, but he downplays the drug's addiction potential.
"What is Provigil's street value? It is zero. There are not addicts
walking around buying and selling modafinil," Weinshenker tells WebMD.
"Most people who take Provigil don't report euphoria or being high. They
don't even report feeling particularly stimulated, like caffeine. In terms of
addiction and withdrawal, it just doesn't do that."
Weinshenker notes that because of Provigil's relative safety, its possible
benefits are being explored for a wide number of disorders, including ADHD,
autism, and depression. He says the drug offers a major benefit over
amphetamine-like stimulants in that it promotes wakefulness without the sleep
rebound -- a need for extra sleep when the drug wears off.
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
"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
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