Modafinil vs Adderall Summary

Brain stimulants or focus enhancers have become the most important thing in the lives of all college going students around the world where the competition is cut-throat and futures are changed by percentile in decimals. The most common stimulant-like drugs that are being used by the majority of the people currently are Modafinil and Adderall.

Both of these drugs have been known to create alertness, improve wakefulness and keep you sharp and focused by rectifying your neurotransmitter levels to the desired output. However, let’s see how each of these fair when it comes to a choice between Modafinil vs. Adderall.

Modafinil vs Adderall Comparison Chart

Below is a comparison chart comparing Modafinil with Adderall to give you some brief specifications of each drug.




Year Introduced






Drug Category



Half Life (Effect lasting time)

11-13 hours

8-12 hours


Primarily used to treat sleep-related disorder

For the treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy


2 dosages of 100 or 200mg.

​2-3 tablets of 30mg/day

Method of Intake


Can be taken via oral or inhaled.

Side effects

Nausea, dizziness, headache, etc.

Erectile dysfunction, dizziness, dry mouth, anxiety, vomiting, weight loss.


150$-305$ for a 30day supply

200$-300$ branded version

Availability of Generic Version



Format Available


Tablet (IR and XR)


Shire Pharmaceuticals

Cephalon Inc.

What is Modafinil and Adderall?

Modafinil is a compound that is widely used as a treatment for sleep related disorders such as narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and sleep shift work disorder, etc.

The drug has been successful in correcting your sleep patterns and hence helping you avoid daytime sleepiness and keep you awake and alert.


Its function in inhibiting the dopamine reuptake is the reason behind this. Provigil contains Modafinil and is widely used as a cognition-enhancing agent in addition to being able to treat sleep disorders. Provigil functions as a dopamine reuptake inhibitor and increases wakefulness in you. Currently, doctors have commenced prescribing Modafinil for patients suffering from ADHD also.

Adderall, as a drug is a combination of four amphetamines and finds its major use in the treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy and improving the attention/focus span. It is commonly called as a Psychostimulant.

Though Modafinil is not a stimulant, it has stimulant like characteristics. Hence, you will be finding it to be quite effective when you use it to improve your concentration and to keep yourself awake and focused.


Modafinil and Adderall Uses

When you compare Modafinil vs Adderall regarding their usage, you will find that though they do not belong to the same category of drugs, they have quite a few common usages between them.

Adderall is a central nervous stimulant and has been FDA approved to treat ADHD (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), narcolepsy (sleep disorder) and attention span issues. On the other hand, Modafinil is a Eugeroic which has been approved by the FDA to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, OSA and shift sleep work disorder.

However, off-label Modafinil is used to enhance the alertness levels in patients having Parkinson’s disease and MS. At times, you can also see it being prescribed for treating depression, lack of focus, anxiety, etc.

It is found that Modafinil stimulates dopamine, adrenaline, glutamate, etc. in the brain to generate alertness and is known to bring out stronger focus and happier mood in you.

Modafinil vs Adderall Efficiency

Modafinil vs Adderall

Since the drugs Modafinil and Adderall have very different mechanisms and applicants it is hard to judge their effectiveness against each other.

However, if you indeed compare Modafinil vs Adderall, you can understand that there are certain instances where Modafinil will be found to be more effective due to the longer half-life which ensures it stays in your system for a longer time. Certain studies have found that Modafinil may be a good alternative for ADHD due to the long term benefits and its efficiency over a period of time.

When it comes to the treatment of narcolepsy or improving your attention spans, you can consider both Modafinil and Adderall to be equally effective with Adderall having a slight edge over it due to its interaction levels with the neurotransmitters and the quick reaction associated with it.


Modafinil and Adderall Dosage

Adderall Dosage

Adderall is a combination of four amphetamines and comes in two forms one being Immediate release and other being extended releases. It comes in the form of tablets and should be taken around 2-3 times a day at a 6-hour interval. The starting recommended dosage is around 30mg/day for adults which will be increased over a period of time as per physiological conditions and physician’s advice. For children, the dosage starts at 5mg/day.

Modafinil Dosage

On the other hand, Modafinil comes in two dosage forms only, which are the 100mg or 200mg tablets. They need to be taken in one go once a day preferably 12 hours before going to sleep if you are taking it for narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, shift sleep work disorder or any other sleeping disorder. This dosage can keep you alert and focused for 6-8 hours a day. The safe dosage per day for Modafinil is 200-400mg a day while it is 30-40mg/day for Adderall.

Side effects

In this debate over Modafinil vs Adderall, you will find that the side effects of Adderall are far more in number when compared to Modafinil.

The most commonly encountered side effects when you use Modafinil are a sore throat, fever, mouth sores, skin allergies such as rashes, blisters, etc. In case you encounter severe skin rashes while using Modafinil please stop the medication immediately and consult your physician.

Adderall, on the other hand, has some serious side effects such as anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations, abdominal pain, etc.

Also, you should remember to very careful if you have a history of heart ailments and you are taking Modafinil. Modafinil has a tendency of increasing the heart rate, blood pressure. Also, it is recommended to employ physical contraceptives as hormonal contraceptives become very less effective due to the interaction/interference of the enzymes and Modafinil.


Adderall as a drug holds a legal status of being a Schedule II controlled substance which implies that there is a potential for abuse in Adderall and accordingly you are bound to experience some withdrawal symptoms also.

The interaction of Adderall in the brain neurotransmitters is such as that once you stop using the drug, it takes some time for the dopamine receptors to become normal and resume their functions without the support of Adderall. During this period of “downtime,” you can expect to experience certain withdrawal symptoms such as exhaustion, hallucinations, depression, etc.

When it comes to Modafinil, as mentioned earlier the drug is only exhibiting stimulant like tendencies however it does not cause any reaction in the neurotransmitter levels to cause withdrawal on a large scale. The sleep patterns may take some time to be normal. However, that will be for a short period of time only.

Popularity or Abuse

Regarding popularity in Modafinil vs Adderall, we can surely say that Adderall is a clear winner. This is because though Modafinil was launched earlier, Adderall is more widely recognized and also has multiple FDA-approved uses as well off-label uses. Adderall is known to be the most popular stimulant drug with a market share of 38% of all stimulants.

Modafinil though also has many off-label uses, does not figure in top 100 most prescribed drugs of the year as on 2012.

Also, if we compare them ailment wise, we can understand that Adderall is more popular for ADHD while Modafinil is popular as a cure for narcolepsy.

Adderall is most likely to be abused than Modafinil due to the quick high that you can get when you take Adderall. The hit is compared to be similar to narcotics and is due to the quick reaction of the amphetamines with the neurotransmitter levels. There is no such window of opportunity for addiction or abuse in Modafinil. However, it should be taken as per the prescribed levels.

Modafinil vs Adderall for studying

Modafinil for studying

Modafinil is a stimulant-like a drug that interacts with the neurotransmitters in our brain to improve our sleep patterns, cure sleep disorders and also to keep us awake and alert. The Modafinil drug stimulates the histamine, GABA, norepinephrine and glutamate and brings out alertness and focusing abilities in us. As a result, this drug has become quite popular among the college students.

Adderall for studying

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant which alters the dopamine levels in our brain to improve our attention span, focus, and concentration. Due to these factors, it is known that almost 30% of the students use it for their studying purposes.


Modafinil is the generic version of drugs like Provigil, Provoke, etc. and will cost you somewhere around 150$ to 305$ depending on the dosages prescribed for a 30day supply.

The branded version of Adderall will cost 300$ in case you are opting for IR (immediate release) while extended release (XR) version will cost around 200$ for a 30day supply. The generic version of Adderall will cost around 50$ to 75$ for a 30day supply.

Recap (differences and similarities)

Adderall and Modafinil are two drugs of different compositions but similar characteristic hence they have some common usages such as the treatment of ADHD (Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) and attention-related disorders along with Narcolepsy.

Adderall is famous among all of us for its attention span increasing attribute while Modafinil is famous for its nature of keeping us alert and setting our sleep patterns straight. Modafinil works by interacting with the peptides (orexin) that regulate wakefulness while the interaction of Adderall is by increasing the level of hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine in our brain that will increase the attention span and focus.

This interaction also makes Adderall more likely to be abused than Modafinil as the initial intake of Adderall is known to be giving a certain high or hit.

Despite the addictive tendencies, Adderall is more popular than Modafinil due to its various off-label uses and proven results over the years while Modafinil is now slowly catching up in the market.

Making a choice

Making a choice between Modafinil and Adderall

When it comes to making a choice between Modafinil vs Adderall, the safer choice would be Modafinil due to its slow and steady action coupled with the lesser chances to have a habit forming mechanism when it works on the sleep disorders.

To be more specific, if the choice is the treatment of narcolepsy or focuses improvement Modafinil will serve the purpose without any side effects however Adderall will continue to remain the favorite when it comes to the treatment of ADHD.

Also, if you have a history of heart ailments, you are more likely to be allergic to Modafinil, hence would have to opt for Adderall for the treatment. Commercially speaking, generic Adderall is very inexpensive when compared to Modafinil.

The recommendation would be to take a deep look at your symptoms, requirements and medical history before deciding on any medication. Consulting a physician is also a must for arriving at the right dosage.