ADHD (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a nervous system related condition wherein the person diagnosed with it has a unique nervous system that handles the areas of attention and emotions very different than people who do not have ADHD.

Medications such as psycho-stimulants like Adderall and Provigil help them level the playing field. They help them get things done by giving them better attention span, impulse control, and calmness.

Provigil vs Adderall Comparison Chart

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




Year Introduced






Drug Category



Half Life (Effect lasting time)

8-12 hours

11-13 hours


To treat ADHD, Narcolepsy

To treat Narcolepsy, sleep disorders.


If taken in the form of a tablet, it is to be taken 2-3 times a da

Typical Dosages – 100mg and 200mg.

Method of Intake

(Medical) Oral, (Recreational) Oral, Insufflated, Intravenous



Increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine between synapses in the brain.

Increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine. Also known to stimulate orexin receptors to promote wakefulness.

Side effects

Weight loss, lack of sleep, headaches, anxiety, increased heart rate, and blood pressure, dry mouth.

General side effects include dizziness, nausea, headache, and nervousness.


300-200$ branded form, 75$-50$ generic forms.

790$ - 850$ branded forms, 150$ generic forms.


Cephalon Inc.

Shire Pharmaceuticals.

Summary - What is Provigil and Adderall?

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. Though the drug is not a typical stimulant, it exhibits many stimulants like characteristics. It enhances the neurotransmitter levels including dopamine, serotonin, histamine, etc.


Adderall as a drug is widely used a central nervous system stimulant.

This drug has been known to be an effective treatment for ADHD, narcolepsy, etc. along with off-label uses such as anxiety, depression, etc.


Provigil and Adderall Uses

Adderall vs Provigil have some similar and some quite different usages. Though Adderall has been FDA approved to treat ADHD (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), Provigil has only been approved as a cure for sleepiness related disorders. They have a common usage of treating narcolepsy.

Provigil is in principal approved by FDA to treat a disorder such as a narcolepsy, excessive sleepiness which has been caused by obstructive sleep apnea. Provigil is also used off the label to improve alertness in people suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. You can also find its usage in treating chronic fatigue syndrome, jet lag, etc. Adderall’s off the label usage include treating depression, anxiety; improving the concentration, focus, etc.

Provigil vs Adderall Efficiency

Provigil vs Adderall efficiency

Comparing Provigil vs Adderall in terms of efficiency is tricky since you would use them typically for very different uses. You should ideally compare them for the treatment of narcolepsy, and you will notice that both the drugs have been deemed effective in all the studies undertaken in equal measures. In conclusion, the efficiency in treating narcolepsy would depend on your personal nervous systems and symptoms.

Provigil is known to be an efficient alertness or wakefulness creating drug while Adderall is widely used to treat attention spans related disorders such as ADHD.

It is also known that you may find Adderall to be more effective in keeping you awake due to its tendency to increase attention spans and improve concentration. Also, Adderall’s effects last up to 12 hours while Provigil has an 8-hour effect.


Provigil vs Adderall dosage

Provigil is prescribed as a single dosage tablet with the dosages coming in either 100mg or 200mg forms depending on the nature and intensity of the disorder. It is recommended that you take the prescribed dosage in one goes in case of a sleeping disorder 12 hours before sleeping or in the morning. Both the 100mg and 200mg dosages have the capacity of promoting wakefulness for 6-8 hours in one stretch.

On the contrary, Adderall is available in two forms (Immediate release and Extended release) and needs to taken multiple times a day at 4-6 hour gap. Children of age 6 and above will have the 5mg dosage which will be increased gradually. If you are taking the drug to improve your focus or concentration, ensure that the same does not exceed 30mg.

You can say that Provigil has lesser dosage and available forms when compared to Adderall.

Side effects

If you take Provigil vs Adderall, you will find that Adderall has a wider range of side effects. Provigil side effects include fever, sore throat, sores in mouth and lips, skin related allergies. Adderall side effects include anxiety, insomnia, abdominal pain, etc.

Both these drugs carry some very serious side effects also. In case you have a history of heart diseases, it is recommended not to take Provigil as it has a tendency of increase heart rate and blood pressure. Adderall if taken in excess can also lead to severe mental health problems like depression, anxiety, hallucinations, etc.

Another notable threatening side effect of Provigil is that it reduces the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives. This is due to the interference of modafinil with the enzymes responsible for converting hormones into their active forms.


Provigil is certified to be a Schedule IV controlled substance in comparison to Adderall which is schedule II controlled substances. This clearly shows that you are less likely to be addicted to Provigil vs Adderall.

The major disadvantage of Adderall is that suddenly stopping the drug causes you to have extreme withdrawal symptoms such as depression, hallucinations, extreme tiredness, etc. This is because, in the case of Adderall, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to make cognitive decisions due to the down-regulation of dopamine receptors.

Once the drug is stopped, the restoration process takes the time to become normal. In the case of Provigil, since it is not a stimulant there is no effect on the cognitive behaviors. Hence you are less likely to experience any withdrawal symptoms.

Popularity or abuse

When you compare the popularity of both drugs, because Adderall has varied uses you will note that Adderall is more universally recognized that Provigil. Due to the same fact, in 2012 it was found that Adderall was the 70th most prescribed drug when compared to Provigil which was 137th most prescribed drug of the year.

Adderall is known to hold 38% of the ADHD medication share in the market. However, when it comes to the usage for the common ailment that is narcolepsy, Provigil is known to be a more popular drug with Adderall XR fast catching up.The potential for abuse is higher in Adderall since the response in neurotransmitter levels is much quicker and is similar to a hit or high in other narcotics.

On the contrary, since Provigil only brings forth minor dopaminergic effects and the users aren’t likely to experience the psychological euphoria which may make you addictive. For these reasons, FDA has deemed Provigil to be a drug with a very low potential for abuse.

Adderall vs Provigil for fatigue

Adderall by nature is a psychostimulant, known to be quite effective in increasing attention spans, improve focus and concentration by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. This characteristic of this drug can also be used to treat fatigue related disorders.

Provigil by nature is a fatigue removing drug which is used to improve the wakefulness in you by increasing the dopaminergic levels. When comparing Adderall vs Provigil, while some have found Provigil to be the hands down winner for some Adderall’s stimulation effects takes the cake.

Modafinil, the generic form of Provigil is used to improve the soldier’s performances during the time of combat by alleviating combat fatigue and improving their cognitive function, alertness levels, etc.


When you compare Provigil vs Adderall for narcolepsy treatments, you will understand whether it is the generic version or the branded version of each drug, Adderall is found to be the cheaper option.

A 30 day supply of Adderall IR (immediate release) will cost around 300$ approximately. If you are considering the other form of Adderall which is extended release (XR), it will cost you 200$ for a 30 day supply.

In the case of a 100mg prescribe dosage supply of Provigil for 30 days, the pills will cost you somewhere between 790$ to 850$, and the 200mg pills sometimes cost more than 1000$.

Generic Adderall will cost you between 50$ (immediate release) and 75$ (extended release) for a 30 day supply while the generic Provigil or Modafinil will cost somewhere between 150$ to 305$ for a 30 day supply depending on the dosages for a 30 day supply.

Recap (differences and similarities)

Though Adderall and Provigil have a common playing field for the treatment of Narcolepsy, they have a very different composition and mechanism of action also. Provigil is mainly used to treat extensive sleepiness and increase the wakefulness while Adderall finds major usage in the treatment of ADHD (Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) and attention-related disorders.

Adderall works by increasing the level of dopamine and norepinephrine in the system and alleviating the symptoms of ADHD while Provigil is known to stimulate orexin receptors (OX1 and OX2). Orexin is peptides that regulate wakefulness and deficiency in their levels can result in excessive sleepiness which results in Provigil making you feel highly awake and alert.

While Adderall has been approved by FDA for the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD, till date FDA has approved the usage of Provigil only as a wakeful enhancing drug and has expressed great inhibitions in approving the same for the treatment of ADHD. There have been cases where severe dermatologic effects have been seen in children treated with Provigil for ADHD. Hence FDA has suggested using Provigil only if primary and secondary treatments do not show any improvement.

Due to its interaction with dopamine to improve one’s cognitive function, Adderall is known to be susceptible to abuse whereas Provigil only emulates dopaminergic effects hence has deemed to a Schedule IV controlled substance with very less potential for abuse.

Commercially speaking, Adderall is widely recognized and popular with clear market dominance. Adderall is also known to be comparatively cheaper than Provigil by spades with a clear difference for 300-400$ in branded forms and 100$ difference in generic forms.

Making a choice

Making a choice between Provigil and Adderall

If you have to choose between Provigil vs Adderall for the treatment of narcolepsy, it is recommended to try Adderall first due to its popularity and inexpensive nature also.

The effectiveness can be decided only based on your nervous system after using one of the above. In the fight between Adderall vs Provigil, it is suggested to take Provigil since its primary function is to combat fatigue and improves wakefulness, and also it has a lesser potential for abuse.

In cases of conflict and lesser awareness of your medical history and allergies, the safer option would be to consult a physician and describe your symptoms to arrive at the optimum drug or drug combination. Physicians are known to prescribe Adderall and Provigil for their off-the-label usages also, but it should only be taken after consulting the physicians for proper dosages.