Adderall vs Modafinil

Adderall vs Modafinil. Adderall and modafinil are central nervous system stimulant medications (psychostimulants). Both of these drugs have similar properties and similar applications. Both drugs are listed as controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.


Adderall is the brand name of a combined form of two drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This combination of drugs has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the sleep disorder narcolepsy (a disorder where a person may experience sleep attacks during the day and during activities such as driving). Both of the main ingredients in Adderall are central nervous system stimulant medications.

Adderall comes in an immediate-release form (Adderall IR) and an extended-release form (Adderall XR). The immediate-release form of the drug lasts for about 4–6 hours; the extended-release form typically lasts for about 12 hours.

Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. It is therefore considered to have a significant risk for abuse and the development of physical dependence.


Modafinil, better known by the brand name Provigil, is also a central nervous stimulant drug. Modafinil is often referred to as an eugeroic medication, which is a medication that promotes alertness and wakefulness. Modafinil is approved by the FDA to treat daytime sleepiness in people who have several different conditions, including:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Shift work disorder, a formal disorder that involves a disruption of normal sleeping hours when one is working nights
  • Sleepiness that occurs in other medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea

Modafinil is also a controlled substance but classified at a much lower level of control/severity than Adderall. Modafinil is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. The difference in the formal classification of Adderall and modafinil indicates that the overall general research and the opinion of the federal government is that Adderall is a significantly more dangerous drug of abuse than modafinil.

All stimulant drugs share similar mechanisms of action. Because of this, even when prescription stimulants that are considered to be relatively mild like modafinil are compared to stimulants that have a significant potential for abuse (e.g., cocaine), the findings indicate that there is a similar mechanism of action these drugs. Some sources will attempt to capitalize on this finding and state that similar mechanisms of action indicate similar potentials for abuse; however, this is not always true.

Adderall is believed to exert its effects by both blocking the reuptake of the excitatory neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, and by actually increasing the intracellular concentration of these neurotransmitters by releasing them from storage units in neurons. Modafinil is also believed to affect several different neurotransmitters, including excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate (increasing their availability) and decreasing the availability of inhibitory neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Adderall vs Modafinil

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