Provigil is a drug sold across the United States and can be bought online and thus delivered almost anywhere in the world. In 1998, the drug was granted FDA Approval to treat narcolepsy. From then, it has broadened its treatment base also to treat work shift sleep disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness which is associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Further down the line, the drug has also been used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Also, using Provigil also results in cognitive enhancement, and as such the drug has been used to for better mental productivity and focus.

What about Adderall? Mixing Adderall with amphetamine salts produces a psychostimulant drug. Initially, Adderall was approved in 1996 to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, it has also been associated with increasing both cognitive and physical abilities by society.

These drugs are quite similar in some of their treatment areas, such as ADHD. However, don’t let that cause you to think these drugs are the same. Provigil packs significantly greater effects on mental alertness and overall cognitive enhancement.

Brief History of Both Drugs

Provigil is a brand name of the drug modafinil, which was originally developed in France from its predecessor adrafinil.  Despite adrafinil being in the market for a longer time, Provigil is more widely used than its parent drug. Provigil was first used in 1994 in France under the name ModiodaL. Adderall was introduced to the pharmaceutical market in 1996 as an instant-release drug. This medication’s generic version was first sold in drug markets in 2002.

Uses and Various Applications

Provigil’s label uses include the treatment of:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Shift work sleep disorder
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness associated with obstructive apnea.

One of Provigil’s uses off the label is in multiple sclerosis patients. These patients have consistently reported decreased neurological fatigue with the drug’s use.

In a clinical test done by Cephalon, producers of Provigil, 72 people diagnosed with various degrees of multiple sclerosis took Provigil doses over a period of nine weeks. The patients self-reported their fatigue levels every day on standardized scales. Sclerosis patients who were taking small doses of Provigil during the clinical study reported feelings of less fatigue. Further, there was a significant statistical difference in the fatigue scores for those who were taking the actual Provigil dose versus participants taking the placebo. Higher Provigil doses did not have significant increased effects on the users during the study.

Provigil has also been used to treat after-effects of sedation. Other health issues where Provigil’s use has caused significant improvement include:

  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Opioid-induced sleepiness
  • Spastic cerebral palsy
  • Parkinson’s disease.

Provigil’s use in patients suffering from primary biliary cirrhosis has improved the body’s reactions to fatigue and daytime somnolence.

Applications for Provigil include:

  • The Military – The drug has been used during combat situations. During war, members of the army have used Provigil to prevent sleepiness as they require high degrees of high mental alertness. The drug has also been employed in lengthy missions where getting enough sleep is both highly improbable and dangerous. The French government has endorsed Provigil use in its flanks. As such, the Foreign Legion used the drug during covert operations. The Indian Air Force also confirmed that Provigil’s use is part of their contingency plans.

In the United States, the US military approved Provigil’s use for some Air Force missions. Provigil, under its drug name modafinil, was the only drug approved by the United States Airforce as a “go pill” to reduce fatigue during various operations.

  • Space Travel – Provigil has been and continues to be used by astronauts on long-term missions situated at the International Space Station. The Canadian Medical Association Journal explains that Provigil’s use enables the crew to perform at their optimum levels even when they are fatigued. Provigil’s use also improves the quality of sleep astronauts get. Additionally, the drug helps improve circadian rhythms.

Adderall’s applications include:

Treatment of ADHD – With its long-term use, Adderall reduces the core symptoms of ADHD including hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Adderall use also improves brain development and nerve growth. MRI scan results have shown that long-term treatment using Adderall leads to decreased abnormal brain structure and function in people who have ADHD. Scans show improvements of the right caudate nucleus of the basal ganglia in patients who have ADHD and are using the drug.

Brain Development – A 2015 review found the use of low Adderall dosages produced slight yet unambiguous improvements in the cognition, working memory, long-term episodic memory as well as some aspects of attention. The clinical trials done for this review were on normal and healthy adults. Adderall’s use has also improved memory consolidation. As such, individuals who use this drug can recall information better.

Motivation – Adderall use has been linked to improvements in the individual motivation to perform certain tasks. The drug also causes increased wakefulness. As a result, people using Adderall have more goal-oriented behavior. These effects of Adderall cause the drug to be used in preparation for examinations. Five to thirty-five percent of college students use these two drugs for performance enhancement.

Athletic Performance – In sports, Adderall has been used for performance improvements. These include improvements in:

o    Muscle strength

o     Acceleration

o    Muscle endurance

o    Reaction time

The body’s power output is also increased by increasing the body’s core temperature limit. This accesses the body’s reserve capacity and incorporates it into the body’s working mainframe, resulting in actions such as jumping higher and throwing farther.

Recreational Uses – Adderall tablets have been abused and have a high abuse potential. Using Adderall creates a false sense of well-being. Additionally, the drug increases dopamine levels within the body. As such, the body becomes increasingly dependent on the drug, requiring higher doses to achieve the same state of euphoria over time.

Side Effects


Provigil use has very few side effects overall. Teva Pharmaceuticals reported one-third of participants in clinical trials experiencing headaches. 11 percent of the participants reported nausea and less than 10 percent of participants reporting other harmful side effects. The results ranged from nervousness, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety and dizziness to gastrointestinal problems.

In more serious cases, Provigil’s use was related to severe skin rashes and other allergy-related side effects. It should be noted that only six cases of severe reactions from Provigil have been reported since the beginning of its marketing in the United States up to 2007.

Recently, severe cases have also been quite minimal. The long-term safety and effectiveness of Provigil have not yet been quantified, although experts across the board and patients alike claim the drug has very minimal side effects.


This drug’s use has very many varied side effects. The side effects are mainly determined by the quantity of Adderall dosage beforehand. Since recreational uses of Adderall involve higher doses, recreational users are more susceptible to severe side effects than individuals who use the drug for therapeutic purposes.

Physical side effects of Adderall include:

  • Hypertension or hypertension.
  • Sexual side effects in males may include erectile dysfunction, frequent or prolonged erections.
  • Abdominally, side effects could include nausea, weight loss, abdominal pain and a loss of appetite.
  • Nosebleeds
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive grinding of teeth
  • Drug-induced nasal congestion
  • Reduced seizure threshold
  • A movement disorder called tics could also occur.

Other physical effects of the use of Adderall consist of the contraction of the urinary bladder sphincter. This results in a difficulty in urinating. Deeper faster breaths have also been observed when Adderall is used in larger doses. Adderall could also have pain-relieving effects and could affect the gastrointestinal tract in unexpected ways. This would either result in the slowed movement of content in the digestive system or increased motility if the smooth muscles of the tract are relaxed.

Psychological side effects of Adderall include:

  • Apprehension
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sudden changes in libido.


An individual using Adderall could have his or her personality and mental state altered when taking the drug. As such, the user’s mental state before using the drug would determine the kind of psychological effects one would undergo.

In some cases, delusions and paranoia have been observed in heavy users. Psychosis can also occur as a result of Adderall’s use for the long-term. As such, therapeutic users of this drug are usually at the risk of reduced mental capabilities in the future despite such cases being a rarity.

Another psychological effect of this drug is conditioned placed preference. This effect has primarily been observed in therapeutic users. These individuals like spending time in places they had previously used Adderall.

Cases of Overdose


From its records dating back to 2004, the FDA is not aware of any fatal overdoses involving an overdose in Provigil alone. Additionally, clinical trials have involved taking up to 1200mg per day for 21 days, and known occurrences of one-time 4500mg did not appear to cause life-threatening effects. Results of these clinical trials only resulted in adverse effects. These included palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, confusion, nervousness, and nausea.


High doses of this drug have caused cases of overdoses. These have led to the death of patients. Despite the severity of effects of overdoses in humans depending mainly on the degree of overdose as well as the individual’s drug tolerance, Adderall overdoses result in other severe effects apart from death. Such effects consist of

  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Circulatory system collapse
  • Acute amphetamine psychosis
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Excessive adrenergic nerve activity.

All these effects of an overdose from Adderall could result in the death of the user. Also, significant overdoses could cause rapid muscle breakdown as opposed to increased muscle strength in healthy doses.

Very high doses of Adderall could also cause fluid accumulation in the lungs, pulmonary hypertension and reduced levels of Carbon (IV) oxide in the blood.

In the urinary system, failure to produce urine and kidney failure have been recorded to occur in cases of Adderall overdose. Hyperpyrexia, a condition where one has an extremely elevated core body temperature, could also occur. This would be counter-intuitive to Adderall’s effects on an increased power output during muscle contraction.


Provigil is a Schedule IV controlled drug. As such, it has a low potential for abuse. This is because it produces low dopaminergic effects. Low physical euphoria levels cause Provigil to be a weak reinforcement if used for abuse.

Adderall is a Schedule II controlled drug, holding a much higher potential for abuse. This is because the major part of its composition is amphetamine salt which significantly stimulates the Central Nervous System. Amphetamines cause psychological dependency and habit forming in individuals, thereby causing addiction. The John Hopkins Medical school has well documented severe withdrawals symptoms caused directly from Adderall. This is due to its increased dopamine levels that cause a false sense of well-being.

Summary and Recap of Information

Similarities between Provigil and Adderall include:

  • Treatment of ADHD: Both these medicines are capable of treating ADHD, with Adderall being the clinically approved option. However, Provigil is also prescribed to treat ADHD and has a lot of evidence backing it as a viable option.
  • Efficacy: Both Provigil and Adderall are considered active adjuncts, possibly able to be used with an antidepressant
  • Generic Availability: Both substances have their generic versions available for sale
  • Half Life: The similarity of their half-lives is high. With Provigil having a 12-hour half-life and Adderall having an 11-13 hour half life
  • Treatment of Narcolepsy: Both these substances are FDA-approved to treat narcolepsy
  • Use with antidepressants: Both substances are considered effective depression adjuncts among individuals suffering from refractory depression

Differences between both drugs include:

Area of Difference Provigil Adderall
Range of Application Provigil has a wider range of application which includes governmental agencies and individuals as potential users Adderall is mainly therapeutic. Further, its uses tend to be more recreational in society, which has negative side effects
Abuse Potential Provigil has a low abuse potential. This drug does not have a high dependency rate and is not prone to addiction This drug has a high abuse potential with individual’s experiencing more dependency. There are higher risks of addiction with this drug
Legal classification Schedule IV, showing less stringency due to low possibility of addiction Schedule II, showing a higher level of stringency due to its proven high levels of possible addiction
Side Effects Minimal side effects Side effects are numerous and varied. They have also been seen to be very severe in numerous cases
Withdrawal Withdrawal symptoms are shown to be very few or non-existent. The symptoms end in a period of one month. Excessive withdrawal symptoms leading to both psychological and physical tribulations on discontinuing the drug
Cases of overdose No documented case of a fatal overdose due to purely Provigil’s overuse A number of documented deaths due to the overuse of Adderall. Overdose of Adderall could also lead to excessive complications that would lead to it as an indirect cause of death


Comparing both these drugs shows that Provigil is superior in terms of its usage. Its varied benefits, low addiction levels and minimal withdrawal symptoms means individuals live a completely normal life after they use the drug, with numerous benefits to all their bodies both physically and mentally.