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Provigil: The New Speed?

tablets spilled out on table with bottleThere’s a drug out there that promises to be an aid for those who have trouble staying awake after a restless night. But this new drug, that’s being marketed towards those with sleep disorders, can also easily be used as a pick-me-up for the masses . . . A pick-me-up with a laundry list of side effects.

Understanding Provigil

Provigil, or modafinil, is described on its website as a prescription medicine used to “improve wakefulness in adults who experience excessive sleepiness due to sleep disorders like sleep apnea, shift work sleep disorder, or narcolepsy.”

The federally-controlled substance was originally thought to have less abuse potential than stimulants that target dopamine transporters, especially due to its expense and its degree of difficulty for injection or snorting. The usual suspects, like ADHD medications Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta, have been abused for years. But now that Provigil is being increasingly used as a cognitive enhancer, researchers seem to be changing their tune.

Nora D. Volkow, M.D., of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and her colleagues reported in the March 18, 2009 Journal of the American Medical Association that brain scans showed increased dopamine in areas that include nucleus accumbens, which gives the drug a rewarding effect. Basically, it was concluded that because of the pleasure one can derive from Provigil, there needs to be a heightened awareness for potential abuse and dependence on modafinil.

The findings have some wondering if Provigil has the ability to become a new generation of speed. With our country’s billion dollar energy drink habit already hitting massive heights, and a coffee addiction that is becoming its own problem, it seems to be only a matter of time before drugs like this one make it into the mainstream. After all, people have abused ADHD medication and other “concentration” drugs for years.

What’s to stop them from doing the same with Provigil?

Side Effects can be Nasty

Abuse isn’t the only concern when talking about modafinil. The side effects can be extremely serious as well.

According to the Provigil website, the drug may cause rashes and allergic reactions that could affect parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells. Hives, sores in your mouth, blisters, dark urine, fever, and trouble swallowing or breathing could all present themselves as well.

And that’s just the beginning.

Listed as the more serious side effects are mental and psychiatric symptoms, depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, mania, thoughts of suicide and aggression . . . all followed by chest pain, abnormal heartbeats, and trouble breathing.

It’s starting to sound more like a medieval form of torture than a refreshing aid to wakefulness.

But what can you do if you’re afflicted by a serious sleep disorder, and you need to get through your busy schedule? Well, there’s usually a natural solution you can count on.

A Natural Approach

If restlessness is affecting you at night, there is always a plethora of natural and holistic options you can look at before turning to a drug that could cause “sensing things that are not really there.”

There are aids out there for insomnia and other sleep problems, like acupressure. Keeping a warm and quiet room, assuming a comfortable position, and breathing gently as you apply pressure to a recommended acupressure point can be a true help.

You can also attempt to cure your ills with a better diet and more exercise, the combination of which often leads to better rest and a more alert future.

There supplements available as well, like Ashwagandha, a potent extract that’s over 5,000 years old and has been working near-miracles for patients suffering from joint pain to forgetfulness to fatigue. It has been found to increase energy and better sleep while promoting calmness and well-being. And there are options out there that have perfected the science of harnessing the little wonder.

So if you’re suffering from any type of sleep problem and you’re looking for a way to combat your exhaustion during the day, it’s probably not best to turn to a drug that can cause mania.  And if you know someone that is recreationally using Provigil, you should be quick to point out all of the possible problems that can arise.

Provigil may or may not be the second coming of Speed, but it certainly appears to be dangerous in any form.

Which will probably just make it even harder to “rest easy.”

Cited Sources

"PROVIGIL(modafinil) Home." PROVIGIL (modafinil) Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2012. <http://www.provigil.com/>.

"DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications - Methylphenidate and Amphetamines." Stimulant ADHD Medications. N.p., June 2009. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. <http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/stimulant-adhd-medications-methylphenidate-amphetamines>.

Volkow, Nora D. "Effects of Modafinil on Dopamine..." JAMA Network. N.p., 18 Mar. 2009. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=183580>.

"Magnatol." Nutricell.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 July 2012. <https://nutricell.com/discount/magnatol/>.

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