Five dark sides of Modafinil…

Biohacker Review of Pharmaceutical-Grade Modafinil

Jonathan Roseland
9 min readJul 27, 2018


Watch: Modafinil Review: 5 Darksides of the Smart Drug & Why a Quarter of Biohackers Dislike It…

This is top-of-the-line pharmaceutical-grade Modafinil, these are both from Sun Pharmaceutical in India. People get confused by all these names — Modafinil, Provigil, Armodafinil, Adrafinil, Vigia, Modalert, Artvigil, etc.

Modafinil is its own branch of the smart drug category tree

There are a few varieties of it with a shared mechanism of action and since it’s such a popular pharmaceutical that’s sold in drug stores across the world it has a lot of brand names. What you want to pay attention to is the variety (Modafinil, Armodafinil, Adrafinil) and dosage (usually 100 milligrams or 200 milligrams). By my assessment, is the best source of smart drugs in this category.

I did a detailed 17-minute video encapsulating what the human studies that have been done on Modafinil are saying practically. I encourage you to watch that before ordering or ingesting anything. In this review, I’m going to share some reservations I have about Modafinil.

My experience

I’ve done Modafinil probably over a hundred times in the last few years, I would do it more but I have a lot of other smart drugs to trial.

Apps vs Operating System

A smart drug like Modafinil is kind of a way of cheating at your personal development. I take an Apps vs Operating System approach to personal development, so if you think about your mind using the metaphor of a computer or smartphone you can do personal development either by installing apps or upgrading the operating system…

Installing Apps

  • Learning a second language.
  • Acquiring a new career skillset.
  • Reading books.
  • Studying philosophy.
  • Getting coaching.
  • Writing daily.
  • Or getting into entrepreneurship, pickup, or social dynamics.

The more apps you have the more you can do. Or you can do personal development by…

Upgrading the Operating System

  • A meditation practice.
  • Optimizing your diet, brain training with Dual N-back (which is a very precise metaphor because it’s literally like upgrading the RAM of your mind).
  • Practicing memory systems.
  • Heart rate variability training.
  • Getting outside of your comfort zone.
  • Doing aerobic exercise 90 minutes a week to stimulate neuroplasticity.
  • Habituating your heuristic reactions.
  • Getting outside of your comfort zone.
  • Practicing arbitrary discipline.
  • Taking Nootropics that feed your brain the nutrients it needs.
  • Quitting your addictions or managing your vices.

There’s a lot of debate as to whether Apps or OS is more important…

Should you focus on the inner game or the outer game? I’m not sure…

While there is some overlap between some of these apps and improving the operating system, we’ve all met people who were really into personal development but they were overly biased towards Installing Apps, while they were always studying things or starting new projects they just didn’t have enough discipline to accomplish much. They occasionally go through a bout of depression and then announce to the world (probably on Facebook) that they are starting yet another project.
So it’s really important to habituate on both sides of the spectrum. I did a podcast on this that you may want to check out.

Modafinil is neither. It’s a wakefulness agent and a short-term cognitive enhancer, it doesn’t feed your brain any nutrients that help it in perpetuity. It just gives you 8–12 hours deep in the focus zone.
There’s kind of this dubious case that people make about smart drugs like Modafinil that they teach you that your brain can focus and push you out of your cognitive comfort zone so you can focus better even when you are off them, I’m not so sure about that… It’s kind of a cool idea but there are no good studies or data I know of that substantiate it.

Since it is so effective at temporarily boosting your operating system for 8–10 hours, it could become a crutch for your personal development. Why do all the hard work of learning to meditate, teaching yourself to practice discipline, or getting outside of your comfort zone when you can just drop a pill and kick ass?

Well, the answer to that rhetorical question is that…
First of all, you don’t always have access to these drugs and you don’t want to be dependent upon them for your ‘state’, the objective is to be a robust gangster in life in any setting, a master of one’s own mind — taking drugs to reach a particular state is counter-intuitive to that.
Second, if you focus on holistic personal development you are going to get a whole lot better ROI from the smart drugs and you will be able to appreciate their effects a whole lot more.
So I hope that if you choose to take advantage of this shortcut to productivity that is Modafinil, you balance it with the daily habituation of an Apps and OS approach to the rest of your personal development.

Modalert 200, this is 200 milligrams of the classic Modafinil, 200 milligrams may be too much for some people, so you can cut it in half if you need to. The taste is really bad — even with water, it’s a tablet so you are tasting the Modafinil when you take it. I suggest washing it down with an equally strong-tasting beverage.

Artvigil 150, this is Armodafinil, I couldn’t tell a huge difference between the two. Armodafinil is pretty intense and anecdotally, is supposed to cause some subtle paranoia, which some people strangely like… I experienced this myself to an extent a couple of times when I was on it. For this reason, I would not recommend full dosages of Armodafinil to someone who is in an emotionally fragile state.

My favorite Modafinil stack is

  • Coffee — Modafinil takes a while to kick in, so if I’m having a Modafinil day I begin it with coffee. I don’t find the two overwhelming.
  • L-Theanine — Modafinil can be intense and L-Theanine takes the edge off. Modafinil is also not particularly great for creativity, which L-Theanine makes up for. So I really like L-Theanine stacked with Modafinil.
  • NicotineThe creativity smart drug and my favorite Modafinil cofactor. Here’s why.
Watch: My favorite Modafinil cofactor…

Speaking of creativity…

A lot of you watching this who’s living depends upon your creativity, have a process for creativity, as do I, so even when I don’t feel a muse of inspiration kissing the back of my neck, I can still be creative — pound out a couple of hundred words. In that respect, I’m able to be creatively productive on Modafinil.
However, some people need that muse or to be in a creative state to face the blank page and make something beautiful out of it. For those people, Modafinil might not be the best drug and you may want to fill your swimming pool up with green tea and go swim in it to get a lot of L-Theanine in your system.

It’s a slower burn; sometimes it takes about 2–3 hours to kick in, sometimes I would take it around 9 AM, by 10 AM I’d be feeling a little more energetic but not noticeably enhanced. However, by noon I would be deep in the concentration zone. I get as much as 10 hours of productivity out of a single Modafinil tablet, in the past, I seem to recall working sometimes as much as +12 hours on Modafinil, which hasn’t happened this go around which is probably just because I’m getting more reasonable with my working day. I had no exhaustion-induced hallucinations on either of these, which I did with Vigia.

I’m an open-source website developer and I feel like the gods of computer code, or the ghosts in the machine inspired the Modafinil molecule specifically for technical or development tasks. It really gets you in the zone to knock out a big programming task or fix a bug that’s been causing you problems on a website. A lot of times there would be a particularly persistent bug or development task, that I’ve been kind of procrastinating on for several weeks, I will go down the Modafinil rabbit hole and kick its ass in a matter of just a few hours.

Meditation is a bit of a challenge; I found myself slipping back into problem-solving mode when I was trying to focus on the blue sky — clearing my mind and objectively watching thoughts drift past.

Usually, I require audio amusement while I’m working; music, podcasts, audio programs about WW1, or audiobooks. When I’m on Modafinil I will find myself going 45–60 minutes in silence listening to nothing while working.

What about tolerance and addiction…

While all the experts and research papers say that Modafinil has exceptionally low addiction risk and a very gentle tolerance curve, I’m not sure I agree.
For me, if I do Modafinil more than three times a week, I start running into a tolerance curve. There were a couple of times I did it like 4–5 days in a row and by the final day, it was just not delivering that super focused, productive headspace that Modafinil is so associated with.
I found it somewhat addictive because I’m a workaholic and it increases my productivity sharply. I would have a kick-ass day getting stuff done on Modafinil and then I would wake up the next morning and want to repeat that.
I do Biohacking consultation calls a couple of times a week and about a quarter of the people I talk to have not glowingly positive experiences to report from Modafinil…
They get brain fog
They get headaches
They get paranoid
Its effect is inconsistent
They run into a steep tolerance curve
So it’s not my favorite smart drug, it’s far from the first thing I recommend to new Biohackers.
However, a friend of mine who is a pretty successful entrepreneur told me that he makes like an extra $100K a year as a result of his Modafinil habit. So for the people who it does work for, it really works. There’s a reason why it’s a favorite of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Wall Street types.

Some other negatives of Modafinil

  • My spelling sucks while I’m on Modafinil, it increases my typing speed but not necessarily the accuracy. My fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Woods, would be ashamed.
  • One thing I dislike about it is that it makes me sweat, which is a little weird especially if I’m just sitting there on my computer not doing something physically excruciating… Which is a little weird.

The website I found very intuitive and easy to use. It has automatic shipping email updates and this cool shipping map that shows you day by day as your product is getting closer to your house.

As you can see in the photos the packaging is very no-frills, Modafinil is one of the Nootropics that I carry almost everywhere in my backpack. Most of my other Nootropics are these suspicious-looking white powders, I lived in South America, so even though they are clearly labeled, carrying them around on my person is just asking for trouble. Whereas Modafinil, just looks like generic medication.

Armodafinil vs Modafinil

Modafinil is comprised of an R-isomer and an S-isomer whereas Armodafinil is just the R-isomer. To quote a 2009 study comparing the two:

Despite similar half-lives, plasma concentrations following armodafinil administration are higher late in the day than those following modafinil administration on a milligram-to-milligram basis.

This would suggest that Armodafinil is the stronger version, at least when it comes to wakefulness.

Here’s a cool idea…

There are some pretty decent savings as you increase the quantity, you can get 300 Modafinils for $300. But it would probably take you a couple of years to do 300 Modafinils, and frankly, I would be concerned transporting 300 of any drug through airports, in a car, or across international borders.

What I would suggest is finding a couple of buddies who are ambitious, Lifehacker, or entrepreneurial types and splitting the cost of the largest quantity available with them. This would cost you just a little more than $100; you would have a super productive Modafinil day every third day for a year and you would also kind of have a secret society, a syndicate-mastermind group with your friends who are doing the same thing. If the added productivity and group accountability doesn’t make you at least an extra $10,000 in the next year I would be seriously surprised.

Make sure to send your friends my Modafinil video with the stealth fighter when you propose this.

Watch: Modafinil: The Military-Grade Smart Drug and Why it Made Me Hallucinate…
Originally published at



Jonathan Roseland

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸