For people living with a modafinil addiction, it may be impossible to even consider a life without the drug. But to move forward with therapy that can help them to build up sobriety skills, people with addiction must get sober. To do that, they must go through withdrawal.
By working with a qualified team of professionals, people with modafinil addiction can smooth the process from intoxication to sobriety. Withdrawal doesn’t need to be painful or scary, and professionals can make sure it isn’t. Families will need to ensure that the facility they choose to help the person they love is capable of doing the job properly.
Addictions can be isolating, and often, that sense of isolation serves to strengthen the addiction. Those who believe they are the only ones who abuse modafinil may never admit to the issue, as they may be concerned about judgment from their peers or family members.
Breaking down that sense of isolation could help the person with an addiction to see the need to get help. Before we dive into the specifics of modafinil withdrawal, let’s discuss how common this addiction really is.
Modafinil is designed to boost levels of wakefulness, and it can be a useful therapy for people with narcolepsy and some types of sleep disorders. But modafinil also has been associated with an enhanced sense of concentration, and that makes it an attractive target for abuse.
According to research cited in Nature, nearly 30 percent of respondents admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs like modafinil in 2017. While the United States had the highest rate of performance-enhancing drug use, this substance was also abused by people in other countries, such as the Netherlands and Canada.
Why do people abuse this drug? Researchers writing in The Pharmaceutical Journal report that some people abuse drugs like modafinil because of poor time management skills. Students may have spent too much time with friends, leaving too little time to finish homework. Taking modafinil allows them to complete the work.
In addition, researchers say, modern life contains a great deal of pressure. Adults need to do well in their jobs, and students need to excel in exams. One failure can seem catastrophic. When the pressure is on, taking drugs seems wise.
Unfortunately, modafinil is not a drug that can be taken recreationally and forgotten. The drug works on the brain’s dopamine pathway, enhancing the pleasure signals via chemicals. This is the same process followed in the development of addictions to cocaine or heroin. It is serious, and when it is in place, it can be hard to stop.
It’s true that some people can take modafinil without getting addicted. As experts quoted in an article in Live Science point out, addictions develop due to an interplay between genetics, psychology, and environment. Addiction is considered a biopsychosocial issue, and while it is serious, it can be treated. Withdrawal is the first step.
With repeated use, the brain becomes accustomed to the constant presence of modafinil, and cells become optimized for that presence. If the drug is abruptly removed from the body and the brain has no access to it, significant symptoms can appear relatively quickly.
A man with a modafinil habit, quoted in an article published in New York, suggests that skipping even one dose can be painful. He describes feeling incredibly anxious when he misses one dose, as though all of the anxiety he’d been blocking during his use came to bear all at once.
These feelings may persist for weeks while the body adjusts to the lack of drugs.
In addition to all of these symptoms, they may feel a deep craving for drugs. They may know that taking just one hit could make all of this discomfort fade away. Modafinil users who live at home may have easy access to the drug, and this can lead to relapse.
In a medical detox program, professionals can help recovering modafinil users feel better while their bodies heal. Often, professionals use tapering programs for modafinil to allow the brain cells to heal without being thrust into sudden sobriety.
In an article in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, doctors describe a tapering program like this. The patient was given a smaller and smaller amount of modafinil throughout a month, and while he felt discomfort during this time, he did not feel overwhelmingly ill. Within a month, he was sleeping normally, and his mood began to improve. This tapering process helped him to achieve that level of recovery.
In addition to tapering medication doses, doctors can offer monitoring to ensure their patients stay healthy. In a study in the journal Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience, researchers write about using “mood charting” to ensure their patient did not develop new and troubling symptoms during a modafinil taper. This particular taper lasted for three weeks, and during that time, all of the patient’s symptoms disappeared.
Each person’s withdrawal timeline will be different, but in general, the process moves this way in a structured program:
The team develops an understanding of the person’s addiction and the level of modafinil the person has been taking. That dosage is maintained.
The taper begins. During this time, people may feel slightly anxious, restless, and can’t sleep.
The taper continues or stops altogether. When the person no longer needs a small dose to feel at ease, the process is complete.
It’s clear that working with professionals is preferable to going through withdrawal alone. Professionals can offer help that you cannot find on your own. To get the help you need, it is vital to find a detox center you can trust.
According to an analysis in U.S. News and World Report, it’s important to look for a facility that has longevity. Facilities that have been open for five years or longer tend to have ethical business practices and good success rates. Those who aren’t ethical or experienced may go out of business as soon as the word gets out about them. Looking for a company with a good track record can help you to avoid making a mistake.
The center you choose should also treat detox as a medical condition, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. There should be medical staff on hand that can assist with detox side effects such as nausea, and the team should offer therapy to alleviate anxiety or restlessness.
The center should also treat patients as individuals. The help you might need to recover might be different than the help another person might need, and your treatment program should respect your individuality. The program should be tailored to meet your needs, and you should have input on its design.
Most treatment centers are happy to answer questions about the work they do and the approach they follow. Take advantage of that opportunity to do your homework and ask plenty of questions before you make a final decision. You may find that a treatment program seems just right for the person you love when you’ve rejected several others first. It pays to be choosy when you’re looking for life-saving help.
(July 2018). Use of 'Smart Drugs' on the Rise. Nature. Retrieved November 2018 from from https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05599-8
(July 2010). Enhanced Intelligence: The Rising Use of "Smart Drugs" Among Students. The Pharmaceutical Journal. Retrieved November 2018 from from https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/opinion/comment/enhanced-intelligence-the-rising-use-of-smart-drugs-among-students/11017908.article?firstPass=false
(October 2017). Why Do We Get Addicted to Things? Live Science. Retrieved November 2018 from from https://www.livescience.com/60694-why-do-we-get-addicted.html
(March 2013). The Real Limitless Drug Isn't Just for Lifehackers Anymore. New York. Retrieved November 2018 from from http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/modafinil-2013-4/
(January 2015). A Rare Case of Modafinil Dependence. Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. Retrieved November 2018 from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4319252/
(November 2016). Modafinil Dependence and Hypersexuality: A Case Report and Review of the Evidence. Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience. Retrieved November 2018 from from http://www.cpn.or.kr/journal/view.html?doi=10.9758/cpn.2016.14.4.402
(September 2017). Six Tips for Finding a Good Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved November 2018 from from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-09-07/6-tips-for-finding-a-good-drug-and-alcohol-treatment-center
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