May 15, 2008

Provigil vs. Adderall

Filed under: Adderall — Tags: , , — Anthony @ 4:03 am

I know, I know – I couldn’t come up with any clever titles for this post. But that actually makes a point. A point about Provigil.

But first, I will rewind 12 hours or so. Actually – first let’s go 12 months back, to around the time of my first Adderall posts. Somewhere, back in one of those posts, I know I’ve talked about Provigil. About how it’s what I really want (as opposed to Adderall), but how I can’t have it because of it’s high cost, and very narrow range of insurance-recognized uses. And I talked about how I was stuck with Adderall for now, the high-power amphetamine. The highly addictive, $5-bucks-a-pop-on-campus, orange bundle of world-conquering energy. The one that turns your fingers cold, your skin clammy, and sets your heart a’palpitating.

 Moving on.

12 hours ago I happened across a “7 days Provigil supply for free” coupon on the official Provigil website. I called my doctor, who happened to have an opening an hour later – at 10:30 am. To make a short story shorter, I took 200mg of Provigil around 11:30. Then I crossed my fingers, and sat around waiting for fireworks to go off in my head.


An open letter to my friend is appropriate at this time.

Oh Adderall…  you set the bar so high. With you, there is nothing I can’t do. You’ve been there for me when I’ve had impossible deadlines, and needed to pull off 24-hour one-sitting-with-bathroom-breaks work sessions. You were by my side through many awkward conversations – conversations that were necessary, but that I couldn’t bring myself to partake in on my own. You kept me safe on the road on more than one occasion, when technically I should have been too tired to drive. You inspire me.

Yes, sometimes you were a jerk. Sometimes you are hard to predict. I’ve gone far more hours without sleep then I should ever have had to - because of your tricky, manipulative ways. Through some of those long working nights, you made my fingers and toes stiff with coldness. You’ve woken me up from sleep with a gasp, as my heart skipped a beat, then did what felt like a back-flip to catch up. I often have to avoid shaking hands – because my sweaty palms would gross people out.

But those flaws aren’t totally your fault. “30mgs” per day, they said. And yet… sometimes… you’re so irresistable. “All things in moderation” they say. And yet – the brain’s reward circuit is so powerful.

Overall, the good times far outweigh the bad. If I could go back – I would gladly do it all again. The day I have to go back to my “hypersomniatic” schedule will be the day I double my zoloft prescription.


Now, where was I?

Oh yes -the fireworks. They never came. I gave up waiting after about 4 hours, noticing no effect beyond what a caffien pill of the same mass would provide. I gave up – and laid down for a nap (having given up Adderall for the day, per Dr.’s instructions).

30 minutes later, I got up. At that point, I felt very awake (this onset time does not seem typical from what I’ve read, but it’s what I experienced!). No fireworks, just very awake. And now, 8.5 hours later, still very awake.

 But it’s very different from the “Adderall Awake.” For one, I am not at this moment striving for world domination. Also, my mind is not spontaneously striking out on odd tangents like it does with Adderall – something that is expressed as “creativity” when it’s happening. And that brings us back to the title of this post. No creativity whatsoever. : (

On Adderall – my mind works like a pot of popcorn, cooking old-school style – you know… on the stove, a little oil, a handful of seeds - and within minutes the pot’s lid has risen 3 inches on an unstoppable, expanding column of popcorn. Ideas flowing, churning, just on the border of consciousness – combinations, permutations, associations, ideas - all of which would have seemed “dumb” in process under normal brain-chemistry circumstances, and yet the “dumb in process” turns into “beautiful in completion” on Adderall because my dopamine-flooded neurons had the guts to charge forward with what appeared at first to be a “dumb idea.”

“What? I can’t play those notes together! That’ll sound awful!”
“Just do it. Trust me.”
“Allllrighty then.”
[plays several very dissonant notes]
“See? It sounds like cra… cra… …”
[dissonant notes resolve in an amazing chord sequence I never would have guessed sounded good]
“Holy crap, that gave me shivers! That is so beautiful!… wait, what? No no, THAT one will sound bad….”

A third observation: does this post seem to meander a bit?

Here’s how I explain Adderalls “focusing” effects to people.

A stream of thought is like a car on the freeway. On Adderall, the wheels are stuck in a groove in one lane. The car resists changing lanes. You can even let go of the steering wheel, and the car will navigate turns on it’s own, so deep are those grooves. On Provigil, which has minimal “focusing” effects, the car will drift right off the shoulder if you’re not actively correcting it. And indeed, my mind has wondered (pun intended) off the shoulder of this post at least a dozen times.

I guess to close – Provigil is perfectlysufficient for my true issues. All I ever asked for was to stay awake for a normal number of hours. But see, I’ve been spoiled now. And after all this time, I think I’ll stick with Adderall. Not to mention Provigil costs 8 times more without insurance…. that’s 30 times more with Adderall covered, but Provigil not.

Now, excuse me, for I am being distracted and must go.

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  1. first of all if you really wanted those fireworks to go off in your head then you should have taken 500 mg instead of just 200.
    yes i will give adderall its props but there is nothing like a good megadose of provigil

    Comment by ????????? — November 17, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  2. Uh WOW This is exactly what I was looking for when I typed Provigil vs. Adderall in google. I was looking for something that helped me focus more and pro doesnt really do it. However, it does keep me alert and awake which I guess facilitates normal synapse firing better than nodding off. I dont think I want to get wrapped around the adderall axle though… been there, done that with other things in younger days. Thanks for your posts, very interesting.

    Comment by nu2provigil — May 1, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  3. nu2provigil:

    Thank you for the feedback.

    I can’t believe it’s been a year since I wrote this post. Which I guess demonstrates very well how I now feel about the dangerous Adderall Axle. Most of the time that passed – between this post and today – is simply gone, and all I have to show for it is financial turmoil, strained relationships and an overgrown yard.

    Adderall is a useful tool for some. But if you have any hint of addictive traits, for God’s sake – don’t touch Adderall. Even Adderall’s little cousin – Ritalin, is a risky alternative.

    Some things to ask your doctor about:
    1) Provigil plus Strattera (non-stimulant ADD chemical)
    2) Wellbutrin (a mild stimulant with no real abuse potential (unless you enjoy seizures)), with or without Provigil (both are mild stims, so I wouldn’t be worried about stim/stim issues).
    3) My knowledge is very superficial! These are nothing more than ideas to discuss with a doctor.

    For anyone reading this post – make sure to also read the later posts on Adderall for the complete picture.

    Comment by Anthony — May 1, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  4. I’ve taken up to 600mg of Provigil and it does nothing for me. I’m still tired and unfocused at work. I’m afraid my doctor won’t give me Aderall. I think that may be the only thing that will work. I’m frustrated. Oh and did I mention tired?

    Comment by Jamie — May 15, 2009 @ 10:54 am

  5. There’s no doubt about it; amphetamines are in a class of their own. Modafinal works for some people, Bupropion works for some people – but amphetamines – I’ve never met an (unnaturally fatigued) person for whom Adderall didn’t “kick the tires and light the fires” (sorry for the nerdy movie quote). Unfortunately, it’s also true that very few substances hijack the brain’s reward circuits as severely as Adderall.

    If you DO get it – please read my later posts to see what kind of mess it can turn into for a person with an “addictive personality” – and be very very careful.

    Comment by Anthony — May 16, 2009 @ 1:14 am

  6. You need to read “An Uncertain Pilgrim”, by Dr. Jim Patrick Ware. He is a psychiatrist with like 30 years of experience. There is an exercise that he invented called journaling that can help you get your mind back. It takes ten minutes a day and you will be amazed at how fast it works. Basically, on stimulants, you lose touch with your thoughts and feelings and end up concerned with those of others. It isn’t that your thoughts stop, you just don’t recognize them anymore. The journaling exercise is where you sit a computer ina place where there will be no distractions and then rethink, refeel, and relive anything that has happened in the last 24 hours for five minutes. Then you spend five minutes writing down what you remember. It is ten minutes a day, so it is worth a shot and it completely revolutionizes your brain. It kicks ass. You will have tons more energy, you end up on all the time, and you won’t abuse the drugs because you’ll be as on as you need to be. If you don’t believe that it will work, just try it. I guarantee in a week you will be together in a way you cannot believe. I hope you do it. Good luck.

    Comment by Joshua Bietz — July 12, 2009 @ 2:08 am

  7. Having degenerative disc disease of the spine wears me out. A few years back my Doc prescribed Provighil for me. After continuous use it left me shaky and sick to my stomach without the alertness factor. As one of the original ADHD ritalin kids of the 50′s (when ritalin was in liquid form) I got my Doc to switch me to Adderol. AMAZING stuff. Being on high doses of methadone and oxycodone I got to where I was tired all the time. Adderol has given me new energy that provigil never did. What it does for each person as an individual strictly depends on that individuals body chemistry. So in this matter, truly the phrase to each there own applies.

    Comment by Mike Christen — August 11, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

  8. Hi. I have CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and My MD has been trying different Adderall dosages with me. Adderall is great-very addictive I must add, but has a short half life and does not last long. XR and regular release were no different for me. I ended up on 10 mg TID. I am thinking about asking him to switch me to Provigil or Buproprion (sp?) because, while I love the “high” what I really want is to be able to stay awake and alert for more than 6 hours a day. What do you think?

    Comment by Carrie — October 22, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  9. Hi Carrie,

    First, my “review” of Provigil is not really fair. I didn’t take into account that I was withdrawing from Adderall during the Provigil experiment, which would have significantly detracted from any perceived effects. The fact that I was functional at all says a lot about Provigil; usually, when I’m withdrawing from Adderall, I’m a useless blob on the couch (for months, as it turns out).

    Regarding Adderall’s addictive properties – it really is frustrating that an answer exists for us sleepy people, but for some (like myself), my own brain sabotages the solution. I can’t have it because I can’t control it. If you’re getting to the point where you take it at night, hate the thought of going to sleep or the day being over, run out before the script is up, etc, then the chances are, it’ll only go downhill from there. It’s a crappy situation.

    Provigil is one alternative – probably the safest from an addiction point of view. There is also methylphenidate (Ritalin), which apparently is not quite as addictive. Bupropion (and there is a lot of confusion about the spelling!) has been helpful for me – never a desire to abuse, but, its effectiveness is limited. I still usually take a 2-hour nap every day.

    One potential alternative is Vyvanse. It’s plain old dextroamphetamine (a component of Adderall), but with a lysine molecule stuck to it, which requires a path through the gut to cleave off. Besides making insufflation impossible, it also provides a “natural” time release mechanism. The big thing is – you “come up” gradually, which attenuates the addictive component as your brain does not make such a strong connection between “taking the pill” and the “high.”

    If you require amphetamine, Vyvanse is the safest bet. But Provigil is probably safer, if it works for you.

    And of course, a quick disclaimer – I’ve only taken Adderall and Wellbutrin; everything else is based on extensive reading, but not personal experience. Also, everyone responds differently, so my statements are not absolute!

    Hope you find something that works for you.

    Comment by Anthony — October 23, 2009 @ 2:58 am

  10. I was just diagnosed with Narcolepsy and my doctor perscribe Provigil. I have not taken it yet and was curious as to how it might effect me. I have generally always been blah during the day, most days. Do to this I have gained so much wieght and now am at my heaviest I’ve ever been.
    At first, I tried Phentermine (an appetite supressent/stimulant) and I felt great – minus the nausea at times. But I didn’t know that I actually had Narcolepsy until 10am this morning after recieving my sleep latency test results.

    I am looking forward in seeing how Provigil works for me.

    Comment by Venson — December 3, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  11. Hello all,

    I have fibromyalgia and excessive sleepiness/sleep apnea. My dr prescribed Provigil and hydrocodone for the pain and sleep issues, and after some tinkering with the dosages of both I’ve found pv works beautifully for the most part. I take 200 mg in the morning, and another 100mg in the early afternoon. As long as I drink plenty of fluids and eat a decent amount of calories (not too much or too little) pv is a wonder drug. The one major caveat to pv is that you can’t really take caffeine with it unless you wait several hours. It wrecks the functionality of the drug and may give you a headache.

    When the pv doesn’t work so well, I take a mild adrenal stimulant prescribed by my acupuncturist, who I see once a month.

    As far as the weight gain mentioned by the narcoleptic contributor goes, I combated this with a program on my iPhone called Lose It! It’s a simple calorie counter app on the phone, and I think it may have an online component for those without iPhones. You choose whether you think you can lose 1/2 a pound, 1 pound or 2 pounds per week. I chose the lowest setting (1/2 lb per week) and after a month of struggling to get my eating under control, it started working. I’ve lost 15 pounds since June 2009 (I’m writing this on Feb 1 2010) and will keep going until I lose all of the weight (35 lbs total) I put on over the past 2 years.

    The last thing I do is a light exercise called Classical Stretch With Miranda Esmonde White. She’s on PBS, and the exercises are gentle but intelligent; I became stronger and got back the balance that the fibromyalgia threatened to do away with.

    My blog, Touching An American Sky, covers everything I wrote about here. I also cover a lot of other stuff, like arts, culture and travel, but getting my health back is a huge part of my life right now.

    Good luck to everyone here, no matter your reason for seeking a good stimulant!

    Comment by Susan — February 1, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

  12. What adrenal stimulant did your acupuncturist prescribe?

    Comment by jason — March 25, 2010 @ 10:55 pm

  13. use to love adderol when I was younger, now it makes me go to sleep somehow? I am prescribed 400/mg day of Provigil, but it does nothing but make me cranky. I am constantly tired & unfocused. I cannot find any legal way to make myself awake & useful & I’m very frustrated. I avoid illegal nowadays. people always try & bug me for my provigil but I don’t understand the love of it? also why would adderol go from helping me to making me fall asleep over the years?

    Comment by lilith — April 13, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  14. You guys are crazy, they first gave me low doses of Provigil, and it worked wonders but worked for half a day, then they dobled my dosage and made me take it twice a day, but after a while nothing. Then they gave me Adderall and it works wonders, my DR stated that Adderall is way more potent than provigil will ever be.

    Comment by Emanuel — May 7, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

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