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Modafinil for Young People? | A MUST-READ

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

Brain on pills

Your brain is a universe, ever-changing.

Most people are accustomed to neglecting the brain, it's a common inaction (or action) in the modern world - we are being bombarded with stimuli, eat unhealthy foods, follow bad habits, exposed to hidden inflammatory environmental aspects that hamper the brain, etc...

The world is affluent with things that slow down our brains and bodies, it is no hard task to do so.

But for some the glimmer of brain enhancement and biohacking is very appealing, and for a good reason - if you can protect, clean, and upgrade your brain, you can change your whole life, as simply as that.

So these individuals begin their journeys in the enticing field of cognitive enhancement, in pursuit of a better brain.

If you are here, It's probably you.

But you may be a teen, or a young adult with a brain still in development, wondering if modafinil will make you a better you, or slow down your progress.

If so, we're happy to announce you've come to the right place.

In this article we'll cover:

What is modafinil, what are the neuroplasticity and neurogenesis processes, and should you, as a young adult, use the smartdrug modafinil, or steer towards nootropic alternatives?

Table of contents

What is modafinil | Pharmacology | Neuroplasticity |Modafinil and Neuroplasticity | Alternatives | Verdict


What is Modafinil

Modafinil to the brain is like how a pair of glasses are to the eyes.

It's standing in the frontier of the cognitive augmentation industry's public relations.

While these days the biohacking field contains numerous tools at its toolkit for you to use, a few centuries ago that wasn't the case, and modafinil as a synthetic drug was used for years strictly for on-label purposes, hence only for the applications the FDA has approved it for, under the brand name "Provigil". [1]

It was approved by the Foods and Drugs Administration in 1998 for a medical condition called narcolepsy, in which a person can fall asleep arbitrarily - at any given moment.

In 2003, it was approved by the FDA for other sleep related medical conditions, specifically Shift Work Sleep Disorder and sleep apnea.

But the change towards a compound that's used mainly for off label purposes was building up in small increments [2]

There are two big players who prodded the growing interest in modafinil, the first is Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur that took modafinil for 8 years and was open about it at the time and still is...

We can't say for certain that he is the one that "opened" the conception of professionals like entrepreneurs or financial brokers towards modafinil, but he shed light on modafinil's brain boosting characteristics and got a lot of attention for it.

The second incentive pushing more people's interests into modafinil was the movie "limitless", in which the protagonist (played by Bradley Cooper) encounters his ex-brother in law who gives him an experimental pharmaceutical drug called "NZT-48".


(A GIF from the subsequent show, "limitless")

NZT-48 Provides the main character with unprecedented mental powers such as extreme focus and unparalleled learning abilities.

The movie released in 2011 sparked the imagination of every day people outside high-performing communities and marked the entry of modafinil to the mainstream.

The movie's fantasy magic pill is based on the real life modafinil pill, although modafinil won't make you a genius overnight, but the anecdotes say it is quite transformative when being used intelligently.

Medical Literature

Modafinil was recognized by the public, alongside scientists that were famished for knowledge of modafinil as a Neuroenchancer — and it was recognized as the world's first safe smart drug in a Harvard meta-study.

"The review found that modafinil improved attention, learning and memory, and the benefit increased with the complexity of the task. There was little impact on creativity or mood."

But modafinil is definitely not the only brain-enhancer around.

Now the growing trend is to pivot towards the use of nootropics - safer compounds that protect, sometimes clean, and even upgrade the brain, and not give it short-lived boosts like smartdrugs do.

Moreover, some consider modafinil as a nootropic because the two terms got a little mixed up over the years.

We do not consider modafinil as a nootropic, but respect is due - modafinil is a much safer and sustainable smartdrug than Methylphenidate or Adderall.


Modafinil's Pharmacology

If we seek to know what are the applications of modafinil to a young person's brain, we got to understand its mechanism of action (MOA) first.

Like we've said before, officially, physicians prescribe modafinil to treat medical conditions - it is a very effective drug when it comes to help people cope with extreme tiredness.

That's why, in scientific studies, modafinil is considered a eugeroic agent, or in simpler terms - a wakefulness promoting drug [3]

Whilst considered a eugeroic, modafinil also holds cognition enhancing properties that justify its use by a myriad of people as a smartdrug to boost their productivity and output, in order to become more successful.

The pros include but not limited to:

  • Enhanced concentration and attention [4]

  • Better grasping abilities [5]

  • Improved energy [6]

  • Deep flow states

There is still some to be discovered when it comes to what happens behind the scenes - scientists don't know yet the full mechanism of action that modafinil exerts in the brain.

But it's not totally obscure - most of the effects are already known[7]:

  • A weak dopamine transporter (DAT) inhibiting properties, thus enhancing dopamine and norepinephrine signaling in the central nervous system (CNS) [8]

  • Affinity towards the serotonergic system - modulating serotonin signaling.

  • Modulating other critical neurotransmitters systems such as the orexinergic and histaminergic, thus enhancing one's wakefulness and eliminating fatigue for prolonged times.

  • Modafinil also alters the excitatory and inhibitory systems of the CNS - It lowers GABA (which inhibits neuron firing) concentrations and lifts the transmission of glutamate (the excitatory neurotransmitter), thus making neurons more likely to fire and communicate with each other, in certain brain areas.

  • Modafinil also may be a neuroprotective agent [9]


Our recommended vendor offers free samples straight to you, so before you make a purchase you can get acquainted with modafinil to learn if it fits you:



If you seek to create a 2.0 you, you must first understand the organ that makes you who you are.

As said above, the brain is ever-changing, it's dynamic, or the way neurologists describe it - the brain is plastic.

From the day you are born to your last day, the brain is changing its configuration chronically, like a non-stop metamorphosis.

This process is called neuroplasticity, and it's imperative for you.

When you learn a new skill, maybe simple as kicking a ball or hard like learning a new language you reshape your brain and make new connections between neurons, a good analogy for the mass connections there, will be a really intricate spider web:

Our brain cells are connected via neurological highways called axons, and that is how separate neurons communicate with each other, they send electrical and chemical messages through the axons, arriving to other neurons via synapses which have a similar rule to a junction.

The neurons are not isolated from near parts, somewhat visually similar to the spider's web.

Without the ability of creating new connections, your brain will be stagnant, and you won't be able to acquire new abilities.

Lack of neuroplasticity may even cause neurodegenerative diseases [10].

There's a famous aphorism in neuroscience known as "Hebb's rule" which says [11]:

"Neurons that fire together wire together"

This notion is a centerpiece in neuroscience.

An iconic study that validates Hebb's thesis is Pavlov's study about classical conditioning.

The study started as a study about dogs' digestion, but a change in the dogs' physiological reactions caught the attention of researches, there was a shift in the pattern of when the dogs start to salivate.

At first the dogs were salivating when they were presented with food, but later, they salivated at the sounds of the cart that brought the food.

To test this pattern, Pavlov induced a bell ring before the meals, and after a while, the dogs started to salivate when they heard a bell ring.

Neurons that fire together wire together, you're following?

The brain is an awe eliciting machine, we know.


Modafinil and neuroplasticity

In and of themselves Pavlov's study and Hebb's rule don't have direct correlation to modafinil, but neuroplasticity does, and this is where it gets interesting and somewhat complex (It's neuroscience, what did you expect?)

First let's get familiar with another underpinning idea in neuroscience

Neurogenesis is the mechanism in the brain that creates new brain cells, but it's fading out with age; the consensus is that the brain stops growing at the late 20s'.

But neurogenesis still is present in a few parts of the brain like the hippocampus, (Generally, a neuron colony where the brain stores long-term memories, not a university for hippos) throughout all life.

Now let's be systematic and separate the good and the bad.

The pros

This study addresses the ability of modafinil to induce neural proliferation in the dentate gyrus (part of the hippocampus), and improve the neurons' chance of survival, albeit that's only an acute effect that doesn't continue with long term usage...[12]

Modafinil also enhances the neuronal connectivity with healthy, elderly subjects, at the cortex and the cerebellum (the cortex is the most outer layer in the brain, the cerebellum aka the "little brain" is a part controlling various functions such as balance and coordination), however this effect is not established when it comes to healthy young individuals. [13]

In this study 19-22 years old students were tested on various cognitive factors [14]:

"Modafinil group performed better than placebo at dots color tests and visual information processing test"

All these studies go in the favor of modafinil but does that mean it is necessarily innocuous to students or young professionals?

The cons

Diving deeper into the cons means we must unravel more background information, specifically neuroanatomy information.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC), located just behind your forehead is a brain region known as evolution's latest upgrade to the human brain [15].

Basically it's the commander of your brain, among other things, it regulates executive functions, decision-making and attention.

However, the development of the PFC does not finish until the late twenties, thus modafinil may hold potential ramifications when used at a young age just like the hampering that methylphenidate causes for adolescents and juveniles.

That assumption is stemming from the similar pharmacology the drugs have on dopamine reuptake proteins - but it is only an hyphothesis [16].

"Modafinil could induce changes in plasticity or behavioral rigidity, and potentially damage working memory, logical thinking and decision making"

Another thing to worry about is the fact that the long term studies about modafinil are lacking - there is no study that follows long term users and assert the neurological, cognitive and behavioral consequences of modafinil usage throughout the scope of years, thus making the safety profile of modafinil more obscure [17].

Maybe the scientific mambo jambo does not speak to you, and that's fine, we brought this young Redditor anecdote and it may steer you away from modafinil [18].

"but it was kind of like a milder red bull in my opinion which lasted longer. Soon, my fascination with this alleged smart drug ended, and I stopped taking it in the middle of my 11th grade.
And here's where the problem started. I literally lost all interest in EVERYTHING."

Modafinil alternatives

If you are a young adult, and we convinced you to pivot away from modafinil, but you're still enthusiastic towards the notion of cognitive enhancement - than nootropic blends are right for you.

A nootropic blend is the mixing of various natural substances that enhances, protect and develop the brain on the long and short term.

These compounds can be herbs, amino acids, vitamins and even certain mushrooms like "lions mane" a highly effective "smart mushroom" which enhances NGF (neuro growth factor) which is like a fertilizer to the brain that exerts neuroplasticity.

Mind lab pro is a comprehensive and safe blend of nootropic substances that brings radical cognitive enhancement.

The guys from mind lab pro are transparent (reveal the exact doses of each compound, which, apparently is not something every company does), they do third lab testing (again, not all companies do that) and have scientists come up with the formulas.

The formula include some highly effective and safe compounds such as:

  • Citicholine

  • Rhodiola rosea

  • Lions mane

  • L-theanine

(they offer 10% discount with the first order)


The verdict

All in all, modafinil is an effective smartdrug that exerts minor effects on neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, but as far as the current scientific literature can tell us - the possible ramifications of modafinil on an adolescent brain are far bigger than the short term positive effects.

For young individuals we recommend modafinil alternatives such as mind lab pro to enhance the neural connectivity via neuropeptides called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and NGF (nerve growth factors).

These molecules are essential for a effective let alone healthy brain, and sometimes they are referred to as brain fertilizers - mind lab bro contains herbs and amino acids that are well studies and increase BDNF and NGF thus making you learn faster, retain more information, gain more well-being, and more...

If you still want to try modafinil as a young Individual, please tread with caution - read our dosing protocols for the best and healthiest way to deal with modafinil, this way you can minimize the cons.

Good luck!


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Important note: this article may contain affiliate links, with that being said, our articles are always made with good faith and intentions.

Please contact us if you find any outdated information in one of our guides or articles; we put a lot of time and effort into researching, so the info is always scientific literature based from platforms such as NCBI.

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