Modafinil and Alcohol – A Safe or a Deadly Combination?
- Health & Wellness
- July 17, 2019
What Is Modafinil?
Modafinil is a medicine which is known to promote wakefulness. It works by altering the natural chemicals in the brain. Also known by the name of Provigil, it is used to treat excessive sleepiness which is caused by disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or shift work sleep disorder.
This medicine does not cure sleep disorder completely. Also, Modafinil cannot take the place of getting proper sleep. Moreover, one must not use this medicine to treat tiredness or to hold off sleep in those suffering from any kind of sleep disorder.
Before we talk about the impact of Modafinil and Alcohol on our body, let’s dig deeper into what Modafinil actually is and how it works.
How Does Modafinil Work?
Modafinil benefits simply by increasing the concentration of neurotransmitters which are associated with the waking portion of the nervous system. Our brain tends to follow a natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. Stimulating the waking side is how we remain focused. Modafinil increases the concentration level of a compound known as Orexin, which commands the brain to stay awake.
This drug further increases two essential neurotransmitters in the brain i.e. dopamine and norepinephrine.
Modafinil also increases the concentration level of another compound known as histamine, involved in the process of stimulating the nervous system.
Uses of Modafinil
Modafinil is used to promote wakefulness in those who suffer from excessive sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, shift work sleep disorder, and obstructive sleep apnea. Narcolepsy is a chronic disease of the brain and spinal cord characterized most commonly by a recurrent, uncontrollable desire to sleep. While shift work sleep disorder is a condition in which the normal rhythm of sleep is disturbed, often as a result of working at night. Lastly, sleep apnea is a condition where sleep is constantly interrupted at night because of pauses in breathing or shallow breathing usually due to obstruction of the upper airway.
Side Effects of the Mighty Drug
- Dry Mouth
- Loss of Appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor immediately.
Recommended Dosage and How Should you take it
The recommended daily dose of Modafinil is 200 mg. Your daily dose must not exceed 400 mg. For treating narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea, it should be taken in the morning. On the other hand, for shift work disorder, it must be administered one hour prior to work. You must also keep in mind that the 400 mg dose may not be more effective than the 200 mg dose. You can take Modafinil with or without food.
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Warnings & Precautions
- Impairs the ability to operate heavy machinery or perform any hazardous tasks
- Should be kept out of reach of children
- In case of overdose, call for medical help immediately
- Possible hypersensitivity
Effects of Drug Abuse
- Risk of skin reactions
- Steven-Johnsons Syndrome
- Toxic necrolysis
- Drug rash
- May impair the ability to operate heavy machinery and perform hazardous tasks
What happens if you mix Modafinil and Alcohol?
As a rule, you must not mix modafinil with alcohol. However, much more research needs to be done by doctors to be able to confirm the side-effects of combining modafinil and alcohol. Although, many healthy individuals consuming Modafinil have reported that mixing it with alcohol can cause blackouts. While other individuals have reported having experienced heightened alcohol tolerance. These individuals have had difficulty feeling drunk even after having more alcohol than they would normally consume.
Modafinil and alcohol are substances which tend to have the opposite effect on the chemistry of the brain. Alcohol tends to increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA while decreasing the activity of the glutamate. On the other hand, Modafinil is known as the GABA antagonist while decreasing the GABA production and increasing glutamate production. The effect of combining these two substances will have an opposing effect on the neurotransmitters. Modafinil is known to stimulate activity in one direction while alcohol tends to depress the activity of the brain in a totally different direction. The effects of mixing Modafinil with alcohol can be entirely unpredictable.
Dangers Involved in Mixing Modafinil with Alcohol
- Causes Dehydration– Both these substances promotes the loss of water in the body. This is because of the fact that the body has to metabolize and break them down. Furthermore, it increases water loss from the kidney in order to eliminate the two from the body at a faster rate. Mixing the two will result in the body becoming dehydrated.
- Affects Liver Function Negatively– Almost all substances which enter the body have to be metabolized by the liver. Hence, it is the task of the liver to convert these active compounds into inactive metabolites and prepare them for excretion. Both modafinil and alcohol also have to go through the liver in order to be neutralized and eliminated. This process requires a lot of energy in the liver. So, when modafinil and alcohol get metabolized at the same time, it burdens the liver and often the liver is forced to slow down, many other issues arise such as hormone imbalance, low energy, inflammation, etc.
How to Reduce Side Effects of Alcohol and Modafinil
If you have mixed modafinil and alcohol unintentionally, here are a few things you can do to lower the chances of side effects –
- Lower the Dose – The dose taken of alcohol as well as modafinil are going to the significant determining factor on whether there is going to be a reaction or not. In case, you are planning on mixing the two, make sure you take a small dose of each than usual in order to avoid any complications. This will keep your liver healthy and also it will prevent you from becoming dehydrated.
Individuals who have mixed the two drugs have reported that they tend to become intoxicated easily.
2. Take with Food – Many individuals have reported that they have had bad experiences of mixing modafinil with alcohol on an empty stomach. One of the most common side effects of consuming modafinil is loss of appetite. If you go all day with eating a proper meal and then start drinking alcohol, you are most likely to experience nausea and vomiting.
However, if you have food in your stomach it will slow down the absorption of these two substances.
3. Drink Water – Both substances alcohol and modafinil, cause dehydration in the body. The best solution to this is to drink lots and lots of water while consuming Modafinil with alcohol.
Furthermore, if you don’t drink enough water, the kidneys will be unable to eliminate the two substances from the body which can result in much more serious consequences. In such your kidneys aren’t able to eliminate these two substances, your body will immediately shift from eliminating the two substances from the sweat glands. This can cause many skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema.
What to Infer from this Debate
Mixing Modafinil and alcohol is strictly not advised. However, in some cases, one may mix Modafinil with alcohol after careful consideration as well as the understanding of how these two drugs affect the body.
Blackouts, nausea/vomiting, significant intoxication, and vision disturbances are some of the commonly reported side effects of mixing Modafinil and alcohol. However, you can avoid any side effects by consuming smaller doses daily, drinking lots of water and making sure you take both with food.