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Adrafinil: Full Review of Clinical Research, Dosage, Withdrawal, and Experiences

Adrafinil Review
Adrafinil is eugeroic medicine, a prodrug used to awaken the mind and stimulate mental function.

Adrafinil is a study drug that helps to prevent a feeling of excessive sleepiness and at the same time increase the ability to pay attention. Because of this, it is often used by people who need to stay awake and alert for long periods of time, perhaps for shift-work or for study purposes.

Because adrafinil does improve the ability to concentrate, there are indications that it might also improve memory.

Generally, adrafinil seems to mimic the chemical process in the body that occurs when the adrenal glands boost ones ability to react in the face of danger, either by fighting the perceived danger or by fleeing. It is not known exactly how it works, though it seems to increase hypocretin levels and increase production of other neurotransmitters and hormones including dopamine, norepinephrine and histamine. These are all naturally related to both physical and mental energy and are important for alertness and wakefulness.

Adrafinil also prevents dopamine from breaking down, in this way improving mood and reducing stress. It is thought that it might also stimulate the release of serotonin that is so important for regulating sleep and lessening feeling of anxiety.

What is Adrafinil?

Adrafinil is a “prodrug” (a synthetic compound that improves drug absorption) and eugeroic (agent that promotes wakefulness). Scientists have found that it is metabolized to effectively become the equivalent of modafinil, an acceptable prescription drug that is used to increase alertness in narcoleptics and prevent them from falling asleep when they need to stay awake. It works on the central nervous system.

But the two “drugs” are not the same. Further, while modafinil is a prescription drug in many countries, including the US and Canada, adrafinil, is not regulated in the US, Canada, or other countries, and can be bought over-the-counter.

Discovered by scientists from a French pharmaceutical company, Group Lafon, in the late 1970s, adrafinil was initially offered as an experimental narcolepsy treatment. It was considered an excellent solution for regulating sleep-wake cycles in people who feel the need to sleep during the day, even when they should not be tired. It was also used to treat people who suffered from disturbed sleep at night.

Adrafinil is a synthetic compound that is regarded as a “precursor” to modafinil, which, like adrafinil, is a stimulant that doesn’t have the same sort of effects as amphetamine. In reality, instead of causing hyperactivity, it fights the effect of physical sleepiness, working via the liver and the part of the nervous system that releases epinephrine (which is adrenalin) when it responds to stress and excitement.

Essentially how it works is that when the brain feels as if it is “threatened,” it reacts with the so-called “fight or flight” response (a kind of adrenalin rush) boosting alertness and increasing energy levels, at the same time improving cognitive abilities.

While not relevant to those using adrafinil for sleep (or wakefulness) issues, it has been listed as a non-specified stimulant on the official World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of prohibited substances for athletic competition since 2004.


For people using adrafinil to keep awake so they can study or work longer or irregular hours, the recommended dose is 150 mg to 300 mg a day. It is also advisable that those who haven’t used this powerful nootropic before should start with a smaller dose and then increase it as the body gets used to it. In any case, long-term use is not recommended. It is advisable to use it for two weeks only, then take a week off before using it again for a week, with a further two weeks off. It should never be used for more than two weeks at a stretch.

Generally those needing to use adrafinil extensively, for longer periods of time, should talk to a doctor or professional health care provider to make sure that liver function isn’t inadvertently affected.

If used for treating narcolepsy, the most usual dosage of adrafinil is 600 mg two times a day (in the morning and at midday), or 600 to 900 mg taken in the mornings. It should not be taken in the afternoon or evening as it does tend to undermine sleep processes. It should also be taken only three times a week, and never for longer than five months at a time.

Unless taken for sleep purposes, Adrafinil should only be taken in the morning.

Research: Benefits and Effects

The effects of adrafinil are often described as being similar to caffeine (either in energy drinks or coffee), but much more effective. Those who have tried amphetamines to stay awake say adrafinil lacks the wave of full-body stimulation they receive from amphetamines, but that ironically, the overall effects of the adrafinil last longer.

Ultimately, the two most powerful benefits are that this stimulant dramatically increases attention, energy and stamina, and it also reduces stress and promotes a general feeling of wellbeing.

Additionally, it really does seem to improve memory and the general capacity of users to learn. A large number of users say that it seems to increase the speed of thought.

Possibly the best part is that adrafinil doesn’t come with the risk of dependency and it doesn’t seem to interfere in any way with normal sleeping patterns. Another possible benefit is that it has not been seen to increase blood pressure or in any way affect the heart rate like so many commonly prescribed stimulants do.

However it has been reported that there can be some side effects and constant long-term use has sometimes led to an adverse effect on liver function. Generally though the effects are not major, normally symptoms like nausea, headaches, dizziness, and sometimes a bit of stomach discomfort.

Reviews and Experiences

Case histories of people who have taken adrafinil stand testament to its benefits. For instance:

  • It has been found to be an excellent study aid by those who can’t concentrate when they get tired. College students in particular find it useful.
  • It is helpful for students who become super-stressed prior to examinations and tests, keeping them focused and preventing distraction.
  • It seems to produce a mental “high” that helps maintain focus.

People who take or have taken adrafinil describe similar experiences. Generally it takes about half an hour to work and you’ll likely feel a slight rush similar, but a lot less intense, that the rush experienced when taking amphetamines. After about an hour the user typically feels wide-awake and completely focused. This is likely to last for at least three to six hours.

Like all substances, it should never be abused.

Oftentimes, the advice given sounds something similar to, "The secret is to stay smart when using any type of 'study drug.'”

Please note that legality of Adrafinil (whether it's legal as a Research Chemical or for Human Consumption) varies from country to country. Please be aware of the legality of this drug in your country. This article is here as a general resource only. We do not encourage or recommend the consumption of drugs that are against the law in your country. As always, consult your doctor before starting a new diet or fitness program. This article falls under study drugs Reviews. Although most of the drugs, supplements, and ingredients that are reviewed on this site fall under "study drugs," this term is used on StudyDrugs.Net to indicate that these substances are laboratory-made, are oftentimes referred to as "study drugs" or "nootropics," and have different legal standing in different countries. In many countries, they are not for human consumption, but rather sold as research chemicals. Please contact us if there is a study drug you would like to see a review for in the future that we don't have on the website.

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