The Dangers of Adrafinil Long Term: Watch Out for These Side Effects

Mihai Voinea
Medically reviewed by Mihai Voinea Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) — Research analysis by Alex Eriksson

Have you ever wanted to stay as motivated and awake as your friends? Or have you ever worked on a solo project and badly wanted to stay focused on it? Well, you’re not the only one.

Countless people have struggled with loss of concentration and motivation for specific tasks. This problem can hinder success in completing important tasks and could possibly lead to failure and disappointment.

To solve this issue, many rely on stimulant drugs to help them stay awake and motivated—regardless of what they’re doing. Among these stimulant drugs is Adrafinil, and in the following piece we will debunk myths and critical information about it.

Those who have been taking Adrafinil consider it a magic pill because it also improves memory and cognitive function. However, is it really such a smart move? In addition, what exactly is Adrafinil? There are Adrafinil dangers and side effects to be aware of from long term use.

Adrafinil is known for its behavioral-activating effects, but unlike other stimulants, it has fewer side effects. The drug boosts concentration and acts as a mood enhancer in older people.

By using pregnenolone cream or pregnenolone supplements, the levels of the compound in the body increases, and this brings about various benefits such as fatigue relief, and delay of the aging process.

Demystifying the Drug

First, a little history. Adrafinil is a crystalline powder with a light sulfurous odor discovered by Louis Lafon Laboratories in France during the 1970s. It was introduced to the European market under the name Olmifon.

It was mainly prescribed to patients with sleep disorders that cause too much daytime sleepiness. In 2011, the drug was removed from the market and eventually its production was stopped.

Adrafinil is currently considered unregulated and it is not classified as a controlled substance in the US, UK, or Canada. Obviously, despite being initially removed from the market, there is still demand for it.

Why do people still use it?

There are only several published scientific articles about the benefits of Adrafinil though, and most of them are written in French. Surprisingly, the drug is more widely known to a bigger non-scientific audience.

To the layman, Adrafinil is an amazing nootropic that helps them stay focused on everyday tasks as well as fight fatigue and increase energy. It’s closely related to Modafinil.

Both share the same benefits, effects, and drawbacks. But there is an important difference—Adrafinil is a prodrug, meaning it does not take effect until the body metabolizes it—into Modafinil.

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of Modafinil

Scrutinizing the Science on Adrafinil

It doesn’t hurt to know a bit of science, right? Adrafinil is a synthetic supplement that acts on the nervous system. Note that the nervous system is responsible for producing adrenaline.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “adrenaline rush” which is something that actually feels like a surge of energy during exciting and/or dangerous situations.

Adrenaline rush, in scientific terms, is known as the sudden release of adrenaline by the nervous system. When there is a sudden outburst of adrenaline, the body is essentially exhibiting a “fight-or-flight response”.

What explains the stimulating properties of Adrafinil? First, it increases the production of the hypocretin neurotransmitter. This triggers the release of other neurotransmitters such as histamine and norepinephrine.

As a result, energy levels are increased and the person is able to stay more alert. Adrafinil can also boost the production and prevent the breakdown of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which improves mood and reduces stress.

The production of another important neurotransmitter, serotonin, is also boosted by the drug. This, in turn, helps enhance the mood and reduces anxiety.

The cognitive-enhancing properties of Adrafinil are likely a result of both the stimulation of glutamate receptors and the prevention of glutamate breakdown, leading to enhanced brain and neuronal communication.

Better brain-neuron communication improves focus and memory. All in all, the drug improves memory, concentration, and mood, which in turn enhances daily work performance.

Uncovering the Dangers of Adrafinil & Potential Side Effects

Most of those who take Adrafinil don’t experience any serious side effects. As long as you follow the correct dosage, you don’t really have to worry about anything—at least in the short-term.

The drug’s reported side effects are mild and they include dizziness, headaches, stomach discomfort, and nausea. These side effects are actually quite normal since even supplements can cause them.

Others mention that they experience insomnia when taking Adrafinil during the day, while some report that the drug worsens their anxiety and/or irritability. Usually, these side effects are due to irregularities in taking the drug.

For example, insomnia caused by taking Adrafinil could be because the drug promotes wakefulness and so the later the drug is used, the greater the chances of it affecting a person’s sleep.

As you would expect, taking excessive doses can also lead to all sorts of serious problems. Doing this can significantly worsen existing health conditions, particularly those that affect the cardiovascular system.

If you think that Adrafinil is very safe, you might be right—though to be clear, it is not completely safe even with proper intake. Using the drug for an extended period of time actually has dangerous effects on your liver.

As mentioned, Adrafinil is a prodrug that only become active when it has been metabolized by the liver. While metabolizing the drug, the liver releases a great amount of enzymes.

In other words, the liver experiences a lot of stress! Overproduction of liver enzymes means that the liver cells could be damaged. Using Adrafinil for long periods may also cause serious skin conditions.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome, DRESS syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis are just some examples. It is not hard to imagine just how bad those conditions are.

Car Crash Face

Will You Make the Shift?

Many claim that Adrafinil is completely safe, but there are those who’d surely say otherwise. The long-term effects are definitely there, and the fact that they take a long while to manifest is a big problem.

Why? Although everyone knows that prevention is better than cure, lots of people tend to focus on the short-term. They would rather enjoy the drug’s immediate effects. But are the benefits really worth the risk?

It is that very question that led many to search for other similar solutions—and some have chosen to take cannabidiol (CBD) instead, considering that it is a natural substance and proven safe both short- and long-term.

Knowing what you now know though, do you stick with the popular choice or will you finally shift to a much safer option? Well, it’s really up to you to decide.

Alex Eriksson (Research Analysis)

Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research-backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals.

Mihai Voinea (Editor)

Mihai is a medical doctor and entrepreneur with a burning obsession for performance and health. Mihai is also an IronMan, ultramarathon runner, and co-founder of Marsilian, which owns two e-learning platforms for future medical students and doctors.

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