Armodafinil is one of the most popular medications to treat excessive daytime sleepiness and enhance cognitive function. If you must get the best results from its use, then it is necessary that you learn about its adverse effects and possible interactions. In this guide, we will talk about armodafinil: its benefits, side effects, interaction with alcohol, and how to get the best out of it.
What Is Armodafinil?
Armodafinil belongs to a class of drugs called wakefulness-promoting agents. It is a prescription drug used to treat the symptoms of 3 major sleep disorders :
- obstructive sleep apnea (OSA);
- shift work sleep disorder (SWSD).
It has proven to be an effective treatment option for people who find it difficult to stay awake during the day, as it promotes wakefulness and alertness without causing any serious side effects. Healthy individuals also use it off-lable as a cognitive enhancer to ameliorate memory, increase focus, and improve mental processing speed. Although medical professionals disapprove of its use for this purpose, many continue to use it because it works for them.
Armodafinil was developed by Cephalon, Inc., and the Food and Drug Administration approved it for use on June 15, 2007 . It is similar to modafinil in terms of its chemical structure, benefits it provides, and its mechanism of action. However, it is 1.33 times stronger, and its effects last much longer. This makes it an ideal treatment option for individuals who either find the highest recommended dose of modafinil ineffective or just want a longer duration of action.
Armodafinil is commonly marketed under the brand name Nuvigil. It is also available in generic versions and marketed under brands such as ArmodaXL, Armodavinil, and Waklert, among others. Nuvigil comes available in dose strengths of 50 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, and 250 mg, while most generic versions are available in a 150 mg strength. The drug is well tolerated, but it must be used correctly to get the best out of it. It is not to be used by individuals below the age of 17, patients with certain underlying health conditions, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
It is advisable to consult a doctor before starting treatment with armodafinil.
How Does It Work?
Sleep, wakefulness, mood, and cognitive functions have been linked to the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), etc., in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transmit signals (messages) from nerve cells to target cells. Although scientists are yet to understand the entire process, knowledge founded on several studies conducted over time suggests that armodafinil works by changing the levels of the neurotransmitters .
Taking Armodafinil with Alcohol
Armodafinil is a super-effective medication, but it is a temporary fix for most sleep disorders. Thus, it may not prove as effective as it did when you first started taking it. This is completely normal; it is often an indication that you have developed tolerance or that the drug has run its course. Drug tolerance is a decrease in response to the effects of a drug over time, as the body adapts to its presence. If you have developed tolerance to armodafinil, the right thing to do might be to try another brand.
However, rather than ask a doctor to recommend another armodafinil- or modafinil-based medication, some people attempt to boost the effects of armodafinil by taking it with alcohol. But is this a safe and effective practice? Well, it is not safe. Drinking alcohol before or after popping an armodafinil pill can increase the risk of side effects. This is because both substances affect the brain’s chemistry.
Some adventurous individuals who have tried it with modafinil, its elder brother, have reported even experiencing a blackout after taking the mixture . But it is not just alcohol; taking armodafinil alongside other substances or drugs that are capable of altering the mind can also cause serious side effects. Seek urgent medical attention if you feel you may be suffering from an interaction.
Possible Dangers and Side Effects
We have established the fact that mixing armodafinil and alcohol is a terrible idea that can greatly increase the risk of complications. Here are some of the possible side effects of the combination:
- lack of coordination;
Possible dangers as reported by people who have tried taking the mixture include not getting drunk as fast, bad liver function, and severe hangovers. While delayed drunkenness might sound cool, it is quite the opposite. When people don’t feel the slightest indication of dizziness as they drink, they tend to drink well past their limits – this is usually a complete recipe for disaster.
Armodafinil may cause psychological dependence, especially if misused. Consequently, it is advisable to use it exactly as prescribed by a doctor. Be sure to seek urgent medical attention if you notice withdrawal symptoms or if the common adverse effects persist.
Are There Any Benefits?
There is really no benefit from taking alcohol and armodafinil concomitantly. However, if you do take the drug alone and exactly as recommended by a doctor or healthcare provider, you stand to gain a lot.
For starters, you may achieve:
- 12+ hours of increased focus;
- improved motivation to work;
- enhanced creativity;
- increased alertness;
- enhanced memory.
Armodafinil may also help you eliminate excessive daytime sleepiness if that is your reason for taking it. However, to achieve any or all of the above benefits, you must take the drug correctly. The recommended daily dose is 150 mg. However, a doctor may prescribe a different dose based on factors such as your health condition, drug history, and tolerance/sensitivity (response) to it after the initial use of a fixed dose.
At this point, it is worth noting that the time of administration matters; it may vary based on the condition looking to be treated. For narcolepsy and OSA, the right time to take the pill is as early in the morning as possible. Taking the drug later in the day would cause its effects to stretch into the night, making it difficult to sleep. For SWSD, the right time to take the drug is 1 hour before the start of a work shift.
Be sure to swallow the pills whole with a substantial amount of water. Do not crush, split, or dissolve the tabs in water, as this can alter the required dose for it to be effective.
How to Reduce the Side Effects of Armodafinil and Alcohol
If you have read up to this point, you should know that mixing armodafinil and alcohol is a terrible idea, and we do not recommend it. However, if somehow you manage to combine both of them (intentionally or by accident), below are certain things you can do to reduce the chances of side effects.
#1. Eat Enough Food
If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, you will be likely to get intoxicated more quickly. This is because food slows down the absorption of alcohol by slowing down the rate at which it passes to the small intestine where it gets absorbed really quickly. The delayed absorption reduces the way it affects the body and leaves the brain in a perfect working condition . It also gives the body the necessary nutrients it needs to manage the work the liver has to do.
Loss of appetite is one of armodafinil’s side effects. Thus, when you pop a pill alongside alcohol, it keeps you from eating, which in turn allows the alcohol to affect your body. Many people who shared their bad experiences about combining armodafinil and alcohol on forums like Reddit reported that they were on an empty stomach.
#2. Drink Enough Water
Dehydration is known to cause several side effects such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, dull skin, and sluggish bowel movement. While many naturally find it a tad challenging to meet their daily body-water requirements, armodafinil and alcohol make things worse. They promote dehydration and ultimately give rise to the adverse effects we’ve mentioned earlier.
Drinking enough water while on armodafinil or alcohol often leads to frequent urination, but that is for a reason. The body pushes water through the kidneys to help expel the compounds from the drug and/or alcohol. If you stay dehydrated, the body will resort to expelling the compounds as sweat through your pores. This is often the common cause of skin-related side effects such as itching, eczema, psoriasis, etc.
#3. Quantity Matters a Lot
How much alcohol you take or the armodafinil dose you take will determine if you will experience side effects and how severe they may be. Consequently, if you have taken the recommended dose of armodafinil and intend to drink alcohol, be sure to keep the quantity you drink to a minimum. A lower alcohol level will allow the liver to work perfectly, expelling all the compounds it needs to. It will also reduce your rate of dehydration and ultimately keep the side effects that typically accompany it at bay.
So, Is It Safe to Take Armodafinil with Alcohol?
It is possible to take armodafinil with alcohol without experiencing any negative after-effects, but that does not mean it is safe to combine both.
If you really like taking alcohol, then you can do so on days you do not pop a pill. This shouldn’t be much of a problem since armodafinil is best used 2–3 times a week. It is true that not everyone who combines armodafinil and alcohol will experience side effects; this is because people respond to drugs and alcohol in a different way. Whether you intend to enhance your cognitive function with the drug or treat a sleep disorder, you will be better off without alcohol – that’s if you would like to get the best results, anyway.
Last but not least, no doctor has ever recommended this combination. To keep things simple, you should try to avoid mixing these two substances whenever possible. Digesting the “smart drug” and booze at the same time is hard on the body.
- Armodafinil. Retrieved: October 2, 2022. Wikipedia.org.
- Armodafinil for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. By Seiji Nishino and Masashi Okuro. Retrieved: October 2, 2022. Pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
- Armodafinil: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Retrieved: October 2, 2022. Medlineplus.gov.
- What Are the Effects of Mixing Modafinil and Alcohol? Retrieved: October 2, 2022. Reddit.com.
- What Happens When You Drink on an Empty Stomach? Written by Erica Cirino. Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH. Retrieved: October 2, 2022. Healthline.com.