A standard Modafinil dose ranges from 100–400 mg per day. It’s a pharmaceutical drug with a robust set of benefits.
There are reports of people taking the drug in higher doses to get stronger effects, and for its ability to produce a euphoric high.
In this article, we discuss overdosing on modafinil, what it feels like, and what dosages run the risk of causing it.
The Normal Modafinil Dose
Officially, modafinil is used for treating narcolepsy.
Unofficially, modafinil is used as a cognitive enhancer and for treating symptoms of ADHD.
When doctors prescribe the drug, they usually give it in doses of 100 or 200 mg.
The maximum dose a doctor would prescribe is 400 mg per day.
The recommended dose depends on the reason for taking it, as well as the weight of the person.
Due to the long duration of effects (~15 hours), only one dose of modafinil is prescribed each day, preferably first thing in the morning.
Where Do People Get Modafinil?
Modafinil is easily bought online.
Thanks to some blurred lines in how the legislation controls the sale of modafinil, it’s possible to buy the drug without a prescription and have it shipped to your door from overseas.
The laws in most countries prohibit the sale of modafinil without a valid prescription. Some places, like India, don’t have these same legal restrictions.
Therefore, online vendors such as ModafinilXL are able to operate overseas and send modafinil to customers around the world hassle-free without asking for a doctor’s prescription. Online vendors also tend to offer their products at significantly lower prices.
Most online vendors will sell four versions of the drug;
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Why Would Some People Take Larger Doses of Modafinil?
If you were to obtain a doctor’s prescription, they wouldn’t recommend a dose larger than 400 mg. More commonly, the dose remains around 200 mg per day.
However, buying the drug online at a fraction of the price allows people the luxury of taking larger doses should they want to.
Here’s some example of why some people take larger doses:
1. To Chase a High
Some people take high doses of modafinil in an attempt to feel the high it produces.
We recently wrote an article talking about the modafinil high in more detail.
To summarize, doses of about 800 mg per day will produce a mild euphoria, but it’s not without its side effects.
Some people have taken doses as high as 2000 mg or even 4000 mg trying to maintain this euphoric feeling. All of these people experienced debilitating side effects, sometimes lasting as long as four days.
2. Misinformation On Dose
When you buy something over the counter or receive a prescription from a doctor, instructions are provided on how to use the medication and what dose to take. Doctors will also monitor you to see if there are any side effects and modify the dose accordingly.
When you buy online, it’s up to you to make sure you’re taking the right dose.
I’ve met people who took 3 or 4 tablets of modafinil for their first dose. When asked “why,” they said they just assumed that was the dose “because that’s how much Aspirin or Tylenol they usually take” and the pills looked a “similar size.”
Let’s be clear, 3 or 4 tablets of modafinil is 600–800 mg— That’s 3 or 4 times the recommended dose!
3. Tolerance To The Drug
Whether or not you can develop tolerance to modafinil is controversial.
There are a lot of people online reporting tolerance formation to the drug. However, scientific research has found that modafinil does not produce tolerance .
Nevertheless, if you experience something like this, the drug will gradually start to lose its effect, prompting you to take larger doses.
The larger the dose gets, the more chances you have of experiencing side effects or overdose.
The Recommended Dose For Modafinil
Modafinil should be taken in doses of either 100 mg or 200 mg for best results.
If you take a 200 mg dose and experience adverse side effects, moving down to the 100 mg dose will usually be enough to eliminate side effects without negating the beneficial effects of the drug.
Remember everyone is different, and just because you know someone taking a higher dose doesn’t mean it’s wise for you to take the same dose. Listen to your body and find a dose that works best for you.
Modafinil is a productivity-enhancing drug, not a party drug. If it’s giving you side effects that make you less productive, it’s logical to take a lower dose until you only receive the effects you want.
Special Dose Considerations
Some people need even lower than average doses.
For example, people with liver disorders may need a smaller dose. This is because the liver metabolizes modafinil. If the liver isn’t working the way it should, it could take a lot longer to filter and metabolize the drug, making its effects last longer.
If these people take higher doses of modafinil, it may result in its effects lasting much longer than 15 hours, which can interrupt sleep patterns and have an overall adverse effect on productivity.
Older people may also need to take smaller doses.
Usually, around age 50, our metabolism and kidney function starts to slow down. This can also cause the drug to remain active in the system a lot longer than we’d like it to, increasing the chances of developing side effects and overdose.
For those with minor liver disorders, or who are above the age of 50, we recommend using a smaller dose of the drug.
Start with 50 mg, and work your way up in 50 mg doses each day until you find a dose that works for you.
Overdosing On Modafinil
Those taking larger doses of modafinil run the risk of causing an overdose.
For most people, this simply results in an increased incidence of side effects, sometimes lasting several days at a time.
What Doses Cause Overdose on Modafinil?
Generally speaking, the risk of overdose starts at around 400 mg and above but is more common around the 800 mg range.
A case study of a 24-year-old woman who accidentally took 400 mg of modafinil (instead of her usual 200 mg) checked into the ER presenting with a blood pressure of 168/131 mmHg and a heart rate of 168 beats per minute.
These vital signs are very abnormal, as the normal ranges are 120/80 mmHg and 80 beats per minute.
Blood pressure and heart rate as high as these run a significant risk of causing a stroke or heart attack.
She was monitored by hospital staff and discharged a few hours later without any lasting side effects.
A 65-year-old man was reported to have taken 800 mg of modafinil accidentally (thinking it was Aspirin), but only developed minor side effects like high blood pressure (137/78) and insomnia.
In short, everybody reacts differently to modafinil, an overdose can occur anywhere from 400 mg and beyond. It’s very rare for overdoses to occur within the normal range, even in sensitive individuals.
The Symptoms of Modafinil Overdose
The symptoms of a modafinil overdose mimic its side effects, increasing in severity as the dose increases.
Most cases of overdose involve a severe headache, lasting 2 or 3 days, severe insomnia, and depression.
Common Side Effects of Modafinil Include:
- Back pain
- Blurry vision
- Burning or tingling sensation in the skin
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (Insomnia)
- Dry mouth
- Excessive thirst
- Eye pain
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Poor appetite
- Rapid heartbeat
- Runny nose
More Severe Side Effects of Modafinil Include:
- Blisters around the mouth or groin
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Suicidal thoughts
- Swollen face or hands
- Migraine headaches
Steven Johnson Syndrome:
A severe allergic reaction may also result, called Steven Johnson Syndrome.
This condition is rare, but often very severe.
It’s a delayed allergic response, which can take between 3 and 20 days to develop fully.
Starting with tingling sensations in the skin, it slowly develops into ulcers around the mouth and mucous membranes. These ulcers then spread to other areas of the skin and can be very painful.
With treatment, most patients will start to recover, but the blisters can take as long as three months to heal fully.
In roughly 5–10% of cases, Steven Johnson Syndrome is fatal.
Luckily, this condition is extremely rare, only one person was documented to have developed this reaction during the clinical trials conducted by the original manufacturer, Cephalon Inc. This was still enough to require them to include this on their warning labels.
What Does A Modafinil Overdose Feel Like?
There was one case where someone took 4000 mg (4 g) of the drug and experienced excruciating headaches, dry mouth, heart palpitations, and insomnia for four days. He says it was the worst experience of his life.
This is what an overdose on modafinil would look like.
He recovered four days later with no lasting side effects.
Can A Modafinil Overdose Kill You?
Modafinil is very safe as far as pharmaceutical stimulants go. Overdoses are not considered lethal, just very uncomfortable.
The universal metric of drug toxicity is called LD50. It’s the dose needed to kill 50% of the mammals it’s given to. In the case of modafinil, this is very high, around 1000 mg per kg .
This means that the average 75 kg male needs 75,000 mg of modafinil before risking death. That’s 375 tablets of your standard 200mg modafinil!
This dose simply isn’t possible.
The most common finding with overdosing is an inability to sleep for 24–72 hours despite extreme fatigue, severe anxiety, migraine headaches, and on occasion some hallucinations.
Doses of 16 g (16,000 mg) have been reported but have shown no lasting side effects or damage.
High doses of modafinil are not recommended but are also not considered lethal.
Mixing modafinil with alcohol or opioids, however, is very dangerous, and can indeed be lethal.
What to do If You Overdose on Modafinil
The biggest concern when overdosing on modafinil is heart rate and blood pressure. These are the effects that need proper management in a hospital to prevent any serious issues.
This is especially the case in people with a history of heart disease.
The other side effects, such as anxiety, depression, muscle tension, and nausea, for example, are all managed symptomatically.
If you overdose on modafinil, here are some tips to help you get through it safely:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
A lot of the issues with modafinil come down to dehydration.
Symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, anxiety, constipation, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat can all result from dehydration induced by modafinil.
This happens because we need water to metabolize and excrete modafinil from the body. When we take high doses of the drug, it forces a heavy burden on the body to get rid of it. This forces water through the kidneys to filter the compound out of the blood. We then begin to lose water much faster than usual.
Combine this with the fact that modafinil often causes us to forget to eat or drink and we have near perfect conditions for dehydration.
We should drink at least 3 L of water per day. When we take modafinil (especially higher doses) take closer to 6 L per day to account for extra water lost on modafinil.
This is one of the simplest ways of preventing or treating modafinil overdoses.
2. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Modafinil overdoses almost always involve symptoms of overstimulation. Insomnia, headaches, and anxiety are examples of this.
Therefore, if you’re experiencing an overdose, the best way to treat it is to try and relax the central nervous system.
This, in turn, will lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
To do this, sit in a dark, quiet room if possible, or place some headphones in your ears with relaxing sounds or music and close your eyes.
Concentrate on your slowed rhythmic breathing for a few minutes. The goal is to breathe in slowly, and out even slower. Try counting to 5 on the outbreathes and ten on the in breaths.
After a few minutes, this will manually override your nervous system and tell your brain to relax.
This happened to me a few months ago. I took a little too much modafinil than I was comfortable with after stressing about a deadline at work. I started to have severe anxiety and was getting dizzy. I could feel the early effects of a modafinil overdose.
I went into a spare office, closed the door and blinds and spent 20 minutes controlling my breathing.
By the time I had finished, I felt significantly better. I even ended up going back to work without any further problems, and it ended up being a pretty productive afternoon.
Trust us, it works.
3. Take L-Theanine
One of the most useful companion supplements for modafinil is L-theanine, an amino acid isomer found in green tea.
L-theanine is relaxing, and directly opposes the symptoms of modafinil overdose.
It slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and allows us to collect our scattered thoughts.
If you think you’re starting to overdose on modafinil, take some L-Theanine and try to relax.
It can take 45 minutes for the effects to begin, so it’s important to take it at the first sign of trouble.
The normal dose of L-Theanine is 400 mg.
4. Visit A Doctor
If you think you’re overdosing, on modafinil, it’s worth going to the doctor.
Despite not considered lethal, excessively high blood pressure or heart rate can be dangerous, especially if you have a history of heart disease, or have a close relative with a heart condition.
Always visit the doctor if you feel dizzy, hear a distinct ringing in the ears, or faint when taking modafinil.
Conclusion: Overdosing on Modafinil
Modafinil is a very safe drug, but overdoses are possible.
It usually starts to appear at doses exceeding 400 mg. However, some people can take doses much higher without any problems. It’s important to listen to your body and know how the drug affects you before taking doses outside the recommended dosage range.
Most of the symptoms of overdose are related to its normal side effects but are more severe.
Always try to stay inside the normal dosage range of 100–200 mg per day to avoid risking overdose.
- Nasr, S., Wendt, B., & Steiner, K. (2006). Absence of mood switch with and tolerance to modafinil: a replication study from a large private practice. Journal of affective disorders, 95(1), 111-114.
- Carstairs, S. D., Urquhart, A., Hoffman, J., Clark, R. F., & Cantrell, F. L. (2010). A retrospective review of supratherapeutic modafinil exposures. Journal of Medical Toxicology, 6(3), 307-310.
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- Biederman, J., Swanson, J. M., Wigal, S. B., Kratochvil, C. J., Boellner, S. W., Earl, C. Q., … & Greenhill, L. (2005). Efficacy and safety of modafinil film–coated tablets in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, flexible-dose study. Pediatrics, 116(6), e777-e784.
- Robertson, P., & Hellriegel, E. T. (2003). Clinical pharmacokinetic profile of modafinil. Clinical pharmacokinetics, 42(2), 123-137.