Originally, chronic sufferers of sleep disorders would be the only long-term users of modafinil. Conditions such as narcolepsy can’t be cured, only managed. As with any medicine, long-term effects can appear far down the road. What are the long-term effects of Modafinil?
Studies have shown that modafinil is extremely safe for long-term use, with a 9-month study being the longest one available. http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/40699366/92_Mitler_et_al.__Sleep_Medicine__2000.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1480515221&Signature=RJE9BkGNz99bVrugwrjfE0fJcIo%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DLong-term_efficacy_and_safety_of_modafin.pdf
As of yet there are no published safety studies that examine patients for a year or more.
Taking into account what we definitely know, we can also make some projections about modafinil’s long-term effects.
Long-term effects: What we know
The first question researchers ask is “Is this drug going to be effective in the long term?” This is a huge question to answer. If a patient develops tolerance or dependence on the medicine, it can have hazardous effects down the line.
Tolerance is when a drug no longer works as well as it did before, forcing you to take more and more. Tolerance and dependence go hand in hand; dependence means you suffer negative effects when you stop taking the drug, also known as withdrawal symptoms. A large study on patients with depression showed no potential for tolerance, dependence, or abuse. https://www.gwern.net/docs/modafinil/2006-nasr.pdf
No study has shown any negative effects on patients’ health, outside of the normal side effects.
Positive long-term effects
If there aren’t any negative long-term effects from modafinil use, could there be good ones? Aside from the obvious benefit of improving a person’s condition, there could actually be some very uplifting benefits of modafinil in the long term.
Experts in psychology say it takes around 6 weeks to form a new habit. It’s possible to train yourself on modafinil to be more productive, and forge a habit that will stick with you even without the pill. Since modafinil helps you focus and get more done, you could have a long-term improvement in your work ethic if you use it diligently.
Life can get out of hand for all of us sometimes. Maybe you have too many things to do at once, or your work has many steps that create confusing situations. Whatever the case, you can become more organized by sticking to a modafinil schedule.
Make lists for the things you need to do, break down your activities into steps, and use modafinil’s ability to improve your executive cognition. Once you know how your brain works on modafinil, you could consciously do the same thing later.
Potential long-term problems
On the other hand, we could project some possible problems with modafinil when used for a long period of time.
You might feel like you can take on the world and do anything with modafinil, but be careful not to devote your entire life to work. If you take on more than you can handle, your stress levels can rise. Stress is detrimental to your health, it can even shave years off of your life.
The key, as with everything, is balance. You absolutely can improve yourself and your behavior with modafinil, but be mindful of your work-life balance. Take a day off from time to time and relax. You’ve earned it with all that work you’ve done!