Limitless? Concrete Collar’s Modafinil Adventure

Concrete Collar’s Karter tried out Modafinil, the new smart drug that’s all the rage for busy students and professionals…

Like 95% of university students, I’m really good at not doing what I’m supposed to be doing; a skill set which is certainly not ideal during my final year, when I’ve got deadlines coming out my arse.

So like any rational person, instead of trying to get to the root cause of things, I took the easy option and sought out the quick fix.

So after a few days procrastination under the guise of research, I bought some Modafinil, a wakefulness-promoting agent (which is perfectly legal to buy, own and take in the UK, before you get worried Nan).

It’s medically used to treat narcolepsy, but has been co-opted as the new wonder drug by everyone, from fat cats to astronauts to soldiers. It was apparently used as the inspiration for big budget Bradley Cooper movie (and TV series spin-off) Limitless. And studies have shown that it can improve “fatigue levels, motivation, reaction time and vigilance;” precisely what I needed.

I didn’t do it every day, or every week, but when I had big BIG work to do, I normally ended up popping one of these.

modafinil packet

My average day on Modafinil would start quite early, normally taking a tablet at around 8-9am (kicking in around an hour later), or else I’d be up until 7 the next morning. You can certainly see why it’s used to treat narcoleptics. Now of course if you need to get everything done last-minute, this isn’t a bad thing; just don’t expect to find it easy to switch off when you’re finished.

At first when taking Modafinil, I’ve found that I’ve been on edge, stressing about everything; from the knot in my headphones to the sound in the next study room. However, the last few times I’ve noticed that this has subsided somewhat, although of course, I’d be careful if you’re particularly anxious.

At some point during the day, a vicious cycle will begin. It’ll start with a headache and a dry mouth; I’ll go and have a drink in an attempt to solve it- which will work, but in no time, I’ll need the loo. 20 minutes later, I’ll have a headache and a dry mouth again… This cycle keeps going at an alarming rate, and I’ll be going to the water fountain so much that I’ll be getting self-conscious about it! And as well, I’ll probab- definitely look and feel a bit mad at this point, which won’t be helped by the fact that I probably won’t have eaten in hours. My appetite is greatly reduced, and food drops way down the priorities list.

Modafinil doesn’t make you talkative, or friendly, or happy… Rather, it is joyless; the sort of drug you can imagine going down well in dystopian visions of the future. Basically, it isn’t the most conducive for social interaction.  I’m usually a social butterfly, but it all becomes a waste of time, and slightly annoying at that.

Instead, you just want to work. And work and work and work….

You can keep going for hours without realising; your only breaks being the frequent trips to the toilet and fountain. I’ll be getting things done so much quicker than normal, purely because you don’t get distracted. If I’m energised when I dose, all-nighters become a doddle, and shifts of 15-16 hours seem like nothing at all. At 8am, I may not be that chirpy, but I’ll still be working away. And the quality remains high as well; something that can’t be said when I try and do all-nighters without it.

However, it’s not a miracle drug! After my first dose, I swaggered onto campus like Anthony Joshua, thinking I would be able to smash my work despite having planned none of it out. I left like Charles Martin. I’d done nothing. It only works when you actually know what you’re doing beforehand. In that way, it’s probably not quite like NZT-48.

Once the effects have rubbed off, the crash will make you feel like death for a good few hours, and you’ll probably want to crawl into bed for a year. However I wouldn’t say that it’s much worse than a post-deadline crash without Modafinil.  Either way, you’ll feel awful.

Is it worth it? Well, it depends. When it works for me, it really works- it boosts my concentration levels, and I get work done quickly even when I’ve barely slept. But when I’m on edge, jumping at every noise from the next room? Not so much. However, I’d certainly recommend giving it a go.

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