Citation: SchizoNarco. "Saved My Sanity: An Experience with Armodafinil (exp109021)". Erowid.org. Sep 1, 2016. erowid.org/exp/109021
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How Armodafinil Saved My Sanity
Let me begin this experience essay with a note on my prescription for armodafinil. I was prescribed this medication by a practicing psychiatrist for a qualifying medical condition. I did not break rules or bend the truth in order to obtain my prescription. I work strange and alternating hours, which (until my new 'wonder drug') affected my circadian sleep rhythm, and often left me sleepy and in need of rest during work hours. This problem was most troubling for my husband, as on my 'off days,' I was often falling asleep sometime between the hours of 5 and 6 o'clock in the evening, and the late afternoon/early evening truly presents the only opportunity for us to spend time with each other due to his work schedule, which differs from mine.
I knew I had a problem with my sleep pattern, and before a routine appointment with my psychiatrist I did a little research on ways to improve wakefulness during my work hours, as well as my quality of sleep when I needed to retire for the day. I stumbled upon a few articles written about Provigil (modafinil) - I know this report is presented in the 'armodafinil' section, I'll get to that shortly - but anyway, i thought Provigil might be a viable solution to my problem.
During my scheduled appointment, I expressed my concern about my sleep pattern to my doctor, and asked her if she knew anything about Provigil. She replied by saying my condition would more likely grant me an approval for Nuvigil (armodafinil), but that she preferred Nuvigil over its predecessor, Provigil, anyway. My husband and I were a little concerned about the abuse potential of the drug (because it is a Schedule IV controlled substance, and I have a history of drug abuse). My doctor assured us that it wasn't really 'that kind of drug,' that it didn't really give a euphoric 'high,' and that its abuse potential was slight. She wrote me a script for thirty 150mg pills of Nuvigil to try, with no refills automatically granted. She said that she would have to send in a prior-authorization for the prescription in order for my health insurance to cover it.
Obtaining my new drug from the pharmacy was a nightmare, mostly perpetuated by my doctor. She is notoriously lazy. The pharmacy wouldn't give me the prescription at my co-pay price until the insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield) approved it, and BCBS needed the prior-authorization from my doctor. The pharmacy informed me that I had a seven-day window for the medication to be finally approved for automatic coverage, and if my doctor or BCBS didn't make the deadline I would have an addition 23 days to file a written request, and after that I'd be out of luck. I was anxious to try the armodafinil, so I paid for it in full (over $550!) and they reassured me that as soon as the prior-authorization went through they would refund me the cost less the copay. My doctor didn't get the authorization done in the seven days, which was frustrating, but once she did I simply sent in the written request and alas, I was granted coverage and my pharmacy refunded the cost.
So now I had a fresh 30-day supply of what I thought would solve many of my problems. I might also note that because I was (and still am) a recovering addict, I welcomed my husband to keep a close count on my pills to make sure I didn't abuse them. He nearly divorced me after my last drug binge, and so I made a commitment to him and myself to remain clean. Later in my story some may argue that I abused this prescription by altering the means of delivery of the drug into my bloodstream, but I maintain that I never took any more doses than prescribed, and so I am counting that as following the rules of my personal recovery plan, and do not consider it a relapse.
As soon as I received the armodafinil I quickly popped one along with a glass of room-temperature water. As a heavily medicated, mentally ill person I have learned to take my medication with room-temperature water, otherwise my pills have a tendency of getting stuck in my throat (with cold or warm/hot water). Because the lining of tissue is quite thick in the throat, absorption of most drugs, including armodafinil, is much better absorbed by dissolving in the stomach acids (and other ways, which I will discuss later).
I received and consumed my pill at around 4pm. I didn't feel much different, but because armodafinil has a half-life of approximately 12-15 hours, I was up fairly late. At 2am I felt like I could stay awake all night, but chose to go to bed. Luckily (or unluckily, some would say) a few of my nighttime medications are heavy tranquilizers, so I took them around 2am and was asleep by 3:00. I was happy about this result (because it solved my main concern before, being able to stay awake during non-normal waking hours), but after all of the research I had done, I was also interested in the nootropic (smart drug) effects of the drug. I hadn't really experienced anything close to what I had read from other users.
I had read somewhere in the vast cluster-fuck of information that is the internet that it takes a few days of continued use for armodafinil to start working well, so I continued use. On most days my alarm goes off at 5:30 am, and so for the next couple of days I took the armodafinil along with my other morning medications at 5:30am when I woke up. Although the half-life of the drug can last up to 15 hours, I was still getting extremely fatigued around 5 or 6pm (just about the time my husband arrives home from work, which was frustrating once again). I was adamant about not abusing this prescription, so I had a brilliant thought: I'll split the pill! I'll take half in the morning, and half just after noon. This seemed to work well, just enough to keep me awake during my work shift, and then a second pill augmented with the remaining effects of the first one would keep me awake until 11pm or so.
It feels a bit like adderall, but without the speedy, jittery body high. It's like my mind becomes awake, supercharged and ready to think critically. Everyone knows that (perhaps) familiar feeling: let's say someone is watching television, a commercial for tampons comes on (sorry, that scenario just jumped into my brain), and they think to themselves 'when do most women enter menopause anyway?' So they might go on a googling rampage. Being on armodafinil amplifies this phenomenon exponentially. I suddenly had so many questions about so many things, and I was so curious to discover the answers. This sounds a little scatter-brained, but it's not that way in reality at all. My mind quickly organizes thoughts and prioritizes them. And, most amazing of all, after 30 minutes to an hour of googling about a particular topic, I could almost instantly recall all of the other questions I had (where under sober conditions I would have forgotten them), and my mind would quickly reorganize and reprioritize. In a similar manner, after telling a story and (as it usually goes) transitioning slowly to other topics, I could remember the original point and come back full circle to complete the story...
The next week or two, while under the effects of the new medication, I was starving for information. All kinds of information. I spent hours researching whatever came to mind on the internet, and my most favorite subject of research was my new drug. In college I took a class on drugs and alcohol (which sounds like an addict's wet dream, however I didn't enter active addiction until years after taking this class, and consequently my retained knowledge - and saved study notes - from the class became quite useful, as I'm sure you can imagine). In this class I learned about potentiation (which is sort-of just a fancy way of saying 'ways some drugs make other drugs work better'). I began to study how to potentiate my armodafinil. This way I wouldn't be abusing it by taking more than prescribed, I would just be adding things - legal things, I might add - to make the armodafinil work better. The first thing that people seemed to mention was grapefruit juice. I've never liked grapefruit juice much, and so after some research, I came across grapefruit seed extract. Note - what I was doing is strongly discouraged by the medical field, mostly because grapefruit products potentiate many drugs, and some of these drugs can be dangerous when potentiated. Armodafinil is widely recognized as being impossible, or nearly impossible, to overdose on (but if you die, it's not my fault!). So that felt safe. I bought a 100 count bottle of 125mg tablets of grapefruit seed extract, and began taking two of these with each dose (1/2 of a pill) of armodafinil. I couldn't tell a huge difference at first, but my continued interest in learning new things was still present.
Armodafinil, while initially prescribed for shift-work disorder, seemed to greatly help with other problems caused by my chief mental illness, schizophrenia. As a schizophrenic it is extremely difficult for me to start and/or finish projects. Said projects include complex things like vacuuming the house (yes, I know it sounds silly, but to many schizophrenics seemingly simple things like vacuuming the house can seem so overwhelming that we don't ever do it, or sometimes - I know it's hard to believe, I know - we see a dirty floor and don't even make the connection that it needs to be vacuumed) or even basic projects like showering or brushing our teeth. Before armodafinil I was doing well if I showered more than once a week. I suddenly had a motivation for things that I didn't have before! And once I started a project, I was unbelievably focused on finishing and performing well and thoroughly. It took away any half-assed attitudes when trying to complete things.
It took away any half-assed attitudes when trying to complete things.
One amazing and mind-blowing effect of armodafinil is the perception of color. It's as if I can see a broader spectrum of colors. Orange things seem more orange, or a different shade/saturation/hue of orange than they were before. I can see differences in the colors of two different objects that seemed to be the exact same color before. It's like I had been wearing sunglasses my whole life, and with armodafinil the sunglasses had been lifted from my eyes.
Back to potentiation. Another drug (yes, it's a drug) that works well with armodafinil is caffeine. Once caffeine is consumed, it reaches peak blood-concentration in about an hour. The armodafinil (on an empty stomach) takes about two hours to peak (four to six hours in the fed state). So in the morning I would take my morning medications (including my half-pill of armodafinil), and then an hour later I'd drink a cup of coffee so that they would both peak around the same time. This worked WONDERFULLY, until I had a scare.
Along with a host of mental handicaps, I also suffer from moderate asthma. One phenomenon that occurs with my asthma is something called 'air hunger' - yes, that's what it is actually called, Wikipedia that shit! It feels just like it sounds. I will become starving for air, and with each breath it feels as if I'm not getting enough oxygen. It's as if I can't get a satisfying enough, or deep enough breath. Luckily I had experienced this with asthma before, and so I knew it would pass (it is assumed to be mostly psychological). Eventually I embraced the associated air hunger, as it meant I could tell the armodafinil was kicking in.
Also like adderall (and similar stimulants), armodafinil suppresses my appetite. However, since I'm a chubby girl, I usually eat on it anyway. And eating feels fantastic! This is most likely due to the related dopamine activity in my brain. Unlike adderall, which is a dopamine agonist (it increases dopamine release activity in the brain directly), armodafinil is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor (it keeps the brain from recycling released dopamine back to one's dopamine storage). When you eat food (among doing many other things) dopamine is released, and with the armodafinil stopping the brain from sending the dopamine back to one's dopamine storage, there is an increased level of dopamine in play. Although this feels amazing, I sometimes wish I hadn't discovered this and had let the hunger suppression keep me from eating too much, because I have read that some people lose a good deal of weight while on an armodafinil regimen. I would like to lose some weight.
It was after a week or two of the new drug I stumbled upon a rare bit of knowledge about cyp3a4 enzymes. These are the enzymes produced by one's liver that metabolize certain drugs, including armodafinil. As it turns out, grapefruit is a cyp3a4 inhibitor, which means essentially that it blocks the liver from producing some of these enzymes, and makes the armodafinil more potent over time in one's bloodstream and slower to metabolize. I was happy to confirm that the grapefruit seed extract did indeed help, and to learn exactly why it helped.
Out of pure curiosity I decided to try different delivery methods of my armodafinil (maybe it's the addict in me, haha). I experimented with insufflation (crushing and snorting), but couldn't tell much of a difference. I read mixed reviews on this method and its effectiveness, and am currently still a little confused about the science of it all (as far as how different soluabilities affect the effectiveness of insufflation of drugs). I plan to do much more research on this. I also played around with sublingual dosing (crushing/chewing and letting dissolve under the tongue). My research and experience seem to agree with one another on this method. It delivers the drug to my bloodstream faster.
After a couple of months (my doctor approved me for refills), the armodafinil seemed like it was less effective.
After a couple of months (my doctor approved me for refills), the armodafinil seemed like it was less effective.
I have a few theories about this new problem. I may have developed a tolerance. Most of the user reviews of the medication mention tolerance as a major issue. Another cause may be that I ran out of grapefruit seed extract. Nevertheless, my doctor (solely at her own discretion) decided to raise my dosage to 200mg per day. I also bought more grapefruit seed extract. This happened approximately a week ago. The drug has been working better than ever since this increase in dosage. I also discovered another excellent cyp3a4 inhibitor...
While marijuana is illegal in my state (for now), there is a product made from the plant that is 100% legal to buy, at least where I live. It is called cannabidiol (or CBD oil, as it is packaged). It doesn't have the psychoactive element THC in it, so you can't get high from it (which is actually a great thing for me, because I seriously HATE the way marijuana makes me feel). However, CBD oil has some relaxing qualities and other medical uses, and...it happens to be a potent cyp3a4 inhibitor. Extremely potent. It can be used with a personal vaping device (vape, vaporizer, electronic cigarette, etc.), but the best method of delivery is under the tongue (sublingual). I unload a dropper-full under my tongue and hold it there for a few minutes before swallowing it. The raw stuff tastes pretty nasty, but some vaping shops have flavored versions. Fortunately I had about a half of a bottle left over from previous, pre-armodafinil use (and good thing too, as it's outrageously expensive). When taken sublingually, the cannabidiol supposedly reaches the bloodstream in minutes, but only has a half life of approximately 1.5 to 3 hours.
So, my new routine. This is what I have found to be my personal best way of taking armodafinil:
-6:00am - I take my morning dose (1/2 tablet) of armodafinil, along with my other morning medications.
-7:00am - I drink a cup of coffee.
~8:00am - when I can feel the air hunger kicking in (which is now how I tell when the armodafinil is starting to peak), I take one dropper-full of cannabidiol under my tongue.
-when I need a boost (which is hardly ever needed) - another dose of cannabidiol.
-2:00-5:00 - the other half of my armodafinil tablet, approximate time depending on how late I need to stay awake that night. Because I've usually eaten by this time, I estimate the peak concentrations to occur 4-6 hours after ingestion. Most of the time it's a surprise depending on how much, what, or when I ate. And then depending on when I took my afternoon dose of armodafinil, I'm usually awake until 11:00pm or who knows when. It's currently 5:15am and I am wide awake - I took my afternoon dose at 5pm last night.
Armodafinil is only one of the smart drugs on the (medical and street) market, and it is the only one I've tried. Above is my detailed experience, and I make no guarantees of quality, safety, legality, or anything else. I'm sure Erowid has its own disclaimers, but it should be known that armodafinil should never be taken without a prescription, and one should always consult a doctor before mixing prescription medications with one another, or with herbal supplements. Cannabidiol is legal to buy in my state, but it may not be in yours. I will not be held responsible for others' mistakes and/or consequences related to consuming or obtaining armodafinil.
Thank you for reading my experience with the drug that potentially saved my marriage and sanity related to thereof. I sincerely hope that my story helps those with questions or seeking information in regards to using or obtaining a prescription for armodafinil to improve their health.
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