There is a movie called Limitless. The movie is about a writer who is a bit of a lazy slob and has a nasty case of writers block. He lives in a filthy apartment, has long, hippie hair, and goes drinking rather than starting his novel.
One day, he runs into an old pal. His old pal used to be a drug dealer. Nowadays his old pal is dressed sharp and looking good. Instead of dealing drugs he is now a pharmaceutical rep, a legal drug dealer. The drug dealer and the writer sit down for a cup of coffee and a chat. The writer spills his woes for his old friend. His old friend, the drug dealer, tells him about this magical new drug. The new drug is called NZT-48.
The drug dealer says “You know how people only use 10% of their brains? Well, this drug allows you to use 100% of your brain“.
The writer says “Yeah, right. Whatever. Sure it does“.
The drug dealer says “I’m going to give you one for free, on the house“.
The writer says “nah, I don’t want it“.
The drug dealer says “Be grateful. That drug costs $800. Per pill“.
This piques the writers interest and curiosity.
One day, the writer takes the pill.
And then the fun starts….
Before he knows it, he remembers things he learned once, many years ago.
He can predict all conversations even before they take place.
He can seduce any woman.
He makes millions of dollars in record time.
He writes his book in an afternoon.
He is the smartest man alive.
He can do anything.
As long as he is on the drug.
What a great premise for a movie, huh?
It’s just too bad that drugs like that don’t exist.
Or do they?
Drugs exist that turn a frail, skinny body into the body of a muscular god.
Drugs exist that can turn a weak man into a strong man.
Why don’t drugs that make you smart, or smarter, exist?
It turns out they do exist.
They’re called…..can you guess….
The scientific name of these drugs is Nootropics.
These drugs are also known as memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers.
Nootropics don’t exactly make you smart if you are stupid, what they do is enhance your focus, your memory, your motivation, your attention, your mental clarity and your cognitive abilities.
In a word, they help you focus.
Wait, so what is the real life NZT-48 from Limitless?
By all accounts, the nearest drug to NZT-48 is a drug called Modafinil. Modafinil also goes by the generic names of Provigil, Alertec, and Modalert.
Modafinil is a memory-improving and mood-brightening psychostimulant. It enhances wakefulness, attention capacity and vigilance. Its pharmacological profile is notably different from amphetamines, methylphenidate (Ritalin) or cocaine. Modafinil is less likely to cause jitteriness, anxiety, or excess locomotor activity – or lead to a hypersomnolent ‘rebound effect’ – than traditional stimulants.
Modafinil was first developed and prescribed to narcoleptics to help them stay awake during the day. It was later used by the Navy and Air Force to help pilots stay alert on long missions. Modafinil keeps you awake and alert, has an effectiveness that spans up to 8 hours, and increases the capacity of your working memory. It remains prescription-only in the United States, and any US resident would need to either obtain a prescription from a doctor, or purchase it from a foreign supplier.
Does Modafinil actually work?
Let me share my experiences with Modafinil.
I took my first dosage of 200 mg in the morning, around 8 am. I didn’t feel smarter, but I soon felt a sort of focus that is hard to describe. I did not get any work done but I become obsessed with finding watches on Ebay. Later that evening I went to the gym to have my workout. The workout that evening was one of the most intense, most focused gym experiences I have ever had. The weight was flying up, the rest periods were nil. The focus was absolutely insane, I may as well have been the only person in the gym, or whole world. It wasn’t a workout, it was a mission.
Side Note: It turns out that Modafinil has been used by several athletes (sprinter Kelli White in 2004, cyclist David Clinger and basketball player Diana Taurasi in 2010) as a performance-enhancing doping agent.
The next day I used another 200 mg first thing in the morning. That was the day that sold me on Modafinil. That day, I worked for 10 straight hours. 10 straight hours without food, without break, without even moving from the chair except to drink more coffee (caffeine is actually the most widely used Nootropic in the world).
I have used Modafinil several times since then and it has given me an intense focus each time. I am already highly and intensely focused, Modafinil really pushed me over the edge.
Are there any side effects?
Yes. Side effects can include:
- Back pain
- Feeling nervous
- Stuffy nose
- Feeling anxious
- Upset stomach
- Trouble sleeping
I did not personally experience any of these side effects but I did experience one un-expected and harsh side effect:
No patience for stupid people. None. Whereas before I could mildly tolerate stupid and/or weak people, on Modafinil I cannot tolerate any stupidity and I have zero patience for it. Modafinil has intensified my already high disdain for stupidity. Like roid rage, it could be described as smart drug rage. And it’s very real.
Is it a placebo affect?
Perhaps. One thing that cannot be denied is that my thoughts have been intensified and my focus has been thoroughly improved. For better or worse. According to Wikipedia, studies have shown that normal healthy volunteers between the ages of 30-44 showed general improvement in alertness as well as mood while using Modafinil.
Is Modafinil addictive? What happens when you stop using it?
Unlike harsh drugs like Adderall, studies have suggested that Modafinil “has limited potential for large-scale abuse” and “does not possess an addictive potential in naive individuals.” So no, it is not addictive. Some days I use it and some days I don’t. On the days I don’t use it I don’t feel any side effects at all and I don’t feel the need to use it to make any addiction pains go away.
Will you continue using Modafinil?
You bet I will. It’s going into my arsenal of productivity tools. Modafinil did not turn me into a Wolf who eats stupid people, it only intensified my hunger.
Should you try Modafinil?
That depends on whether or not you would like to improve your focus and productivity.
Note: Modafinil and Modalert are the exact same thing.
“Ten years ago I went on a quest to become an expert on coffee and to sample as many different ways of making it and as many different varieties that existed. I tried everything from the French Press to the Coffee Siphon, Hawaiian Kona to Jamaican Blue Mountain. But unsatisfied with mere coffee, I went on a quest to find out how to use chemicals to enhance my mind. It had its roots in old high-school days when I’d bring a six-pack of Jolt cola to a computer-programming marathon: cramming together study halls and lunch breaks in my senior year. The nootropics of that era were caffeine, sugar, cortisol, dopamine, epinephrine and norepineprhine, and the last four in that list were all natural hormones my body was making itself.”