Adrafinil, also known as Olmifon in Europe and Noofon in Russia, was discovered in 1974 by two chemists at Lafon, who were looking for new painkillers. Instead, they discovered that instead of dulling pain it produced wakefulness. Seriously? So are these people just mixing shit in a lab and going “I wonder what this does, let’s try it on some rats and see what happens”. No chance of anything going wrong there…

Powdered snail vomit is a great high


Anyway, it was promoted as a treatment narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. It has also been shown to have some positive effects on depression. Also the language ‘promote wakefulness’ is relevant, because it is a eugregoric agent, rather than a stimulant like speed and other amphetamines.

Two years later the same drug overlords (sorry respectable pharma company) discovered Modafinil, which was the active metabolite of Adrafinil. It was found to be more potent and to place less of a strain on the liver. As a result, Adrafinil became less popular. In fact, Cephalon, the pharma who acquired Lafon, discontinued production of Adrafinil 2011.

But production of Adrafinil still continues by various other dubious facilities and it’s still popular in some circles especially as a performance enhancer. So much so that it is on the banned substances list of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

However, the big takeaway from all of this is that because it was quickly eclipsed by Modafinil, not a lot of research was ever done on Adrafinil and nor is there likely to be any new research. When I was in my 20’s this would not have been a problem for me. I would have snorted powdered snail vomit if you’d told me it was a great high, but I’m far more mature these days (as I’m sure you can tell;) . So I like my drugs wrapped in a healthy layer of research now.

According to highly reliable NewsCorp sources

Adrafinil is metabolised by your liver into modafinil, so it has pretty much the same chemical action and effects. Thus like Modafinil, Adrafinil inhibits dopamine transporters, slowing their ability to reabsorb dopamine (reuptake inhibitor).

As a result, you get more dopamine in your brain putting it in the same world as speed and coke, but as talked about earlier, it is a wakefulness promoter, not a stimulant, so it doesn’t come with the side effects of stimulants like a racing heart. You are alert, but not hyped up.

This buildup of dopamine also affects mood, so some users report better mood regulation and reduced stress and anxiety.

It also inhibits the reuptake of Hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that regulates alertness and catecholamines, a class of neurotransmitters regulating brain adrenergic systems. This produces higher levels of awareness and mental energy.

All of this adds up to a potent boost to both your physical stamina, focus and attention span. Indeed Nootronauts report prolonged feelings of motivation and focus and the ability to overcome procrastination. This makes this drug a popular choice for chronic fatigue sufferers and for dole bludging, taking our jobs, terrorist refugee single mums living in a squat in Frankston, with no aspirations beyond playing the pokies and turning tricks to support their ice habit (Well according to highly reliable NewsCorp sources).

Finally, it may also upregulate Glutamate receptors, improving your memory and recall, but there is little clinical evidence for this. In fact, there is limited clinical evidence for any of this.

We do know some things for sure. Like Modafinil, Adrafinil inhibits the reuptake of dopamine, leading to greater concentrations in the brain. But in particular in the nucleus accumbens. This site is widely regarded as ‘addiction central’ for humans and is the site most stimulated by coke, speed and other recreational stimulants. So while Adrafinil may not have the hyperactive downsides of recreational stimulants, it may have similar addictive properties. So if you find yourself stealing from your family and friends to chase a few IQ points and begging someone for a taste so you can finish Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and then you’ll stop. You might be addicted.

It also has similar side effects to Modafinil including headache, nausea and stomach ache. At higher doses, Adrafinil can raise blood pressure and exacerbate heart issues. But the main issue is that it has to be broken down by your liver into the active ingredient. With prolonged use or high doses, this raises liver enzymes and can lead to hepatoxicity (chemically induced liver damage).

Skid-marked undies soaked in bleach

Adrafinil usage

This metabolisation in the liver also means it is slower acting than Modafinil, peaking about an hour after ingestion and lasting for about 4-5 hours. Its is mostly water soluble, so no need to take it with food or fish oils.

Dosage is usually between 600-1,200mg, split into two doses, morning and midday. Don’t dose in the afternoon or evening as it will keep you awake. It’s a particularly unpleasant smelling and tasting nootropic, with nootronauts reporting a sulphur/ammonia type taste that apparently stays in your mouth for a while after. This sounds a bit too much like eating a pair of skid marked undies soaked in bleach. This of course is reserved for special occasions and should not be cheapened by the availability of a pill with similar properties.

People also seem to recommend dosing perhaps 3 times per week, not every day. If I were you, I’d get regular liver enzyme blood tests too, to keep an eye on what it’s doing to your liver. But the bottom line is, I won’t be touching this one. There are too many unknowns and the potential downsides are simply too big to ignore.