Citation: Careful_Dave. "An Autistic Perspective: An Experience with Modafinil (exp63472)". Erowid.org. Aug 12, 2007. erowid.org/exp/63472
I am a Caucasian male, 32 years old, 200lbs, light smoker in generally good health. I was diagnosed at the age of 30 with autism spectrum disorder, manifesting itself as deficiencies in executive functioning (particularly with verbal tasks), obsessive repetitive behavior, mild anxiety disorder and daytime sleepiness. I generally have just two states of mind: zoned out and foggy to the extent where I can't plan even the simplest of tasks, or hyperfocussed on some small thing to the exclusion of everything else. This is immensely frustrating when I have stuff that needs to be done! Having said that I function quite adequately from day to day: I have a university education, a fulfilling job, a great girlfriend and a social life (even if I have to be reminded to go out and meet my friends!) Whilst I have without question struggled for most of my life, I would be reluctant to label myself as disabled.
I decided to try modafinil after reading many glowing reports about its ability to clear your head and boost alertness: I was interested in the possibility that it might give my my brain a kick up the ass without the anxiety and paranoia that comes with amphetamine-related stimulants. So I ordered some from the web and started taking it daily. At first I used very low doses, then worked it up a bit and eventually settled on 200mg per day, split betweem 2 doses. My conclusion after a year and a half is that it has had a profoundly positive impact upon my life.
Since I began taking modafinil (generally 100mg when I get up in the morning and 100mg at about 2pm) I feel like a new person. I am clear-headed, focussed, less timid and gently more optimistic about life. I am dramatically more productive at work and for the first time in my like I feel capable of planning for the future. At work I can join in the office banter (which is great!) and at home I can contribute to chores without getting confused. In short, I feel NORMAL. In the first 3 weeks of taking modafinil I achieved more personal goals than I had managed in the previous year. This is a remarkable drug.
However there's no such thing as a free lunch and I discovered that use over an extended period can cause its own problems. Actually, it surprised me that there isn't more written about this in the scientific literature: most studies seem to focus on the effects of a single dose, there is clearly a need for more research. I found that if I take modafinil every day for more than two weeks I start to feel awful. The fatigue builds up irrespective of how much sleep I get each night. In the end I become crushingly tired all the time and completely unable to get good quality, refreshing sleep. I then find myself overwhelmed by every sight, sound and texture around me, I can't think clearly, I get headaches and eye wiggles, and all I want to do is curl up in a corner. The key, I have found, is to do two things: Firstly I have to give myself a break from modafinil 1 week in every 4. This allows my brain to regain its normal sleep architecture and keeps the side effects in check. The modafinil-free week is slightly frustrating because the old brain fog comes straight back, but not terribly so as the drug continues to give beneficial effects for about 2 days after I stop taking it.
The other thing that I find helps immensely is to listen to my body and sleep when it tells me to. i.e. if I start to feel 'strung out' after a few days of modafinil I will go to bed as soon as I come home from work (5.30pm) and sleep straight through to 7am the next day. I will then usually feel very much more refreshed.
Finally, one or two other observations:
Paradoxically for a stimulant I've found that modafinil can actually help me sleep. If I am having a terrible night's sleep I will take 50mg of modafinil at (say) 4am, then I will drift off into the most blissful sleep! When I get up 2 or 3 hours later I will wake up completely refreshed.
Combinations: In my opinion modafinil works exceptionally well with caffeine. If I need to concentration hard on something at work then the combination will give me a great deal of mental stamina.
In combiunation with nicotine I get a nasty head rush and I can then only feel the unpleasant side effects of smoking: nausea, sore throught and painful lungs. Could modafinil perhaps be a future targt drug for helping people to quit smoking?
Anxiety and stress can sometimes creep up on me if I've been taking modafinil for a few days straight. I have found that a very effective remedy is to take a couple of co-codamol tablets, which each contain 8mg of codeine. (These can be bought over the counter where I live.) I would be reluctant to recommend opiates to anyone as they can be habit forming, but this ultra-low dose shouldn't cause ay problems.
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