All You Need to Know About Adrafinil


What is Adrafinil?

Adrafinil is a mild stimulant drug that was developed in France as a wakefulness-promoting agent (eugeroic). It was marketed under the brand name Olmifon until it was discontinued in 2011.

This drug was intended to be used by patients who suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and inattention due to sleep or mental disorders. But it didn't stop there; many healthy people also started using adrafinil off-label to help them stay awake, alert and energized.

Adrafinil has become one of the most widely used over-the-counter nootropics (cognitive enhancers). With its outstanding efficacy and safety profile, it ranks among the best-selling OTC nootropic drugs in the U.S. and worldwide.

Although the original brand version (Olmifon) is no longer available on the market, there are many companies that make and sell generic adrafinil as bulk powder or in capsule form.

Characteristics of Real Adrafinil

Adrafinil powder has a light pinkish or off-white color. It has a slightly bitter taste and a sulfuric smell. Color and smell may differ from one manufacturer to another.

The powder is fully soluble in ethanol and methanol, and partially soluble in water.

Effects and Benefits

Adrafinil mildly stimulates the central nervous system. The mechanism of action of both adrafinil and its metabolite, modafinil, is still not fully understood. Modafinil is better studied, and both drugs have the same in vivo effects since adrafinil gets converted to modafinil in the liver. Several clinical studies investigated the pharmacological effects of modafinil, but failed to isolate a single mechanism of action.

Most studies found that modafinil affects the levels of several neurotransmitters in the brain. It promotes the levels of some excitatory neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, glutamate and histamine), while suppressing the levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Researchers also observed increased levels of other neurotransmitters, including dopamine (affects motivation and arousal) and serotonin (affects mood, well-being and cognitive functions).

You can find more detailed information about adrafinil's pharmacological effects in this scientific review study.

The noticeable benefits of adrafinil may vary from one individual to another. The following are the most common results that users often experience when taking this substance:

  • Feeling energized and alert. It fends off tiredness and makes you want to stay awake and active.
  • Increased focus. Not in any supernatural way, but it helps you concentrate on what you are doing with better mental clarity.
  • Better mood. This can range from feeling a little bit jolly to a short state of euphoria.
  • Feeling positive. It gives you a kick of motivation and willingness to work.


  1. Not every user may experience all or any of these effects, since efficacy can significantly vary for each individual. Some users have better results with this drug than others, and there is no way to tell how well it will work for you until you try it yourself. It does work, but not for everyone!
  2. You may have a greater benefit if you take it when you are tired or sleepy. If you are already in a good mental state then you probably won't notice any change after taking the dose, and you shouldn't need to anyway.

Dosage and Usage

The standard dose for adrafinil is 300mg. But depending on your weight and other factors, you may need a lower or higher dosage to notice effects.

If this is your first time taking it, start by taking a 300mg dose in the morning or midday. If you don't feel any significant effects after a couple of days, you can double the dose to 600mg in the morning, or 300mg in the morning and another 300mg in the afternoon.

You can take it every day (no more than 900-1200 mg total per day), every other day, or as required; whichever suits your needs best. Avoid taking it in the evening unless you want to stay awake during the night. Take it with a glass of water, or if you are using the powder you can mix it with your favorite drink. It works better on an empty stomach.

Adrafinil starts working in about one hour (more or less) after ingestion, and it remains active in your system (as the metabolite modafinil) for several hours.

Tolerance and Cycling

Although not clinically observed or commonly reported, it is possible that your body builds up tolerance to adrafinil if used very often, which leads to the dose becoming ineffective or having a very negligible effect. To prevent this from happening it is recommended to cycle adrafinil.

Cycling means taking a break off the substance for a while, or using it on and off, so that it will maintain its effectiveness without having to constantly increase the dosage. There are no clinical guidelines for cycling adrafinil, but based on individual experiences, it is recommended to take at least a day off between doses. So you should take it three times a week or less.

Sublingual Administration

Adrafinil should be administered orally (swallowed with liquid), and this is the standard way to take it that has been clinically tested. Some users have taken it sublingually (dissolved under the tongue) and claimed it works faster this way.

Whether taken orally or sublingually, the drug will be absorbed into your blood stream, and it will travel to the liver where it will be metabolized into modafinil.

Because sublingual administration is based on "experimental" experiences of some users, it is recommended to stick with clinically studied oral administration. But in case you want to try a sublingual dose, start with 50mg and do not exceed 100mg.

Does Adrafinil Really Work?

According to the available scientific literature, adrafinil does indeed have a marked positive effect on vigilance, concentration, attention, clarity and mood. But does it work for everyone? The answer is no. Some users do not respond to adrafinil, modafinil, and the whole -afinil family of drugs. Others may experience a varying degree of efficacy.

In general, the following groups of people are more likely to notice improvement:

  • People suffering from daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
  • People with low mental energy, depression and/or lack of motivation.
  • People having difficulty staying alert and focused.
  • Older people (45+).

If you are a healthy individual then you probably won't feel much change after taking adrafinil.

Safety and Side Effects

Adrafinil is generally safe and does not cause any significant side effects when taken within the standard dosage range. At high doses, some side effects may be noticed, including anxiety, headache, dizziness, insomnia, and frequent pooping.

Avoid taking adrafinil with other stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, or even caffeine. The combination may worsen adverse effects, and may be risky in some cases.

There have been overstated concerns about liver toxicity. Adrafinil is metabolized in the liver where it gets converted to its active drug form; Modafinil. This process causes liver enzymes to rise above normal levels. This also happens with many other medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), atorvastatin (Lipitor), and others.

There are no available clinical data on the long-term safety of adrafinil, but it is generally advised not to take it for more than 2-3 months straight. Also avoid consuming it with alcohol or other medications that raise liver enzymes to avoid overtaxing your liver.

Adrafinil vs. Caffeine

You can use adrafinil as an alternative to caffeine. In fact, some users find it very helpful with caffeine withdrawal symptoms. It can give you a similar stimulating effect but without the jitters that often come with caffeine. However, since effectiveness varies - not just from user to user, but also from dose to dose - adrafinil may not be as reliable as caffeine.

Avoid taking both adrafinil and caffeine together, otherwise the combination may make you nervous and anxious.

Adrafinil vs. Modafinil

Adrafinil is a precursor drug (prodrug) to modafinil. After it is absorbed by the body it gets metabolized in the liver into modafinil (the active compound).

In essence, both compounds have the same pharmacological effects in the body, but since it takes time for adrafinil to be metabolized and then accumulate in the bloodstream as modafinil, adrafinil is less efficient and works slower.

Modafinil, however, is a prescription-only drug that is sold under different brand names including Provigil, Alertec, Modavigil and others. Modafinil as a stand-alone drug is more potent than adrafinil, and has more palpable side effects.

For off-label use as a cognitive enhancer, adrafinil is the better choice since you can buy it without a prescription and it doesn't have an acute stimulant effect.

Adrafinil is an unscheduled and unregulated drug in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe and most other countries. This means it is legal to buy it over the counter for personal use, although it is not approved by the FDA for medical use.

In Australia and France, however, it is classified as prescription-only. Some online stores will still ship to these two countries and the shipment normally goes through if it is a small amount and intended for personal use.

Adrafinil and modafinil are both banned stimulants by the World Anti-Doping Agency, so athletes are not allowed to take them in competition.

Most users order adrafinil online as it is not easy to source it locally. There are several online nootropics suppliers that sell it with varying quality and prices.

The following are two of the best and highly trusted online stores where you can get adrafinil capsules or powder at reasonable prices.

Final advice: Unless you have tried adrafinil before and you know it works for you, you should buy the smallest amount available. To be honest, there are some exaggerated claims about this nootropic compound. The effects aren't much more impressive than a cup of coffee or an energy drink. If you are not struggling with daily fatigue or sleepiness, I'd say save your money for something else!

Adrafinil Facts Summary


Standard dosage: 300mg (once or twice a day).

Maximum daily dosage: 1,200mg.

Primary Effects

Mild stimulation. Increased vigilance and focus. Reduced tiredness.

Who Should Take It?

People with poor vigilance, focus and/or energy due to lack of sleep. May also help with fatigue, depression and ADHD.

When to Take?

Works best in the morning on an empty stomach.

Side Effects

Well tolerated in most people. High doses may cause excitement, dizziness, headache, insomnia.


Adrafinil may interact with other stimulants and aggravate side effects.

Avoid taking it with alcohol and other substances that raise liver enzymes.

For more information on possible drug interactions see this website and this (Modafinil = Adrafinil's active metabolite).

Legal Status

Unscheduled drug — legal to buy without a prescription, but not approved for medical use in the U.S.

User Experiences/Reviews

One of the most informative, non-commercial places where real users share their experiences of different nootropics is Erowid Experience Vault.