Closest Thing To Modafinil Over The Counter (OTC)

Fact Checked On: 10-6-2018

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What is Modafinil and How Does It Work
Who Uses Modafinil
Is Modafinil Prescription Only
Option #1 – Adrafinil
Option #2 – Noopept
Option #3 – Sulbutiamine

Option #4 Phenylpiracetam
Option #5 – Semax

Chances are you’ve heard of Adderall, the drug prescribed to children and adults diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

And chances are you’re aware that it’s commonly used by college students and others as a studyand productivity aid.

In users with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, it has a calming yet focused effect, while in users without attention deficit disorders, it acts as a stimulant and mood elevator.

As a result, there’s a thriving black market for Adderall in and around college campuses all over the world.

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There’s also a huge market for those looking for an over the counter version of Adderall.

The same is true for Modafinil.

Also known by its brand name Provigil, Modafinil is prescribed mainly to patients with narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorders, but like Adderall, its off label use has exploded in recent years as healthy people have come to realize its potential.

What is Modafinil and How Does It Work?

Modafinil is a medication to promote wakefulness.

Modafinil Image

Because of its potential for cognitive enhancement and its use by students for attention and focus, it’s often lumped in with Adderall and Ritalin.

But Modafinil is not a traditional stimulant in the way the other two are; it does not contain amphetamines, and it acts differently on the neurotransmitters of the brain.

The amphetamines in Adderall are what’s called psycho-stimulants.

They stimulate central nervous system activity by increasing dopamine, serotonin, and noepinephrine, three neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals responsible for affecting behavior, mood, response, and motivation.

In contrast, Modafinil is a eugeroic which promotes wakefulness, not central nervous system stimulation.

It’s exact mechanism of action is not known, but it appears to be a weak, yet very selective, dopamine reuptake inhibitor that works by binding to the dopamine transporters.

The presence of increased dopamine encourages both wakefulness and motivation.

Modafinil has less of a propensity toward dependence than Adderall, though there has been no conclusion made that Modafinil is not addictive at all.

Who Uses Modafinil?

The official patient population for Modafinil includes narcoleptics, people with obstructive sleep apnea, and overnight shift workers who have difficulty adjusting their sleep patterns to their work schedule.

But Modafinil’s ability to promote wakefulness makes it a popular study and productivity aid as well.

In fact, a survey conducted in 2014found that 1 in 5 university students in the United Kingdom has used Modafinil to help them stay awake, study, and/or prepare for exams.

Many report improvements in concentration and memory recall, but these effects have not borne out in clinical studies as the well as the wakefulness has.

Is Modafinil Prescription Only?

I get inquiries every day from readers who want to improve their cognitive abilities.

Some are looking for better focus to conquer a huge research paper or presentation.

Some have noticed their memories falling a little short lately, and want something to counteract the decline.

Some just feel sluggish and “off” and hope there’s a way to get back to their old energetic selves.

Modafinil requires a prescription from a doctor, though as you know, online pharmacies have a way of getting around such requirements.

Basically, if you want to find Modafinil for sale without a prescription, you will.

In fact, I just got done reviewing a company called Afinil Express, who specializes in just that.

But that’s not the point.

Taking prescription drugs without supervision by or consultation with a doctor has the potential to be dangerous.This doesn’t mean you’ll take these and die.

I supposed it’s possible, yet it’s highly unlikely.

But your doctor will take into account your medical conditions and history, along with any other medications you’re taking, and determine if you’d be safe taking Modafinil, or any other prescription drug for that matter.

Consulting with a doctor will also give you as the patient the opportunity to ask questions and have a conversation that can lead to a deeper understanding of what to expect and what not to expect.

For instance, one of the reported potential side effects of Modafinil is suicidal thoughts and consideration of self harm.

A conversation with a doctor gives you an opportunity to know this and be prepared for it if it occurs to you.

If you didn’t know this is possible, and it happened to you while taking Modafinil, the outcome could be much much worse than if you knew to be on the lookout for these kinds of thoughts.

On top of the safety concerns, buying illicit drugs can lead to any number of unintended negative consequences. At $5-$20 a pill, it’s expensive, and buying a controlled substance without a doctor’s prescription is against Side effects may be an issue as well.

Headaches are the most commonly reported (at about 10% of users), and some people may experience a severe skin rash.

Best to find legal alternatives that give you the same or similar benefits at a lower cost, both financially and personally.

OTC Modafinil Alternatives

Option #1 – Adrafinil

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Buy Adrafinil Online Cheap:

Adrafinil is the closest you can get to Modafinil over the counter, and that’s because it actually turns into Modafinil once it’s in your body.

Like Modafinil, Adrafinil promotes wakefulness.

You get the benefit of remaining alert and focused on the task at hand, but you don’t feel jittery and restless like you would when taking something containing central nervous system stimulants.

As Adrafinil passes through the liver, it is converted to Modafinil.

In fact, I would literally characterize it as legal over the counter Modafinil.

Related Article: Adrafinil Vs. Modafinil – Which Is Best?

Because Adrafinil is a precursor to Modafinil, the required dose is higher than it is for the real thing, and it takes longer to kick in.

Whereas the recommended dose for Modafinil is 100-200 mg per day of use, the comparable Adrafinil dose is more like 600 mg, though there is plenty of variation among users, which we’ll talk more about a little later.

One of the best ways to describe the effect of Adrafinil is that it causes wakefulness and alertness by fighting fatigue and sleepiness, not by amping you up or causing hyperactivity.Your focus I spot on as well.

It’s also possible that it improves memory.

There is some anecdotal evidence to support this, though no clinical studies thus far have proven it.

How To Use Adrafinil

The effects of Adrafinil will kick in in about an hour when taken on an empty stomach.

It takes this much time because it has to pass through the liver before converting to Modafinil.

A typical dose is 600 mg, but you’ll want to start off lower, say 100-200 mg, to assess the effects, and build up from there.

It comes in powder form, and when you mix it with hot water, the solution will turn clear (HINT: This is a good way to make sure you have the real thing).

Which brings us to a potential issue with Adrafinil worth noting.

Be careful where you buy your Adrafinil as there have been cases of outlets supplying fake product.

Make sure you use a retailer you can trust, and know that your solution, once mixed with water, should be colorless, and you should be able to fine a certificate or stamp of purity associated with the product.

Adrafinil, like Modanafil, has a much lower probability for abuse and addiction than other drugs such as Adderall, but it’s still best to guard against this by cycling your use.

One good method would be to use it for a week then go without for a week.

Alternately, try 2 days a week with a good few days between each use.

The goal in both cases is to make sure you go a significant amount of time without to make sure you don’t end up dependent.

It may take a bit of experimentation to get to the best balance, but once you get your timing and dosage squared away, Adrafinil can be a very close alternative to the real thing, mainly because it is structurally similar to the real thing.

The best part about Adrafinil is that it’s safe, it’s legal, it doesn’t require a prescription, and it’s quite literally the closest thing to Modafinil you can find.

Where to Buy Adrafinil

Adrafinil comes in powder and pill form.

The advantage of powder is you can easily adjust your dose up and down.

It usually comes in 5 gram to 30 gram packaging, with an average price of about $ in The advantage of pills is convenience.When buying powder, you can get15 grams (about a one month supply or more depending on how you use it) for about $35. For pills, you usually see 300 mg doses.You’ll get about 30 capsules for your $35.

You won’t find Adrafinil, or other over the counter modafinil alternatives for that matter, at stores like GNC, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, or Vitamin Shoppe.

However, you can find it conveniently from a number of reputable online providers.

I get my Adrafinil from’s actually a part of their Nootropics All Star Pack, and is great at helping to wake you up and keep you focused.

Here’s a link:

Option #2 – Noopept

modafinil over the counter alternativeBuy Noopept Online Cheap:

Noopept works in a very similar way to Racetams, only stronger, and in my opinion, better.

It was first synthesized in Russia where it is currently prescribed as a nootopic.

Here in the US, it’s available over the counter, and in effect works as a very suitable Modafinil substitute.

It’s actually a pre cursor (or pro drug) for cycloproglycine.

As a result, it’s not active as a nootropic until after it converts to cycloprolylglycine in the body.

Like most nootropics, the exact mechanism of action for Noopept is not completely understood.

If you look at the scarce research associated with cycloprolylglycine (CPG), you’ll see it’s been found to reduce anxiety and alleviate the fear response.

This explains its reputation for being extremely neuroprotective.

Yet Noopept is widely understood, and has been anecdotal shown, to improve cognitive functioning.

The feeling you get from Noopept can be described as calm and alert, with heightened awareness or your surroundings.

Feelings of calm confidence and increased productivity are also reported.

But beyond that, it’s believed to have the same neuroprotective qualities as Racetams, as well as a positive effect on the production and movement of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

By increasing the speed of transmission between synapses, Noopept improves several aspects of cognitive function, and does so with a much smaller dose than is necessary with traditional racetams.

The most commonly recommended dose is between 10 and 30 mg daily.

As always, I recommended starting low and working your way up if needed.

The extremely low dose works to your advantage in that the potential for side effects is quite low.

The most commonly reported being a feeling of pressure in your head.

Noopept is taken orally.Many recommend taking it sublinqually for optimal and speedy absorption.

One drawback is the short duration of effect.

With a half-life of one hour, the effects of Noopept only last for up to about 4 hours max.

You can experiment with taking another dose in the early afternoon, but as always, go slow and monitor yourself for any adverse reactions.

You can purchase Noopept in either capsule or powder form.

Capsules usually come in 10 mg weight, and you can get 100 for $20. If you take only 10 mg per day, that $20 will take you through 3 months, while if you go with 30 mg per day – either in one dose or a couple throughout the day, you’re looking at one month.

If you opt for powder, a 10 gram jar also goes for $20.In this case, your $20 will last almost a year.

This highlights one of the advantages of Noopept.It’s very inexpensive, so it makes a great add on to a stack.

And when trying to effect a Modafinil alternative, you can make up for the lack of a stimulant effect by adding Adrafinil or Phenylpiracetam.

Just like with Adrafinil, I pick mine up at Absorb Your Health.

It’s one of the cheapest available, but the quality is 2nd to none. Here’s a link to their site:

Option #3 – Sulbutiamine


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Sulbutiamine is a derivative of Vitamin B1, or Thiamine.Thiamine itself has similar abilities to provide energy and boost mood, but there’s one very important drawback.

Thiamine is not well absorbed and cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, which it would need to do in order to have its pronounces cognitive enhancement effect.

Sulbutiamine solves thisproblem because the molecule is different enough from that of Vitamin B1 that it can readily cross the blood-brain barrier, effectively unlocking the door to its potential benefits.

It was discovered and developed in Japan by scientists working on a way to improve Thiamine absorption in order to fully utilize its cognitive enhancement benefits.

That mission was accomplished with Sulbutiamine.

The most commonly reported benefits are increased energy and improved mood.These would indeed make it a close substitute to Modafinil.

To further drive that point home, Sulbutiamine is frequently used as a treatment for chronic fatigue.

The mood elevating properties of Sulbutiamine come from its action on the functioning of certain neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, notably those for choline, glutamine, and dopamine.

This results in not only clearer thinking, but also better mood and increased sociability.

Sulbutiamine Side Effects

At normal doses, Sulbutiamine is not known to cause any serious side effects.

Like most nootropics, headaches and head pressure are fairly common, but don’t rise to the level of a problem for most users.

Something to watch out for thought is a potential for dependency.

Research has not necessarily borne this out, but the fact that Sulbutiamine acts on dopamine receptors means it could lead to a situation where you need the help in order to feel right, not unlike the way cocaine works.

Again, this is not settled business by any means.

But it would be best to not use Sulbutiamine every day to make sure you’re not creating a difficult situation for yourself down the road.

How To Use Sulbutiamine

There is not clear consensus on the optimal daily dosage.

General wisdom, along with the few studies that have been conducted, seem to point to 400-600 mg per day as best.

Arcalion, the most common brand name for Sulbutiamine, cautions against using more than 600 mg per day.

On the other hand, you’ll see recommendations of up to 1000 mg a day or more, which solidifies the notion that the evidence just isn’t conclusive at this point.

It’s best to start on the low end of the spectrum and assess your response from there.

Sulbutiamine is fat soluble which means it’s best taken with a meal, milk, fish oil, or some other form of fat.

Most suppliers recommend splitting your daily dosage into 2 or 3 doses with your meals.

Where to Buy

Sulbutiamine is available in capsule and powder form.

Capsules offer the advantage of convenience.

Powder makes it easier to adjust your dosage, and it’s cheaper.

Capsules usually contain 200 mg and cost about $15 for a 90 count bottle.For the powder form, you can expect to pay $10 for a 25 gram tub.

Just like with the others, I recommend buying it from Absorb Your Health (

They sell a 100 capsule supply for just $22.99, and you’ll literally get your order within a few days.

Here’s a link to their Sulbutiamine page:

Stacking Sulbutamiane

Just like Noopept, Sulbutiamine is often used in nootropic stacks.In fact, it makes a great addition to the Adrafinil/Noopept stack we mentioned earlier.

It adds more of the energy component and introduces a more pronounced mood elevating effect.

Option #4 Phenylpiracetam

phenylpiracetam imagePhenylpiracetem is a close derivative of the original nootropic, Piracetam.

Romanian psychologist and chemist Corneliu Giurgea developed Piracetam in 1964, and subsequently coined the term Nootropics, used to refer to brain boosting supplements.

Since then, while it hasn’t remained the strongest or most effective option, it still is one of the most popular.

Like most nootropics, the mechanism for how Phenylpiracetam works isn’t entirely understood.It’s not a quite a stimulant like Adderall, but it is known to produce a stimulant effect (In fact, it’s known to be the “stimulant racetam”.

It acts on neurotransmitters (specifically acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, and gluatamate) within the brain, increasing movement along neuronal pathways.

Additionally, it improves blood flow, which increases oxygen delivery to the brain.

A third benefit is that it improves the permeability of cell membranes, leading to better communication overall.

One of the advantages of Phenylpiractetam over Piracetam is that while very similar, it’s 30-60 times stronger.This is because phenylpiracetam is far more easily passed through the blood-brain barrier.

For this reason and others, it’s a closer imitation of Modanifil.

In addition to the general cognitive boost you’ll get with Piracetam, Phenylpiracetam also provides a clean, jitter-free stimulant feel, akin to Modafinil.

It’s that “up, but not speedy” feeling that keeps you alert and going, but not fidgety.

And it doesn’t lead to the subsequent crash.

With Phenylpiracetam, you’re alert and motivated, but not edgy, stressed, or anxious.

It’s no wonder so many of the nootropics message board members declare Phenylpiracetam is their favorite Racetam!

How To Use Phenylpiracetam

As aresult of its much higher strength of action, you can take much smaller doses of Phenylporacetam than Piracetam.

As a consequence of the fact that it hasn’t been widely studied for its nootropic effects on healthy people, a standard dose has not been established.

A common dose is 100 mg taken two times daily as needed.

Because of its stimulant properties, you’ll want to avoid taking it later than early to mid afternoon.

For a number of reasons, I generally advocate for using the lowest effective dose.

It’s less likely to cause dependence or create tolerance, not to mention it saves you money as well.

It comes in both powder and capsule form.

Most capsules are dosed at 100 or 200 mg per, so if you want to experiment more minutely, you’d be better off with powder. 30 count bottles of 100 mg capsules run anywhere from $15 to $20 to get an idea of price.If you go with powder, you can get a 5 gram jar for under $20.

Option #5 – Semax

Semax ImageSemax is another option from the stable of nootropics developed and used in Russia.It comes in liquid form, and is similar in chemical make-up to Noopept.

Having been around since 1982, having been discovered while searching for a treatment for stroke-induced brain damage.

As is often the case, while researching a cure or treatment for one condition, a compound with unexpected benefits was found.

Today in Russia, it is still primarily used to treat circulatory system disorders, ie stroke, but also for memory and cognitive disorders.

Like all nootropics, how Semax works as a cognitive enhancer is, at least in part, something of a mystery.

Certainly the improved circulation can increase blood flow to the brain, meaning more beneficial oxygen.

It also appears to improve the way your brain responds to stress, providing a clear and calm sense with which to proceed.

Semax may also present as a neuroprotective due to its strong antioxidant properties.

It has been shown to increase the presence of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) in animals, a protein that acts on neurons and the central nervous system to encourage growth of new neurons and synapses.

Its most active areas within the brain are the Hippocampus, Cortex, and Basal Forebrain – all of which are crucial to memory, learning, and higher level cognition.

The increase in BDNF has its most pronounced effect on long term memory.

Other components of Semax have a positive effect on serotonin and dopamine receptors.

The effect is not quite euphoric, but it combats depression and inhibits anxiousness, especially when faced with stress.

Semax has been considered as a treatment for both depression and ADD/ADHD, but studies have not been conducted to further this hypothesis.

Looking around on the message boards is a good way to learn what users are experiencing with Semax.

In general, they report a pretty impressive list of benefits including:

  • Increased alertness
  • Better reasoning skill.
  • Improved perception and concentration.
  • Greater energy.
  • Elevated mood.

Another interesting benefit is the lessening of perceived strain, both mental and physical.Take one example I came across on Reddit. The guy said he was doing push ups.

He knew he was doing them, he could “feel” that he was doing them.

But he felt none of the strain or effort of doing them, almost- yet not quite – like he was watching himself.

How To Use Semax

Semax comes in liquid form, and is most commonly used as nasal drops or a nasal spray.

The .1% concentrated solution is commonly used in nootropic applications with instructions to apply 1-2 drops into each nostril twice a day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Alternatively, Semax can be injected, but it cannot be taken orally.

Semax generally comes in a small vial dispenser that should be kept refrigerated.

Where to Buy Semax

Semax is sold online, though its availability is not as wide as some of its counterparts.

A 200mcg solution spray bottle costs $32.99 while the larger dose of 600mcg bottle comes in at $77.99. These are the prices including refrigerant.If you want to add to your order, the price is a little lower because you don’t have to add extra refrigerant.

Widely accepted dosing protocols simply don’t exist at this point for Semax, so if you’re just starting out, it’s best to go with the 200mcg solution.

If it’s not cutting it, use 2 or 3 sprays at a time, and next time order the 600 mcg.


Modafinil serves as a fantastic study and productivity aid.

The problem is, most people either can’t get their hands on it, can’t afford it, or don’t like the idea of sneaky around using illicit substances without a prescription.

That is precisely why we have safe, legal alternatives.

We’ve gone over 5 of them here in this article.

They’re my top picks, but this list is by no means exhaustive.

One of the reason the nootropics world is so fascinating right now is that people are experimenting, coming up with their own combinations, adjusting and fine tuning components and amounts, and sharing them with the community.

While I might like this better than that, and you find x more helpful than z, we all have something to learn from each other.

And that brings me to my recommendation for the best Modafinil alternative.

In my opinion, your best bet, because it’s so closely related, is Adrafinil.

Check out our other “Over The Counter” series articles below:

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Author: Rob Miller

Supplement Critique

Rob Miller founded over 7 years ago, and has been the chief editor ever since. He has a diploma in Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor, and worked at GNC for 3 years. He KNOWS supplements, both inside and out. Rob currently resides in Jupiter, FL, with his wife of 4 years.  Learn more about him in his Bio here. Follow him on Twitter , Facebook, LinkedIn, or find him on Google +.