March 18, 2009 Diagnostic Imaging. Cognition-enhancing modafinil shows addictive properties By James Brice Students may think they are getting smarter from the cognitive boost possible with prescription drug modafinil. They need to learn, however, that claims about its lack of serious side effects are wrong. A National Institutes of Health study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2009;301:1148-1154) used PET to demonstrate that modafinil can be habit-forming, especially for individuals who are susceptible to addiction. Modafinil, a wake-promoting drug prescribed to treat narcolepsy, may actually enhance cognition, as indicated in previous clinical trials. It is used for off-label treatment of cognitive dysfunction in some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, and in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The Physicians' Desk Reference cautions that it can produce psychoactive and euphoric effects typical of central nervous system stimulant drugs.
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