Does Provigil decrease dopamine levels?

Provigiland dopamine levels

Provigil, a wakefulness promoting drug used to treat narcolepsy, sleep apnea and shift work sleep disorder, is also being increasingly used as a cognitive enhancer. Provigil was launched as a distinct form of stimulant that increases extracellular dopamine targeting dopamine transporters.

How does Provigil react in the body and also why is known to cause addiction among users?

Initially the mechanism of Provigil was hardly understood. Later research found out that Provigilaffected the dopamine levels in the body. The drug was later screened with a large panel of receptors and transporter in order to bring to light its pharmacological action. It was then found to be significantly affecting the dopamine transporter (DAT), acting as a dopamine inhibitor.  This showed a sudden surge in dopamine levels in the body.

Provigil is found to be an atypical DAT inhibitor and shows characteristics that are much different from other dopaminergic stimulants.  Provigil is known to interact on a molecular level with DAT in a much distinct way in comparison to conventional DAT blockers such as cocaine.

The pleasurable sensations that are known to make these Provigil pills disastrously attractive are when the dopamine levels in the brain surge abruptly. They are known to weaken the influence of a group of cells, called inhibitory inter-neurons in the brain. These neurons are known to cause the inhibitory action of dopamine in the brain; just like how two negatives combine to make a positive here Provigil restrains the activity of the inter-neurons causing the dopamine producing neurons to release more.

What does dopamine actually do?

Dopamine is released in the brain due to intense neural activity in the brain. It helps you to remain extremely alert and focuses on “reward theory”. This is a concept that basically involves a very high level of release of the chemical during sudden and unexpected events such as a pay rise or bumping into an old friend from school or college. It’s not that too much dopamine is not good, but it is just that it causes the individual to remain alert at all times. This is also the primary reason for the individual’s addiction to certain activities such as gambling, alcoholism as these tasks give them the required kick in the brain.


Research says that consuming addictive drugs produces different results including Provigil and they all cause surges in the dopamine levels in the body necessary for treating sleep disorders. It may also be possible to achieve the same feat through the introduction of a virus containing light activated proteins.

The research further states that there exists sufficient evidence that the consumption of Provigil causes activation of GABA receptors in the brain, inhibiting inter-neurons and promoting dopamine release. This very characteristic of the drug is known to cause addiction amongst users.

But it was also discovered that benzodiazepines that were bound to 1-apha GABA receptors were found to be addictive while those that bound to 2-alpha GABA receptors were completely safe and relieved anxiety non-addictively.