“Do I have to worry about Modafinil showing up on a drug test?”
Believe it or not,
A lot of you guys reading this fall into one of two categories:
1. White collar workers/employees whose employers require drug screening (most of you reading would fall into this category)
2. College level athletes (in particular NCAA athletes in the United States)
My personal background:
I have worked a variety of different jobs, from summer camp counselor, up to working for private contractors for the government that require clearances and the highest standards for drug testing. I am well aware of the testing procedures and panels used (in the United States at least) right up to the federal level. If you work in the private sector for a corporation, you will also know what exactly you can expect in regards to the methods that they employ.
Although I myself have never competed in the NCAA, I have many friends who are athletes in the NCAA, and use Modafinil. Since they know the protocols and procedures of the association very well, I am relying on their expertise for the most reliable, accurate, and up to date information possible for any athletes that compete or are looking to compete that are interested in Modafinil.
So is this even a legitimate? concern?
Depending on which of those two categories you fall into, it may or may not be.
Part I (The typical employee drug test):
The Reason Employers Drug Test:
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts, its important to keep in mind why you are being tested in the first place. The answer to that will determine what tests will be used and what they will be testing for.
In general, the reason employers drug test their employees is because it is believed that illicit drug users are less productive, are more prone to error, and hold a greater liability for the company and their assets (all of which, makes sense). If I had an employee that could pose a threat as a liability to my assets, I would absolutely drug test them to make sure they're not going to cost me in the long run.
Given this line of reasoning, you can very easily predict what you are going to be tested for as an employee.
Their primary target is detecting recreational drugs that are commonly used for the explicit purpose of getting high
Depending on your employer, you can expect a 4 - panel test at the very least, and a 12 - panel test at the most. Once again, given your occupation, it is quite easy to predict which panel will most likely be used. More panels requires more money, and will generally be used when you present a greater potential liability.
If you are in an occupation whose nature presents a higher liability to your boss such as handling dangerous equipment, handling a large amount of money, handling sensitive information, or basically any profession in the medical field, you will be held to higher standards of testing.
(*Note: This really does not apply in the case of Modafinil, it's just something to keep in mind as a general rule of thumb)
Back in college, I had a friend named Josh who was addicted Percocet. It was so damn bad that he could get a 30 day supply... and blow through it over the course of single weekend. Smart guy who did well in his upper level classes, and was quietly a victim to his miserable addiction.
After a weekend binge, he was unfortunate enough to get called in for a random drug test (10 panel). After coming to terms with the fact that his job was over, he went to work on Tuesday fully expecting to have his pink slip by Wednesday. To his surprise (and mine), he had passed. It turns out that 10-panels don't test for synthetic derivatives of opiates such as percocet and oxycodone, which was the reason he passed. Not sure if this was good or bad for him because had he lost his job, hitting rock bottom may have helped him climb out out of his hole sooner. (Thankfully, he did manage to get clean months after the fact)
So how does this apply to Modafinil?
One of the most common misconceptions people have about Modafinil and Armodafinil is the possibility that it may show up as a false positive for amphetamine on a drug test. A false positive in regards to drug testing means that a substance whose chemical structure is very similar to the banned substance being tested for may cause the test results to appear positive. Users of Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta face this issue because these compounds are amphetamines and their test will absolutely test positive for amphetamine. Prescription users of these compounds must present their Rx to get cleared.
Chemically speaking, Modafinil has no relationship whatsoever to amphetamine or any illegal narcotics.
It is classified in a drug category of its own (CNS stimulating nootropics) and has a unique structure of its own. No matter what test you take, whether that be a urine sample, blood sample, or hair follicle test, it will not appear on the test results. I can personally attest to this because I myself have used in all the way up to the test date for my employment screens and haven't had any problems whatsoever.
The compounds on these test kits are not cherrypicked at random. The kits are mass manufactured by companies that meet the demand for business owners who want to test for typical junkie drugs. Due to the nature of modafinil/armodafinil, they aren't viewed as a threat to anyone doing business, so the companies that manufacture these test kits don't bother screening for these compounds.
Part II (College level Athletes who compete in the NCAA)
The Reason Why Athletes are Drug Tested:
To ensure that nobody is getting an "unfair advantage" in the form of hormonal enhancement or PED's.
Unlike white collar business owners that really don't give a shit whether or not you use Modafinil, due to its innocent (and somewhat obscure) nature in the business world, college-level (and above) athletic departments take it very seriously.
Since Modafinil has been recognized as a performance enhancing agent, it is on the list of banned substances for NCAA athletes. The only way around this is to go through the process of obtaining a waiver stating that you are prescribed this medication for XYZ reason and they cannot hold it against you should it appear on a drug test.
The test kits manufactured specifically for athletes are very different than those intended for regular employment, since they serve an entirely different purpose.
Their objective is to screen for:
a) Banned* steroidal compounds
*At the highest levels, top level athletes with access to the best doctors have a much easier time getting around this. They use the most up to date steroids that are very structurally similar to the banned ones, but are still technically legal, in order to work around this (this is more often the case in professional level sports. The vast majority of college kids don't have the money, connections, or medical expertise to get access to these compounds anyway)
b) Banned stimulants, 100 different derivatives of amphetamine, ephedrine, Modafinil (the most common agents that boost the central nervous system)
Modafinil IS one of the stimulants that the NCAA tests for and it is not worth risking one's athletic or professional career to be caught illicitly using it.
In order to get away with using it, you need to go through the proper channels, get a prescription, and fill out all the necessary paperwork required so you won't get burned. Although it's multi-step, the actual process itself for getting approved for sports use is fairly straightforward.
The University and the Association basically want to know that you are getting it prescribed for a legitimate medical reason and they want it on record, in writing.
To get cleared for athletic use, you generally have to undergo a 3 step process.
- The student-athlete must declare trainer their use of modafinil to their head athletic administrator/coach and have the information kept on record
- Must present proper documentation of the diagnosis of their condition
- Must present proper documentation from the physician as proof of their current prescription
If you're getting Modafinil prescribed for ADHD (less common), you are required to show proof to your athletics director that you underwent standard testing for ADHD (this "testing" is the 20 or 30 question survey doctors hand you to see whether or not you have ADHD). The ADHD testing surveys can be found online with a quick google search and there's plenty of information out there to clarify on what symptoms properly predispose an individual to be diagnosed with ADHD.
If you're getting Modafinil prescribed for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness or Shift Work Disorder (both of which are disorders that it is more commonly prescribed for), just make sure you present all of the documentation to your director.
These are the general conditions that must be met to get a clearance for using Modafinil/Armodafinil in the NCAA and Division I colleges across the United States. There may be small discrepancies in procedure depending on which school you go to which is why its important you talk to your coach and verify it.
Sounds like a lot of work, but its really not that complicated...
- Get a prescription from your doctor
- Present your prescription, along with your documentation which includes the prior "test" (30 question survey the doctor hands you) you took if you are getting it prescribed for ADHD
- Apply for a waiver from your school. It is highly unlikely that they will deny your waiver when you give them all the documentation and prove that you have 100% certified medical clearance for usage.
A lot of you guys have athletic scholarships that allow you to go to school for free. Some of you may even stand a chance at eventually going pro. Since you have a lot to lose, it's not worth taking a chance on not following procedure to the tee and getting all the clearances you need.
Until next time -