*Limitless Film recap: Eddie Morra (played by Bradley Cooper) is a laid-back writer that lives his life in chaos and misery. He is plagued by the writer’s block and is also stressed by a rapidly approaching deadline. His life becomes even more of a mess when his girlfriend dumps him because of his financial uncertainties. Eddie seemed to be driving straight into a wall. However, one day, he gets his hand on this pill (NZT-48) from an unidentified pharmaceutical company that is advertised as a “smart drug.” Having nothing else to lose, he tries the pill, and suddenly he becomes more focused and more productive than ever. He begins cleaning his house. He remembers details from long ago. He writes a new book that is highly praised by the publisher. His life suddenly feels worth living.
The next day, however, the effect disappears and he crashes. This is when he realizes that he needs to take the pill every day if he wants to remain the “smart guy.” Although his supplier had been murdered, Eddie found his stash and hid it for personal use. Ever since then, he began improving his life, focusing on his career, on being fit, on socializing more, and even on learning new foreign languages. His brain could handle it now.
Today, you can see ads and stories all over the internet with claims about finding NZT-48 (even some products which are named NZT-48), in an attempt to market what quite often is a mediocre product or outright sham. Although not as miraculous as NZT-48… Modafinil has been labeled the “Real Limitless Pill” on college campuses…
“But there's one pill rising to the top in Britain and overseas: the "Limitless pill," Modafinil—the only smart drug clinically proven, as of last year, to actually work. It makes people alert, but isn't quite as intense as others. So could popping pills to concentrate be the new normal in the near future? The dramatic rise of modafinil use in universities suggests: yes. As many as one in four students are said to have taken it, and in 2013, Sky News found that there was a black market for the drug on campuses, with students bulk-buying it and selling it on.”
- Hannah Ewens from 2016 Vice article
In its most basic sense, Modafinil is a nootropic that is composed of both right-handed and left-handed enantiomers to make a substance that is both fast-acting and effective. Popular generic versions of Modafinil are Modalert and Modvigil. While not strictly a stimulant, Modafinil reportedly increases the speed of thought and helps with focus and attentiveness during tasks. It can act as a mood booster as well, which adds to its ability to help in social situations. It works by boosting the activity of dopamine, serotonin, and histamine in the brain.
Modafinil is most commonly used in the treatment of: Narcolepsy, Obstructive sleep apnea, and Shift work sleep disorder. Additionally, Modafinil is also known as effective eugeroic medication. In other words, it works as a powerful cognitive stimulant by boosting energy levels, especially in those who have Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis.
Primarily, Modafinil functions by enhancing specific chemicals and neurotransmitters within the brain. These include glutamate, serotonin, histamine, dopamine, and GABA. Its effect on the central nervous systems is as follows:
Inhibiting Dopamine Reuptake (DAT)
Increasing Orexin Release
Inhibiting Norepinephrine Reuptake
Boosting Histamine Activity in the Brain