How to get a perscription for Modafinil?
May 30, 2009 4:32 PM   Subscribe

I have to work night shifts three nights a week, and it has turned me into a zombie. I strongly suspect I have shift work sleep disorder. I've done a lot of reading, and I think Modafinil (Provigil/Alertec) is right for me. I'm a healthy, non-depressed young man, not on any medications. How do I ask a doctor for it without getting the run around? Canadian, if it matters. Since I don't have a family doctor, I have to go to a clinic where the doctors usually rush things, and I'm worried the doctor will be unfamiliar with Modafinil and simply say no.

I have to work the night shift until the end of August. Quitting is not an option. I've had two months to get used to it and haven't. Modafinil seems like a good short-term solution, until I can have my normal life back in the fall.

Don't have a family doctor because I moved to the province not too long ago.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Modafinil is approved for shift work sleep disorder and it's not a controlled substance, so there's no reason you shouldn't get it by being straightforward.
posted by Maias at 5:26 PM on May 30, 2009

You're right to be concerned about going to a walk-in -- I don't think they'll just prescribe you a drug without some semblance of a history and a chance for follow-up, especially since it can have some particularly nasty side effects. If you're in a big city, it shouldn't be too hard to find a family doctor. Often the local ERs will have a list of family docs taking new patients. Feel free to contact me if you need help finding one, maybe I can help.
posted by greatgefilte at 5:28 PM on May 30, 2009

Explain your symptoms to the doctor. Make a list as precise as possible about the onset and severity of your symptoms. Specify dates and increments of time. Doctors like to know how your symptoms affect your ability to live a normal life.

Let the doctor make her own conclusions about your treatment. Doctors do not react well to being told what medication you think would work. I understand why-- there might be a dozen reasons why your preference wouldn't work for you.

If you have doubts about the treatment prescribed, that's when to ask about your drug of preference. The doctor at that point will have enough information about your history and symptoms to explain why that drug would work or not. Or, the doctor can explain why she prefers not to prescribe drug X.

Chances are you'll leave the clinic with what you want or need.

This is a contentious subject around metafilter, but lay reading/self-prescription doesn't match the training and experience of an MD.

Good luck, you have my sympathies.
posted by vincele at 5:35 PM on May 30, 2009

You should always be prepared for the doctor to tell you "no, this is not appropriate for you." That's their job. You said that you "think" Modafinil is right for you. That's a better attitude than saying that you know that this is what you should be doing. The way to be sure about it is to talk to a doctor that you trust. So you should focus on finding a doctor that you can trust independent of whether you think they're going to prescribe what you want them to prescribe. In the absence of a personal recommendation from someone, I would try to find one that has experience with sleeping disorders. I don't actually know if this is the sort of thing that falls under the umbrella of psychiatry or something else. You can ask your clinic for advice on where you can find the right kind of doctor, especially if this is the sort of thing that they normally wouldn't treat in-house.
posted by ErWenn at 7:18 PM on May 30, 2009

I mentioned if off-hand to my Australian GP when I first read about it on Metafilter a few years back. He didn't know much about it, but he looked it up on the spot and then gave me a prescription without any drama. I was really surprised. I got more surprised when I realized how friggin' expensive it is here. I never filled the prescription.
posted by web-goddess at 7:27 PM on May 30, 2009

i'm also in canada and had to go see a new doctor with a prescribe-me-this type request. the doctor pretty much said, "yes, that makes sense," and handed over the RX. try more than one walk-in clinic if at first you don't succeed. also, depending on which province, find out about GPs in your town accepting new patients and go see one -- that's what i did.
and as a side note (without investigating your drug of choice), thought i'd throw melatonin out at you as something that works for my housie who does shift work.
posted by tamarack at 8:21 PM on May 30, 2009

Quitting is not an option.
Yes, it is. You weren't predestined by a thousand generations of selective breeding, carefully watched over by a secretive cabal of martial artists, to perform the vital duties of whatever that job happens to be. You're a free agent, and you have the right to get yourself a job that doesn't drive you to the point where you seriously consider getting yourself onto a drug prescribed for medical conditions that you don't actually have.

That said, it will probably work, and you can get it from online pharmacies, but it will take about two weeks to be delivered. Even if you do get some, shop around your resume and apply for every remotely suitable job you can find.

One of the major benefits of being on modafinil is that you can be awake during the day as well, so you can go to interviews. Just make sure you get some sleep, at least five hours during every 24 hour period.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:41 AM on May 31, 2009

Going to a walk-in, it can be helpful for yourself and the doctor to write your symptoms and your belief from the research you've done. The doctor can read that and quickly get a reasonable picture of why you're there, decide on 'something to try' (considering your suggestions), and get you out of there. They're there to write prescriptions in my experience, whilst knowing almost nothing about you. Just help him/her out with the "What seems to be the problem" part of things.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:20 AM on May 31, 2009

Or just buy it semi-legally from India off the internet.
posted by floam at 8:22 PM on June 23, 2009

I had great success buying Modafinil without a prescription from this online pharmacy:
Of course insurance doesn't cover any of it(I doubt they fully cover it even when prescribed). The packaging was sealed and appeared to be legit Cephalon(postmark from Turkey, go figure). The pills indeed worked as advertised, the need to sleep just goes away for 12 hours or so, with no side effects at all. YMMV.
posted by archae at 9:23 PM on July 6, 2009

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