April 8, 2013

The (real) drug that inspired Limitless

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I’m not a big fan of drugs to say the least but this read on NY Mag was just fascinating. Apparently there exists a real NZT-48, which is the drug that temporarily turns Edward Morra (Bardley Cooper) into a brainiac in the movie Limitless.

Article author Robert Kolker brings firsthand accounts from people who have used Modafinil, the drug that’s becoming increasingly popular among internet entrepreneurs and Wall St. traders:

Borden ordered a three-week supply by mail. (“It was a piece of cake,” he says.) He popped his first pill—“the maximum suggested dose”—as soon as the package arrived, and within a few hours he started feeling a pleasant fuzziness. Not fuzzy-headed,” he says, but crisp. A crisp softness to it.” Soon he was experiencing a level of concentration he’d never imagined. My senses sort of shifted to the visual, and my auditory sense went down. Sounds didn’t even register. It was like walking around on a winter day when it just snowed. It was very easy to stay visually focused.”

And that’s modafinil’s reputation. It is rumored to be the model for the fictional pills in the movie Limitless that allowed Bradley Cooper’s character to use 100 percent of his brain. Timothy Ferriss, author of the best-selling The 4-Hour Work Week, recently dished about its effects with modafinil fan Joe Rogan, the former host of Fear Factor, on Rogan’s popular podcast. Probably its biggest booster is Dave Asprey, founder of the Bulletproof Executive web forum, where he blogged about the drug’s powers (headline: Why You Are Suffering From a Modafinil Deficiency”). Last summer, ABC News did a segment on Asprey in which he compared taking it to the scene in The Wizard of Oz where everything blossoms from black-and-white to color.

Last month, modafinil’s penetration into the culture was confirmed by the American Medical Association’s journal Internal Medicine, which published a University of California, San Francisco, study reporting that U.S. prescriptions increased almost tenfold over the past decade. Far and away, most of those were for off-label use.
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