My Modafinil horror story: ‘It had been cut with deadly chemical PMA’

‘My heart was racing all night. It felt like a comedown so I knew something was wrong.’


With most drugs, you rarely know the purity of what you’re taking. It might be cut with something, it might be a different drug entirely, or it might be a bad batch of whatever you’ve got.

But there’s a certain assumption that study drugs will be safe. Study drugs help you focus and boost your memory, making them ideal for use in the weeks leading up to exams or essay deadlines, or even during a stressful period at work. The most common drugs used in the UK are Modafinil, Ritalin and – if you’re feeling more adventurous – the Russian powder Noopept. They’re all available to legally buy online, via a prescription.

Sarah, a Pharmacology student at a top London university, regularly buys Modafinil online. She usually buys a batch from a supplier in India, but her last delivery was different. After taking it, she later discovered it had been mixed with PMA, a substitute for MDMA which has killed several people over the past few years.

“My normal Modafinil experience involves a clear mind, focus, a normal heart rate and a normal night sleep at the end of it,” Sarah said. “The stuff that came through from India gave me a slight euphoria. The first effects were that I became anxious and started to feel hot.

“It gave me a dry mouth and my heart was racing all night. I didn’t get any sleep and it felt like I had a comedown feeling – so I knew something was wrong.”

Modafinil is taken in pill form

Sarah heard from a friend who had gone through a similar experience when buying Modafinil online. They reported similar palpitations and a feeling that they were over-heating, which they likened to the effects of taking MDMA. Similarly, one of their housemates had concerns about a study drug which she bought from someone inside their student union.

“We wanted to do some detective work so we bought an EZ drug testing kit online for a fiver,” Sarah explained.

After running the test, she discovered the ‘Modafinil’ she had been taking actually contained PMA – often used by dealers as a substitute to MDMA in pill form. Despite having similar effects, it is more poisonous and can kill at lower doses.

She said: “The trouble is that when the Modafinil – or drug you think you bought – doesn’t kick in, you take more. This is what happened to me.

“It seems vendors are cutting their Modafinil, arModafinil and Noopept with PMA to maximise their yield. That’s certainly what we found out.”

Wanting to spread awareness about dangerous batches of Modafinil, Sarah explained: “If a person feels abnormally hot, or stressed, [experience their] heart racing, [or get a] comedown, they’ve probably been taking PMA/PMMA cut with smart pill.”

She added: “Looking into it, PMA has a delayed fuse and kicks in all at once hours later and lasts for a very long time. Serotonins run away, and I could have overheated and died.

“We have since flushed the tablets down the toilet.”


Names in this article have been changed at the request of the student.

If you’ve had a drug experience you want to talk about, email [email protected]