In 2011, audiences walked out of movie theaters wishing that they could have the same superhuman abilities Bradley Cooper’s character obtains in Limitless. With the help of a drug called NZT-48, he suddenly gains the ability to learn anything almost instantly and complete complicated tasks with laser focus. What would it be like to have such a clear mind, uncluttered by distractions? What could we accomplish if we had that kind of extreme motivation? Could a drug like NZT-48 really exist someday?
As of right now, a drug as powerful as the fictional NZT-48 pill from Limitless is nothing more than a Hollywood fantasy. Sorry, but there just isn’t anything you can take to turn yourself into an instant stock market wizard or help you to write an entire novel in a day. However, there is something that comes close.
How Modafinil and NZT-48 are Similar
Currently, the closest thing we have to a real life NZT-48 pill is Modafinil, also known as Provigil. Both the fictional drug and the real Modafinil are nootropics, or cognitive enhancers, that improve overall brain function. Just like its Hollywood counterpart, Modafinil can increase motivation, improve your ability to focus and complete tasks without interruption, and help you retain information more easily, allowing you to be more productive.
While the effects aren’t nearly as drastic as they are in the film, the effects of Modafinil can be just as life changing. Those who struggled with tasks before taking the drug reported incredible results—work that took them an entire day before only took them a few hours with Modafinil.
How Modafinil Is Different
In the movie, the NZT-48 pill comes with some pretty extreme negative side effects. Eddie, played by Bradley Cooper, experiences hallucinations, lapses in memory, and severe withdrawal symptoms when he stops taking the drug. This is the case with a lot of real-life nootropics as well—long-term use of Adderall, for instance, can also cause hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks. In both cases, the side effects just aren’t worth the benefits of the drug.
Modafinil, on the other hand, has only mild side effects, low potential for addiction, and does not cause withdrawal symptoms. The worst thing that most people experience is a mild headache and jitteriness when the drug is paired with caffeine. Also, what makes Modafinil different is that it’s not just a fictional drug used in the movies, but it is available for consumers worldwide wanting to get their hands on some. While we recommend using Afinil to buy Modafinil online, those interested in the drug can also get a prescription from their doctor fairly easily as well, but expect to pay a premium compared to online prices from sites like Afinil.
Was NZT-48 Inspired by Modafinil?
While there isn’t any definitive proof, it is very likely that the magic pill in the movie is based on the real life drug Modafinil. The book that the movie is based on, The Dark Fields, was published in 2001, just several years after Modafinil and Modalert began receiving widespread publicity.
Either way, it’s safe to say that the movie Limitless had a profound effect on Modafinil’s popularity. After the film’s release in 2011, public interest in nootropics spiked. Everyone wanted to know more about these “smart pills”, and so over the next several years the amount of Modafinil users nearly doubled. While it’s still not as well-known as Adderall, more people are beginning to see and experience the almost limitless potential of Modafinil.