All children are unique in their own ways. However, some are more unique and special in some ways. Studies suggest that 11 percent children between the age of 4-17 years are diagnosed with ADHD and other related ailments.
Though for long, there were no cures evident for these, Brain stimulant drugs are currently being prescribed by doctors for patients/children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficient/hyperactivity disorder) and other related lack of attention related ailments.
While there a variety of drugs available for this purpose, Adderall and Vyvanse are the most prominent drugs that are helping our kids fight their impediments and lead a normal and happier life.
Let us take a brief look at both of them to ascertain the suitability of these drugs in day-to-day life.
Adderall vs Vyvanse Comparison Chart
Below is a comparison chart comparing Adderall with Vyvanse to give you some brief specifications of each drug.
Half Life (Effect lasting time)
To treat ADHD
To treat ADHD
To treat depression, obesity, sleep cycle disorders.
To treat depression, schizophrenia, excessive daytime sleepiness, binge eating disorder.
Tablet to be taken 2-3 times a day, 4-6 hours apart at appropriate dosages.
One capsule a day to be taken – dosages would vary from 30 mg to 70 mg
Method of Intake
(Medical) Oral, (Recreational) Oral, Insufflated, Intravenous
Increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine between synapses in the brain.
Increases amount of dopamine and norepinephrine between synapses in the brain to more normal levels.
Weight loss, lack of sleep, headaches, anxiety, increased heart rate, and blood pressure, dry mouth, reduction in your efficiency over time
Discomfort, erectile dysfunction, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, anxiety, vomiting, headache, insomnia, weight loss, irritability, euphoria, upper abdominal pain.
Summary - What is Adderall and Vyvanse?
Adderall is a drug that has a combination of four types of amphetamines and is used as a central nervous system stimulant. Adderall is primarily used to treat nervous disorders such as ADHD and narcolepsy.
Adderall also ranks high as one of the most abused drugs as it is currently being used by 1/3rd of the college students in North America to improve their focus and concentration.
Vyvanse is a drug that contains the compound lisdexamfetamine which turns into dextroamphetamine once it reaches inside the body and touches the blood vessels. The dextroamphetamine, in turn, enhances the neurotransmitter levels within the nerves to soothe the nerves and improve your concentration and attention span.
At times, Vyvanse is also used to treat certain mild eating disorders however it should not be considered as a medication for obesity or weight loss.
The side effects of both the drugs are also similar, and the most common side effects include Weight loss, insomnia, headaches, irritability, increased muscle tension, anxiety, increased heart rate, and blood pressure.
Adderall and Vyvanse Uses
Almost all the studies on the comparison of the effectiveness of Adderall vs Vyvanse have concluded that both the drugs have similar effectiveness in treating ADHD (Attention deficient/hyperactivity disorder), lack of attention, etc.
Both Adderall and Vyvanse work in a similar way by treating the symptoms of ADHD such as lack of attention, hyperactivity, etc. The amphetamines present in Adderall and Vyvanse enhance the attention span and control the agitation by effectively increasing the level of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine between the nerves.
Adderall vs Vyvanse Efficiency
When we analyze the performance of Adderall vs Vyvanse, we can see from the various clinical studies that the performances of both these drugs are quite similar. All the FDA tests and double-blind studies suggest that Adderall and Vyvanse provide similar relief to you regarding improving and alleviating all ADHD symptoms such attention span, focus, lack of concentration, etc. There is a slight variation in the effectiveness of the drug depending on your individual health and nervous system characteristics.
Adderall is available in two forms namely tablet or extended-release capsule.
In case you are using the tablets, you are required to take them 2-3 times a day at every 4-6 hour interval. For children in the age group of 6 and above, the dosage would ideally begin from 5mg one or two times day and will be increased by 5mg every week. The dose should not exceed 30mg, and it rarely does.
If you decide to take the capsule, you can take the same either as a whole in the morning or by opening the capsule and sprinkling the contents over apple sauce. The capsule dosage varies from 20mg a day for adults and commences from 10mg a day for children.
Vyvanse is only available in the capsule form which you would have take once in the morning either before or after having food.
The dosage is recommended to be 30mg per day in the start of the treatment and can go up to 70mg a day as you progress further. The capsules can either be swallowed as a whole, or you can dissolve the contents into water and consume that.
In case you miss a dosage, the recommended step is either have the prescribed dosage when you remember it or just carry forward with the next dosage in case the next interval is close by. You should not take extra medicine to make up for the lost dosage.
It is also to be noted that if used at high doses over a long period, both the medications would become difficult to discontinue.
As the composition and way of working of both Adderall and Vyvanse are quite similar, the side effects of both the drugs are also alike in nature.
If you compare Adderall vs Vyvanse for side effects, you will find that the side effect such as abdominal pain, anxiety, loss of appetite, insomnia, irritability, muscle tension, nausea, nervousness, etc. This is due to the fact that both the psychostimulants increase the concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Other major side effects of Adderall include a decrease in growth rate which has been noticed in some children. The loss of appetite leads to weight loss also. Vyvanse has also been found to lead to a significant reduction in expected height, weight, and BMI.
Some studies suggest that even limited use of Adderall carries some very serious side effects, and the risk to your health continues to increase with long-term use. Any exposure to amphetamines can be a serious health threat to you if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or other cardiovascular problems.
Also, the side effects of Adderall include significant mental health issues also namely depression, paranoia, hostility, hallucinations, and memory loss.
There are certain serious side effects to Vyvanse include dry mouth, chest pain, shortness/unevenness of breath, dizziness, muscle related pains or weakness. In case you experience these, you are advised to stop the medication immediately and contact your physician.
Adderall and Vyvanse are prescription psychostimulant drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). You can consider Adderall to be the better when comparing Adderall vs Vyvanse in terms of efficiency, but Vyvanse is considered less addictive. Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine; in Vyvanse, the active ingredient is lisdexamfetamine.
The immediate effect or reaction when you take Vyvanse is considered to take a little more time when compared to Adderall. However, this same nature prevents withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication as the release tends to be smoother. Since the efficiency of release in better in Vyvanse vs Adderall, you are less likely to experience the “crash” or withdrawal symptoms when the drug begins to wear off.
Certain reports on Adderall withdrawal and Vyvanse withdrawal suggest that due to the loss of dopamine store and lesser regulation of the nerve receptors, you are likely to experience a certain amount of reduction in pleasure and ability to focus once you stop taking the drugs.
Also, you may also experience a minute and temporary increase in your previous symptoms of ADHD, until the hormone levels get regularized, and the receptors are replenished.
Popularity or Abuse
Both Adderall and Vyvanse are habit-forming due to the presence of amphetamines and lisdexamfetamine in them.
The major distinction between Adderall and Vyvanse is that Vyvanse is less likely to be abused than Adderall. This is because your body needs to break Vyvanse down before it can start to work. Unlike other stimulants, Vyvanse can’t be injected or inhaled to get high.
Hence you are less likely to be addicted or get high from Vyvanse when compared to Adderall.
Though Vyvanse was designed to less habit-forming than Adderall, if you stop taking the drug after a period of abuse, you are likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms such as exhaustion, depression, heart issues, etc.
Both the drugs are often used by College students to increase their focus and concentration, and in this scenario, Adderall is more commonly used than the other.
When you compare Adderall vs Vyvanse, it was found in a 2013 drug report that Adderall was found to be the most popular drug. However, it is noteworthy to mention that though Vyvanse was launched 12 years later compared to Adderall, Vyvanse has been gaining popularity at a good pace. As of 2013, Adderall had a 38% market share whereas Vyvanse was holding only 16% of the market share for stimulants.
Also, Adderall is also prescribed for narcolepsy and is an established medication with a variety of other off-label uses.
Hence, as a trend, it is noticed that most professional prefer prescribing Adderall over Vyvanse due to the popularity and the fact this drug has stood the test of time in the market. Also, Adderall has the advantage of having a multitude of uses as it is used to treat sleep disorders, obesity in addition to ADHD.
Adderall vs Vyvanse for Weight loss
Both the drugs Adderall and Vyvanse have loss of appetite and weight loss as one of their side effects. However, none of these drugs have been approved by FDA to be used as weight loss drugs.
While some physicians prescribe Adderall off the label for weight loss, it is not advisable to take this drug without a prescription. On the other hand, Vyvanse as a drug has been recently approved to treat binge eating disorders in addition to ADHD.
However the same should not be confused as a drug to expedite weight loss.
If you choose to buy the drug Adderall under the “branded” version, you are likely to spend 200$ to 300$ a month. In comparison, Vyvanse costs only 250$ and less at almost all the pharmacies.
However, there is a silver lining for people who choose to opt for Adderall. The generic version is comparatively very cheap, costing a 30$ approximate for a month’s supply.
Recap(differences and similarities)
Both Adderall and Vyvanse, being psychostimulants for the Central Nervous System act in a very similar nature when employed to treat ADHD (Attention deficient/hyperactivity disorder) and other attention and focus related ailments.
Both Adderall and Vyvanse work by increasing the increasing extracellular concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine in the system and alleviating the symptoms of ADHD. This leads to greater levels of mental energy, physiological arousal, and enhanced cognition in you.
The area where they differ is majorly their addictive natures. While we have seen that by nature both Adderall and Vyvanse are habit forming, Adderall is seen to be a little more addictive than Vyvanse. However, both Adderall and Vyvanse have the potential for abuse when used for a long period of time in a non-physician prescribed dosage.
Adderall also has a lot more over the counter usage for other ailments such as depression, obesity, and sleep disorders. On the other hand, Vyvanse is majorly used to treat ADHD (Attention deficient/hyperactivity disorder) and is also being used to binge eating disorders recently.
In the popularity contest, Adderall is a clear winner with a double market share when compared to Vyvanse though the trend is expected to change since the popularity of Vyvanse is seeing an upward trend despite the fact that it is barely ten years old in the market and has very limited usage.
Making a choice
While the debate of Adderall vs Vyvanse goes on, you should understand that both these drugs have their advantages regarding suitability, the swiftness of action, effectiveness, and disadvantages regarding the potential for abuse, addictive nature, side effects.
While some prefer taking each of the drugs separately depending on the ailment, the final call can be taken only on the basis of your individual diagnosis and conditions. The effectiveness of the drugs even for a common ailment is known to vary for every individual.
We suggest the ideal thing to do would be to have a doctor prescribe you the optimum drug and you should take a decision on the suitability of using it for a substantial period of time. If the drug proves to be effective and the side effects manageable, there should be no reason to switch to any other drug.