Adderall vs. Ritalin

When an adult or child is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they may be prescribed certain medications to manage or treat associated symptoms.

Adderall and Ritalin are two of the drugs doctors commonly use to treat ADHD. When combined with behavioral therapy, both have shown to be effective treatments. But certain individuals may respond better to one over the other.

This article will take a closer look at each of these medicines and examine the differences between them.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a combination of two stimulants, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. In addition to being prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, doctors may sometimes use Adderall to treat narcolepsy, although this is an off-label use.

While the FDA initially approved Adderall for prescription use in the 1960s, it has become increasingly more popular in the past few decades. Between 2002 and 2010, Adderall prescriptions among children with ADHD rose 45 percent.

Side effects from Adderall may include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Stomachaches.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Nervousness and restlessness.
  • Low appetite and weight loss.

What Is Ritalin?

Ritalin is a prescription stimulant medication and the brand name for methylphenidate hydrochloride, a chemical distantly related to methamphetamine. Like Adderall, it is used to treat ADHD and sometimes on an off-label basis to treat narcolepsy.

Ritalin was approved by the FDA in 1955, but prescriptions began to surge in the 1990s, as ADHD symptoms and treatment became better understood.

Side effects from Ritalin may include:

  • Stomachaches.
  • Headaches.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Nausea.
  • Nervousness or jitteriness.

Ritalin may also cause serious side effects, especially if it is abused for recreational reasons in large doses. These include:

  • Fever.
  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Seizures.

Adderall vs. Ritalin: Similarities and Differences

Ritalin and Adderall share several similarities:

  • They are both stimulants.
  • They both come in short-acting and long-acting prescription doses. However, the long-acting versions differ slightly. While extended-release Ritalin lasts for 6–12 hours, extended-release Adderall lasts for 10–12 hours.

Some key differences between Adderall and Ritalin, include:

  • The negative side effects experience by people who misuse them. For example, Adderall affects sex drive more than Ritalin, causing erections that may last longer than usual or impotence. Ritalin, on the other hand, is more likely to cause abdominal problems, including cramping and nausea; it also causes insomnia and nervousness more often than Adderall.
  • The way they interact with pre-existing conditions. Adderall negatively impacts medical conditions like arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, other forms of heart disease, and hyperthyroidism. Ritalin increases symptoms and harm from various conditions, including anxiety, glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, and other physical or verbal tics. Both may negatively impact pregnancy, and they can trigger addiction or substance abuse in those with a risk for these conditions.

How to Get Help for a Adderall or Ritalin Addiction

If you or someone you know has developed an addiction to Adderall or Ritalin, or developed a co-occurring substance use disorder alongside ADHD, you may need professional help to recover.

Our inpatient addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California, offers medical detox and residential rehab.

To learn more about our quality programs, evidence-based therapies, and different ways to pay for rehab, contact us at today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and walk you through our admissions process.

You can also find out whether we accept your health insurance plan and verify your benefits by filling out this confidential .

Seeking help for an addiction can be overwhelming, but we are help to help you take the first steps toward recovery.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.