What Is the Difference between Adderall XR and IR? 

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant. All forms of Adderall consist of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The medication is used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and narcolepsy.

If you have been prescribed Adderall, you may be wondering what is the difference between Adderall XR and IR. This article will discuss the differences between the two forms, as well as explain how to get help if you are concerned about Adderall misuse.

Two Major Forms of Adderall

Adderall is available in two major forms: an immediate-release version (Adderall, although sometimes referred to as “Adderall IR”) and an extended-release version (Adderall XR). Adderall IR treats ADHD symptoms for about 5-8 hours, whereas Adderall XR typically lasts for 10-12 hours.

Both versions of the drug are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule II drugs. This scheduling indicates that the DEA considers both versions to have high potential for abuse and the development of dependence, although they are considered to have medical uses.

Other Differences in Adderall IR and XR

Both the IR and XR versions of Adderall contain dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Thus, the different forms of the drug have the same potential side effects.

The IR version of Adderall is manufactured as a tablet, and the XR version comes in capsule form. The XR capsules contains both immediate-release beads and delayed-release beads, which is how it achieves its long-lasting effects. Thus, taking one 20mg dose of Adderall XR is comparable to taking one 10mg dose of Adderall IR followed by another 10mg Adderall IR dose 4 hours later.

Research suggests that IR versions of stimulants have a higher risk of being misused and diverted. Some users report grinding up the tablets and snorting the powder to hasten the onset of the drug’s effects. Reasons for misuse and diversion disclosed by individuals include wanting to boost alertness, increase concentration, experience a high, or experiment.

Side Effects of Adderall Use and Misuse

Individuals who regularly use prescription stimulants like Adderall may experience feelings of depression, fatigue, and trouble sleeping if they suddenly stop using them. This experience is sometimes referred to as a “crash.” These withdrawal symptoms are experienced because the individual’s body has become dependent on the drug to function normally.

Misuse of Adderall, whether IR or XR, can result in a person developing a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders should be treated by professionals. Whether a person’s substance use disorder involves Adderall IR, Adderall XR, another prescription stimulant, or another type of drug, research-based care can help them learn to manage their substance use disorder and avoid relapse.

Getting Help for Stimulant Use Disorders

If you or someone you love are misusing Adderall — or any other stimulant drug — there is effective, evidence-based help available. At our inpatient rehab in Orange County, CA we help people get on the road to recovery using addiction-focused healthcare.

Contact our admissions navigators 24/7 at to learn more about our different levels of addiction care to find one that’s right for you. They can also help you learn about your rehab payment options — including using insurance to pay for rehab — and help you start the rehab admissions process.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

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.