Adderall Xr vs Adderall

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For patients diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy, certain drugs that modify the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain can help manage symptoms and improve focus. Adderall and Adderall XR are two such medications frequently prescribed for these conditions. They both affect norepinephrine and dopamine - neurotransmitters associated with attention and alertness. However, they differ in their delivery mechanism into the system: Adderall is an immediate-release medication, meaning its effects start within minutes to hours after taking it; on the other hand, Adderall XR is an extended-release version designed to provide a steady release throughout the day to provide consistent symptom control. Understanding this difference between these two forms of medication can guide appropriate choices based on individual lifestyle needs.

What is Adderall Xr?

Adderall, both the generic and brand names for a combination of amphetamine salts, was first approved by the FDA in 1996. It is primarily prescribed for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall works by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, effectively enhancing concentration and reducing hyperactivity.

While standard Adderall starts working within an hour after ingestion with effects lasting around four to six hours, it's counterpart medication - Adderall XR (extended release), offers a more controlled release mechanism. This formulation begins to work within thirty minutes but has been designed to slowly release over time providing therapeutic effects that can last up to twelve hours.

Both medications have their own benefits depending on individual patient needs: while immediate-release Adderall might be beneficial for patients requiring short-term focus, extended-release could be more useful for those needing prolonged symptom control throughout the day.

What conditions is Adderall Xr approved to treat?

Adderall XR is approved for the treatment of various conditions, such as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in both children and adults
  • Narcolepsy

On the other hand, Adderall, which also treats ADHD and narcolepsy, has a shorter duration of effectiveness since it's an immediate-release medication.

How does Adderall Xr help with these illnesses?

Adderall XR, similar to its counterpart Adderall, is used for managing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It works by increasing the availability of certain neurotransmitters in your brain - primarily dopamine and norepinephrine. These chemicals are involved in transmitting messages between brain cells and play a crucial role in maintaining focus, attention span, impulse control and executive functioning. In individuals with ADHD, these chemicals may be relatively low or unbalanced.

The key difference lies in their formulation: while Adderall releases all active substances immediately upon ingestion which leads to a surge effect that can wear off quickly; Adderall XR has an extended-release mechanism. The latter means it gradually releases the medication over time rather than all at once. This results in more stable levels of these neurotransmitters throughout the day and potentially extends symptom relief for longer periods without needing frequent redosing. One should decide on using either based on their lifestyle needs under professional medical advice.

What is Adderall?

Adderall, the brand name for a combination of amphetamine salts (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine), is a central nervous system stimulant that increases levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain by reducing their reabsorption. It also prevents the action of other neurotransmitters at certain receptors, much like bupropion does with acetylcholine. Adderall was first approved by the FDA in 1996 as an effective treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

Unlike Adderall XR (extended release), standard Adderall is formulated to be taken multiple times throughout the day due to its shorter duration of effect. The side-effect profile differs from drugs such as Prozac because it doesn't inhibit serotonin reuptake; therefore, it doesn't typically cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction which are common side effects with SSRIs. However, it can potentially lead to insomnia and decreased appetite among others due to its stimulating properties. Its effects on dopamine and norepinephrine can be beneficial especially in patients who do not respond adequately to typical ADHD medications.

What conditions is Adderall approved to treat?

Adderall is approved for the treatment of:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep

The regular form of Adderall (often referred to as "immediate-release") typically needs to be taken multiple times per day due its short duration of effect. It can provide flexibility for patients who need to manage their symptoms for certain periods throughout the day, rather than all at once.

How does Adderall help with these illnesses?

Dopamine, similar to norepinephrine, is a neurotransmitter that plays several vital roles in the brain and body. It's heavily involved in reward mechanisms, motivation, attention, mood regulation and motor control. Low levels of dopamine have been associated with ADHD due to the role it plays in regulating focus and attention. Adderall works by increasing levels of dopamine available within the brain thus enhancing alertness and productivity which often are compromised in patients with ADHD. Its action on other neurotransmitters like serotonin may also play a part but its primary effect comes from altering dopamine function. Adderall XR (extended release), as opposed to regular Adderall, has a longer duration of action but both contain amphetamine salts that affect similarly these neurochemical pathways. The choice between them would largely depend on patient-specific factors such as their lifestyle or how they metabolize drugs.

How effective are both Adderall Xr and Adderall?

Both Adderall and Adderall XR have established histories of effectiveness in treating patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and they were initially approved by the FDA just a few years apart. Since they contain the same active ingredients, but are released differently, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of immediate-release Adderall and extended-release Adderall XR in alleviating symptoms of ADHD was directly studied; both drugs exhibited similar efficacy levels at managing symptoms as well as promising safety profiles.

A review showed that immediate-release Adderall is effective in alleviating symptoms of ADHD shortly after administration, with effects typically lasting for about 4-6 hours. It has become one of the most widely-prescribed stimulant medications for ADHD due to its quick onset and significant symptom reduction. The typical dose varies significantly depending on individual needs, but it frequently provides relief from common issues such as difficulty concentrating or impulsive behavior.

On the other hand, a meta-analysis indicated that while Adderall XR also seems to be highly effective in treating ADHD, its time-released formula allows it to maintain its effect for approximately 10-12 hours - significantly longer than immediate-release versions. This makes it an optimal treatment option for individuals who require all-day symptom management without having to take multiple doses throughout the day. However, despite their similarities regarding overall efficacy and side effect profiles, choosing between these two formulations often depends on personal lifestyle factors such as convenience or preference towards fewer daily dosages.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Adderall Xr typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Adderall XR range from 5-30 mg/day, but studies have indicated that an initial dose of 20 mg/day is sufficient for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in most adults. Children aged 6-12 may be started on 10 mg/day. In either population, dosage can be adjusted after a week based on the individual's response to the drug. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed 40 mg for children and adolescents or 30 mg for adults in any case.

On the other hand, immediate-release Adderall is typically prescribed at doses ranging between 2.5-60mg per day split into two or three doses depending upon patient age and condition being treated. Like with Adderall XR, it's important to adjust these doses carefully under a healthcare provider's supervision due to the risk of side effects.

At what dose is Adderall typically prescribed?

Adderall treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is generally initiated at a dosage of 5 mg once or twice daily. The dose can then be increased by 5 mg each week as required, depending on the patient's response to therapy. Maximum recommended daily dosage is usually around 40 mg, divided into two doses taken approximately four hours apart. If there is no significant improvement in symptoms after several weeks of reaching this dose, it may need to be reconsidered whether Adderall is the right medication for that individual patient.

What are the most common side effects for Adderall Xr?

Both Adderall XR (extended release) and regular Adderall have similar side effects due to their similar active ingredients. Yet, they can vary in onset and duration due to the different formulation:

  • Nervousness, anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia), weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure Decreased libido may be observed as well. More severe side effects include: shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive fatigue or weakness and difficulties with coordination. It's essential to consult a healthcare provider if any of these symptoms persist or worsen over time.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Adderall Xr?

While both Adderall and Adderall XR are essentially the same medication, they have different release mechanisms which can lead to varying side effects. Here are some of the potential adverse reactions that may occur:

  • Increased anxiety or restlessness
  • Allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Changes in vision including blurred vision and difficulty focusing
  • Cardiac issues such as chest pain, fast or irregular heart rate
  • Neurological problems - severe headaches, seizures (convulsions), tingling sensations in your limbs (paresthesia)
  • Psychiatric disorders like paranoia, aggression and mood swings
  • Signs of circulation problems: numbness, pain, cold feeling in hands/feet; unexplained wounds; skin color changes.

It's also important to know that these medications can sometimes cause a rare but serious condition called amphetamine/dextroamphetamine toxicity. Symptoms include fever; muscle stiffness/rigidity; rapid breathing; sweating; hallucinations. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking either form of Adderall consult with your healthcare provider immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Adderall?

Common side effects associated with regular Adderall include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness, restlessness or excitability
  • Dizziness, headache
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Stomach upset or pain, nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Changes in sexual desire/ability Though it is less common, some people may experience blurred vision or other changes to their sight. If any symptoms persist or worsen after taking Adderall, patients should consult their medical provider immediately.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Adderall?

Although Adderall is generally considered safe, there are instances where it may cause severe side effects. Potential warning signs include:

  • Signs of allergic reaction such as hives, itching, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling in the face or throat
  • Changes in vision including blurred vision and seeing halos around lights
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Aggressive behavior or paranoia
  • Uncontrolled movements or vocal outbursts (tics)

If any of these symptoms occur while taking Adderall, medical attention should be sought immediately. It's important to remember that everyone reacts differently to medications and what works best for one person may not work as well for another.

Contraindications for Adderall Xr and Adderall?

Both Adderall and Adderall XR, similar to other stimulant medications used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may worsen symptoms of anxiety in some people. If you notice an increase in nervousness, restlessness or other signs of heightened anxiety while taking these drugs, please immediately consult with your healthcare provider.

Neither Adderall nor Adderall XR should be taken if you are currently using or have recently used monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). This is because the combination could lead to a dangerous drug interaction. Always inform your physician about all medications you're presently taking; MAOIs will require a period of approximately 2 weeks to clear from the system before starting treatment with either form of Adderall.

How much do Adderall Xr and Adderall cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 capsules of Adderall XR (20 mg) averages around $220, which works out to about $7.33 per day.
  • The price for 60 tablets of standard Adderall (10 mg) is roughly $150, working out to be approximately $5/day when taking two doses daily.

Thus, if you are on a once-daily regimen with Adderall XR, it could cost more than twice-a-day dosing with regular Adderall. However, the decision should not solely be based on cost but also consider factors such as convenience and how well each formulation controls your symptoms.

In terms of generic versions:

  • Amphetamine salts ER (the generic form of Adderall XR), costs between $0.90 and $2 per capsule depending on dosage strength and quantity purchased.
  • Generic amphetamine salt combo (regular release) ranges from about $0.40 to $1 per pill again based on dose strength and amount purchased.

It's important to remember that prices can vary greatly depending upon location, pharmacy chosen or insurance coverage used. Additionally, some individuals may respond differently to extended-release versus immediate-release formulations due their individual metabolism rate influencing drug absorption speed in the body.

Popularity of Adderall Xr and Adderall

Adderall, both in its generic form and as a brand name medication, was prescribed to approximately 5.6 million people in the US in 2020. This stimulant medication accounted for about 20% of all prescriptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall has been consistently prevalent since its introduction on the market.

On the other hand, Adderall XR (Extended Release), which is designed to provide controlled release of amphetamine salts throughout the day, was prescribed to approximately 3 million people in the USA during that same year. This represents slightly over 10% of all ADHD prescriptions. The use of Adderall XR has been steadily increasing since it became available due to its ability to manage symptoms across an entire day with just one dosage - making it easier for patients who might struggle with multiple daily dosages.


Both Adderall XR (extended release) and immediate-release Adderall have a well-established track record in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with numerous clinical studies indicating their efficacy over placebo treatments. Both forms contain amphetamine salts and work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, boosting focus, attention span, and impulse control.

Immediate-release Adderall tends to start working faster but has a shorter duration of effect, typically lasting around 4-6 hours. This form might be prescribed when more flexibility is needed in controlling symptoms throughout the day. On the other hand, Adderall XR is designed to gradually release the medication over time providing a longer-lasting effect up to 10-12 hours which makes it suitable for once-daily dosing.

Both versions are available as generics offering potential cost savings for patients especially if paying out-of-pocket. The transition between both formulations may require adjustments until an effective dose regimen is established.

The side effects profile is similar between both versions including insomnia, decreased appetite, dry mouth or headache; however some people report smoother effects with fewer "peaks and valleys" on extended-release formulation due to its slow release property. Patients should monitor any mood changes or cardiovascular symptoms closely while on these medications due to their stimulant nature.