Adderall vs Vyvanse: What’s the Difference?
Adderall XR and Vyvanse are both prescription stimulant medications used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD);1 however, there are some key differences between the medications.
This article will discuss the similarities and differences between Adderall and Vyvanse, the dangers of prescription drug misuse and addiction, and how addiction treatment can help.
Similarities Between Adderall and Vyvanse
Adderall XR and Vyvanse are controlled substances classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule II drugs. This classification indicates they have accepted medical uses but also have significant potential for misuse and can result in physiological dependence.2
Use of both Adderall and Vyvanse may result in:3
- Heightened energy.
- Ongoing relief of ADHD symptoms.
Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse enact their medicinal effects by heightening levels of the neurochemical dopamine in the brain.3 Each is prescribed in a manner that—when the medication is taken as directed—will cause a slow and steady increase in dopamine.3
However, people may misuse these prescription stimulants hoping to:3,4
- Enhance their studying ability.
- Improve their academic performance.
- Lose weight.
- Get high.
- Improve their memory recall.
Aside from its therapeutic uses, the increase in dopamine caused by Adderall, Vyvanse, and other drugs is believed to reinforce compulsive misuse, potentially leading to addiction.5
The Differences between Vyvanse and Adderall
Vyvanse and Adderall have different chemical formulations.
The main ingredient in Vyvanse, lisdexamfetamine (LDX), is a prodrug of dextroamphetamine. A prodrug is a drug that is inactive when initially given to a patient but then transforms in the body into a substance that produces a therapeutic effect.1
Vyvanse is long-acting and comes in doses of 10 to 70 milligrams.1,6 In addition to ADHD, Vyvanse is also indicated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of binge-eating disorder (BED).6
Adderall’s active ingredients are the stimulants dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.7 , giving it both immediate-release and extended-release properties.1
Adderall is distributed in doses ranging from 5 to 30 milligrams.7
Adderall vs. Vyvanse: Side Effects
Adderall and Vyvanse both have potential side effects and risks.3
Misusing these drugs can increase both the likelihood and severity of their side effects.3 Here is a closer look at the side effects of each drug.
Adderall Side Effects
Side effects of Adderall XR in adults may include:7
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- Reduced or no appetite.
- Inability to sleep.
Vyvanse Side Effects
Vyvanse may cause these side effects in adults:6
- Dry mouth.
- Decreased appetite.
- Constipation or diarrhea.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Adderall and Vyvanse Addiction
Chronic misuse of prescription stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse can lead to stimulant addiction (i.e. stimulant use disorder)—a medical condition that affects someone’s brain and behavior.3,8 People with a stimulant use disorder may need professional help to get and remain sober.9
Health problems associated with prescription stimulant addiction include:3,8
- Cardiovascular problems.
Research on stimulant use disorder has helped develop effective, evidence-based treatment approaches.10
Vyvanse and Adderall Addiction Treatment
Effective treatment for prescription stimulant addiction will address a person’s needs on multiple levels, including not just mental and physical health but also social, legal, and vocational concerns.10
- Medical detox.
- Residential treatment.
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP).
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP).
- Standard outpatient care and sober living.
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