Adderall vs. Vyvanse

What's the Difference?

Adderall and Vyvanse are both prescription medications commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They belong to the same class of drugs called central nervous system stimulants and work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help with focus and impulse control. However, there are some differences between the two. Adderall is a combination of amphetamine salts, while Vyvanse contains lisdexamfetamine, which is converted into dextroamphetamine in the body. Vyvanse is considered a prodrug, meaning it is inactive until metabolized, resulting in a smoother and longer-lasting effect compared to Adderall. Additionally, Vyvanse is less likely to be abused due to its delayed-release mechanism. The choice between Adderall and Vyvanse depends on individual needs and responses to the medications, and it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.


Drug ClassStimulantStimulant
Generic NameAmphetamine and DextroamphetamineLisdexamfetamine
Brand NameAdderallVyvanse
Approved UsesTreatment of ADHD and narcolepsyTreatment of ADHD and binge eating disorder
Duration of Action4-6 hours10-14 hours
Controlled Substance ScheduleSchedule IISchedule II
Method of AdministrationOralOral
Onset of Action20-60 minutes1-2 hours
MetabolismHepatic (liver)Hepatic (liver)
Common Side EffectsInsomnia, loss of appetite, dry mouthInsomnia, loss of appetite, dry mouth

Further Detail


When it comes to managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy, two commonly prescribed medications are Adderall and Vyvanse. Both drugs belong to the class of central nervous system stimulants and are known to improve focus, attention, and impulse control. However, they have distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the similarities and differences between Adderall and Vyvanse, exploring their mechanisms of action, dosing, duration, side effects, and potential for abuse.

Mechanism of Action

Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine salts, including dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These compounds work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain. By doing so, Adderall enhances the communication between neurons, leading to improved focus and attention.

Vyvanse, on the other hand, contains lisdexamfetamine, which is a prodrug. Once ingested, Vyvanse is converted into dextroamphetamine in the body. The mechanism of action is similar to Adderall, as it also increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, promoting better concentration and impulse control.

Dosing and Duration

Adderall is available in both immediate-release (IR) and extended-release (XR) formulations. The IR version typically lasts for around 4-6 hours, while the XR version can provide effects for up to 12 hours. The dosing of Adderall varies depending on the individual's needs and response, with typical starting doses ranging from 5 to 10 mg per day.

Vyvanse, on the other hand, is only available in an extended-release formulation. It is designed to provide a longer duration of action, usually lasting up to 12-14 hours. The dosing of Vyvanse is weight-dependent, with initial doses ranging from 30 to 40 mg per day for adults.

Side Effects

Both Adderall and Vyvanse share common side effects due to their similar mechanisms of action. These may include decreased appetite, dry mouth, insomnia, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. However, individual responses to these medications can vary, and some individuals may experience side effects more prominently with one drug compared to the other.

It is important to note that both medications have the potential to cause more serious side effects, such as cardiovascular complications or psychiatric symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial to closely monitor patients while on these medications and consult with a healthcare professional if any concerning symptoms arise.

Potential for Abuse

Due to their stimulant properties, both Adderall and Vyvanse have the potential for abuse. Adderall, being available in an immediate-release formulation, may have a higher risk of misuse or diversion. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States.

Vyvanse, on the other hand, is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance as well. However, its prodrug nature makes it less prone to abuse compared to Adderall. The conversion process in the body slows down the onset of effects, reducing the likelihood of recreational use.


In conclusion, both Adderall and Vyvanse are effective medications for managing ADHD and narcolepsy. They share similar mechanisms of action, enhancing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. However, they differ in terms of dosing, duration, side effects, and potential for abuse.

Ultimately, the choice between Adderall and Vyvanse should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, considering individual needs, response, and potential risks. It is crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and closely monitor any side effects or changes in symptoms while on these medications.

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