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Difference Between Dextroamphetamine and Adderall

Representative transverse images (left, normal brain; right, patient with ADHD)

Dextroamphetamine vs Adderall

Dextroamphetamine and Adderall are medicines used primarily for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (sleep-wake cycle abnormality). Both the medicines belong to the group of psychostimulants which promote wakefulness and increase attention span. These medicines are to be taken only after a proper medical consultation.

Difference in action:
Dextroamphetamine is the generic name of the drug used singly or in combination with other drugs to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Its principle action is on the central nervous system i.e. to produce alertness by affecting certain brain chemicals. Its effect of reducing fatigue has made it a popular ‘go pill’ in military and air forces during missions. Dextroamphetamine is also used in treating depression, developmental disabilities, mental retardation disorders and recovery from a stroke.

Adderall is the brand name of the combination of two different drugs. It contains 25% of levoamphetamine and 75% of dextroamphetamine. Levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine are isomers of amphetamine, compounds that have the same chemical formula but different structures, a central nervous system stimulant. Adderall works better in promoting mental alertness, wakefulness and in controlling restlessness. It is also used as a performance and cognitive enhancer. The levoamphetamine part of it has additional effects of decreasing appetite and improving focus. Adderall is used recreationally as an aphrodisiac and euphoriant too.

Difference in side effects:
Dextroamphetamine has several side effects on the body but it has been observed that the intensity is lesser than those produced by Adderall. Some of the common side effects are headache, stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, trouble sleeping etc. The more serious side effects are dizziness, confusion, increased heart beat, and increased blood pressure etc. It is always advisable to seek immediate medical advice if any of these effects are experienced by the user. Dextroamphetamine is known to produce addiction to it since the patient often tends to increase the dose by himself, to enhance the effects of this drug.

Adderall also produces side effects similar to dextroamphetamine but many a times these are seen to be more pronounced in Adderall. These are insomnia, restlessness, agitation, constipation, dizziness, confusion, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath etc. Though the side effects produced by Adderall are more in intensity, the desired effects of improved concentration and increased energy are also better seen with use of Adderall. In order to get an increased sense of well-being with reduced fatigue and better focus, abuse of Adderall is very common. This leads to addiction to this medicine which is very difficult to manage.

Dextroamphetamine and Adderall are both used in treating ADHD and narcolepsy with equal efficacy. As per patient’s experience dextroamphetamine is seen to have lesser side effects whereas Adderall is known to produce intensified adverse reactions causing patients to discontinue it. However, patients have also experienced more benefits with Adderall as compared to dextroamphetamine. Both of these drugs are also notorious for their habit forming and addictive effects. It is therefore best to leave to the physician the choice of the medicine that suits the patient’s disorder.

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  1. just about everything on this page is wrong. Aderral contains about 75% Dextroamphetamine. Just about anything that applies to one applies to the other

    • There are most certainly misrepresentations in this article, but some truths as well. This is a classic, “don’t believe everything you read on the internet” case. *Talk to your Dr.*

      I would also advise the writer to abstain from using the word contraindicated until it’s proper context and meaning are understood. ***Especially in cases where you are presenting a double negative or a nonsensical statement (ie: #2 of the summary)*** It creates quite the opposite effect of “appearing learned”.

      There are two types of contraindication;
      Relative contraindication: Which means that caution must be exercised when two drugs are used together. (BUT, if the benefits outweigh the risk it can be deemed o.k.)
      Absolute contraindication: In this case, a substance could ultimately have life-threatening side effects and medications that fall into this category should be avoided.
      Your article is also disjointed and jumps back and forth…. ALL GOOD REASONS NOT TO BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET…

    • Since switching from dextrostat to Adderall~my blood pressure has spiked over 20 points both directions! Explain this!

  2. For the past 20 years, I have tried every medication there is for ADHD. Ritalin caused a lot of anxiety and other unwanted side effects. Adderall gives me very bad anxiety attacks and high blood pressure. I also have a lot of trouble sleeping. Dextroamphetamine, on the other hand, helps my ADHD greatly, as well as my depression, and does not give me nearly the amount of side effects that Adderall does. However, everyone is different.

  3. I take adderall 30 milligrams 3 times a day. I recently tried generic ritalin for about 2 weeks and it did absolutely nothing, so I went back to Adderall. I’m looking for natural substitutes to cure my a ADD and some way to cure it all together. Is there a way to get my neurotransmitters to start synapsing normally .I feel that being on adderall for so long has made my brain even worse .

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