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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 .

    • I’ve been taking Adderall daily for about 2 years now- started with the 10 mg for about 2 weeks & it wasn’t enough, so my Dr put me on the 20mg ones, & that is what I’ve been taking daily for almost 2 years. Every now & then I will need to take an extra half or so (making it around 30-40mg depending on how much extra I need that day); but in general taking 1 of the 20 mg Adderall (Amphetamine Salts) is usually enough. I have found that, while I wont go into withdrawals if I don’t take one, I am completely unable to function or even get out of bed. So while the physical addiction is there, it isn’t nearly as strong as things like opiates. The mental addiction & physical dependence, however, is quite significant. The amount of Adderall you are taking (mg) for as long as you’ve been taking them can be dangerous, most specifically to try to simply stop. If you’re interested in getting off of the amphetamine prescription, you’d have to talk with your Dr to slowly taper yourself off of the meds. While, as I said, I have had withdrawals from other prescriptions/drugs but not from my Adderall, it still is a dangerous process to go through by stopping cold turkey- esp given the amount you’re prescribed. Just because stimulants like Benzadrine & downers like barbiturates (Seconal, Tuanal, Nembutal) have been replaced with Adderrall & Benzos because of the constant overdose deaths of ppl like Judy Garland/Marylin Monroe/Elvis/etc. doesn’t mean these newer & “safer” pills aren’t still highly addictive & dangerous- I have to take 3 mg of Xanax per night to sleep bc of the Adderall & am now completely dependent on both (the cycle of not being able to wake up & function without my uppers, & then not being able to sleep without my Benzos- which then curse me to need uppers to wake up again & so on). It’s such a slippery slope, be careful

  4. I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, 30 years old. I started with Adderrall first 10 then 20 then 30 mgs a day, and have continued with that same dose of 30 mgs per day since for the past 12 years. When the VA rather than private insurance started my care 5 or so years ago they forced me to try Ritalin, it was HORRIBLE, talk about a zombie. They then put me on Dexedrine, this causes zombie like behavior, and upset stomach, elevated blood presure (mine is normally 110/67 or 117/70 at most. With Dexedrine it jumps so 135-145/80. Dexedrine also makes my muscles in my eyes, cheeks, and upper lip feel like they’re kind of immoble like paralyzed, and almost like I feel sort of sleepy and awake when I take it at times. It was just bizarre. It would kind of help me overall so my body could move and be more motivated but almost like my brain was still sleepy. That’s not what someone who is ADD rather than ADHD needs. I’ve spent my entire life since I was a little girl fighting to feel awake.

    I can honestly say I haven’t had a single negative side effect with Adderrall. I’m so thankful, I have a therapist through the VA now willing to go the extra mile for me, and fight for me to get Adderrall, (generic Adderral, but I know if I required brand name, she would fight for me too.) I had one other counselor in the past with the VA who wanted to prescribe it for me, but the VA would only go for it with private insurance.

    Gold standard meds are no no’s with the VA, unless you get a great doc and you fight your butt off and are patient(suffer with incorrect meds) for usually years to receive it. I can see trying cheaper one’s first, in some cases generic works better than brand name for me, but if in a particular case they don’t, the VA should listen to patients about the effects of MIIND ALTERING drugs, and not dismiss their need to stay on the same one instead of rotating manufacturers etc… Every doctor or pharmacist tells you these things are very important to take into consideration with your brain or body. I just feel sorry for people with things like Bi-polar or Schizophrenia who get bounced around.

    Anyway, another reason Adderrall is nice is that you don’t feel a crash into it or out of it. It’s gradual. There is no jolt or sleepiness in and no jolt or sleepiness out, if you are on the correct dosage, especially with the XR. 30 mgs XR for 12 years( when I can pay for it.) No need to go up or down for me since my initial dosage.

  5. Oh yes Dexedrine also gave me anxiety.

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