Methylphenidate vs Adderall | What's the Difference and How to Recover?

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If you're looking to find out more about methylphenidate vs Adderall, Transcend Recovery Community provides you with a lowdown on everything you need to know to distinguish the two, especially for people suffering from ADHD or for anyone considering addiction treatment from Ritalin or Adderall abuse.

In case you didn't know, there are at least over 360 million adults in 2020 affected by ADHD. While science has made great strides in improving the lives of ADHD sufferers, sadly, some people have misused Ritalin and Adderall as illicit performance-enhancing drugs in the field of academics and athletics. Naturally, long-term exposure may mean harm, that is why proper use and education are important for people regarding Adderall and Ritalin.

Methylphenidate vs Adderall, What's the Difference?

For people experiencing ADHD, both Ritalin and Adderall are the common medication options used. The two drugs are known stimulants that help an individual improve in the progress of their treatment by helping them focus better and alleviate symptoms as they respond to these medications. Additionally, they help in promoting neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in an individual's CNS connections.

While the two may be easily associated with ADHD medication, there are some stark differences you'll notice in the way it affects an individual during treatment. Below is a direct ADHD medication comparison of the two.

  • Classification
  • Adderall: CNS stimulants
  • Ritalin: CNS stimulants
  • Generic name for the drug

Adderall: amphetamine or dextroamphetamine

Ritalin: methylphenidate

  • Availability of drug's generic version

Adderall: YES

Ritalin: YES

  • Primary use

Adderall: ADHD treatment and narcolepsy

Ritalin: Same as above

  • Form variants
  • Adderall: extended-release or long-acting form; immediate release
  • Ritalin: Extended-release; immediate release
  • Length of treatment
  • Adderall: longer-term
  • Ritalin: longer-term
  • Duration
  • Adderall: four to six hours
  • Ritalin: two to three hours

Despite the differences between Ritalin vs Adderall, both share some commonalities as they are both Schedule II controlled substances. Simply put, Either Ritalin or Adderall has the potential for drug abuse. That's why extended-release formulations of these medications are most often prescribed to avoid this from happening. However, the longer-acting forms are more expensive than their immediate release counterparts.

In some cases, A doctor may not necessarily prescribe Ritalin or Adderall as their primary medications, but instead, mental health programs that may involve behavioral therapy and some mentoring services.

How To Manage and Recover from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

The management of ADHD may vary from one person to another, especially in adults and children. Therefore, the handling of this condition for different people may yield varying results as well and may entail behavioral therapy, or even the use of ADHD medications (dextroamphetamine sulfate, CNS stimulants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, non-stimulants). While this may seem discouraging for some, not all hope is lost.

There are many ways for people to cope with this condition through the combination of medication, therapy, and a healthy lifestyle. There are also alternative after-care programs available in the market that need not be invasive or require both Adderall or Ritalin as its be-all and end-all. Here are some alternatives that individuals may consider when recovering from ADHD:

  • Music therapy - not only does it improve focus, but it also hones an individual's social skills. Playing an instrument demands the many parts of the brain to coordinate and work together, which helps especially on children to switch tasks. Listening to music also soothes an individual releasing dopamine, a focus-inducing chemical.
  • Meditation - newer schools of thought argue that meditating and the act of mindfulness help raise awareness and sharpen focus. This self-awareness coupled with breathing techniques also allows individuals to practice restraint or self-control which is a common symptom for individuals with ADHD.
  • Exercise - Moderate, active physical activity has shown great promise for the alleviation of ADHD symptoms in people. Studies have shown the correlation between physical exercise in ADHD in a recent journal improving executive functions with ADHD sufferers who exercised.

What Are the Common ADHD Symptoms?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may vary when it comes to manifesting itself in people, especially adults and children. However, what both young and adult sufferers manifest is the persistence of impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, and difficulty in focusing.

Symptoms may show up as early as a patient's childhood and may progress during adulthood. However, adult ADHD may not be as pronounced as in children. However, restless and impulsive behavior, including difficulty to focus may often be common signs of the disorder manifesting later in life. Here are some common symptoms of ADHD.

For Adults:

  • Having problem prioritizing tasks
  • Disorganization
  • Inability to multitask
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems coping with stress
  • Trouble sleeping

For Children:

  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness in some daily activities, such as schoolwork and chores
  • Trouble focusing during play or study time
  • Disliking tasks that require utmost mental focus (such as homework and projects)
  • Cannot sit still; fidgety behavior
  • Interrupting teachers/adults/questioner then blurting out the answer
  • Incessant chatter
  • Interrupting or intruding people's conversations or activities

Diagnosing ADHD may prove to be quite sensitive, especially in children, regardless of whether there are telling signs you suspect in an individual. Proper diagnosis and testing should be done with the help of a doctor to properly determine if the individual is indeed experiencing ADHD and not an entirely different condition.

People suffering from ADHD may not only rely on a drug or medication management option but may also seek the presence of a mental health companion to check on their overall state.

What Stimulant Medications Are Best for ADHD?

a man with adhd problems is holding a paper while holding his head

There have been many treatment drugs used in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD circulating in the market for decades. As these ADHD drugs increase in number, people are overwhelmed with the wide selection of both brand-name drugs and their generic version substitutes while trying to figure out the best among these selections.

However, peer-reviewed studies on new advancements as well as drug information released in public make it easier for people to decide which drug works best. At present, ADHD drugs administered to children and adults are divided into two categories:

  • Stimulants - these are ADHD medications used as the first base of treatment to cover ADHD. Methylphenidates and amphetamines are under this group.
  • Non-stimulants - people who don't seem to benefit much from stimulant ADHD medications are given this as an alternative. There are three non-stimulant drugs belonging to this segment which include: atomoxetine, clonidine, and guanfacine. A mental health doctor would sometimes use prescription stimulants alongside non-stimulants to address symptoms that the other cannot alleviate.

Currently, the most common ADHD treatment medicines as recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health to achieve symptom control include:

  • Evekeo
  • Focalin
  • Ritalin (Ritalin SR and Ritalin LA)
  • Strattera
  • Adderall
  • Dexedrine
  • Concerta
  • Vyvanse

Individuals must consider that when taking both Ritalin and Adderall, certain drug interactions may occur (such as trouble sleeping or decreased appetite). Treating ADHD with medication may also differ through its time course. One drug may also function better with comparative efficacy, so patients must talk to their doctor clearly about the available treatment for their ADHD.

Is It Safe to Use Methylphenidate or Adderall?

Under strict medical supervision by an attending physician, taking Adderall or Ritalin (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is completely safe. As these are used for symptom control, these ADHD drugs help pediatric patients six years and older to become better focused and reduce hyperactivity. While these prescriptions are FDA-approved, there are certain limitations to be observed.

As Ritalin or methylphenidate is used generally to improve concentration in people, it helps boost a person's cognitive ability. It's also used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. However, it is worth noting that prescription stimulants such as Ritalin must be taken in moderation because they may suppress growth in pediatric and young adult patients. Using this stimulant medication may also increase the risk of Raynaud's Disease, a rare blood vessel disorder affecting toes and fingers.

Adderall, meanwhile, is medically safe as long as it's taken not more than the maximum daily dose of 70 mg/day (for adults) and 40 mg/day (for children) to treat ADHD symptoms. Administration of this medication must be carefully monitored as Adderall stays in the body longer than Ritalin.

It should be noted that these stimulant ADHD medications are not intended for long-term use. As drugs work differently for each body, patients may experience adverse effects and permanent organ damage. Abusing Adderall and Ritalin results in certain symptoms such as stomach pain, decreased appetite, weight loss, increased blood pressure, and life-threatening serotonin syndrome. You must consult your doctor carefully when considering this prescription drug as one of your treatment options.

Ritalin, and Adderall (In A Nutshell)

When properly administered under strict medical supervision, the use of Ritalin and Adderall is beneficial for some people who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy. Unfortunately, this is often seen as the usual culprit in sports to improve and heighten performance among athletes illegally.

People working in high-pressure professions also resort to using Ritalin or Adderall--what they refer to as "smart drugs" to boost their productivity. Additionally, some students rely on their dependence on Ritalin and Adderall to help improve their academic performance.

Although these medications are used to boost focus, the dependence and intolerance that may form from this habitual medication may prove to be alarming as it can elevate an individual's risk to Ritalin or Adderall addiction, with life-threatening physical side effects (heightened blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke), especially when mixed with other substances that may result to co-occurring disorders.

However, the treatment of Ritalin and Adderall addiction is still possible with the help of interventions and guidance from a supportive community. Transcend Recovery Community helps people process their addiction with Ritalin and Adderall and cope properly with the help of counselors to guide them through their healing journey and sober living.

Finding the truth and getting better shouldn't be a heavy burden for one person to bear. Together, we can work on improving your life and helping you cross that first step. For those who want to know more about methylphenidate vs Adderall, contact us via our mental wellness associates who are ready to answer your every query 24/7.

Transcend Recovery Community

Transcend Recovery Community family of sober living homes provides a safe place for those undergoing mental health and addiction treatment to live with like-minded peers. Our community-based approach to sober living (similarly to a halfway house) facilitates an open and welcoming environment, where members, staff and team can provide support and encouragement on the path to a sober and healthy life. Transcend's Los Angeles sober living homes are located in some of the most iconic areas of the city, filled with luxurious and upscale amenities, providing plenty to do for those in our transitional housing community.

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