Adderall vs Dexedrine

Adderall vs Dexedrine

When drugs are developed, they have a set of properties that make them suited to not only treating the condition they were developed for, but they can be used for other health concerns, and to achieve other outcomes from what was originally intended.

Adderall and Dexedrine are good examples of this. Both drugs were originally indicated for use in the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD, but it turns out that their properties make them ideal for use as so-called ‘smart drugs’.

In these days where competition is tough in the world of work and education, people will do anything to get ahead, including taking these drugs, which are known to enhance focus, the ability to learn and mental endurance.


What is Adderall?

Adderall is categorised as a central nervous system stimulant. It is made up of 2 main chemicals; amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both these chemicals can alter the chemistry of the brain. The drug is approved for treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. In the case of ADHD, it helps a sufferer to focus and calms them. With narcolepsy, it reduces daytime sleepiness.

What is Dexedrine?

This drug is used to treat ADHD. It changes the amounts of natural chemicals and other substances in the brain. It is categorised as a stimulant, and it can help to control behavioural problems and the inability to pay attention that is associated with ADHD. It is also used to treat narcolepsy, as it prevents daytime sleepiness, however it is not recommended for use by people who do not suffer from sleep disorders.



ADHD is a common, but misunderstood illness.

ADHD, or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder presents as a group of symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be first be apparent at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child has to interact with others and adhere to rules such as when they start school. Most cases are diagnosed in children when they are between 6 and 12 years old.

The symptoms of ADHD tend improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition as children continue to experience problems such as sleep disorders and anxiety disorders.


What causes ADHD?

ADHD, or Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but there is evidence that it runs in families. Research has also identified differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to those who don’t have the condition.


How is ADHD treated?

There’s no cure for ADHD, but it can be managed with advice and support for parents and their children, along with medication.



Narcolepsy is a rare brain disorder that makes a person fall asleep at inappropriate times. The brain loses its ability to regulate sleeping and waking patterns, and this can result in sufferers feeling sleepy through the day, and falling asleep without warning.

Narcolepsy doesn’t usually cause serious physical health problems, but it can have an impact on everyday life and can be difficult to cope with.


What causes narcolepsy?

Many cases of narcolepsy are caused by a lack of the brain chemical hypocretin which regulates the normal wake/sleep cycle. Immune cells attack hypocretin cells and doesn’t allow enough of it to be produced. This is just one theory on the cause, however, and other factors such as stress and hormonal changes are being investigated.

Narcolepsy is a rare condition, though it affects around 25,000 people in the UK. Men and women are equally affected, and the condition is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.


How is narcolepsy treated?

There’s currently no cure for narcolepsy, but improving your sleeping habits and taking medication can help minimise the impact the condition has on your everyday life.

It is recommended that you take frequent naps during the day to manage daytime drowsiness. This may be difficult practically, if you’re at work or school, but your doctor or a sleep specialist can help you to come up with a sleep schedule.

If your symptoms are particularly bad, you might be prescribed medication that will reduce daytime sleepiness and improve the quality of your sleep at night.


Are Adderall and Dexedrine the new ‘smart drugs’?

Are Adderall and Dexedrine the new ‘smart drugs’

As well as the uses they are licensed for, the stimulating properties of the drugs have led to some people using them for other reasons.They are using them to fuel their studying, their long work days, and whenever they need to be alert and have an edge.Think Bradley Cooper in Limitless!

Adderall is reported to increase alertness, concentration and overall cognitive performance while decreasing fatigue. The drug is also one of the most widely used “smart drugs” among American university students. It enables people to focus and stay awake when they are doing assignments or studying for an exam. A study carried out at the University of Wisconsin found that 14% of students on the campus had abused so-called ‘smart drugs’, including Adderall.

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) is also known to promote wakefulness and focus while reducing appetite and fatigue. Dexedrine was widely used by the military in World War II, to help troops stay alert and awake for night time missions.


Adderall vs Dexedrine

Adderall and Dexedrine are considered similar drugs due to the fact that they both classed as stimulants and they contain amphetamine. Dexedrine can potentially be considered more potent however as it contains 100% dextroamphetamine, whereas Adderall only contains 75%.


The potential for abuse

With both Dexedrine and Adderall, there is high potential for abuse. It is for this reason that they have a legal classification in the US as “Schedule II” controlled-substances. This is given to potentially habit-forming substances that can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

As Dexedrine is no longer available in immediate-release form, it may be that it has less potential for abuse than Adderall, which is commonly snorted in its immediate-release form. However, remember that Dexedrine is still made up of 100% dextroamphetamine, so it is highly stimulating. Both drugs can induce feelings of euphoria in users, and this might lead to them taking larger doses to amplify the effect. The main reasons for abuse of either drug are to boost mood, lose weight, improve productivity or enhance performance, especially among college students. Adderall is more popular, so it may be easier to obtain. As both drugs increase dopamine levels in the brain, there is potential for users to experience psychosis, even where there is no history of mental illness.


Which drug costs more?

If you’re planning on getting the branded form of either Dexedrine (Spansules) or Adderall, a 30 -day supply is likely to be expensive. In the US, branded Dexedrine costs up to $365 for a 30-day supply. The brand name Adderall IR (immediate-release) will set you back between $150 and $170 for 30 tablets.

The branded Adderall XR (extended-release) costs around $220 for a 30-day supply.  Both Adderall IR and XR are cheaper than Dexedrine Spansules, making them the more pocket-friendly option.  Both drugs are available in cheaper generic forms though.

Generic Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine ER) costs between $50 and $150 for a 30-day supply, and the higher the dose, the more you will pay. The generic version of Adderall IR costs between $25 and $40 for a one-month supply. Generic Adderall XR usually costs between $75 and $150 for a 30 day supply.


Dosage & Formats

Withdrawal from the drugs

Adderall is available in “IR” (immediate-release) and “XR” (extended-release) formats. Dexedrine is only available in extended release format now. Adderall has more dosage options.

The immediate-release version of Adderall is available at dosages of 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg.  The extended-release version of Adderall is available in 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30mg doses.  There are only 3 dosing options with Dexedrine, 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg.

Once taken, the effects of Adderall IR last 4 to 6 hours and the XR format lasts 12 hours. Dexedrine’s effects usually last between 8 and 10 hours. Doctors will find it easier to manipulate the dose of Adderall compared to Dexedrine as there are more options.


Which drug is more effective?

In terms of effectiveness, both Dexedrine and Adderall were more effective than a placebo in studies for both ADHD and narcolepsy. Any reported differences in effectiveness of either drug are likely to be down to the fact that either drug is more suited to some people than others. Dexedrine is slightly more potent as it contains more dextroamphetamine. Because a drug is more potent, this does not mean it is more effective however. The effectiveness of a drug for some people may be related to the severity of their condition.


How do they work?

The actions of both Dexedrine and Adderall are very similar because they are both made from amphetamine. Around 75% of Adderall is made up of dextroamphetamine, which is the active ingredient in Dexedrine.  The remaining 25% of Adderall consists of levoamphetamine, which has slightly different effects from the dextroamphetamine.

Both Dexedrine and Adderall cause an increase of dopamine in the brain, which can increase alertness and cognitive function.

The levoamphetamine in Adderall is known to produce more cardiovascular effects, whereas dextroamphetamine is increases stimulation of the nervous system.


Medical Uses

As both drugs have similar ingredients, they are approved for use in treating similar conditions.  Dexedrine Spansules have been approved for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, and Adderall is approved to treat these conditions too.  They are commonly prescribed for unlicensed use in the case of treatment-resistant depression, with Adderall being the most popular choice. Dexedrine has been studied as a treatment for nasal congestion and obesity, and Adderall has been studied as a drug to improve cognitive function in stroke patients.



Dexedrine was popular before Adderall was developed, but Adderall has become the ADHD medication of choice. Figures show that Dexedrine no longer commands as much of the market-share, and Doctors are more likely to prescribe Adderall.

in 2013, around 38% of all stimulant medication prescriptions were for Adderall. Dexedrine has been replaced by the drug Vyvanse, which is preferred by doctors as its lower potency means that there is much less potential for addiction.

While many people are aware of Dexedrine, it is no longer available in immediate-release tablets, which has made it less popular. To be prescribed Dexedrine, a person would need to fail to respond to other more popular treatments.


Side effects

The noted side effects for Dexedrine and Adderall are nearly identical

The noted side effects for Dexedrine and Adderall are nearly identical.  This has to do with the fact that they are both made up of dextroamphetamine. Common side effects associated with these drugs include appetite loss, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, nervousness, stomach aches, and weight loss.

There may be slight variations in side effects due to fact that there is more dextroamphetamine in Dexedrine and there is levoamphetamine in Adderall.  Levoamphetamine is known to trigger more cardiovascular effects such as increased blood pressure and increased heart rate. This means that people taking Adderall may notice changes in their blood pressure and heart rate more than people taking Dexedrine.

People taking Dexedrine may experience a more stimulating effect because levoamphetamine in Adderall tends to produce stimulation without the ‘jittery’ side effects that are often associated with Dexedrine.


Withdrawal from the drugs

When people stop taking Dexedrine or Adderall they usually experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include fatigue, cognitive impairment, sleepiness, and a worsening of ADHD symptoms.  It is even possible that some people can experience worse symptoms of their condition than they experienced prior to taking either medication.

It has even been noted that withdrawal from both drugs can last for months or even years. This is due to the effect it has on the chemistry of the brain. Manipulating dopamine levels for long periods can leave a person with low dopamine levels in the brain and they will find less pleasure in things, lack focus, and motivation. Dexedrine might be harder to withdraw from than Adderall because the dosing increments are larger and it is more potent. With Adderall, it is easier to reduce dosages gradually to minimise side effects.


So which drug is better for ADHD?

Those searching for a drug to treat their ADHD or narcolepsy will most likely come across Adderall and Dexedrine.  Everyone wants to know whether one drug is more effective than the other for the treatment of their condition and how effective they are for other unlicensed purposes such as studying, weight loss, or work performance. The fact is that the drugs are so similar, that differences in their effectiveness are largely subjective.

When choosing a drug, the best thing to do is to work closely with your doctor (or psychiatrist) and find out which medication gives you the least side effects and produces the most improvement in your condition.  Some people may find that they experience a cleaner focus with 100% pure dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), whereas others may prefer the less jittery effects of Adderall. Like with any medication, it can take some time before you find the right drug for you.


Final thoughts

If you’re planning on getting the branded form of either Dexedrine

ADHD is a very misunderstood condition. People often discuss it in a derisory way, saying that it’s a fashionable label for naughty children. But true ADHD has a definite set of symptoms, which can be very troublesome for families. There is no cure, but medication and therapy can relieve some of the symptoms.

Narcolepsy is a rare disorder which while not threatening to a person’s physical health, can be emotionally difficult to deal with. Again, there is no cure, but medication and a sensible sleeping routine can help to relieve symptoms.

Both conditions are treated with similar medications. Dexedrine and Adderall are categorised as stimulants, and their other effects include increasing focus and reducing sleepiness which is why they benefit ADHD and narcolepsy.

But as well as being used for these conditions, the drugs are also used by some people for unlicensed purposes. They are being used as so-called ‘smart drugs’, by students, shift workers, and people who want to get ahead at work. The drugs can improve concentration for studying, reduce fatigue when working long shifts and could potentially give you an edge at work. They aren’t without side effects however, and because they alter the chemistry of the brain, long-term this can mean addiction and terrible withdrawal symptoms.

The drugs are very similar in both the way they work and so any perceived differences in the effectiveness of either drug is likely to be down to the severity of the patient’s condition, or their individual body chemistry.

Dexedrine is considered more potent, but potent does not necessarily mean more effective, and some patients might find the stimulating effects of the Dexedrine too intense, and they may prefer the benefits with less of a jittery effect, as you get with Adderall.

The right drug for you will be the one that has the most beneficial effects on your condition, without causing you too many intolerable side effects.

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