Dexedrine vs. Adderall: Difference Between These ADHD Medications

Learn how Dexedrine and Adderall are different from each other and how effective these medications are in treating ADHD.

black man with a migrane after taking adderall

Childhood is a time of fun, learning, discovering, and playing. As adults, we give children proper guidance, but at the same time, freedom to play and do whatever they want – as long as they don’t hurt themselves or anyone. So it is during this growing stage when we, at times, slightly feel at a loss when kids behave too noisily, act impulsively, or as if they are unable to focus on one activity or task. These are, of course, normal, as we all went through the same phase.

But what if the child’s hyperactivity and short attention span become problematic? What if the child’s lack of focus and inability to sit still is slowly affecting her or his performance in school and friendships? These things are what some parents and adults have experienced and are experiencing when they have a loved one that has a form of ADHD, otherwise known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are, of course, several treatments and medication available, such as Dexedrine vs. adderall.

ADHD and Available Treatments

There are an estimated six million American kids between the ages of 4 to 17 that have been diagnosed with ADHD. While it is common for kids to stay attentive and focused, kids and teenagers with this disorder have to deal with a lot of struggles such as impulsiveness, the restlessness that others may find too much to handle.

Giving them the proper support and treatment are essential for kids to cope and succeed in life. There are available treatments that children and teenagers can avail aside from loving support and care from family and friends. Treatment such as Behaviour therapy, parental coaching, school support and, medication.

For medication, there are several approved by the FDA, such as Ritalin, Vyvanse, Focalin, and the like. Two of the most frequently prescribed are Adderall and the previously famous Dexedrine.

Dexedrine vs. Adderall

ADHD is a brain disorder that hampers the full development of the child due to patterns of hyperactivity. The symptoms lessen as the person matures, but there are some manifestations even in adulthood, especially if the person was not properly diagnosed during childhood.

Medicines have been in the market since the 1970s to reduce the symptoms and normalize the behavior of the child. Dexedrine and Adderall are two well-known brand name examples that many people with ADHD use; in recent years, however, more physicians have been prescribing the latter over the former. Both, however, are effective for treating ADHD.

Similarities: Dexedrine vs. Adderall

ADHD medications like Dexedrine vs. Adderall are types of stimulants that work to normalize the function of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Since ADHD involves an imbalance in the CNS, the medication works on activating the neurotransmitters by releasing certain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Both Dexedrine and Adderall’s main active agent is a synthetic compound called amphetamine, which is useful in treating or lessening the symptoms of ADHD. This compound is classified into Dextroamphetamine (D-amphetamine) and Levo – amphetamine (L-amphetamine).

Approved by the FDA in 1982, Dexedrine contains 100 percent of D-amphetamine. Originally, this compound was used by the military during WWII to keep them alert and awake at night. Since Dexedrine uses pure D-amphetamine, it is regarded as more potent compared to Adderall.

Adderall, which was introduced in 1996, is 75% D-amphetamine and 25% L-Amphetamine. Since its less 25% of D-amphetamine, it has reduced CNS stimulation.

Despite the disparity in content, the similarities between the two medications are very broad. Aside from treating ADHD, both can treat narcolepsy too. Since both also are known as psychostimulants, Dexedrine and Adderall have been excessively used and abused by those who don’t show any manifestations of ADHD, s the active compounds can help individuals stay alert, mentally focused, and even lose weight. Hence, the Food and Drug Administration has given both a Schedule 2 Drugs tag, which means it is legal for individuals with ADHD but restricted for those who don’t.

The adverse effects too, especially when over diagnosed or when one is gradually weaning away from both Dexedrine and Adderall are similar. Since the content is practically the same for Dexedrine and Adderall, people who take these two medicines show the following effects:

  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in sexual appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loose bowel movement
  • Irritability
  • Feeling nervous
  • A slight increase in blood pressure

Both Dexedrine and Adderall are safe and can be prescribed to children 3 years and up.

The Difference Between Dexedrine vs. Adderall

Although the two share similarities, the difference between these ADHD medications is quite glaring too. For example, Dexedrine uses 100% D-Amphetamine, while Adderall only has 75% D-amphetamine, and the remaining 25% is L-amphetamine. Hence, Dexedrine has more potency. Likewise, Adderall has particular side effects that do not manifest when the individual takes Dexedrine. This is most likely due to the combination of L-amphetamine and D-amphetamine. The effects are cardiovascular, wherein the heart rate is faster compared to Dexedrine and the occurrence of peripheral vasoconstriction. But again, these effects only happen after substance abuse.

On the other hand, due to the combination of D-amphetamine and L-amphetamine in Adderall, it has a certain advantage when it comes to reducing some symptoms of ADHD. Unlike Dexedrine which only controls the CNS, Adderall also affects the peripheral nervous system. When used as prescribed, the effect takes longer with minimum side effects.

Another difference is the amount of cost, both are branded names but also available in generic forms. When it comes to cost, Dexedrine takes the top spot as one has to pay around 360 dollars for a 30-day supply. The price of Adderall is slightly lower, ranging from 250 to 300 US dollars for the same length of usage. Generic of course is priced lower, Dexedrine though is still more pricey compared to Adderall.

When it comes to administration, Dexedrine is only available in Spansule (sustained released capsules), while Adderall can be purchased both in IR (Immediate Release) and XR (Extended Release).

Safety Precautions

While both Dexedrine and Adderall are effective for the treatment of ADHD, doctor consultation is still very highly recommended not only to avoid abuse and overdose on the medicines but also to determine the kind of medicines that your child needs. Even though most treatments have the same chemical content, each individual has their way of responding to the treatment. Likewise, if the child has pre-existing conditions and/or taking prescribed medicines, the doctor must be made aware of this before he or she can customize the medication

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