Focalin xr vs adderall

Focalin vs Adderall: What’s the difference?

Focalin contains dexmethylphenidate whereas Adderall contains a mixture of amphetamine salts (MAS). Both have a high potential for abuse and dependence, although the risk may be perceived as higher with Adderall because it is more popular; however, this does not mean Focalin is less likely to cause tolerance or dependence.

Adderall IR has more dosage options than Focalin IR, although Focalin IR is usually cheaper. Focalin XR has more dosage options than Adderall XR, although Adderall XR is usually cheaper.

What is Dexmethylphenidate?

Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin) is a man-made stimulant that is derived from methylphenidate (which is marketed under brand names such as Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, and others). Dexmethylphenidate is the more active part of methylphenidate, which is why Focalin is considered twice as strong, on a mg for mg basis, as drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta. Focalin was first approved in 2001, although an extended-release form was not approved until 2005.

What is in Adderall?

The mixed amphetamine salts contained in Adderall are dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine sulfate; often abbreviated to 75% dextroamphetamine + 25% levoamphetamine. Adderall is also a man-made stimulant and was first approved in 1996. Both Focalin and Adderall are approved to treat ADHD, although Adderall is also approved to treat narcolepsy.

How do Focalin and Adderall work in ADHD?

Although Focalin is not an amphetamine and has a different mechanism of action to Adderall, it bears some structural resemblance to amphetamines and both drugs are thought to work in ADHD by increasing the concentration of two neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine) in the brain.


Immediate-release (IR) forms of Focalin have a duration of effect of 4 to 6 hours, similar to that of Adderall IR. Extended-release (XR) forms of Focalin provide a sustained psychostimulant effect for up to 12 hours, similar to that of Adderall XR. Focalin IR has only three dosage options (2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg) compared to seven for Adderall IR (5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg), which may make Adderall IR easier for titrating. Focalin XR has more dosage options than Adderall XR. Immediate-release forms of Focalin are generally cheaper than immediate-release forms of Adderall; however, brand-name Adderall XR is usually cheaper than Focalin XR. Both Focalin and Adderall are available as generics.

Side Effects

Although neither Focalin XR capsules nor Adderall XR capsules should be chewed or crushed, for people who have difficulty swallowing the capsules may be opened and the contents sprinkled on apple sauce and swallowed straight away. Both Focalin and Adderall may cause dizziness, insomnia, nervousness, stomach aches and a decrease in appetite leading to weight loss. Adderall may also cause diarrhea, dry mouth, fever, headache, irritability, nausea and vomiting. Subjective, anecdotal reports have suggested that Focalin may have a cleaner effect than Adderall and produce less jitters. Side effects of both drugs are more likely at higher dosages.

Potential For Abuse

Both Focalin and Adderall are habit-forming and have a high potential for abuse and are classified as “Schedule II” controlled-substances. It is not uncommon for people who have taken either Focalin or Adderall for extended periods of time to become psychologically dependent on them. Tolerance may also develop – this when an increasing dose is needed in order to achieve the same reduction in symptoms. Both can lead to withdrawal symptoms on discontinuation. Studies have not directly compared the two drugs for abuse or dependence potential; however, it is likely to be similar and high. Adderall tends to be more popular than Focalin among college students who misuse the drug for studying, passing tests, and even weight loss (see Adderall for Study: Does it Really Make You Smarter?

Comparative Effectiveness

Studies have shown that Focalin and Adderall are both more effective in ADHD than a placebo (pretend) tablet but there have been few trials directly comparing the two drugs. Those that do suggest that Focalin and Adderall are nearly identical in terms of potency (meaning 5mg Focalin IR is approximately equivalent to 5mg Adderall IR and 10mg of Focalin XR approximately equals 10mg Adderall XR). However, not everybody responds equally to either Focalin or Adderall. In one study involving 56 children, 14.3% only responded to dexmethylphenidate XR (Focalin XR) and 12.5% only responded to mixed amphetamine salts XR (Adderall XR). This means that if one treatment is ineffective or intolerable it is appropriate to try another before giving up on stimulant treatment. Behavioral therapy is still recommended as the first treatment to try before medication in young children with ADHD.

Focalin and Adderall appear equally effective for ADHD and have a similar potency on a mg per mg basis. Side effects are similar.

Studies have shown that individual responses to ADHD medications varies, and up to 15% of people have a response to one drug but not to another. Therefore it is worthwhile trying a different type of ADHD medication if one treatment is found to be ineffective.

Understanding ADHD Medications

To understand medications for ADHD treatment, you need to keep two neurochemicals in mind: dopamine and norepinephrine. Both are important for attention and focus, for the functioning of the pre-frontal cortex region of the brain. Think of it as the secretary of the brain: It’s the locus of what’s referred to as executive functioning—how you plan, how you organize, how you execute.

These two chemicals are critical for those functions, dopamine for decreasing signals from the external stimuli that might be distracting to you, and norepinephrine for improving the signal you’re trying to focus on, to pay attention to. When you take Ritalin, Adderall, or any other stimulant medication, what it does is help bring up the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.

If you get optimal levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, you are pretty focused. But if you get too much, you can stress out the brain. Then you look almost like the ADHD is worse. There’s a perception, especially among teenagers: “Oh, if it’s good at this dose, more will be even better.” No, it won’t. It can feel worse, and you can get a lot of side effects. So trying to get that right balance is what’s key.

When it comes to stimulant medications for ADHD, there are a lot of alternatives to choose from, and they’re not all created equal. So if I don’t think one med is working as well as I would like, I want to try something else. Children can respond very differently to different formulations.

Effectiveness of medications

If you have ADHD, studies show there’s an over 80% chance that you are going to respond to medication. Within that group, 50% will respond equally well to the two main classes of ADHD medications: methylphenidate (Ritalin and other brands) or amphetamine (Adderall and other brands). Of the other 50%, half will do better on methylphenidate and half on amphetamine.

There are also several medications that aren’t based on stimulants, but they are considerably less effective in treating symptoms.

The challenge with stimulant medicines is how to deliver an effective dose over a desirable period of time. When Ritalin was first used to treat ADHD in 1961, it was with a kindergartener or a first-grader in mind. It lasted three or four hours. But kindergarteners now have homework, and the older kids get, the longer they need to stay focused to succeed in school and get along with their friends and family. So technology has been developed to make the medication release gradually, peaking at the desired time, so users don’t have to remember to take pills multiple times a day.

Related: Will ADHD Medication Change My Child’s Brain?

Methylphenidate medications

Ritalin, the granddaddy of them all, is a short-acting formulation of methylphenidate that lasts about 3-4 hours. Focalin is another form of methylphenidate that also lasts about 4 hours. Both of these medications begin to work about 30-45 minutes after taking them. For children who have trouble swallowing pills, this medication can be crushed and mixed with foods. There is also a liquid and a chewable tablet form of the short-acting methylphenidate.

Other forms of methylphenidate that have been engineered to release optimally over a particular period of time.

First up is Concerta, one of the longest–acting methylphenidate medications on the market, lasting 8 to 12 hours, the equivalent of 3 tablets of Ritalin. What’s unique about Concerta is that it has a hard shell; you can’t chew it or open it. You’ve got to swallow it whole, which can be a problem for some kids. It has triple-release: First, there’s a coating of medicine on the outside, so within 10 or 15 minutes you’ll be getting some effects of the medication. On the inside, there’s a push compartment filled with a polymer fiber that expands like a sponge as it gets wet, and pushes out the medicine through a laser hole on one end. The capsule itself doesn’t get absorbed.

Concerta has two compartments of the drug, 30% in the first, and 70% in the second. This is called an “ascending dose,” and it is designed to offset a decline in the impact of the medication that can occur the second half of the day. But for some kids, it might be too long.

There are also capsules filled with medication in beads. What’s good about these is that for kids who can’t swallow pills, you can open up the capsule and sprinkle it on a spoonful of applesauce, yogurt or Nutella.

One of the beaded forms is Metadate CD, which lasts about six to eight hours. It has two kinds of beads in it, also in an “ascending dose”—30% are quick release, to work the first four hours, and 70% slow release, for the latter four hours.

Ritalin-LA also has beads, but they’re 50-50—that is, half the beads are going to be released immediately, to peak in the morning, the other half in the afternoon, for a total of six to eight hours. So you have much more of a two-equal-phases effect on focus and attention.

Aptensio XR and Focalin XR are also capsules filled with medication that can be opened and mixed with food. They typically work longer than Ritalin LA or Metadate CD.

For kids who have trouble swallowing capsules and even have trouble with beads, there are liquid forms of methylphenidate medication. Quillivant XR is a long-acting formulation that I often describe as “liquid Concerta,” and is a good alternative. The liquid formulation may also allow more precise dose adjustment or “titration.”

Quillichew ER is a chewable long–acting formulation of methylphenidate that can last up to 8 hours.

Related: Side Effects of ADHD Medication

The patch

And then there’s Daytrana, which is the methylphenidate patch. Basically, the patch is like a carpet of medication that’s embedded in this adhesive, so you peel the liner off, and you put it on the hip, because the hip is the area that has less muscle, so the medicine will get into the body quicker.

In developing the patch, the company thought two things. First, it’s good for kids who can’t swallow pills. And second, you bypass the gut, so it doesn’t have to be metabolized to get into your bloodstream. It will go through the skin, right into the bloodstream.

Now, that said, it doesn’t work right away. Since it absorbs slowly, it takes about two hours to get up to therapeutic level. But once it’s there, it stays pretty constant until you actually take it off. So another thing that parents like is that they feel they can have more control over when the medicine ends by taking off the patch. If you want to take it off at 2:00pm one day but at 5:00pm the other, you have that ability. Usually the medicine will drop in the bloodstream an hour and a half to two hours after you take off the patch.

Kids often aren’t as enthusiastic. Some kids don’t like the idea of wearing a patch. A lot of ADHD kids are tactile-sensitive, and they’ll take it off. And when you take it off it doesn’t go back on. But I have some college kids who like the patch because they don’t have to worry about taking medicine later in the day; they can just keep it on as long as they want to. If they forget to take it off it doesn’t matter: There’s only about nine to 10 hours of medication in the patch, so they’re still able to fall asleep.

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Amphetamine medications

On the amphetamine side, Adderall, Evekeo, Zenzedi and Dexedrine are all short-acting forms of amphetamines, that take effect about 30-45 minutes after taking them and they are effective for 3-4 hours. Amphetamines tend to be slightly more potent than methylphenidate and last a little longer, but in general the effects are similar to methylphenidate.

As with methylphenidate, some preparations of amphetamines have been created to release the medication over a greater period of time, extending the duration of the effect of the medication. This is of great benefit when trying to provide a response that lasts through a school day (typically 6-8 hours). Some of these compounds take effect as quickly as the short-acting forms of these medications.

Adderall XR is the longer-lasting form, designed to be effective for 10-12 hours. It’s a capsule with beads that are 50-50, so 50% of them are immediate release, and the other 50% are delayed release. The capsule can be opened and the beads mixed with food.

Vyvanse is amphetamine plus an extra compound called lysine, which attaches itself to the active ingredient in Adderall, amphetamine, creating an extra step that the body has to go through to cut it off, to make it active. That means Vyvanse lasts very long—up to 14 hours. That could be too long for a seven-year-old, but if you’re in high school or college, or an adult, it could be great. It’s not beads; it’s just a powdered medicine. But it’s going to have a consistent release, without peaks and troughs.

Dexedrine Spansule is the long-acting form of Dexedrine and typically lasts about 6-8 hours.

Dynavel XR is a long-acting liquid form of amphetamine. It can have an effect that lasts as long as 10-12 hours.

Adzenys XR-ODT is a tablet that dissolves in your mouth and doesn’t need to be swallowed. It has a duration of response of 10-12 hours.

Is Your Child Getting the Right Dose?
Behavioral Treatments for Kids With ADHD
Talking to Kids About Medication

The Top ADHD Medications for Children — Rated by Readers

Should my child take a stimulant medication like Concerta or Adderall? Or a non-stimulant like Strattera or Intuniv? Why is Vyvanse so popular? Is Evekeo gaining traction? How can I weigh all of our ADHD medication options effectively?

We hear these questions — and others like them — often from parents who are wrestling with the decision to medicate or working with a physician to monitor and adjust a treatment plan for side effects. For many of them, our answer is the same: Every child is different and there is no ‘right’ answer; the best medication for your child will be revealed only through trial and error.

We saw this trial and error in living color when ADDitude surveyed 4,425 readers in August 2017 to learn more about the most common and effective forms of ADHD treatment today. In that survey, we learned that:

  • The most common age of diagnosis is 7 (nearly 8) years old
  • Most of our survey respondents said their child was diagnosed 3-4 years earlier
  • 83.48% of children had tried at least one medication since diagnosis
  • Of those, each child had tried 2.2 medications, on average

We asked respondents to tell us which medication(s) their child had ever used to address symptoms of attention deficit disorder, and learned that Concerta is the most used ADHD medication for children, by far, followed by Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse.

Of course, the data below reflects a long time window; one-third of survey respondents had a child diagnosed more than five years earlier. Among patients diagnosed within the previous year, Concerta, Adderall, and Vyvanse were in a dead heat with a new class of generics that have recently hit the market.


Medication Class % Who Have Used It
Concerta Methylphenidate 42.28%
Adderall Amphetamine 37.54%
Ritalin Methylphenidate 32.37%
Vyvanse Lisdexamfetamine 32.22%
Focalin Dexmethylphenidate 21.63%
Strattera Atomoxetine 18.58%
Dexedrine Dextroamphetamine 3.73%
Evekeo Amphetamine Sulfate 0.97%
Other meds 29.37%

We also asked survey respondents to rate the efficacy of these top ADHD medications — specifically, we asked: “Overall, how effective would you say each medication was at managing ADHD symptoms?”

Below, we see that the medication used by the fewest households surveyed — Evekeo — was rated extremely or very effective by the greatest percentage of caregivers. The second most effective, according to our readers, were ‘other medications,’ which primarily included Intuniv, guanfacine, Quillivant/Quillichew, and Biphentin. (We were not able to assign specific efficacy ratings to each of those ‘Other’ medications in this particular survey.) Following closely behind was Vyvanse, which is also one of the most commonly used.

It’s also worth noting that the medication rated most effective was also ranked the second least effective, right after Strattera. This may be due to the small sample size of caregivers who have administered Evekeo — just 20, compared to the 874 who have tried Concerta or the 666 who have tried Vyvanse. Here, again, ‘other meds’ emerges a clear winner that deserves more study and analysis.

As the comments below suggest, a medication’s effectiveness is tied very closely to its side effects — or lack thereof. So we asked survey respondents to report the the prevalence of three common side effects — irritability, sleep disturbances, and dampened personality — with each of the following medications. The chart below shows the percentage of individuals who reported experiencing these side effects while on the each medication.



“Evekeo doesn’t seem to have side effects and it helps some with his focus.”

“Evekeo had same effects as Adderall. She began to lose weight and became irritable due to low blood sugar from not eating. Stopped it at beginning of summer but didn’t see an increase in ADHD symptoms.”

“Evekeo worked well on hyperactivity. No appetite. Increased irritability due to low blood sugar from not eating. Lost weight.”


“Vyvanse has worked very well at the lower dosages with minimal side effects. has some loss of appetite, but not as much as with the Adderall. Although we’re on the long-acting Vyvanse, as he is getting older (he’s 12 now), it doesn’t seem to be lasting as long.”

“Vyvanse was effective immediately in minimizing impulsive/hyperactive behavior. However, he started complaining of feeling sick after about one week, so our pediatrician lowered the dose from 30mg to 20mg. This stopped the nausea. Also I prefer to say that, rather than lessening his appetite, the medication delays his appetite. He eats little during the day but is hungry from about 7:30 through to 9 at night.”

“The initial side effects of Vyvanse 20mg were lack of appetite and mild stomachs discomfort, however, both have subsided with time. At home the effects of being on the medication were subtle. The meds didn’t change , but seemed to help her to know when to reign things in before crossing over from funny to irritating.”


“Concerta works well helping my child to control his impulsive behavior it also does the job in helping him to focus. He still gets some headaches now and then and he still had some appetite loss but it works better than the previous medication that we tried before.”

“ is on 27mg of Concerta. He is well behaved at school. He is happy overall and doing better about completing homework. But he becomes overwhelmed easily with school work. He has no appetite during the day. He has trouble settling down for the night. He is grinding his teeth terribly in his sleep. We haven’t been giving it to him on weekends so he will eat. It’s nearly impossible to get him to do homework on weekends.”

“Concerta seems to be helping with impulse control and attention in school. She’s had a slight decrease in appetite, but only for lunch. She still eats a decent breakfast and dinner. No sleep issues on this medication.”


“Focalin started helping the first day she took it. Mainly, it helps her focus to complete tasks. It decreased her appetite for a month, but then that symptom faded significantly. She has some rebound effect when it wears off. It works for about 6 hours every day.”

“Focalin worked well at a low dose with minimal side effects. As he grew, we again had to increase the dosage to achieve the needed behavior control. As the dosage increased, he became more irritable and angry, and this resulted in an increase in physical aggression, so we switched to Vyvanse.”

“Focalin managed the ADHD well with very minimal side effects. It also lasted entire day without needing a booster dose until he became a teen.”


“Ritalin has helped considerably with his ability to focus in school, and occasionally with impulsivity, but not with his ability to control his reactions if someone makes him mad. In addition, we are starting to feel that the loss of appetite caused by the medication is hindering that side of things, as when he’s hungry he’s far less able to control his reactions.”

“Ritalin helped my son immediately, as he was better able to focus and retain information. Unfortunately, he also becomes extremely withdrawn and meek when on this medication (not his typical personality!) So, many years later a new doctor that we met with added Sertraline to his regimen, and this made a HUGE difference! My son now has his ‘normal’ personality, but still has the benefits of increased focus and attention when taking Ritalin!”

“My daughter had extreme stomach upset and wouldn’t eat all day on Ritalin, even after being on the medication for several months. She had a hard time sleeping, and would sleep very little once on it. She also lost her ‘spunk’ and personality. She seemed very muted, and lacking emotion.”


“Adderall has helped control my child’s ADHD symptoms, which in turn allowed him to be able to focus on learning and listening. It also allowed him to be able to recognize when he should calm down while not on his medication because he doesn’t take it during the summer. My son used to take 3 hours to do one page of homework, get in trouble for classroom disruptiveness, and be behind in reading. With the medication, and behavioral therapy, he is now in the gifted program at school, reads far above his grade level, doesn’t feel like his teachers are out to get him, and always gets his homework done promptly after getting out of school.”

“Adderall caused mild loss of appetite and mild increase in focus, but only at a higher dosage of 15mg. The higher dose caused increased irritability, mood swings, tantrums, more tics, and negative self thoughts, such as ‘Why am I such a bad person? Why can’t I be like everyone else?’”

“Adderall allowed her to be able to sit and focus on schoolwork. It did ruin her appetite though and she started losing weight. We would take breaks so she could eat more. It even changed her desire for some foods. After a while this subsided. When we upped the dosage, she developed a vocal tic so we lowered again and that went away after a while.”


“Dexedrine has worked more effectively following a fair bit of experimentation with dosage to get the best effect. Too high a dose caused irritability.”

“Dexedrine really affected his appetite — lots of weight loss and changed personality.”

“On Dexedrine, my child was argumentative about everything.”


“Strattera was overall effective in managing some symptoms, mainly some of the ODD, but didn’t specifically manage the ADHD symptoms that were hindering him at school.”

“Strattera made her very organized but stoic and somber…no emotion, more depressed.”

“Strattera worked well for about 6 months then we needed to add Intuniv. It is a gradual alleviating of ADHD issues but not the dramatic change you see with stimulants. Takes enough of the edge off so other therapies can work.”

Does this data help to predict a clear winner for your child? No. Should you adjust your child’s treatment plan based on these comments? Definitely not. But can they help overwhelmed parents better understand how other ADHD families are managing symptoms? Almost certainly.

Would you like to share your experience with an ADHD medication? Please find the medication here and submit a review that other readers can easily find.


Updated on January 12, 2020

3 Dangerous Similarities Between Focalin vs Adderall That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

While Adderall may be in the headlines and Focalin on the sidelines, the effects of Focalin vs. Adderall are almost identical.

Adderall’s high risk for addiction has been well publicized and this risk exists regardless of whether a person uses it for treatment purposes or recreational purposes. Focalin, one of the newly developed prescription amphetamines, works in much the same way as Adderall and so carries the same risks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, as of 2011, 11 percent of children aged four to 17 struggled with ADHD, or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Not surprisingly, many people affected by ADHD in childhood carry the condition on into adulthood. Both Focalin and Adderall are designed to treat symptoms of ADHD in children and adults.

When used for long time periods, dangerous similarities between Focalin vs. Adderall place unsuspecting ADHD sufferers and recreational users at considerable risk of addiction, mental illness and even brain damage.

For information on amphetamine rehab treatment programs, call our toll-free helpline at 800-768-8728(Who Answers?).

Dangerous Similarities Between Focalin vs. Adderall

1. Mechanism of Action & “High Effects”

Both Focalin and Adderall have a high abuse and addiction potential.

As far as similarities between Focalin vs. Adderall goes, there’s very little difference in how these two drugs interact with the brain. As amphetamine-based agents, these drugs increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels, both of which are primary neurotransmitter chemicals.

In effect, both drugs block the brain’s natural recycling mechanisms, larger amounts of these chemicals stay active for longer time periods. Adderall goes one step farther in that it also stimulates dopamine and norepinephrine production by certain groups of brain cells.

These overall effects account for the increase in energy, overall confidence and enhanced concentration that results. These effects also incite feelings of euphoria, which ultimately set the ball in motion in terms of the abuse and addiction risks these drugs carry.

2. Potential for Abuse

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, amphetamines, in general, tend to overexert the brain’s chemical system, and over time cause this system to become dependent on amphetamine effects to function normally. Before long, users start to experience increasing tolerance levels and withdrawal effects that worsen in severity with each passing day.

In terms of Focalin vs. Adderall, their potential for abuse runs neck-in-neck. As tolerance levels rise, larger doses must be ingested to experience the desired effects. In the process, withdrawal effects grow more and more severe, which further contributes to frequency of drug use.

3. Potential for Dependence

While a physical dependence on Focalin vs. Adderall is all but a guarantee with prolonged use, a real “need” for the drug’s effects takes hold once addiction starts to develop. Rather than attack the brain’s physical workings, addiction takes shape within the cognitive- and emotion-based centers of the brain.

These developments create a form of psychological dependence that ultimately impacts a person’s values, priorities and motivations. At this point, drug using practices take on a life of their own and gradually become the focal point of a person’s daily activities.

Overall, Focalin’s ability to stay “under the radar” as far as its addiction risks go can be especially dangerous for unsuspecting recreational drug users. As far as similarities between Focalin vs. Adderall goes, abusing one is just like abusing the other.

If you’re considering amphetamine rehab treatment and need help finding a program that meets your needs, we can help. Call our helpline at 800-768-8728(Who Answers?) to ask about available treatment options.

Vyvanse vs. Adderall for ADHD Symptom Control

Adderall has been around longer than Vyvanse. The FDA approved Adderall in 1996, and Vyvanse has been available since 2007. Still, Vyvanse and Adderall are both amphetamines (a type of stimulant medication), so they work in much the same way. They stimulate the nervous system and increase the amount of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Learn more: ADHD and dopamine: What’s the connection? “


Vyvanse and Adderall are both approved to treat ADHD in people 6 years and older. In fact, they’re both included in the group of drugs used as first-line treatments for children with ADHD to focus their attention in the classroom and studying.

That said, Adderall and Vyvanse are both considered controlled substances. They carry the risk of addiction if they’re taken for a long time.

However, Vyvanse is less likely to be abused than Adderall. This is because the body needs to break Vyvanse down before it can start to work. With amphetamines, there is also a concern about the potential for misuse to get a sense of euphoria­ — in other words, to get high. Unlike other stimulants, Vyvanse can’t be injected or inhaled to get high. This may help to make it less likely than Adderall to be misused.

The way you take these drugs and the way they’re released into your body can lead to the significant differences between them.

Adderall comes in two forms:

Immediate-release tablet: You take this form two or three times per day. The effects of each tablet last three to four hours.

Extended-release capsule (Adderall XR): You take this form only once per day, and the effects last 10 to 12 hours. The capsule is filled with beads. Half of the beads work right away, and the other half start to work later. In this way, the extended-release capsule provides two doses in one pill.

On the other hand, Vyvanse only comes in a delayed-release capsule that you take each morning. The form is inactive as it enters your body. As you digest it, your body slowly converts the drug into its active form. Once it becomes active, the effects can last up to 14 hours.


Adderall and Vyvanse are both effective in improving ADHD symptoms. Yet it’s hard to tell whether one of these drugs works better than the other. Few head-to-head studies have compared Adderall XR and Vyvanse.

It may come down to the fact that everyone reacts differently to medication. Vyvanse may work well for one person, while another may respond better to Adderall.


The brand-name versions of both drugs are similar in cost. Adderall is also available as a generic drug, but Vyvanse is not. Generic drugs are often much less expensive than brand-name drugs.

Many factors can affect prescription drug prices, including insurance coverage and coupon discounts. It’s usually best to take a drug based on how it works for you rather than what it costs, though. Changing to another drug to save costs may require dosage changes and adjustments, which can affect costs in the end, anyway.

Adderall vs. Focalin

In a perfect world, our health would always be in order and we would not suffer from any ailments or conditions.

Unfortunately, this perfect world is only attainable in our dreams and some of us face challenges to our physical and mental health, like those of us who struggle with conditions like ADHD.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex health disorder that affects one’s mental system so that certain aspects of their everyday social life are not in order.

The disorder normally occurs in childhood and continues to adulthood. Some of the common symptoms of ADHD in children include hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention and all these affect a child’s functioning, growth and development.

Some of the symptoms that apply to adults include anxiety, memory problems, impulsiveness, addictions and substance abuse, depression, abrupt mood changes, anger problems and relationship problems among others.

It is not easy to identify this disease and it takes the skills of a qualified medical practitioner, such as a licensed pediatrician, psychiatrist or psychologist to evaluate and come up with the right diagnosis for this disease.

The symptoms vary among different people, meaning two people suffering from the disorder could portray different signs and symptoms. The disease is diagnosed after several tests and criteria are used. For a person diagnosed with this disorder, the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity must be persistent and chronic.

ADHD comes with no prevention or cure. Discovering the disease early enough is however quite beneficial since you are able to come up with an efficient management plan, which includes therapy and use of medication.

Both Focalin and Adderall are prescription stimulants used to treat ADHD. As much as the two stimulants are used to treat the same disorder, there are a number of differences between the two. There are a couple of similarities as well.


The process for diagnosis from medical professionals to determine which drug is the best fit for your particular situation, personality, and medical history is based on the following:

Adderall is a drug that contains a combination of both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The two are stimulants which have a calming effect on the central nervous system since they effect on the chemicals in the brain and nerves which lead to impulse control and hyperactivity. Adderall is an amphetamine since this is the active ingredient in the stimulant.

It has the effect of controlling one’s activities, increasing attention spans as well as preventing symptoms of narcolepsy which is a brain disorder that leads to interruptions in the sleep-wake cycle.

All these functions are achieved by regulating the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine chemicals in the brain thereby changing brain chemistry as well as assisting neurotransmitters to send messages between nerve cells in the brain. Treating ADHD with Adderall was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1966.

Focalin is a drug that contains dexmemethylphenidate, a mild stimulant used by the central nervous system to treat ADHD.

It is administered in tablet form and it can be bought over the counter or it can be prescribed by a doctor. Focalin is similar to Ritalin and Concerta in function. It is used in the treatment of ADHD since it has a stimulating effect so that there is increased release of chemical neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

It works in a manner similar to that of Adderall. This medication was approved by the FDA in 2005 and it is processed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.


Adderall has been approved for use in the treatment of ADHD by the Food and Drug Administration. The amphetamine should be used only under the prescription of a doctor since using it inappropriately or for non-medical reasons could lead to potential dependence, drug abuse and could lead to withdrawals. It is habit-forming if overdosed or used without prescription.

The user should use the stimulant alongside engaging in other forms of treatment such as special education, diet, exercise, supplements, behavior modification as well as regular counseling. Adderall stays active in a person’s body longer than Focalin.

Focalin should be used under the doctor’s prescription since it is addictive in nature if used for the wrong reason or beyond the recommended dosage.

Dexmethylphenidate which is a mild stimulant has the effect of blocking the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine into the presynaptic neuron and this way there is increased released monoamines into the extra neuronal space. This form of medication should be used alongside other forms of treatment such as therapeutic treatments. These include psychotherapy and behavior therapy.


Adderall should be taken according to the prescription of a doctor or a pharmacist to avoid situations of overdosing or under dosing. The intake also varies with age.

The medication is taken in the form or tablets either once, twice or thrice a day. Successive doses should be given after 4-6 hours. The dosage should not exceed a total of 40 mg per day. It should be prescribed to children above the age three. Adderall is able to offer more dosage options, compared to Focalin, therefore, it is simpler to come up with accurate adjustments in a patient’s prescription.

The stimulant has a milder effect than Adderall, therefore, it does not last in the system long. Focalin is able to function 4-6 hours after it is administered.

The amount of dosage may vary for different patients but there is a set maximum of the amount that must not be exceeded and that is 40 mg per day. The medication should not be ministered to children under the age of three.


The impact that this stimulant has on the brain is that it balances the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine, in the brain by increasing their release. There is therefore proper coordination of body activities since the signals will be effectively relayed between the neurons.

This will, in turn, lead to controlled symptoms for the ADHD patient for cases of difficulty in concentrating, ability to keep calm as well as control of actions. Adderall works such that it stimulates release of more dopamine and norepinephrine from the vesicles.

Focalin works such that it inhibits the re-uptake of dopamine and norepinephrine and this way their concentration is increased in the extra-neuronal space. The chemicals have a resultant effect on controlling hyperactivity and impulse control. The patient is, in turn, able to feel more focused and alert in whatever they are doing.


Tests have been done on patients, mainly children, suffering from the disorder and it has proven to be effective for most of the patients.

The positives about using the stimulant are that if you suffer from ADHD disorder, you are able to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, improve on your ability to focus, perform tasks and learn and improve the ability to keep calm. Adderall is approved for treating both ADHD and narcolepsy, while Focalin is only approved for treating ADHD.

More than 80% of patients who have used this stimulant have recorded massive improvement with respect to the disorder. They are able to concentrate and focus, control their emotions and anger as well as perform tasks to completion. They are also able to maintain good relationships with people unlike before.

Side effects

The drug is highly addictive and therefore it should only be used under a doctor’s prescription. It is a schedule 2 controlled medication and therefore it should be administered in the right dosage since overdosing could also slowly lead to addiction.

The stimulant, just like any other, has serious withdrawal effects as well. There are a couple of side effects associated with this particular stimulant. A few may occur when it is medically approved but most occur when it is abused.

The mild side effects include a persistent headache, nausea, stomach upsets, loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, difficulties in breathing, fatigue and restlessness among others.

The severe side effects which result from long-term abuse include stunted growth and general poor health for children, seizures, chest pains, eyesight problems, cardiovascular problems, tremors and could even lead to coma.

Before taking this stimulant, you should consult your doctor for a checkup since there are some situations when you are supposed to avoid the drug as much as possible. You should not use the drug if you have a history of heart problems such as high blood pressure or any heart condition such as coronary artery.

There is a high probability that Adderall has a higher abuse potential than Focalin. Adderall contains two chemicals while Focalin only contains one

The stimulant has quite a number of side effects that result from its continued use. It is described as a Schedule 2 controlled medication. Some of the mild side effects include insomnia, loss of appetite, regular stomach upsets, persistent headaches, feelings of restlessness and anxiety, fatigue among many others.

Some of the serious side effects that result from abusing the drug in context for quite a long time include constant convulsions, problems with vision, abnormally high blood pressure, regular chest pains and uneven heart rates among others.

One should avoid situations where they are taking the drugs without prescription or overdosing their prescriptions. Also, you should conduct tests and checks to make sure you are eligible to use the drugs.

You should keep off the drugs if you have severe depression or high blood pressure, seizures or epilepsy, any heart condition whatsoever, heart attack, mental illness or substance addiction.

Focalin Alternatives: Is Focalin Like Adderall Or Ritalin?

Focalin, a type of drug that uses an active ingredient known as Dexmethylphenidate, is used to assist in the treatment of symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Since its FDA approval, which was published in 2005, the medication has become popular among children with this disorder.
At the same time, the drug has been linked to many adverse effects, and many contraindications need to be noted. This is why people often compare Dexmethylphenidate and other related drugs to find the option that is safest for themselves or their children. This article compares Focalin vs. Vyvanse vs. Adderall and several other drugs that are used to treat ADHD.

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Table of Contents

  • What Are The Drugs Alternative To Focalin?
  • Comparing Focalin Vs. Adderall
  • Comparing Focalin Vs. Ritalin
  • Comparing Focalin Vs. Vyvanse
  • Comparing Concerta Vs. Focalin
  • Comparing Strattera Vs. Focalin
  • Comparing Focalin Vs. Dexedrine
  • What Are The Reasons To Look For Focalin Alternatives?
  • What Are The Natural Alternatives To Focalin?

Drug Alternatives To Focalin

A lot of people are asking if Dexmethylphenidate is better than other drugs. The medication has become one of the most popular options for individuals with conditions like ADHD but is often deemed as not the safest options that people can opt for. It is important to understand the differences when comparing the drug to specific alternatives, which will allow a person to make a better judgment in terms of what option they would like to consider.

Focalin Vs. Adderall

Due to some similarities, a lot of people have asked if Focalin is like Adderall. While there are some similarities when comparing Dexmethylphenidate vs. Adderall – such as the fact that the two drugs have a very similar dosage, as well as a similar onset time. This, however, does not mean the drugs are the same. The main difference between Focalin and Adderall lies within their ingredients. Focalin contains the active ingredient Dexmethylphenidate. This is different from Adderall, which includes a combination of two salts, including Levoamphetamine and Dextroamphetamine.

While Dexmethylphenidate is only used for the treatment of ADHD, Adderall is also sometimes prescribed to assist in the treatment of Narcolepsy. Both drugs are classified as stimulants, though.

Thus, when asking is Focalin stronger than Adderall, this might not necessarily be the case – people may be affected differently by the medications.

Adderall does seem to have more side-effects associated with it, including the risk of seizures, vomiting, sweating, nervousness, muscle spasms, and hallucinations.

Focalin Vs. Ritalin

When it comes to comparing Ritalin to this drug, it is essential to know what Focalin is and what the drug is composed of. While Focalin uses Dexmethylphenidate HCI isomer to help improve ADHD symptoms, Ritalin instead utilizes an active ingredient that is known as Methylphenidate.

When comparing Dexmethylphenidate vs. Methylphenidate, Focalin is considered to be more potent. Due to the increased potency, a lower dose of the drug would be needed to experience a similar level of relief that a person would be able to achieve with Ritalin. This yields a lower risk of side-effects, of course.

Another difference between Methylphenidate and Dexmethylphenidate would be their side effects. When comparing these two, Ritalin also has more side effects associated with it – including weight loss, irritability, lightheadedness, constipation, skin rash, and vomiting.

Focalin Vs. Vyvanse

Vyvanse is another relatively common drug that is used in the treatment of ADHD symptoms. Both of these drugs act upon the central nervous system and are classified as stimulants. The main difference would be the active chemicals that are used in these medications. Focalin, as mentioned previously, uses Dexmethylphenidate to produce a reduction in ADHD symptoms, whereas Vyvanse utilizes an active ingredient known as Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate.

The potency is relatively similar between these drugs, and both can interact with other drugs used to treat mental disorders. The difference between Vyvanse and Focalin comes in when looking at their side-effect. Those using Vyvanse may also experience a range of additional adverse effects, including weight loss, sweating, and an unpleasant taste in the person’s mouth.

Concerta Vs. Focalin

The primary difference between Focalin and Concerta would be the active ingredients used to treat ADHD. The main ingredient in Concerta is Methylphenidate. These are extended-release tablets that can provide effective relief of ADHD-related symptoms over a longer period compared to some of the other drugs that can be used to treat the condition. This is one of the main advantages that the drug has over Dexmethylphenidate.

Concerta does not cause a sore throat or jitteriness as side effects like Dexmethylphenidate. This drug does, however, cause vision problems, weight loss, and vomiting in some people. For this reason, many people may choose Dexmethylphenidate when considering whether to use Concerta or Focalin.

Strattera Vs. Focalin

When comparing Focalin vs. Strattera, the first difference to note would, of course, also be the active ingredient. Strattera utilizes Atomoxetine to help a person experience reduced symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

A significant difference between the drugs is the fact that while Dexmethylphenidate is a stimulant of the central nervous system, Strattera is a type of antidepressant, classified as a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. This medication can cause the same side-effects as Dexmethylphenidate, as well as constipation, sexual dysfunction, coughing, vomiting, and more.

Focalin Vs. Dexedrine

When it comes to looking at Dexedrine vs. Focalin, it is first necessary to note that both of these are stimulant drugs that have an interaction with the central nervous system of the patient. The main active ingredient in Dexedrine, however, is known as Dextroamphetamine sulfate. The drug is sometimes used in the treatment of narcolepsy as well.

Symptoms of Dexedrine include those associated with Dexmethylphenidate, along with dizziness, sweating, a low libido, erectile dysfunction in men, and constipation.

Reasons To Look For Focalin Alternatives

There are various reasons why parents and individuals with the condition are seeking out alternatives.

  • The potential of the child misusing the drug is one possible danger. The high has even led to an increase in Focalin street value – and the medication is sometimes distributed among students as a recreational drug.
  • Focalin XR side effects are also considered to be exceptionally unpleasant for many people.
  • Some people may also experience an allergic reaction to the active ingredient, Dexmethylphenidate. While this type of allergy is relatively rare, it can happen and may result in serious complications. For this reason, a person may want to consider an alternative that does not utilize this particular active ingredient.
  • When a person uses this medication for an extended period, they may also start to develop an intolerance to the drug. In such a case, the dose that they are taking may become less useful than before. Instead of opting for a higher dose, which could increase their side-effects, an alternative drug may preferably be used.

Natural Alternatives To Focalin

Due to the addictive potential of Dexmethylphenidate, as well as the harmful side-effects, a lot of concerned parents are looking toward more natural alternatives that are safer for their children, as well as adults who are taking the drug to help cope with ADHD symptoms.

A study by the Isfahan University of Medical Science in Iran found that Ginkgo Biloba seems to be an effective alternative treatment option for patients with attention-deficit disorder.

The study found the supplement to be effective in both adults and adolescents. The supplement may also help to improve sleep and assist with other issues that people with ADHD tend to have.

There are quite a few different natural herbal extracts and supplements that have been shown to reduce symptoms linked to ADHD effectively. Some of these supplements mentioned in the study include:

  • Bacopa monnieri
  • Korean red ginseng
  • Ningdong
  • Passionflower
  • Pycnogenol
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Valerian Officinalis

Reaching For Focalin Alternatives

The use of Focalin and other similar drugs are common among children, adolescents, and even adults with ADHD. While these medications are effective at reducing symptoms of this disorder, they are also considered somewhat dangerous due to potential side effects. Individuals who reach for Dexmethylphenidate first often look for alternatives.

Individuals who are experiencing side effects while taking the drug are advised to consider Focalin alternatives. A discussion about alternatives with a physician can also help a person better understand which drug may be a more appropriate option for them.

Note that in the case of drug dependence, switching to another drug may not be an option. Focalin withdrawal symptoms may be quite harsh. Consider enrolling in a rehabilitation facility. Sometimes a professional treatment assistance of trained medical professionals is the best option.

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Stimulant Medications for ADHD: What’s Old Is New (Again)

So many choices! Source: Dima Sobko

Once you know you have ADHD, you face a series of choices. The first choice is whether to use medication or exclusively non-medication approaches. So far in this blog we have focused primarily on non-medication approaches. But medications do play an important role for many patients with ADHD and can be extremely effective at alleviating symptoms. Many ADHD patients notice a profound difference in the way their mind works when taking medications versus when they don’t – so much so that they describe the first time they took the correct medication as an “Aha!” moment: “Wow!! This is really different. So this is how everyone else goes through their day!”

But how do you find the “correct” medication? That used to be simple because there was only one choice – Ritalin – take it or leave it. But now? There are many options to choose from, with several new medications released just in the last year. That’s good–you and your doctor can find a pill that works perfectly for you. But the sheer number of different drug choices can be daunting. In today’s blog we’ll discuss a few of the newer options out there and help you make sense of the differences between them.

If you decide to try a medication for ADHD, the next major fork in the road is choosing whether to take a stimulant or nonstimulant. Stimulants are more commonly prescribed and they probably work better for most people. A major difference is that stimulants work just “for the day”: The stimulant pill you take on Monday morning will wear off sometime later the same day. By Monday evening you’ll be back to your usual “ADHD-self”, and when you wake up on Tuesday morning you will have to decide whether to take a pill again to get through Tuesday. In contrast, nonstimulant medications are taken every day and build up in your system over time. Once they take effect they continue to work 24/7 until you stop taking them – after which it takes at least a day or so, if not longer, for them to completely wear off. All these medications – stimulants and nonstimulants – can have unwanted side effects (the side effects of stimulants differ from nonstimulants).

Although there are some novel nonstimulant medications in the R&D pipeline, the latest drugs to hit the ADHD market fall into the stimulant category, so that is what we will focus on in today’s blog.

All ADHD stimulant medications are based on just four chemicals, corresponding to two types of closely related compounds: methylphenidate (Ritalin) and its cousin dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), versus amphetamine (Adderall) and its cousin lisdexamphetamine (Vyvanse). The newest ADHD medications contain these same chemicals (or very slight variations on them) but use new compositions or pill technologies to release active ingredient(s) at different rates or time intervals. This may make a difference for some patients – either for “evenness” of response or for side effects.

New Methylphenidate-based drugs:

All these drugs are conceptually similar to one that’s been available for years called Concerta. Concerta is long-acting Ritalin (methylphenidate). Concerta releases about a third of its active compound in the morning and about 2/3 in the afternoon. Compared to Concerta, the newer medications release methylphenidate either in a different AM-to-PM ratio, or more evenly over the course of the day.

Aptensio XR: Releases a little more drug in the morning (about 40%) with the remaining 60% a few hours later.

Cotempla: Releases the drug steadily over the course of the day. This feature may be associated with less appetite suppression.

Quillivant/Quillichew: Conceptually similar to Cotempla, this is designed to release methylphenidate steadily over the day. Quillicant is a liquid, Quillichew a chewable. As with Cotempla, this medication may cause less appetite suppression than Concerta.

New Amphetamine-based drugs:

All of these drugs are conceptually similar to a medication that’s been available for years called Adderall (short acting) or Adderall XR (extended release).

Adzenys XR ODT: This uses a similar pill technology to Cotempla but contains amphetamine instead of methylphenidate. It releases the drug steadily over the course of the day, which is generally associated with less appetite suppression.

Dyanavel XR: This is extended-release amphetamine in liquid form – so the dose can be adjusted precisely “to the drop.” Clinical evidence suggests that after an adjustment period of a few weeks it also leads to less appetite suppression than some other formulations.

Evekeo/Zenzedi: Like many complex chemicals, amphetamine can occur in two mirror-image forms (enantiomers) – that bear the same spatial relationship as your right and left hands. This is important because the “right” and “left” -handed versions of medicinal chemicals can have different biological activities and side effect profiles. Adderall contains a mixture of 75% “right-handed” dextroamphetamine and 25% “left-handed” levoamphetamine. The two newer drugs contain different ratios of these amphetamine enantiomers: Evekeo is a 50:50 left/right blend, whereas Zenzedi is 100% “right-handed” dextroamphetamine. So both Evekeo and Zenzedi are very similar to short-acting Adderall, but some patients may notice slight, but significant, differences in their responses to each.

Mydayis: You can think of this as “super-extended Adderall XR”. Adderall XR releases amphetamine in two spurts: immediately after you take it and then again 4 hours later. This works well for many patients but not everybody, and some patients find they need to take a “booster” of short-acting Adderall late in the day once Adderall XR wears off. Mydayis is formulated to contain a third release time, so it lasts even longer than Adderall XR. This can be particularly helpful for busy workers or students who need a longer acting medication than Adderall XR but for whom it’s inconvenient to take a late afternoon booster pill – or for whom the booster strategy leads to side-effects from “ups and downs” in their medication levels.

Bottom line: The latest entries in the ADHD medication field are not revolutionary; they are mostly tweaks of existing stimulant drugs designed to be released differently, or to last longer, over the course of a day. But this is not to say they are unimportant. The reality is that most patients, once they find a medicine that works for them, go through a process of trial-and-error to figure out the best way to take it each day: how big a dose, how many times, and exactly when. These new medications afford patients and doctors additional dosing alternatives that for some patients may make a difference in the overall quality of response, in getting an all-day response from a single pill, or in the severity of side effects including appetite suppression and insomnia.

How much $ are you going to pay? Source: Pilotsevas

But speaking of “afford” – these new pills are generally far more expensive than older alternatives. Are they worth it? Only you can determine that, but as you do so remember that in this increasingly crowded and competitive field of ADHD medications and manufacturers, you can almost always find some sort of discount coupon online.

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