Vyvanse vs Adderall – Pros and Cons of Each

ADHD is not an easy condition to deal with. It affects your school, job, and productivity, and it can even affect your relationships. For this reason, being able to control it comes as a huge relief for people suffering from this condition.

You’ve probably talked to a doctor, and they may have offered two drugs to choose from. Vyvanse and Adderall are the most common treatment for ADHD – but which one should you go for? This article will give you a general overview of both, so let’s look into Vyvanse vs Adderall – pros and cons of each.

The Basics

Doctors prescribe both of these medicines to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Vyvanse and Adderall are psychostimulants, and they are the first thing you’ll get from your doctor if they diagnose you with ADHD.

The drugs work in the same manner – they affect your central nervous system and increase the number of neurotransmitters in your brain. This increases the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine – the substances responsible for thinking, planning, and focus.

For normal people, this would act as a stimulant, which is why these drugs are so widely abused. For true ADHD patients, however, this actually reduces hyperactivity and impulsiveness, making it much easier to focus and pay attention to the task at hand.

However, the assumption that Vyvanse and Adderall are basically the same is just plain wrong. Even though their purpose is the same and they work similarly, there are some important differences.

The Differences

Available in extended release only, Vyvanse contains lisdexamfetamine. When you take Vyvanse, your body turns lisdexamfetamine into dextroamphetamine – a substance that encourages brain development and nerve growth in patients with ADHD. The extended release tablet works for 14 hours. It is also used for treating binge eating disorder. It is approved for the treatment of people who are at least 6 years old.

Adderall contains dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. There are two formulas available:

  • Adderall IR (immediate release), which lasts for about 4 hours. In general, you need to take two or three doses a day.
  • Adderall XR (extended release), which is effective for about 10 to 12 hours, and prescribed to people who are 6 years or older.

Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy.

Vyvanse – Pros

Vyvanse is a prodrug, which means that it’s not enough to simply take it for it to work. It needs to be metabolized to become effective. Because of this, there is a postponed effect to the drug – it only starts working after a couple of hours. While this might look like a negative side, it actually ensures “smoother” effects – the patients don’t feel a sudden change in their mood, there is no “kick” as the drug takes effect.

Also, there is much less rebound when the effects of Vyvanse start wearing off. As mentioned, the effects last for approximately 14 hours, which means that a single dose is enough for almost the entire waking day. In comparison, other long-lasting treatments for ADHD only last from 10 to 12 hours.

Vyvanse is not a drug people will generally try to abuse. Firstly, the delayed effect makes it unappealing in that regard. Secondly, it cannot be smoked, snorted, or injected. Therefore, the risk of abuse is much lower with Vyvanse than with other ADHD medicines.

Vyvanse – Cons

While there are many advantages to Vyvanse, there are some downsides as well. It is still not available in generic form, so it is a bit more expensive than Adderall. It has a potential for abuse, so it should be stored away from prying eyes, just in case.

Also, in situations where you need a more timely effect, Vyvanse is not a good option, since it takes approximately 2 hours to start working.

Adderall – Pros

Unlike Vyvanse, Adderall takes relatively little time to start working. The effects become noticeable in about 30 minutes, which makes it much faster. The two types offer more flexibility as well. A person can take Adderall XR in general situations, and combine it with Adderall IR when they need a quicker reaction, or if they just want the effects to wear off before bedtime.

With an effective period of 10 to 12 hours, Adderall XR works for quite a long time, though not as long as Vyvanse.

Generic versions of the immediate release Adderall is available, which makes it a more financially sound option.

Adderall – Cons

Because it acts faster, Adderall, an amphetamine, causes the patient to feel a sort of high when it starts working. This makes Adderall much less smooth than Vyvanse. Also, it causes more problems in the rebound period; as the drug wears off, you may feel a significant drop in your mood and productivity.

Furthermore, Adderall works much faster, which makes it more appealing for recreational usage. There is also a possibility to take the drug through other means – such as snorting, smoking, or injecting – which makes Adderall much more likely to be misused to get high.

A Word of Caution

As is the case with any drug, these two provoke some undesired consequences. Because the nature of the two is so similar, the side effects are mostly the same. Some of the most important ones are:

  • abdominal pain and diarrhea;
  • appetite loss and weight loss;
  • dry mouth;
  • fever, headache, and dizziness;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • nervousness and irritability;
  • sleep problems and insomnia.

More serious side effects include:

  • increased heart rate and high blood pressure,
  • hallucinations or paranoia,
  • heart attack,
  • stroke

You should never forget that these types of stimulants may cause addiction, so always make sure you keep them away from other people.

Men who are undergoing therapy may experience erectile dysfunction, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are in danger of harming their baby by using either of the two drugs. Make sure you talk about these problems with your doctor as soon as they happen – or, in case of pregnancy, before you start the therapy.

Stay Focused

So now you know everything you need about Vyvanse vs Adderall – pros and cons of each, and you can talk to your doctor and reach an informed decision. Both drugs have their ups and downs, so it all depends on your personal needs and preferences.

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/
https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/01/the-pros-and-cons-of-treating-adhd-with-drugs/index.htm

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