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Adderall vs Vyvanse

Which is a better treatment for ADHD- Adderall or Vyvanse?
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If you or your child is diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) then there are two common prescription medications that you can take to alleviate the symptoms. 

However, most parents of ADHD inflicted children or suffers of this disorder want to know which is better of the two: Adderall or Vyvanse

In this article, we will compare these two stimulants used for ADHD treatment and try to determine the affects they have on patients. 

First of all, it is important to understand that there is no cut and dry answer to the question – which one is the best? 

In this article we will discuss some general trends that are apparent in each medication. This may help you establish which one works best for you - Adderall or Vyvanse? 

Adderall

Adderall is a psychostimulant drug popularly used in the treatment of ADHD. It is also indicated for treating narcolepsy.

The active agents in Adderall are amphetamine salts. There are four of them: racemic amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, racemic amphetamine sulfate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and dextroamphetamine saccharate.

The racemic amphetamine salts contain both the dextro form and levo form of amphetamine. Therefore, Adderall contains 75% dextroamphetamine and 25% levoamphetamine.

There are two formulations of Adderall marketed for ADHD therapy: instant release and extended release. The four amphetamine salts are contained in equal proportions in extended release Adderall.

Also, these active ingredients are formulated in the extended release as two types of beads.

The first type of beads in extended release Adderall is similar to the ones found in instant release Adderall. These beads release half the active ingredients instantly upon absorption and they are responsible for the initial therapeutic response of the medication.

The other beads release their store of active ingredients slowly after four hours.  This two-stage drug release is what makes it possible for people diagnosed with ADHD to use extended release Adderall only once daily.

Vyvanse

Vyvanse is also a psychostimulant drug used for treating ADHD. It contains lisdexamphetamine which is a combination of dextroamphetamine and L-lysine.

Since the active ingredient is actually dextroamphetamine, Vyvanse is a prodrug. In the form in which it is supplied, it is inactive and has to be converted to its active form in the body.

The two main reasons why the dextroamphetamine in Vyvanse is attached to the essential amino acid, L-lysine are:

  • To formulate a dextroamphetamine-based drug that acts for longer than most of the dextroamphetamine medications used for ADHD
  • To reduce the abuse potential of the drug by making it more difficult for drug abuse to get dextroamphetamine from Vyvanse

Lisdexamphetamine meets these two requirements because it needs enzymes in the red blood cell to separate the L-lysine from the dextroamphetamine.

Therefore, this specificity means that it is not easily destroyed in the body and also that it produces no amphetamine-like effects when it is directly abused.

Vyvanse is supplied in capsules of the following strengths: 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg and 70 mg.

Unlike Adderall, Vyvanse contains only the dextro form of amphetamine. It is estimated that 25 mg Vyvanse contains about the same amount of dextroamphetamine as 10 mg Adderall.

However, this does not mean that Adderall is twice as effective as Vyvanse because there are other factors besides doses that affect the efficacy of drugs.

The Amphetamines

The two amphetamines (dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine) have comparable therapeutic effects. However, dextroamphetamine is more active in the central nervous system while levoamphetamine produces more effects in the peripheral nervous system.

Since ADHD symptoms are largely produced at the central nervous system, dextroamphetamine is regarded as the more effective amphetamine for the condition.

The amphetamines of Adderall and Vyvanse exert their positive effects on the brain by increasing the levels and activities of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

Dextroamphetamine acts mostly on the pathways involving dopamine while levoamphetamine is more closely related to norepinephrine pathways.

The amphetamines act at the synapses of neurons by blocking the removal of dopamine and norepinephrine. To do this, they substitute themselves for these neurotransmitters and allow the transporters at the nerve junctions to remove them instead.

By a different mechanism, the amphetamines enter brain cells to displace dopamine present therein. These cells then pump out dopamine into the synapses.

The overall effect of both dextro- and levoamphetamine is to increase the concentration and duration of action of dopamine and norepinephrine at the nerve junctions. This net effect produces improvements in the symptoms of ADHD.

Therefore, both Adderall and Vyvanse can help improve mental focus, attention and alertness while reducing fatigue and hyperactivity associated with ADHD.

While the single dextroamphetamine content of Vyvanse produces fewer side effects than Adderall, some ADHD sufferers respond better to the mixed amphetamine salts of Adderall.

Both Adderall and Vyvanse are only recommended for ADHD sufferers who are 6 years old or older.

Adderall has a greater potential for abuse and is commonly abused by many college students to help improve concentration and alertness. Vyvanse, on the other hand, is more difficult to abuse. Intravenous doses of Vyvanse do not even produce any recreational benefits.

Adderall vs Vyvanse 

Adderall was released first, and Vyvanse was planned to be a substitution for Adderall XR (extended release). 

Both these medications are amphetamine salts. This means there are more similarities than differences. 

Chemically and technically speaking, Vyvanse is 100% d-amphetamine, while Adderall XR is a combination of 4 separate d and l-amphetamines. 

Another major difference between the two ADHD stimulants is that their medium of absorption and release are different. 

Vyvanse is released through digestion, while Adderall is released using the bead technology. Thus, it is easier to expel Vyvanse and it is not affected by what you consume. 

Both the ADHD medications are designed to be long-acting; however Vyvanse tends to last longer (up to 12 hours). It also has less side effects. 

Potential Side Effects

Most individuals find that Adderall tends to be more effective and stronger. However, its potency might increase side effects such as anxiety. 

Some of the other side effects of both Adderall and Vyvanse are inability to sleep, restlessness, addiction, severe obsession, headache, and loss of appetite. 

Though Adderall is stronger, Vyvanse is often reported as smoother and less harsh when compared to the former. 

Another widely reported benefit of Vyvanse is that, unlike Adderall, it is not usually affected by the food you consume. 

Additionally, because Vyvanse is newer to the market, it is often more expensive than other ADHD medications. Furthermore, it is not yet available in standard form. 

In short, Vyvanse is an enhanced, extended-release version of the dexedrine, which is available in generic form. 

Which is better?

The comparison between Adderall and Vyvanse is not so simple. When considering a type of medication for ADHD treatment, it is essential to consider the medical history of the individual. 

What works for one ADHD patient, may not necessarily work for another. Hence, it is best to consult with your health care practitioner and find out what works best for you. 

You might also consider other alternative medications and treatments for ADHD. Read on to learn more about natural ADHD supplements and homeopathic remedies for ADHD.

Next Article: Natural ADHD Product Review
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