Each of these drugs is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Each of these drugs uses different ingredients and has a different effect on the body and mind, so there are substantial differences between the two. However, both are designed to increase the neurotransmitters in the brain to help improve focus and concentration levels while reducing hyperactive behavior.
Adderall was first released in 2001 with Vyvanse being released in 2007 both with FDA approval. Both drugs are designed for children ages 6 years and up. Plus, those with heart issues or taking MAOI inhibitor medicines should avoid either drug.
Choosing between these two drugs can be difficult despite their different origins simply because their overall effect is the same. However, understanding the differences can help when decided which one to choose first and if the other makes for a good alternative in case the first does not work out.
Similarities and Differences
Both Adderall and Vyvanse are amphetamines which are stimulants to the nervous system. While it may seem strange at first to provide stimulants to a child that is hyperactive, the effect is to stimulate the neurotransmitters located in the brain such as dopamine and norepinephrine which in turn help the child to focus better and stay calmer since more of their brain is now being accessed to help them learn and to stay calm.
Arguably the biggest differences between the drugs apart from their chemical compound are how the body breaks each one of them down to their components for use. Vyvanse was created in part because of the more addictive nature of Adderall and is often the first choice of physicians because of its less addictive effects.
Another difference is how the drugs are taken. Adderall comes in two types of does that includes a tablet taken two to three times per day and an extended capsule which will last for up to 12 hours and can be used in place of the tablets. Vyvanse is a single capsule taken in the morning which slowly becomes active during the day and will last for up to 14 hours. The addiction risk for Vyvanse is considerably less than Adderall because of the very slow way that it is absorbed into the body.
Published studies of both drugs indicate that there is relatively little difference in terms of their effectiveness. However, it must be noted that everyone reacts differently to each drug, so there will be those who react to one better than the other. The risk is that Adderall may be easier to become addicted and thus makes it harder to wean the patient from the drug itself.
Adderall is cheaper and comes in a generic form arguably because it has been around longer, so Vyvanse will also reach that stage at some point. Both drugs have very similar side effects which affect a small minority of users. You will need to talk to your physician about which drug to use first which may be Vyvanse simply because it is far less addicting than Adderall. However, it may be that Vyvanse does not have the same beneficial effects, so discussion with your doctor is most important in this matter.