Adderall and Ritalin are both highly addictive, central nervous system stimulants used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. Adderall contains two substances: amphetamine salts and dextroamphetamine. Ritalin is methylphenidate. Both of these medications work by increasing certain types of brain activity; they increase the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. Dopamine occurs naturally in the body; it is the body’s natural feel-good chemical that creates a rewarding effect. Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin produce unnaturally high levels of dopamine. Both Adderall and Ritalin increase energy, increase the user’s ability to stay focused, pay attention, and can help to control behavior problems. Adderall and Ritalin may also help improve listening skills and help a person to organize their tasks. Both drugs are sometimes also used to help those with sleeping disorders to stay awake. Ritalin and Adderall are similar in the way they work, and the side-effects that they cause, but they do have their differences. The biggest difference is their main active ingredients. As stated above, Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and Ritalin contains methylphenidate.
Is Adderall Stronger than Ritalin?
Adderall is not stronger than Ritalin. Adderall does stay in the body longer than Ritalin does. It has a half-life of 9 hours versus Ritalin which has a half-life of 3 to 4 hours. Ritalin does come in a long-acting form which can last for up to 8 hours. Ritalin also reaches peak levels in the body quicker than Adderall.
Differences Between Adderall and Ritalin
Ritalin peaks at an hour while it takes Adderall 3 hours to peak after being administered. So, Ritalin starts working faster. Both Adderall and Ritalin do have extended-release or long-acting forms of the medications. Adderall’s extended-release tablet has a half-life of 10 to 13 hours versus Ritalin’s long-acting form with a half-life of 8 hours. Ritalin is the preferred medication in children and adolescents with ADHD, while Adderall is usually preferred for treating adult ADHD. That’s because of the dosing protocols and strength that each medication possesses. Luckily, becoming addicted to either one is no longer a death sentence, and stimulant abuse treatment is readily available.
Side Effects of CNS Stimulants Are Dangerous
The most concerning side-effect of both Adderall and Ritalin is the risk of dependence. Both of these medications are also widely abused. The National Institute of Health says:
Prescription stimulants are often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine), and dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (Adderall) help people with ADHD feel more focused. However, misuse of stimulants by ADHD and non affected individuals has dramatically increased over recent years based on students’ misconceptions or simple lack of knowledge of associated risks. Given the widespread belief that stimulants enhance performance, only a few studies are reporting the cognitive-enhancing effects of stimulants in ADHD and non affected individuals. Student-athletes should be apprised of the very serious consequences that can emerge when stimulants are used to improve sports performance. Moreover, misuse of stimulants is associated with dangers including psychosis, myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy. (NIH)
Adderall and Ritalin have similar side-effects and can have serious side-effects if they are misused. Some of the most common side-effects can include:
- Dry mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
CNS stimulants are widely abused in college-aged communities and with student-athletes. Students often use the medications to stay awake for exams, and student-athletes often use them to “enhance performance”. People do not realize that these medications can have serious side-effects, especially if they are misused. Here are some of the more serious side-effects of Ritalin and Adderall:
- Heart rhythm problems
- Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Raynaud’s syndrome
- Slowed growth in children
Adderall and Ritalin can also increase blood pressure and heart rate. Lastly, Adderall and Ritalin will both produce withdrawal symptoms once a person has become dependent on them.
Treatment for Stimulant Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today.