Tech mistake |Two drugs that are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) include Vyvanse and Adderall, which are stimulant medications.  These drugs are central nervous system stimulants that are generally considered common treatment options for individuals with adult ADHD, childhood ADHD, as well additional other health conditions.  Since both are used in the treatment of ADHD symptoms, they are designed to increase your brain’s ability to focus and stay alert.  While both of these options are considered to be safe for use, they do belong to the family of amphetamine drugs, which means there is the possibility of addiction and dependence.  While both Vyvanse and Adderall are used in the treatment of ADHD and mental health concerns, there are some differences between these common medications.

What’s the Difference Between Vyvanse and Adderall?

While Vyvanse and Adderall share common similarities, they both have differences that make them unique from each other.  Consider the information below as a general description of each drug and how they differ from one another.


As described above, Vyvanse is an ADHD medication that is prescribed for treating this condition and it is also FDA approved to treat binge eating disorder.  It requires a prescription from your doctor in order to treat attention deficit conditions and it is also considered to be a controlled substance, since it has the potential for abuse and overuse dependence.

The chemical name of Vyvanse, also called the generic name, is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate.  When it enters the body, Vyvanse is metabolized and converted into dextroamphetamine, which is the primary compound for the treatment of ADHD and attention deficit issues.  Since it requires the body’s digestive system to convert the main ingredients to the active form, Vyvanse is considered a prodrug.  Its effectiveness in the body persists for about 14 hours, which is sufficient for most of the waking hours of the day.  However, it could take up to one to two hours for Vyvanse to reach its peak strength.  Vyvanse was originally FDA approved in 2007 and it is directed for use in children ages 6-17 years of age, as well as in adults. This medication comes in capsule form and there are chewable tablets as well.

Vyvanse is a controlled substance and belongs in the therapeutic class of CII substances.  Since Vyvanse is considered a stimulant with abuse potential, it is classified under the CII substance category.  The primary manufacturer for Vyvanse is Shire US Inc. and there is currently a generic formulation, which is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate.  The generic formulation comes in milligram capsule dosages of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70.

The side effects of using Vyvanse includes an increased risk of sudden death, strokes, heart attacks, irritability, insomnia, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, jitters, as well as diarrhea.


Another treatment medication for ADHD is Adderall. Similar to Vyvanse, Adderall is a controlled substance that is considered a stimulant and has the ability to change the brain’s natural chemical balance.  It is FDA approved for use in ADHD as well as for the sleep disorder, narcolepsy.  Since Adderall is a stimulant and is a controlled substance, a doctor’s prescription is required for use.

The chemical name, or generic form, is amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, which is a combination of two drugs.  Since Adderall is a combination drug, its potency as a treatment option for ADHD is great.  In contrast to Vyvanse, Adderall XR has a direct effect on the brain and the body.  There is no required metabolism required from the body in order for Adderall to affect the body, which means it is fast-acting.  In contrast to Vyvanse, Adderall can take effect in as little as 30 minutes, thus making this a fast-acting medication.  While it is a fast acting drug, Adderall has a peak medication concentration of about three hours, when the body is in a fasting state.  Since its peak concentration time is three hours after ingesting, multiple doses may be required throughout the day.  Adderall comes in a tablet form and there are immediate release (Adderall IR) and extended release (ER or XR) options available as well.

Adderall is a controlled substance and is within the CII class of medications.  Since Adderall is a direct amphetamine, there is a risk of increased overuse dependence as well.  The primary manufacturer of Adderall is Shire US Inc. and there are generic formulations of this brand name medication.  The generic option for Adderall XR is a mixture of mixed amphetamine salts containing dextroamphetamine saccharate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, and amphetamine.  There are extended release capsules and immediate release versions available of Adderall depending on the needs of your condition.

Side effects of Adderall include insomnia, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, fever, weight loss, headaches, agitation, fast heart rate, diarrhea, as well as high blood pressure. Adderall Xr is contraindicated with the use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, and this should be discussed with your doctor prior to use.

While both of these ADHD treatment medications have similar uses, there are vast differences between the two that can help to accommodate the daily lifestyles of individuals.

Vyvanse vs Adderall Side by Side Comparison

While Vyvanse and Adderall are both used for the treatment and management of ADHD, there are some differences to consider before making a final treatment choice. The main differences and similarities between Vyvanse and Adderall are as follows:

Prescribed For
  • ADHD
  • ADHD
  • Narcolepsy
Common Side Effects
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach ache
  • Nervousness
Is there a generic?
  • No
  • Yes
  • Amphetimine-Dextroamphetamine
Is it covered by insurance?
  • Varies by provider
  • Varies by provider
Dosage Forms
  • Capsule
  • Long acting capsule
  • Tablet
Average Cash Price
  • $341 (per 30 capsules)
  • $281 (per 30 tablets)
SingleCare Price
  • Vyvanse Discount
  • Adderall Discount
Drug Interactions
  • MAOI antidepressants
  • Consult a doctor for all possible interactions
  • MAOI antidepressants
  • Consult a doctor for all possible interactions
Can I use while planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding?
  • Consult a doctor regarding pregnancy.
  • Vyvanse should not be taken while breastfeeding.
  • Adderall should not be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding.


Two of the most common medical treatment options for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, include Vyvanse and Adderall. Both of these treatment options are in the class of stimulants, since both lead to an increase of amphetamine in the body.  Vyvanse does not contain any active forms of amphetamines; however, when metabolized in the body the main form is converted to amphetamine.  In contrast, Adderall contains amphetamine and is considered a faster acting option.  Both of these treatment options come in pill form and Adderall has the options of extended release as well as immediate forms.

The information presented above is designed to be informative on the types of medical management options there are for ADHD drugs.  While both are considered common treatment options, it is important to consult with a physician for overall treatment options, dosing questions, and for prescription drug availability.

The article was originally published here.