Vyvanse vs. Adderall: Which is Right For You?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide. It can manifest in various ways, including inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Managing ADHD symptoms often requires prescription stimulants, such as Vyvanse and Adderall. However, these prescription stimulants are also commonly misused or abused. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, 50.7% of stimulant abusers admitted to using these drugs to stay awake and focused.

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These prescription drugs are an essential component of managing the symptoms of ADHD, which include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. ADHD medications can be categorized into two primary types:

  • Stimulants: They are most commonly prescribed for ADHD.
  • Non-Stimulants: They are often prescribed when stimulants are not effective or cause undesirable effects.

What are stimulant drugs?

Stimulant drugs are a class of substances that increase activity in the central nervous system, resulting in heightened alertness, energy, and increased focus. They work by increasing the release or inhibiting the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain.

Both medications can have side effects, such as increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks, decreased appetite, weight loss, and insomnia. The long-term effects of Adderall and Vyvanse, especially when taken in higher doses or abused, can be concerning.

While they share these similarities, there are also key differences between the two.

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Adderall has been a trusted medication for decades. It is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine), on the other hand, is a relatively new entrant in the ADHD medication market. It is unique because it is a prodrug, which means it is inactive until it enters the body and is metabolized into its active form.

Both Vyvanse and Adderall are stimulant medications prescribed to treat ADHD. As a Schedule II drug, they also have a high potential for abuse due to their amphetamine-based active ingredients. This means they can only be prescribed by a licensed healthcare professional, and there are restrictions on refills.

Dosage and Administration

Vyvanse comes in an extended-release form which provides a more consistent and gradual release throughout the day. This helps control and manage symptoms smoother for patients.

Meanwhile, Adderall comes in both immediate-release and extended-release variants. They may offer more flexibility in symptom management but might also lead to more noticeable peaks and crashes in symptom control.

Duration of Effect

One key difference between Vyvanse and Adderall is the duration of their effects. Vyvanse is designed to provide a sustained release of amphetamine, offering up to 14 hours of symptom relief. In contrast, Adderall’s effects tend to be shorter-lasting, typically ranging from 4 to 6 hours.

Risk of Dependency and Abuse

Another aspect to consider is the potential for abuse and dependency. Vyvanse is considered to have a lower risk of abuse compared to Adderall. This is because Vyvanse is a prodrug and has a different pharmacokinetic profile. Adderall, due to its immediate-release format, can have a more pronounced “high” when abused, which increases its potential for misuse and addiction.


Vyvanse has a half-life of approximately 12 hours based on its active metabolite, dextroamphetamine. This extended duration means that you typically only need to take Vyvanse once a day to maintain its therapeutic effects.

On the other hand, Adderall has a half-life with an approximate duration of 10 to 13 hours in adults.

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Both Vyvanse and Adderall are effective in treating ADHD symptoms, but individual responses can vary. When choosing between the two, it is important to account for their similarities and differences.

Another consideration when choosing between Vyvanse and Adderall is cost and accessibility. Generic versions of Adderall may be more affordable, while Vyvanse, as a newer medication, might be more expensive. Insurance coverage can also influence the cost of these medications.

Consulting with your healthcare provider is the best option as they can provide expert insights on which medication is more suited for each patient.

Is Vyvanse better than Adderall?

The choice between Vyvanse and Adderall ultimately depends on individual factors such as your specific diagnosis, how your body reacts to the medication and your lifestyle. It’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment plan for your unique needs.

When considering the transition from Adderall to Vyvanse or vice versa, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider so they can assess the patient’s situation. Some factors that can influence the switch include uncomfortable side effects and the preferred duration of action.

The conversion process typically involves gradually reducing the dosage of Adderall while simultaneously introducing Vyvanse. This helps minimize withdrawal symptoms and side effects while ensuring a smooth shift between medications.

Switching medications should only be done under a healthcare provider’s guidance. It’s essential to consider your individual response to the drugs.

Can you take Vyvanse and Adderall together?

No, you should not take Vyvanse and Adderall together. Taking these two medications together can significantly increase the risk of severe side effects like serotonin syndrome, insomnia, and cardiovascular illnesses. Serious dangers of mixing Vyvanse and Adderall also include addiction and overdose.

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Both Vyvanse and Adderall can interact with other medications, so it’s vital to inform your healthcare provider about any other drugs you may be taking. Combining these stimulants with other substances like alcohol can also increase the severity of some side effects. Additionally, there are contraindications that may restrict their use in certain individuals, such as those with a history of heart problems or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Some prescription drugs that are known to interact with Adderall and Vyvanse include:

Vyvanse and Adderall, being controlled substances regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, have the potential to be abused and misused. It is important to use these medications only as prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, seek help immediately. Acknowledging that you need help is the first step towards recovery and healing.

The Hope House, a residential addiction treatment center in Scottsdale, Arizona, employs a team of compassionate addiction specialists who are committed to helping people break free from substance abuse. We offer comprehensive treatment programs that are tailored for each person. We also offer a dual diagnosis program as we acknowledge that mental health can be affected by Vyvanse or Adderall addiction.

Remember, your health is paramount. Don’t hesitate to reach us today.

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