Difference Between Adderall and Ritalin

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Numerous neurological problems have presented themselves as a challenge to medical practitioners in the recent past. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Narcolepsy are two such disorders which modify a person’s routine behavior and interfere with their normal functioning.

ADHD: A person affected by ADHD exhibits hyperactive behavior, is extremely restless and is very impulsive in their actions. ADHD is caused by discrepancies in the development of the frontal cortex and temporal lobe of the brain. It has been estimated that around 5% of the American adults have ADHD and it is a common neurological disorder which affects children.

Narcolepsy: This neurological disorder is characterized by excessive sleepiness during daytime. There is no control on the wakefulness and sleep cycles of a person and the person with narcolepsy is prone to many sleep attack episodes during the day.

One of the things that are common to both these disorders is that they cannot be cured completely though they can be brought under control through medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Ritalin versus Adderall

Though both the tablets fall under the category of psychostimulant (drugs which stimulate the central nervous system) and are used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy in addition to some other conditions there are certain differences between them.

  • Adderall is an amphetamine based drug that is used in the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. Ritalin is also used to treat the same disorders in addition to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.
  • The active ingredient in Adderall is a mixture of two amphetamine salts – Dextroamphetamine and Levoamphetamine. A quarter of the tablet contains an inactive form of L-enantiomer. Ritalin is composed of Methylphenidate as the main ingredient.
  • Both Adderall and Ritalin stimulate neurotransmitters norepinephrineand dopamine and prevent the reabsorption of the same by the cells. Adderall however, increases the production and release of these neurotransmitters. Ritalin does not perform this function.
  • Ritalin is faster acting than Adderall. It reaches its peak performance faster than Adderall. However, when it comes to the duration that the drugs are active then Adderall scores over Ritalin. Adderall is active for four to six hours while in the case of Ritalin it is only two to three hours.
  • People with hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, hyperthyroidism and history of drug abuse should avoid taking Adderall while Ritalin is to be avoided by people with glaucoma, increased sensitivity to drugs and Tourette’s syndrome.
  • Adderall is also used for treating depression and obesity while doctors find Ritalin useful for lethargy, depression and obesity also.
  • The drug Adderall is marketed as tablets or extended release capsules while Ritalin is available as a tablet, extended release tablet and capsule.
  • Adderall is ingested twice or thrice with 4 to 6 hour time intervals while Ritalin is taken in the same frequency but 35 to 40 minutes before food.
  • People who take Adderall experience side effects such as weight loss, insomnia, anxiety and blood pressure while the side effects of Ritalin are psychosis, depression and irritability.
  • Adderall is considered to be more habit forming than Ritalin while Ritalin has worse side effects when compared to Adderall.
  • The withdrawal symptoms of both the drugs also differ. Insomnia, irritable behavior and depression are seen during withdrawal from Adderall while psychosis and worsened symptoms of ADHD are observed for a temporary period during withdrawal from Ritalin.

Both these tablets are often abused by students to increase concentration albeit without understanding the consequences. Both the tablets give way to side effects and withdrawal symptoms. It is advisable that the tablets are taken for particular reasons and not abused to prevent any serious consequences.

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