Thanks to growing research on the subject of ADHD, there are more treatments available now more than ever. With the numerous new medicines and treatments available, it can be difficult to distinguish which may be right for you and your family. Here we will compare the dosing, effectiveness, side effects and relative costs of two of the popular stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD: mixed salts amphetamine (Adderall) and Lisdexemfetamine (Vyvanse).

Both Vyvanse and Adderall fall under the category of stimulant medicines, as both are amphetamines. Both medications work to stimulate the nervous system while increasing the amount of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. They are both approved for treatment of individuals with ADHD over the age of six. Neither one is recommended for use by anyone who is pregnant or nursing, people with heart problems, or those who are taking MAOI inhibitors.

Both Adderall and Vyvanse have been shown to be effective in the treatmnt of ADHD symptoms. It is difficult to determine whether one of these drugs is more effective than the other or not, as there have not been many head-to-head studies done comparing the two. Because the body breaks them down differently, some may respond better to Vyvanse, while others may thrive better with Adderall.

One notable difference between Vyvanse and Adderall is the dosing of the two, that is to say the way you take them and how your body breaks them down. Vyvanse is a single capsule ingested each morning. It is taken in an inactive form, and as you digest it, Vyvanse is slowly converted into it's active form, ready to be used by the body. The effect of this is a relatively longer dosage- up to fourteen hours. Adderall, on the other hand, has two dosage options. The first is a tablet taken two to three times during the day. Each tablet's effect lasts for three two four hours, depending on the person. The other dosage form is known commonly as Adderall XR, which is a once daily extended release capsule. Each capsule is filled with beads. Upon ingestion, half of these beads are released, while half of them take longer to break down, effectively providing two doses which may last up to 12 hours. Both of these drugs are considered controlled substances, and do carry the risk of addiction if used over long periods of time. Because Vyvanse is taken in it's inactive form and then broken down over time, it may be less likely to be abused than Adderall.

Adderall has been around longer than Vyvanse, and that factor does come into play in regards to cost. While both of the Brand name drugs are relatively the same price, It is possible to find generic versions of Adderall at drastically cheaper prices. If you are starting a new drug, look to find the generic versions, if they are available, to see whether the drug is right for you or not.

Both drugs may interact with other medications or dietary factors, and this may be important to you when choosing which one is right for you. Adderall may interact with many different drugs or chemicals in the body. This list includes antidepressants, antihistamines, and drugs used to treat high blood pressure. The National Institues of Health has released a full list of Adderall drug interactions, viewable here. Both Vyvanse and Adderall interact with acidifying agents in the diet such as fruit juices and ascorbic acid, which may lower the absorption of the active amphetamines in the medications. In contrast, alkalizing agents in the body such as baking soda may increase the absorption of amphetamines, and could therefore cause an undesired reaction in the body. Both medications also interact with MAO inhibitors.

The side effects that come with each of these drugs are similar, because again, they fall under the same "stimulant" family. Common side effects range from weight loss to anxiety, diarrhea, stomach pain, trouble sleeping, vomiting, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, nausea, and loss of appetite. There are less common, more intense side effects associated with the use of stimulants, including shortness of breath, increased blood pressure and heart rate, mania, paranoia, and even hallucinations. In very rare cases, stimulant drugs like Adderall and Vyvanse have been associated with increased risk of stroke, heart attack and even death. That said, it is very important when beginning to use a new drug such as this to talk to your doctor about any history of high blood pressure and get a heart checkup.

Vyvanse and Adderall are both stimulant drugs which have been approved for the treatment of ADHD. They both have potential drug interactions and may cause adverse side effects. While there is no telling as of yet which medication is more effective than the other, the main difference between Adderall and Vyvanse is in the dosage and cost. Work alongside your doctor or health care practitioner to choose the medication which is right for you and your family.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.