Vyvanse vs Adderall to control symptoms of ADHD

Today, there are several treatment options for ADHD. Lisdexamfetamine(Vyvanse) and amphetamine mixed salts (Adderall) are two popular stimulants used to treat ADHD. Both drugs may be effective, but differences in some of their functions may make one of them a more attractive choice for you.

Vyvanse vs Adderall

The FDA approved Adderall in 1996, and Vyvanse has been available since 2007. However, Vyvanse and Adderall are amphetamines (a type of stimulant), so they work the same way. They stimulate the nervous system and increase the number of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Vyvanse and Adderall are approved for the treatment of ADHD in people 6 years and older. In fact, they are both included in the group of drugs used as first-line drugs for children with ADHD, to focus their attention in class and school.

However, Adderall and Vyvanse are considered controlled substances. They carry the risk of addiction if they are taken for a long time.

Vyvanse has less chance of being subjected to violence than Adderall. This is because the body needs to break Vyvanse before it starts working. With amphetamines, there is also concern about the possibility of abuse, to get a sense of euphoria – in other words, get a high level. Unlike other stimulants, Vyvanse cannot be injected or inhaled to get high. This may help make it less likely than Adderall.


The way you take these drugs and the way they are released into your body can lead to significant differences between them.

Adderall is available in two forms

  1. Immediate release tablet: You take this form two or three times a day. The effect of each pill lasts from three to four hours.
  2. Advanced Release Capsule (Adderall XR): You take this form only once a day, and the effect lasts from 10 to 12 hours. The capsule is filled with balls. Half of the beads work immediately, and the other half begins to work later. Thus, an extended release capsule provides two doses in a single tablet.

On the other hand, Vyvanse comes only in a sustained release capsule that you take every morning. The form is inactive because it enters your body. When you digest it, your body slowly turns the medicine into its active form. Once it becomes active, the effect can last up to 14 hours.


Adderall and Vyvanse are effective in improving the symptoms of ADHD. However, it is difficult to say whether one of these drugs works better than the other. Few head-to-head studies have compared Adderall XR and Vyvanse.

It may happen that everyone reacts differently to medications. Vyvanse may work well for one person, while another may respond better to Adderall.

Cost of Vyvanse and Adderall

Brand versions of both drugs are similar in cost. Adderall is also available as a generic drug, but Vyvanse is not. Generic drugs are often much cheaper than branded drugs.

Many factors may affect prescription drug prices, including insurance coverage and coupon discounts. It is usually better to take the medicine based on how it works for you, and not on its cost. Switching to another drug to save costs may require changes in dosage and adjustments, which may ultimately affect costs.

Stimulant side effects

Since Adderall and Vyvanse are both stimulants, they have similar side effects.These include:

  • anxiety;
  • diarrhea;
  • dizziness;
  • dry mouth;
  • headache;
  • loss of appetite;
  • nausea;
  • stomachache;
  • sleep problem;
  • vomiting;
  • weight loss.

Less common side effects of both drugs include:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing something that doesn’t actually exist);
  • increase in heart rate;
  • high blood pressure;
  • mania (periods of intense arousal);
  • paranoia (feeling like someone wants to get you);

In rare cases, both of these drugs can increase the risk of heart problems, such as high blood pressure and increased heart rate, heart attack, stroke, and even death. Before starting Vyvanse or Adderall, get a heart exam and tell your doctor about any history of high blood pressure or heart problems.

Vyvanse and Adderall have been shown to be effective in treating ADHD. The biggest differences between these two drugs are in the forms, how often you take them, and especially their potential abuse.

Work with your pediatrician, primary care physician, or psychiatrist to choose the medicine that best suits you or your child. Choosing the right ADHD medication is sometimes a matter of trial and error. If the first drug you choose does not work or comes with too many negative side effects, you can talk to your doctor about trying to use another medicine.

Peter Simpson

Learn More →