Get Started Now

What is the Difference Between Adderall XR and Focalin XR? 


What is the Difference Between Adderall XR and Focalin XR

Share This Post

While medication is an effective way to treat ADHD symptoms, deciding which formula to try can be tricky. One way to narrow down your choices is to take a closer look at extended-release medications. 

Some quick-acting medications require two daily doses to be effective. Since ADHD can interfere with memory, some individuals may have trouble remembering to take a second dose. This is where extended-release formulas may be helpful. 

The comparison guide below can help you navigate the similarities and differences between two extended-release medications—Adderall XR and Focalin XR—so you can make the best, most informed choice for your personal well-being.

If you have ADHD and want to know if extended-release medications like these are right for you, contact the medical professionals on Klarity for more information. 

What is Adderall XR?

Adderall XR is the time-released version of the standard Adderall formula. The active medications in Adderall XR are amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two central nervous system stimulants that work together to affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Adderall XR helps relieve symptoms of ADHD, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

Forms and Dosages

Adderall XR comes in 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg slow-dissolving capsules. The extended-release capsules allow for a steady stream of medication to remain in the body for up to 12 hours. It’s important to take this medication first thing in the morning, with or without food, as the effects will last most of the day and taper off towards the evening.

Adult dosages normally start at 20 mg once daily. When taking Adderall XR, you may swallow the capsule whole or break it open and mix it with applesauce. 

Conditions Treated

Adderall XR is FDA-approved to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but also retains some applications with sleep disorders, most notably for the treatment of narcolepsy.


If you do not have health insurance, you may be paying as much as $180 for a one-month supply of generic Adderall XR and approximately $300 for a branded version of the same quantity. Contact your health insurance provider for more information on Adderall XR pricing under your current plan. Generic Adderall XR is more affordable than branded Adderall XR. For those without health insurance, online coupons can help knock the price down substantially. 

Side Effects

Common side effects of Adderall XR include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Low appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Racing pulse
  • Mood imbalance
  • Stomach pain

Less common but more severe side effects of Adderall XR include but are not limited to:

  • Seizures
  • Eyesight instability
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

If you have any kind of allergic reaction to this medication (hives, swelling, itching, trouble breathing), seek immediate emergency medical attention. 

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Crushing or chewing the capsule can result in a deadly condition called “serotonin syndrome.” This condition occurs when the brain is flooded with serotonin and is highly dangerous. Serotonin syndrome can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death. 

Suddenly stopping this medication may put you in a state of withdrawal. Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance and can lead to abuse and addiction. Do not immediately stop this medication without first consulting with your healthcare provider. You should avoid taking the following medications while on Adderall XR:

  • MAO inhibitors (procarbazine, metaxalone, etc.)
  • Medications that raise blood pressure
  • SSRIs 
  • SNRIs
  • Medications containing lisdexamfetamine

What is Focalin XR?

Focalin XR (active ingredient: dexmethylphenidate HCL) is an extended-release medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults. Focalin XR is a stimulant that works by targeting the neurotransmitters in the brain that control hyperactivity, impulsivity, and focus.

Forms and Dosages

Because Focalin XR is a time-released medication, it should be taken first thing in the morning and never after 12 PM. Focalin XR can be taken with or without food once daily and at the same time every day for the best results. 

Focalin XR capsules should be swallowed whole with liquid. If you are unable to swallow a whole capsule, you may break it open and sprinkle it over a spoonful of applesauce. Focalin XR capsules should never be crushed or chewed as it negates the time-released effect and endangers the user with a condition known as “serotonin syndrome.” 

Focalin XR capsules come in 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, and 40 mg dosages. This extended-release medication normally lasts in your system for up to 12 hours. 

Conditions Treated

Focalin XR is FDA-approved for use in individuals with ADHD and sleeping disorders like narcolepsy.


Both branded and generic forms of Focalin XR are available for purchase. Without health insurance, you’re looking at approximately $250 for a one-month supply of Focalin XR 10 mg. Online coupons can knock the price down to around $50 per one-month supply, but check online vendors for coupon availability. For more information on pricing under your health insurance plan, contact your provider’s pharmacy department.

Side Effects

Common side effects of Focalin XR include but are not limited to:

  • stomach ache
  • decreased appetite
  • headache
  • serious allergic reaction
  • nausea
  • sleep disturbances
  • anxiety
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • seizures
  • blurred vision
  • priapism

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Disclose to your healthcare provider any past or present cardiac issues you or your immediate family have. Cardiac abnormalities may result in issues when taking this medication. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any chest pains, palpitations, or signs of increased blood pressure, as these could be signs that the medication is not reacting well with your system. 

Also, disclose to your healthcare provider any history of mental illness as Focalin XR can exacerbate the symptoms of mental illnesses, including depression and psychosis. Stimulants like Focalin XR have the potential for abuse and addiction. For more information about Focalin XR, read your medication’s accompanying literature and speak with an ADHD specialist about potential side effects and effectiveness. 

How To Find an ADHD Healthcare Provider, Fast

Klarity is dedicated to helping you find ADHD treatment fast. We’ll connect you with a licensed and certified ADHD specialist in your state within 48 hours.

Klarity Helps You Discover The Right ADHD Medication

Adderall XR and Focalin XR are similar ADHD medications. If you are considering taking one of these, it’s best to speak with a licensed healthcare provider who can explain the benefits of each medication and how they’d react in your system. 

At Klarity, you can easily book an appointment with a certified and licensed medical provider in your state. We provide same-day online visits so you can get treated without leaving home.

Take a free ADHD self-evaluation, or schedule an appointment with an ADHD specialist in your state today!

Start today, and discuss your symptoms with a specialist who can help.

Same Day appointments available

Recent Posts

More To Explore

Anxiety Treatments

Inderal vs. Tenormin: Which Should I Take?

In this article, Klarity explores the major differences between Inderal and Sectral. Klarity helps people find online anxiety medication—No insurance needed.