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Dexedrine vs. Adderall: What is the Difference?


dexedrine vs adderall

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Dexedrine and Adderall are two of the most commonly prescribed medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because they both contain forms of amphetamine, there are many similarities between the two medications.

While Adderall is the most common ADHD medication and is often the first-choice treatment for the disorder, there are a few benefits to Dexedrine that might make it more suitable for certain patients. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between these two stimulants to help you decide which medication is right for you. 

If ADHD is affecting your daily life, medications like Adderall or Dexedrine could help you improve your focus, attention span, time management skills, and more. Find a provider today to receive a comprehensive and affordable online ADHD diagnosis and treatment plan, which can include prescription medication, in as little as 48 hours. 

Dexedrine vs. Adderall

Both Adderall and Dexedrine are central nervous system stimulant medications that affect neurotransmitters in the brain. This increase or improvement of effectiveness in norepinephrine and serotonin can lead to increased focus and overall alertness as well as a feeling of general well-being. Because ADHD, among many other symptoms, is typified by a lack of being able to focus, these medications can have a profound effect on those with the disorder.

While Dexedrine and Adderall are both used to treat ADHD, their chemical compounds are different. Dexedrine contains only dextroamphetamine sulfate, while Adderall contains a 3:1 mixture of dextroamphetamine and l-amphetamine salts. 

Because of this difference, Dexedrine only affects the central nervous system, while Adderall targets both the CNS and peripheral nervous system. Adderall only focuses on dopamine reuptake, while Dexedrine can help increase the production of both dopamine and norepinephrine. 

Dexedrine is typically considered to be the stronger medication of the two, but the compounds in Adderall often make it more effective at targeting ADHD symptoms. However, those who are resistant to Adderall may benefit from Dexedrine, and vice versa. 

Dexedrine and Adderall come in similar dosages and both are available in extended-release formulas that allow for the release of amphetamine over time and as such don’t have to be taken as often. Dexedrine is a bit less expensive than Adderall. Both drugs can have serious interactions with other medications and should be taken only under the supervision of a licensed clinician.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), both Dexedrine and Adderall are Schedule II narcotic drugs, which indicates an increased risk of addiction and substance abuse. These ADHD medications are restricted on a varying basis state by state.

People with high blood pressure need to be especially careful with any sort of stimulant medication, including Dexedrine and Adderall, as they can raise blood pressure. If you experience a severe headache, anxiety, chest pain, uneven heartbeat, or shortness of breath after taking these drugs, stop taking them and contact your doctor immediately.


Forms & Dosages

Dexedrine comes as capsules in dosages of 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg, tablets with 7 different dosages from 2.5 mg to 30 mg, and as a liquid available as 5 mg/teaspoon. Both extended release and immediate forms of Dexedrine are available.

Indications & Conditions Treated

Dexedrine is primarily used to treat ADHD, although it can also be used for narcolepsy (falling asleep during the day) and obesity. For obesity, the benefits of Dexedrine appear to be short-term.


The cost of generic Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) ranges from as low as $17 for 30 days of 5 mg pills to as much as $115 for 30 days of the highest dose extended-release capsules. Most insurances cover generic Dexedrine.

Side Effects

Some of the most significant and common side effects of Dexedrine include a loss of appetite/weight loss, nausea, diarrhea, and headache. Dry mouth, insomnia, and restlessness can also occur.

Warnings for Use

Dexedrine can be habit-forming, and the dose may need to be increased over time. Certain foods and other medicines can also affect how this medication works. You should only take Dexedrine under the care of a licensed practitioner, as serious side effects have been noted. Dexedrine should not be taken with highly acidic foods, including fruits and juices, or Vitamin C supplements, as they may hinder absorption. 


Adderall is also used primarily to treat ADHD. It is a combination of dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and l-amphetamine salts. It treats ADHD by stimulating the central nervous system, increasing the availability of neurotransmitters, and speeding up brain activity.  

Forms & Dosages

Dosages of Adderall range from 5 mg to 30 mg tablets and are taken two to three times per day. Adderall XL, which is the extended-release version, is a capsule that also ranges from 5 to 30 mg. Because it is an extended release, however, it is only taken once a day.

Indications & Conditions Treated

Adderall is FDA-approved to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It has several off-label uses, however, and has been used to treat disorders including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.


Without insurance, brand-name Adderall can cost nearly $8 per 5 mg tablet, with a 30-day supply costing as much as $237. 

However, Adderall comes in a generic form as well, which can cost far less. The cost of generic Adderall ranges from $13 for 30 days of 5 mg pills up to $85 for 30 days of a maximum dose of Adderall XR extended-release capsules. (Extended-release ADHD medications tend to cost more than immediate-release medications.)

Side Effects

The side effects of Adderall are similar to those of Dexedrine with loss of appetite/weight loss, insomnia, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, and restlessness being the most common. Some less common side effects include chronic muscle twitches, constipation, drowsiness, heart pounding, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and taste impairment.

Warnings for Use

Also, like Dexedrine, Adderall can be habit-forming and is sometimes abused. If Adderall stops working, the dose may need to be increased. 

Dexedrine vs. Adderall: Which ADHD Medication is Right for You?

The chemical compounds found in Adderall cause a slightly different reaction in the brain and body when compared to Dexedrine. Dexedrine is a stronger form of dextroamphetamine, making it more effective for some people. However, others may benefit from the combination of chemicals found in Adderall. 

These subtle differences between the two prescription medications make it critical that you don’t try to self diagnose on the internet and instead work with an experienced healthcare provider who can find the medication that’s right for you.

Find the Right Medication For You With Help From Klarity

If you need a prescription for an ADHD medication like Dexedrine or Adderall, a provider on Klarity can help you decide which, if any, is right for you. 

With Klarity, you can get connected with a licensed and board-certified ADHD specialist in your state to diagnose your symptoms and begin personalized treatment in just 48 hours. Schedule an appointment on Klarity today. 

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

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