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Vyvanse vs. Adderall: What Is the Difference?


vyvanse versus adderall

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Vyvanse and Adderall are often at the top of the list of medications prescribed for ADHD, and for good reason–both of these stimulants are highly effective in treating ADHD symptoms.

As Vyvanse and Adderall are both in the amphetamine class of substances, they have many similarities. They also have a few critical differences. Read on to find out what those are, as well as the proper usages, interactions, and side effects when considering whether Adderall or Vyvanse may better suit you.

Your psychiatric healthcare provider will review your medical history and prescribe the ADHD medication that will best treat your symptoms. Get help with your ADHD—book an appointment today and speak to a medical provider within 48 hours.

Vyvanse Overview

Forms and Dosages

Vyvanse is a schedule II, time-released stimulant used to treat ADHD and attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in children ages six to twelve, adolescents, and adults. Approved for use by the FDA in 2007, the medication works by restoring balance to specific neurotransmitters in the brain, mainly dopamine and norepinephrine.

Because Vyvanse is a prodrug, i.e. a drug metabolized by the liver before entering its active medicinal state, it has to be taken orally to be effective. Chewable and swallowable tablets start at five to ten milligrams and ascend in strength by 10-milligram increments up to the maximum dosage of 70 milligrams.

Indications and Conditions Treated

Vyvanse is prescribed by healthcare providers to combat two conditions: ADHD and binge eating disorder (B.E.D.). The active ingredient in Vyvanse helps to ease the sensation of hunger, a reason why it’s given to those struggling with B.E.D. But, the main application of Vyvanse is in the treatment of ADHD, especially in adolescents and adults.


The average retail cost of a thirty-day supply (30 capsules) of a starting dose of Vyvanse 10 mg. is $417.99. Because it is not yet in generic form, Vyvanse can be costly. Speak with your healthcare provider for alternatives if you cannot afford this medication or if your health insurance provider does not cover the full cost. Klarity takes medication cost into account when developing ADHD treatment plans.

Vyvance is covered by most insurance plans. Check with your provider to make sure you’re covered and to get your exact costs.

Side Effects

Vyvanse is a time-release stimulant metabolized by the liver before becoming activated in the body. Its effectiveness lasts anywhere from 10 to 14 hours. Because it’s not fast-acting like Adderall and does not hit your bloodstream at once, Vyvanse has a subtler physiological effect.

Side effects of Vyvanse can include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss.

Serious side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Mood changes including aggression and depression
  • Muscle twitching
  • Uncontrolled movements
  • Blood flow problems in the fingers and toes
  • Swelling in the ankles and feet
  • Rapid and unexplained weight loss

If you have these or other serious side effects, contact your doctor immediately.

Warnings for Use

While not labeled a narcotic, Vyvanse is a U.S. government schedule II substance. Because it’s an amphetamine, it can be abused, leading to physical and mental dependence. The likelihood of becoming addicted to Vyvanse is lesser than Adderall, though.

Anyone with heart or blood pressure issues should speak with their doctor before use. Vyvanse is a stimulant, and will naturally raise heart rate and blood pressure. If you have experienced mental health issues like bipolar disorder or hallucinations, Vyvanse use should be discussed with your doctor, too.

Adderall Overview

Forms and Dosages

Adderall is a generic combination medication used to treat ADHD and in some cases narcolepsy. Like Vyvanse, Adderall is a stimulant that helps to balance neurochemicals in the brain that control hyperactivity and impulse control.

The instant release (IR) version of Adderall begins at 5 mg doses, increasing in strength by 5 mg. up to the 30-milligram maximum dosage. Adderall IR is taken orally with or without food and can be taken up to two times per day with four to six hours time elapsed between each dose. Adderall has been approved for use in children ages three to five, adolescents, and adults.

Adderall extended-release (XR) is taken once per day at a starting dose of 5 to 10 milligrams upon waking. The XR Adderall formula is not approved for use in children three to five, but is safe for children ages six to twelve, adolescents, and adults. If ADHD symptoms persist, doses of the XR version can be increased to 30 milligrams until the desired effect is achieved.

Indications and Conditions Treated

While there may be other conditions Adderall can be used to combat, it is primarily used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.


The average retail cost for 60 tablets of Adderall 20 mg is $86.99. Coupons and discounts are sometimes available online from various manufacturers—your doctor may be able to help you find coupons. Because Adderall is available in generic form, it is much cheaper than Vyvanse and insurance is more likely to cover either the full or partial cost of the medication.

Side Effects

Amphetamines can carry dangerous side effects for those experiencing high blood pressure or heart complications of any kind. Additionally, those with a history of mental health issues should consult a healthcare provider before taking any kind of amphetamine like Adderall as it may exacerbate certain mental health conditions.

If you’re taking Adderall and experience any kind of allergic reaction including hives, swelling of the mouth or face, or difficulty breathing, seek medical assistance immediately.

Common Adderall side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain, loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fast heart rate
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Mood changes, anxiety
  • Sleep complications

If you experience any of the following, you should contact your primary care physician right away:

  • Chest pain, breathing trouble, light-headedness, fainting
  • Hallucinations, new behavior problems, aggression, hostility, paranoia
  • Numbness, pain, cold feeling, unexplained wounds, or skin color changes (pale, red, or blue appearance) in your fingers or toes
  • Seizure (convulsions)
  • Muscle twitches (tics)
  • Changes in your vision

Warnings for Use

Adderall is a schedule II narcotic with a high potential for abuse. If you or your loved one have a history of substance abuse or addiction and are seeking Adderall treatment, you should speak with your physician first.

Which ADHD Medication Will Best Treat You?

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