There are two standard first-line treatment options when it comes to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These two drugs, known as Adderall and methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, have been used successfully for decades in the treatment of this condition. There are 29 name-brand formulations of prescription stimulant medications, but they are just synthesized to deliver the active molecules differently. Each drug has unique properties, but you might wonder, methylphenidate vs. Adderall – which medication is better?
It’s challenging to label medications as which is better because, as humans, we all possess unique chemistry that allows us to respond differently to medicine. While Adderall may work wonders on someone with ADHD, it could fail another. That narrative is similar for someone that uses methylphenidate. Despite these differences, it’s vital to understand the similarities and differences between these two commonly used medications.
Methylphenidate vs. Adderall: Which is Better?
Like we mentioned above, providing a precise answer to a question regarding medication is a challenge. However, we can offer you some details that help you understand which is better for you. Methylphenidate and Adderall are both stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD. Although they provide similar symptom control, the drugs contain different active ingredients. Adderall consists of amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, while Ritalin delivers methylphenidate.
These two stimulant medications, despite their differences, have a lot in common. They are considered central nervous system (CNS) stimulants that are approved to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. When the medications are used for ADHD, they help the individual focus and pay attention. In addition to that, it works to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity. These symptoms are controlled by increasing the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in our brain.
According to the online magazine, ADDitude, nearly 85 percent of those who use one of these two medications will achieve symptom control. Both drugs work similarly in the brain and produce the same type of side effects. The primary difference, however, is that methylphenidate works much faster and reaches peak performance sooner than Adderall. Adderall, despite it working slower, stays in your system much longer than methylphenidate.
Dr. William Dodson, an adult ADHD specialist, describes that “one molecule is not intrinsically better or to be preferred over the other. In large groups, they have the same response rate, efficacy, side effects, and cost.”
Should I Use Adderall or Methylphenidate to Treat ADHD?
If you’re an adult struggling with ADHD, or you’ve experienced some changes in your child that you suspect could be ADHD, you must speak with a doctor. It’ll be difficult to pinpoint which medication works best for you until you try it, but before using ADHD medication, your primary care physician could recommend alternative treatment. If you find they don’t work and believe you’re a candidate for prescription stimulant medication, your doctor will look at your medical history and determine which drug to prescribe.
You must remember that despite its long history of use and relative safety, all medications come with the potential for side effects. If your doctor prescribes one of these medications, you must monitor yourself for any adverse effects. If one drug produces uncomfortable feelings, your doctor could discontinue use and move you onto another until you find one that works. Only a trained medical professional can make these decisions. If you’re struggling with ADHD, reach out to your doctor to see what can be done.