Vyvanse and Adderall are brand names for prescription drugs used for the treatment of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). According to the National Institute on Mental Health, ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.
Vyvanse and Adderall are brand names for prescription drugs both classed as CNS (central nervous system) stimulant drugs thought to work by increasing the concentration of two neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine) in the brain.
Adderall and Vyvanse are both Schedule II controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, which can lead to dependence both psychologically and physically.
Here we will explain how they work, their similarities and differences, their side effects, and more. This should provide you with the basics to better understand your options.
What is Vyvanse?
Vyvanse is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved medication manufactured by Shire PLC. Vyvanse is a central nervous system stimulant medication used to treat ADHD symptoms in children (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and moderate to severe binge eating disorder (BED) in adults.
ADHD is a condition that causes differences in brain development and activity. The most common symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsive behavior, excess energy, and difficulties with controlling emotions. It usually emerges and is diagnosed in childhood, often between the ages of 6 and 12. It can be diagnosed later in life though. ADHD can be very disruptive to your life, affecting performance at school and in the workplace, as well as interfering in your home and social life.
Vyvanse belongs to a class of drugs known as amphetamines. These work by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine into the presynaptic neuron and increasing the release of these monoamines into the extraneuronal space.
Vyvanse is not recommended for weight loss. The use of other sympathomimetic drugs for weight loss has been associated with serious cardiovascular adverse events. The safety and effectiveness of Vyvanse for the treatment of obesity have also not been established.
Vyvanse is similar to Adderall. The main difference is that Adderall is a mixture of four different kinds of amphetamine salts (one of which is dextroamphetamine) while Vyvanse only contains one type of amphetamine salt, called lisdexamfetamine.
Vyvanse is a prodrug, meaning lisdexamfetamine is converted into dexamphetamine once it is in the body. An advantage of Vyvanse is that it may be less likely to abuse. Vyvanse is a federally controlled substance because it has a high potential for drug abuse and can lead to dependence. You should store Vyvanse at room temperature, but away from light and moisture. Do not store them in the bathroom, and keep all medications away from children and pets.
Vyvanse is available in capsule and tablet form, in the following doses:
- Capsules: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and 70 mg
- Chewable tablets: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, and 60 mg
To make swallowing easier you may open the capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a glass of water or orange juice, or mix it with yogurt. Once the medicine has dissolved, drink or eat the mixture right away.
For additional safety information, read the full prescribing information and medication guide. Always speak with a healthcare professional for medical advice or about any changes to your dose so they can monitor and evaluate your condition.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved medication manufactured by Shire US Inc. Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication, also used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children (ages 6-12), adolescents (ages 13-17), and adults. It is also approved to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder with excessive daytime sleepiness and episodes of sleep attacks.
The active ingredients in Adderall are amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall can become physically addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped.
Adderall is available as an immediate release tablet formulation, in the following doses: 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg. It is also available in the extended-release form of a capsule in the following doses: 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg.
Your dose will be based on your age:
- Children aged 6-17 years of age – 10 mg once daily in the morning
- Adults – 20 mg once daily in the morning
Common side effects of Vyvanse and Adderall
The most common side effects of Vyvanse in clinical trials include:
- Dizziness, nausea
- Dry mouth
- Upper abdominal pain, stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, decreased weight, diarrhea, constipation
- Increased heart rate
More serious side effects of Vyvanse include
- Serious cardiovascular reactions
- Sudden death has been reported with CNS stimulant treatment at recommended doses in pediatric patients with structural cardiac abnormalities or other serious heart problems
- Sudden death, stroke, and heart attacks in adults
- Increased blood pressure and increase in heart rate Increases
- Suppression of growth – monitor height and weight in pediatric patients
- Peripheral vasculopathy, including Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Serotonin syndrome
- New or worsening psychosis
- Withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using this medication – severe tiredness, sleep problems, mental/mood changes such as depression
The most common side effects of Adderall in clinical trials include:
- Decreased appetite, weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in mood
- Vomiting, nausea, and fever
- Dry mouth
- Headache, dizziness
- Fast heart rate
- Urinary tract infections
More serious side effects of Adderall include
- Serious cardiovascular events
- Increase in blood pressure
- Psychiatric adverse events – may cause treatment-emergent psychotic or manic symptoms in patients with no prior history, or worsening of symptoms in patients already suffering from psychosis
- Long-term suppression of growth
- Peripheral vasculopathy, including Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Visual disturbance
- May exacerbate tics
These aren’t all the side effects Vyvanse or Adderall can cause. You can find more details in the patient leaflet that comes with your medication. If you have any concerns about side effects, talk to your physician or pharmacist.
Vyvanse and Adderall drug interactions
Vyvanse can interact with other medications. These include:
- Acidifying and alkalinizing agents – acidifying agents decrease amphetamine blood levels, and alkalinizing agents increase amphetamine blood levels
- MAO inhibitors – isocarboxazid, linezolid, metaxalone, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline. Most MAO inhibitors should also not be taken for two weeks before treatment with this medication
- Serotonin syndrome toxicity increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, e.g. MDMA, St. John’s wort, certain antidepressants (fluoxetine, paroxetine, duloxetine, venlafaxine)
- Do not use medications containing amphetamine or dextroamphetamine while using lisdexamfetamine
Adderall can interact with other medications. These include:
- MAOI antidepressants
- Alkalinizing agents (GI antacids and urinary)
- Acidifying agents (GI and urinary)
- Adrenergic blockers
- Tricyclic antidepressants – norepinephrine, and meperidine
Vyvanse and Adderall can interact with other medications. This can change how Vyvanse and Adderall and other medications work and can make side effects more likely. Tell your prescribing physician about all your drugs, including vitamins and dietary supplements.
Vyvanse and Adderall contraindications
You should not use Vyvanse if you:
- Are allergic to the active ingredient lisdexamfetamine dimesylate
- Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Vyvanse
- Are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI)
- Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant – there is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to ADHD medications during pregnancy
Talk to your doctor before using Vyvanse if you:
- Are taking any of the medications that could interact with Vyvanse
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed – lisdexamfetamine can pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in the nursing baby
- Have depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or suicidal thoughts or actions
- Have kidney disease
- Have coronary artery disease
- Have blood circulation problems in your hands or feet
- Have a drug or alcohol addiction
- Have a family history of heart disease, heart problems, or high blood pressure
You should not use Adderall if you:
- Are allergic to the active ingredient methylphenidate
- Are allergic to any of the other ingredients in Concerta
- Have known structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary artery disease, or other serious heart problems
- Have used a MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine
- Are younger than 3 years old
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed
Talk to your doctor before using Adderall if you:
- Have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse
- Have a history of depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, or suicidal thoughts or actions
- Have glaucoma
- Have an overactive thyroid
- Have severe agitation
- Have high blood pressure, heart disease, or coronary artery disease
- Have vascular disease
- Have motor tics or Tourette’s syndrome
- Suffer from seizures
- Have liver or kidney disease
- Blood circulation problems in your hands or feet
- Are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant
Other drugs for ADHD
If you have any concerns about Vyvanse or Adderall addiction, talk to your physician, or pharmacist for medical advice. Also inform your healthcare provider about any medical conditions, supplements, and over-the-counter meds you are taking. You are also encouraged to report side effects to the FDA: visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.