Concerta Vs Adderall

Difference between Concerta and Adderall

Concerta is a drug classified under the central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drugs.

It is mainly prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is commonly used for ADHD patients who are 6 years of age for children and older, the adolescents, and adults who are aged up to 65 years old. [1]

Adderrall, also a CNS stimulant, is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine which both have effects on the nerves and brain. This drug is indicated for treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy [2]. Also, it has been utilized by doctors to treat severe depression, obesity, and other sleep-related disorders [3].

Comparison Chart

Type of DrugCNS StimulantCNS Stimulant
Used to treatADHDADHD, narcolepsy
Active IngredientsMethylphenidate HCI USP (an odorless, white crystalline powder)Amphetamine Aspartate

Monohydrate, Dextroamphetamine Saccharacte, Amphetamine Sulfate USP, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate USP
Legal StatusSchedule II (US)Schedule I (CA), Schedule II (US)
Dosage18 mg tablets in yellow color-
labeled “alza 18”
27 mg tablets in gray color-
labeled “alza 27”
36mg tablets in white color-
labeled “alza 36”
54 mg tablets in brownish red color- labeled “alza 54”
For ADHD patients: -Not recommended to children younger than 3 years of age - 2.5 mg daily for children 3-5 years of age - 5 mg daily for children 6 years old and up
For narcolepsy patients:
-5 mg to 60 mg daily in divided doses
Forms AvailableExtended release tabletsIntermediate-acting tablets
Off Label UseNarcolepsy, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome,
depression in patients with vcancer, stroke, HIV
Unofficially used for treatment of severe depression, obesity, and sleep related disorders
IntroductionConcerta (methylprenidate) is a
central nervous system stimulant which is amphetamine-like and is prescribed for treatment of ADHD in children as well as adults.
Adderall is also a CNS stimulant drug which is commonly used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It is said to increase brain activity, particularly the dopamine and norepinephrine functioning.
ManufacturerNovartis CorporationShire plc (Adderall and Adderall XR), Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries, Barr Pharmaceuticals, Actavis (generic Adderall XR)
Prescription for Ages 10-1918 mg of Concerta daily for
children and adolescents
Dosage recommended for ages 10-19 is started with 5 mg to be taken 1-2x a day. For narcoleptic patients aged 6-12, dosage starts with 5 mg. In patients who are 12 years old and up, their initial dosage begins with 10 mg daily.
RestrictionsNot recommended for
patients with hypersensitivity and anaphylactic reactions, glaucoma, agitation, tics, for those having monoamine
oxidase inhibitors
Adderall is contraindicated for people who have history of heart disease, severe anxiety, severe agitation, drug abuse.
Also, it is not advised for use of those who have glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, severe
hypertension, arteriosclerosis,
hypersensitivity reactions to stimulants and currently taking MAOIs
EffectConcerta (Methylphenidate
HCl) inhibits the norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake in the presynaptic neuron. Then, it causes the increased release of monoamines into the
The main ingredient of Adderall, amphetamine, functions
by increasing the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. This causes the stimulation of the CNS.
Withdrawal SymptomsExtreme hunger, panic attacks, nightmares, crankiness,
exhaustion, “binge crash (use of Concerta for several days continuously without going to sleep, which is then followed by heavy sleeping)
Anxiety, depressed mood, lack of motivation, sleeplessness or sleepiness, lucid dreams, fatigue, increased or decreased movement, and drug craving
Side EffectsAddiction, insomnia,
nervousness, headache,
decreased appetite, stomach ache, nausea, heart palpitations, dizziness
Tachycardia, hypertension,
palpitations, tremor, headache, restlessness, Psychotic episodes, insomnia, euphoria, dysphoria, dyskinesia, tics, tourette’s syndrome, seizures, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia, weight loss, dry mouth, GI disturbances, rash, urticaria, hypersensitivity reactions, impotence
Generic Available?YesYes
Trade NamesConcertaAdderall, Adderall XR
Pregnancy CategoryC (US)C (US)
Dependence LiabilityHighHigh

Concerta vs Adderall XR

Concerta vs Adderall Dosage

For patients who are not currently taking stimulants or methylphenidate, the dose starts with 18 mg daily for children. As for the children and adolescents, the starting dose is 18 or 36 mg 1x daily. If the patient is currently prescribed methylphenidate 2-3x daily with the dose of 10 to 60 mg, it is recommended not to exceed 72 mg daily. However, the prescribed dosage will still depend on the current dose regimen of the patient and clinical judgment of the physician. As for the titration of dose, 18 mg increment is allowed if the patient has not yet achieved the desired response using a lower dose. [1]

On the other hand, Adderall is strictly prohibited for children who are below 3 years old. For children who are 3 to 5 years old, the dosage can be started with 2.5 mg daily. It can be increased with increments of 2.5 mg with weekly intervals until the desired response has been observed. Furthermore,  for children aged 6 years and older, the starting dosage is 5 mg which can be taken once to twice a day. Then, the increment is 5 mg done in weekly intervals until optimal reaction is obtained. [2]

Concerta vs Adderall Side Effects:

*The common side effects associated with Concerta use involve:

Gastrointestinal Disturbances

  • Abdominal pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth
  • Short-term weight loss

Cardiovascular Problems

  • Angina
  • Tachycardia
  • Cardiac Arrythmia
  • Palpitations

CNS/Psychological Disorders

  • Akathisia or restlessness
  • Dyskinesua (uncontrollable tics)
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis & Psychiatric Disorders
  • Depression, Suicidal Ideation
  • Dizziness, Lethargy, Somnolence
  • Euphoria or dysphoria, Irritability
  • Pupil dilation

Other side effects

  • Alopecia
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Increased/decreased libido
  • Priapism
  • Stunted growth [7, 9]

*Adderall side effects include:

Cardiovascular Problems

  • Dysrhytmia (Irregular heart beat)
  • Hypertension/ Hypotension
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

Gastrointesitinal Disturbances

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Decreased or increased gastrointestinal motility
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive grinding of teeth

Respiratory problems

  • Increased deep respirations

Genitourinary tract disorders

  • Decreased bladder control
  • Bed wetting
  • Change in libido

Neuropsychiatric changes

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety, irritability, restlessness, repetitive or obsessive behaviors
  • Increased alertness, concentration, apprehension
  • Less fatigability
  • Increased initiative
  • Insomnia [8]

Concerta Abuse

Concerta is classified to be a stimulant. Since one of its effects is stimulating the brain, most of the users of this drug can have an addiction to it when the doses taken are higher than what is advised by the healthcare provider. Usually, people abuse Concerta to either get “high” or lose weight. As a stimulant, Concerta causes increase in energy, attention, and alertness. Also, it affects the vital systems of the body by raising the blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

Another reason why Concerta gets abuse is due to its weight loss effect. This results from the active ingredient of this drug which is methylphenidate and its common side effect is weight loss. [10]

Strattera vs Adderall

Both Strattera and Adderall are used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. They also both come in oral form and are known to control brain chemicals. The difference between them is their mechanism of action.

Strattera is non-stimulant drug which can affect the chemicals in the brain. Its main ingredient is Atomoxetine HCl which acts by inhibiting the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Also, this drug has less potential for abuse. So, it is not a controlled substance.

On the other hand, Adderall is a CNS stimulant drug. It contains four amphetamine salts, namely, dextroamphetamine sulfate, dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, and amphetamine sulfate. It causes increased concentration of neurotransmissions in the brain and stimulates more dopamine and norepinephrine relesease. Adderral is classified as a Schedule II substance due to its higher potential to cause addiction. [11]

Also see : Vyvanse vs Adderall 



Published by Dr. Raj MD under Pharmacy.
Article was last reviewed on August 6th, 2018.

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