Vyvanse vs Adderall for ADHD- Similarities & Differences

Vyvanse vs Adderall for ADHD- Similarities & Differences

Written by :

Arooj Anjum

Arooj Anjum

Biomedical Engineer


Both Vyvanse vs Adderall are strong and practical stimulant medications used for ADHD symptom management. Both are usually the first line of treatment for ADHD individuals, and the drug administration for both is almost similar.


If you want to know the differences and similarities between Vyvanse and Adderall, keep reading!


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Main Differences Between Vyvanse vs Adderall


Below, we discuss the main differences between Adderall and Vyvanse.

A. Peak Time 


The peak times are as follows;

  • Vynases control symptoms for 10 to 12 hours and start to take effect after an hour.
  • Adderall takes effect in about half an hour, and the medicine is dosed off in 4 to 6 hours.
  • Adderall XR lasts around 10 hours. However, the one with the immediate release formula only stays effective for 6 hours.
  • Adderall immediate release formula and Adderall XR need only 20 and 60 minutes, respectively, to kick in.
  • Both immediate-release Adderall and Adderall XR take between 20 and 60 minutes before they start working.

B. FDA Approval


Vyvanse was approved in 2007, while Adderall got its approval in 1996

C. Active Ingredients


Adderall contains dextroamphetamine (75%) and levoamphetamine (25%), while Vyvanse’s active ingredient is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate

D. Health Conditions Treated


Adderall has FDA approval to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, while Vyvanse has FDA approval for Binge Eating Disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD.

E. Tablet or Capsule?


  • Vyvanse is available in the form of a capsule, which is an extended-release type.
  • Adderall is available in extended-release and immediate-release forms.
  • VYVANSE comes in capsules or chewable tablets. The latter should be chewed properly before swallowing.

F. Potential Side Effects


The side effects of Adderall and Vyvanse are almost the same. However, the difference is that Vyvanse is a prodrug, meaning it is initially inactive. It becomes active once the medicine is metabolized. Considering this, Vyvanse’s side effects are comparatively less severe, while Adderall leads to some serious side effects.

G. Misuse Potential


As mentioned, Vyvanse is a prodrug, making it less likely to be misused as compared to Adderall. Note that both are high-potential drugs, and cases of misuse for both are high. 

H. Half-Life


The half-life of Vyvanse vs Adderall is 10 to 12 hours and 11 to 13 hours, respectively.

I. Brand name and Generic Version


The generic version of Adderall is cheaper, while there is no generic version of Vyvanse.

J. Drug Interaction- Vyvanse vs Adderall


Both have similar drug interactions. The end result of Vyvanse after metabolization is dextroamphetamine, like Adderall. 


Therefore, people should avoid specific types of antidepressants like monoamine oxidase inhibitors when using either Vyvanse vs Adderall or Adderall XR. When combined, it leads to a dangerous level of blood pressure.


Some common MOAIs are;

  • Selegiline
  • Phenelzine
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Isocarboxazid

Adderall interacts with;

  • Anti/depressants, beta-blocke
  • rs, blood thinners, cold medicine, antacids, and medications for seizure disorders. 

Sometimes, drug interactions are mild, and adjusting the doses helps, while other times, interactions are more serious. Let your doctor know the medications you use regularly. 


Likewise, when using Vyvanse, stop taking your MAOIs beforehand. Other medicines are;


  • Specific SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, SNRIs, and some opioids.

NOTE – if your health care provider prescribed you Adderall XR or Vyvanse, you must stop the medicines (mentioned above) at least two weeks before starting with these to avoid or keep the side effects minimal. Avoid drinking alcohol when using Adderall vs Vyvanse.

K. Mechanism of Action


The chemical lisdexamfetamine in Vyvanse metabolizes into dextroamphetamine first, increasing neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the CNS. Whereas Adderall, which acts as a stimulant, excites/enhances the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Adderall is in the active form initially.

Vyvanse vs Adderall- How Do I Choose the Right ADHD Medication?


If you are confused about finding the best suitable ADHD medications for yourself, then understand that the final treatment plan depends on your healthcare professional. Vyvanse vs Adderall are both vital medicines, with more or less similar drug administration. Your healthcare professional decisions will rely on the following;

  • The medical history of the patient
  • The list of medications the patient uses
  • The side effect of Vyvanse vs Adderall
  • ADHD symptoms of the patient.

Lastly, the decision between Vyvanse vs. Adderall will depend on the doctor’s knowledge and experience with the patient’s history. Sometimes, the decision is simple; other times, it is a trial-and-error process. The healthcare provider prescribes any one of these and asks the patient for feedback after a week or so. Based on that, the doctor will adjust the dose or try another medicine until that one medicine works perfectly for the patient.

Side Effects of Vyvanse vs Adderall


The following are some side effects commonly noticed in Vyvanse and Adderall.

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Difficulty in sleeping/any sleep disorder
  • Hypertension(high blood pressure) and palpitations (increase in heart rate)
  • Hallucinations/ paranoia
  • Shortness of breath

Always seek medical advice for the best treatment of ADHD. Never use the medicine without other similar prescription drugs, and do not change your daily dose yourself.

Cost and Insurance Coverage- Vyvanse vs Adderall


The insurance companies only cover the generic versions of both medications. If you want brand-name coverage, be ready to pay money yourself; know it is expensive. However, contact your insurance company for more information on your insurance plans.


Insurance Yes Yes
Covered by Medicare Only generic

amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts.

Single Care Cost $17-60, 20mg (generic) $92-30, 40mg capsules (generic)
Standard Dose 20mg twice/day (60 count) 50mg/day (30 counts)

Bottom Line


Vyvanse vs Adderall are central nervous system stimulants prescribed for managing the symptoms of ADHD, like impulsive behavior. Both these medicines are highly effective and have similar side effects. Although both are prescription medicines, if you have to select any of these, follow the criteria mentioned below;

  1. Medical conditions you want to treat
  2. Note the duration of the medicine remaining in the body
  3. Keep in mind the abuse potential of Vyvanse vs Adderall
  4. And finally, cost and insurance coverage should be your priority

Drug interactions and side effects for both are alike.


However, the critical differences between Vyvanse and Adderall are;

  1. Potential of misuse
  2. Dosage and
  3. The form they are available in

Only a healthcare professional can better guide you. They will weigh the pros and cons before you, keeping the patient’s medical history in mind, and prescribe the best drug.


However, if you are not seeing results at any time and the side effects are causing a problem, remember to share your concern with the doctor. In case of a medical emergency, call 911


Medical Disclaimer:


At TherapyFleet, we strive to enhance the quality of life for those dealing with mental health issues. Our licensed medical professionals meticulously research, edit, and review all content before publication. Nonetheless, this information should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical guidance, please consult your physician or reach out to TherapyFleet’s qualified staff.


Vyvanse offers a smoother onset and longer-lasting effect compared to Adderall, making it a valuable option for managing ADHD symptoms throughout the day. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is Vyvanse vs. Adderall more effective?


It’s impossible to compare these medicines’ effectiveness as limited studies have been performed on Vyvanse and Adderall. Ultimately, it depends on how an individual reacts to the drugs.

2. Which is the most similar med to Vyvanse?


 Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin are alternatives to Vyvanse. They increase dopamine and norepinephrine in the CNS, thus improving focus, mood, attention, and energy. 

3. Why is Vyvanse called smoother in comparison to Adderall?


Vyvanse has a slower absorption than Adderall, and the rebound effect is less for Vyvanse.

4. What is Adderall XR?


Adderall XR means the extended-release capsule. It is the same as Adderall, but its effects last longer. When you take Adderall XR, almost half of it will show immediate effects, while the rest of the half dose in the next 4 hours.

5. Is Vyvanse a prescription drug?


Vyvanse belongs to Schedule 2 drugs, and it is available only with a prescription because of the high risk of dependency and withdrawal effects.

6. How to get prescribed Adderall?


You can contact online mental health practitioners certified to prescribe Adderall online.


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