What Are The Differences Between Focalin And Adderall?

Focalin, also known as Dexmethylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant that is used for the treatment of ADHD. It is a nonamphetamine-based psychoactive drug; however, it still exhibits most of the properties and side effects of amphetamine-based drugs like Adderall.

Similarly, Adderall is a CNS stimulant that can treat various mental disorders such as ADHD.  Shire Pharmaceutical’s subsidiary Richwood Pharmaceuticals introduced it back in 1996 as an instant-release tablet. Since then, it has become one of the most famous and abused psychoactive drug in the US. (1)

Uses Of Adderall And Focalin

The Food and Drug Administration has approved both Adderall and Focalin for the treatment of the mental disorder ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disease that causes a person to have some difficulty maintaining focus or controlling impulses.

Furthermore, both drugs have demonstrated cognition improving properties. Several clinical trials were able to show that therapeutic or low dosage use of both Adderall and Focalin can improve a person’s working memory, inhibition control, initiative, and attention. (2)

Research has shown that amphetamines like Adderall can also improve the physical performance of athletes and individuals. However, most sports regulatory commissions have banned it as it can give an unfair advantage to players using it.

Lastly, both drugs have been used to treat narcolepsy in patients. However, the FDA has not yet approved the use of Focalin for such purpose. Hence, one must be careful in using the drug for any reason without the approval of a doctor.

Side Effects Of Adderall And Focalin

Clinical trials have shown that Adderall can cause its users to experience hypertension or hypotension, Raynaud’s phenomenon (reduced blood flow to the hands and feet), and increased heart rate.

Furthermore, other studies were able to show that other common side effects of the drug include appetite loss, abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss. Some sexual side effects may also include erectile dysfunction or prolonged erections. (3)

On the other hand, Focalin users may experience some degree of dry mouth, appetite loss, nausea, anxiety/nervousness, and insomnia. The patient may also experience abdominal pain and weight loss while undergoing treatment with the drug.

The US’ Food and Drug Administration has placed both drugs under the Schedule II category for psychoactive drugs. This means that there is a risk of addiction and abuse when a patient misuses either drug. Make sure to take Focalin and Adderall only by your doctor’s prescription to avoid any adverse effects or addiction.

Effect On Pregnant Women

The US FDA has given both Focalin and Adderall a category C with regards to pregnancy. This means, only animal studies were able to show significant adverse effects on developing fetuses. Furthermore, more human studies are needed to fully establish the consequences of the drugs on unborn human fetuses.

Also read: Dexedrine Vs Adderall

Can I Take Adderall And Focalin Together?

Adderall and Focalin are both stimulant drugs. Hence, taking them at the same time may increase the risk of adverse side effects. Furthermore, there have been reports of people experiencing intense palpitations a few hours after taking both drugs together.

Taking the two drugs together can also increase the risk of tolerance and addiction as both drugs can be highly addictive if misused. Remember to take drugs only as prescribed by your physician. Lastly, avoid experimenting with any drug with the prior approval of a trained medical professional.


Leandro Panizzon et al. Pyridine and piperidine compounds U.S. Patent 2,507,631 Issue date: 16 May 1950

Leonard BE, McCartan D, White J, King DJ (2004). “Methylphenidate: a review of its neuropharmacological, neuropsychological and adverse clinical effects.” Hum Psychopharmacol. 19 (3): 151–80.

Ilieva IP, Hook CJ, Farah MJ (January 2015). “Prescription Stimulants’ Effects on Healthy Inhibitory Control, Working Memory, and Episodic Memory: A Meta-analysis.” J. Cogn. Neurosci. 27: 1–21.

Focalin. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2017, from Food and Drug Administration: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/021278s015lbl.pdf