What Are The Differences Between Ritalin And Adderall?

Ritalin, also known as Methylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant that can treat ADHD among children and adults. It was initially created by a CIBA chemist, now known as Novartis Corporation,  named Leandro Panizzon in 1944 to treat narcolepsy, barbiturate-induced coma, and depression. (1)

It was only in the 1960’s did people use it to treat ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder among children. The drug’s prescription grew in the 1990’s as the more studies have been able to understand what ADHD is and when the public stigma of the disorder diminished.

On the other hand, Adderall is powerful drug primarily used to 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. (2)

Also Read: Vyvanse Vs. Adderall

Uses Of Adderall And Ritalin

The Food and Drug Administration approved both Adderall and Ritalin 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 Ritalin can improve a person’s working memory, inhibition control, initiative, and attention. (3)

Lastly, both drugs have the ability to treat Narcolepsy in patients. However, this use may only be a side effect of both drugs due to their stimulating properties. Nevertheless, only minimal harm may result if the drugs are used according to a physician’s instructions.

Listed below are some uses exclusive to each drug:


  • Antidepressant: Ritalin was created to treat depression in patients. Furthermore, studies have shown that the drug works best with patients who experience depression due to stroke, cancer, and HIV. (4)


  • Improve Physical Performance: Research has shown that amphetamines like Adderall can improve the physical performance of athletes and individuals. However, most sports regulatory commissions have banned the use of both drugs in tournaments.

Side Effects Of Adderall And Ritalin

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.

On the other hand, Ritalin 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 Ritalin and Adderall only in accordance with your doctor’s prescription to avoid any adverse effects or addiction.

Effect On Pregnant Women

The US FDA has given both Ritalin 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, they need more human studies to fully establish the consequences of the drugs on unborn human fetuses.

Can Adderall And Ritalin Be Taken Together?

Adderall and Ritalin 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.

A combination of the two drugs 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.

Also Read: Vyvanse Vs Adderall


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.