What Are The Differences Between Vyvanse And Adderall?

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. (1)

On the other hand, Vyvanse, generically known as Lisdexamfetamine, is a central nervous system stimulant that is similarly used for the treatment of ADHD. New River Pharmaceuticals, also a subsidiary of Shire pharmaceuticals, introduce the drug in 2005 as a substitute dextroamphetamine.  (2)

Uses Of Adderall And Vyvanse

The Food and Drug Administration approved both Adderall and Vyvanse 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.

However, Richwood created Vyvanse as a substitute for dextroamphetamine like Adderall. Additionally, the former was formulated to be a longer –lasting and less-addictive version of the latter. Nevertheless, Adderall is still more popular as it was available to the public a decade before Vyvanse was.

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 Vyvanse can improve a person’s working memory, inhibition control, initiative, and attention. (3)

Lastly, some athletes have used both drugs to enhance their physical performance in sports. According to report, these drugs, in small doses, can improve a person’s endurance and alertness. Some have also testified that the drugs can increase muscle strength and acceleration. Nevertheless, most athletic associations prohibit the use of amphetamine or amphetamine derivatives except for medical purposes.

Listed below are some uses exclusive to each drug:


  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED): This disease causes a person to undergo recurring excessive eating episodes. However, unlike anorexia, the person does not partake in purging episodes or self-induced vomiting.


  • Narcolepsy (Sleep Disorder): This mental disorder is similar to insomnia. However, its primary effect is that it decreases a person’s ability to regulate their circadian rhythm or our natural body clock. Thus, making it hard for a person to schedule their sleep cycle.

Side Effects Of Adderall And Vyvanse

As they are both derivatives of the chemical amphetamine, Adderall and Vyvanse demonstrate almost the same types of side effects. Both drugs can cause hypertension or hypotension, Raynaud’s phenomenon (reduced blood flow to the hands and feet), and increased heart rate.

Furthermore, clinical studies were able to show the other common side effects of the two drugs include appetite loss, abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss. Some sexual side effects may also include erectile dysfunction or prolonged erections.

Nevertheless, both drugs also possess some positive side effects such as increased alertness, apprehension, concentration, initiative, self-confidence, and sociability, insomnia or wakefulness, and decreased sense of fatigue. However, an episode of mild depression may follow after these effects wear out.

Effect On Pregnant Women

The US FDA has given both Vyvanse 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.

Can Adderall And Vyvanse Be Taken Together?

Adderall and Vyvanse are both amphetamine derivatives. 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 is 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. (4)

Also Read: Pregabalin Vs Gabapentin


Mattingly, G (May 2010). “Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate: a prodrug stimulant for the treatment of ADHD in children and adults.”. CNS spectrums15 (5): 315–25.

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. Neurosci27: 1–21.

Adderall XR Prescribing Information” (PDF). United States Food and Drug Administration. December 2013. pp. 8–10. Retrieved 30 August 2017.

Vyvanse Approval History. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2017, from Drugs: https://www.drugs.com/history/vyvanse.htm