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Ritalin vs Adderall Side Effects

Ritalin vs Adderall: What Is The Difference?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become a very common diagnosis over the past several decades. This condition causes patients to have trouble paying attention, or to display impulsive behavior. As of 2011, approximately 11% of children between the ages of 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD. There are several treatment options available. Two of the most popular medications on the market are Ritalin and Adderall. Here, we will answer the following commonly asked questions:

  • Why does ADHD need to be treated?
  • How do Adderall and Ritalin work?
  • What are the side effects of Ritalin and Adderall?
  • How can these drugs be misused?
  • How is SUD from Ritalin and Adderall treated?

Why Does ADHD Need To Be Treated?

 ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Typically diagnosed in childhood and often continuing into adulthood. The normal energy levels and excitability of young children are not ADHD. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Pattern of forgetfulness
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Taking careless risks for one’s age level
  • Inability to resist temptation
  • Inability to get along well with others

Scientists are still studying what exactly causes ADHD. Current theories point to genetics as a primary cause. Other potential causes could be environmental factors such as lead exposure or smoking/drug use during pregnancy. Other potential causes could be lead paint exposure, brain injury at an early age, or low birth weight. Contrary to popular belief, sugar intake or early use of TV have not been shown to affect ADHD in children.

How Do Adderall and Ritalin Work?

 Both Adderall and Ritalin are prescription stimulants. For patients with ADHD, these medications provide a calming effect. This helps the patient focus on tasks. This can be especially important for children, as those with untreated ADHD tend to struggle in school. Studies have shown both medications to be effective in lowering symptoms in children. Both medications are typically taken as a pill by mouth, and can come in various dosage amounts.

What Are The Side Effects Of Ritalin And Adderall?

 As stimulants, both Adderall and Ritalin blocks the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which helps the patient focus. The main difference between the two drugs is that Adderall is an amphetamine based drug.  Ritalin is considered by some as a less potent drug than Adderall. However, it still must be closely supervised. Side effects of both drugs include:

  • Increased agitation
  • Sleep problems
  • Nervousness or jitteriness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mood swings

How Can These Drugs Be Misused?

 Sadly, both Ritalin and Adderall have become popular drugs to abuse. Some teenagers and young adults begin taking stimulants to stay awake longer. Others may believe (mistakenly) that the increased focus makes them “smarter” on tests or schoolwork. When taken outside of a doctors supervision, though, prescription stimulants can hijack the brain’s normal functions. Over time, the brain will send out distress signals for lack of drug. These distress signals are known as withdrawal. Patients may experience the following symptoms during withdrawal:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Fatigue

Continued misuse of these drugs can cause malnutrition, hostility, paranoia, and severe heart problems. This condition is known as substance use disorder (SUD.) If you or a loved one is living with SUD from prescription stimulants, you should seek treatment.

How Is SUD from Ritalin and Adderall Treated?

 Facilities like ours treat SUD from prescription stimulants in two step. First, patients will undergo a medically supervised detox. After that, patients enter our extended treatment program.


In detox, the body is given time and treatment to purge unwanted drugs from the system. A medical team may prescribe medication as needed to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. During a full medical detox, patients have 24 hour medical supervision and support. Outpatient detox is different in that patients may either go home or to a sober living facility in the evening. These facilities offer all of the comforts of home, without access to drugs or alcohol.


After the detox process the patient usually moves into their regular treatment phase at the partial hospitalization level of care. The patient will continue living at a sober living house, and will spend most of the day in therapy. Trained addiction therapists can help patients identify use triggers and develop coping strategies for sober living. Many programs also offer holistic treatment options, such as meditation, art therapy, or job placement services. Patients may also attend 12 step meetings, as well as family therapy sessions for loved ones.

Contact Us

 If you are currently living with SUD from Ritalin or Adderall, contact us today. Addiction is a medical condition, not a moral failure. Our team offers compassionate care and will treat you with the utmost respect. We accept most major insurance plans, and can work with you on payment options.

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