Concerta vs Adderall: Which ADHD Medicine is the Correct Choice for You?

With the number of available ADHD medications, it can be difficult to select the one that’s correct for you and your daily schedule.

Your medical history and your predispositions to certain symptoms and conditions can narrow it down, but sometimes it proves to be daunting when all you want to do is get better.

That’s why we’re here to help.

We’re going to compare two of the major treatment options, and in the matchup of Concerta vs Adderall, we’ll help you figure out which is the better choice for treating your ADHD.

Concerta vs Adderall


 Contender #1: Concerta


Our first contender in Concerta vs Adderall, the former is sold under a number of brand names, including Aptensio, Metadate, Mehylin, and Ritalin.

Mechanism of Action and Indication

Generically known as methylphenidate, concerta stimulates the central nervous system and controls your impulses, along with any potential hyperactive moments.

Concerta can be used for ADHD as well as ADD, and might also be prescribed to treat patients with narcolepsy.

Contraindications

Before you choose Concerta, you should be sure that you haven’t been on any MAO inhibitors for two weeks before beginning a treatment plan that includes Concerta.

MAO inhibitors, which include methylene blue injections, phenelzine, and selegiline, will cause a dangerous drug interaction when combined with Concerta. So be sure to avoid mixing any existing treatments.

If you have an existing condition that includes any history of glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, or cases of severe anxiety, Altogether, Concerta will not be the choice for you.

Concerta has been known to generate symptoms resembling heart problems, psychotic manifestations, and problems with circulation.

Dosage Options and Cost

Fortunately, Concerta has some advantages. As a popular choice for ADHD, it is available as a generic medication, and will greatly reduce the cost of a prescription at many different pharmacies.

If you can’t swallow Concerta in pill form, there are several different dosage options available for the drug. You can choose two different tablets – extended-release and immediate-release – as well as a chewable tablet.

If solids won’t work, there is also liquid Concerta available.

Side Effects

If you are older, Concerta is typically prescribed for adults later in life, as the medication is safer for those who experience bouts of narcolepsy.

Unlike other options, Concerta does not cause so much stimulation that it causes difficulty in sleeping.

For younger patients, Concerta might not be the best, as it can stunt the growth of children and teenagers.

Concerta is also a multiple-dose medicine, so you’ll need to remember to take it a couple times per day (unless you go with the extended-release tablet).

Anyone with a history of heart problems should avoid Concerta, as the potential exists for higher blood pressure and a heightened pulse.

Concerta is a controlled substance, and also carries a risk for those with a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

Take care to follow the dosage instructions on the prescription, and if you happen to miss a dose, don’t take extra to make up for it.

Contender #2: Adderall 

On the other side of the Concerta vs. Adderall debate, Adderall is made up of a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

These stimulants work similarly to the compound in Concert to control impulses in the brain and curb any hyperactivity.

Dosage Options

Like Concerta, Adderall is available in many different forms. The capsules can be opened, and the medicine is mixable with your favorite drink or cereal.

If you use this option, don’t mix the medicine and save the food for later – it must be consumed immediately to take effect.

Adderall is typically taken right after waking up. This could change if you decide to go with the immediate-release option, which will require you to take a second dose later in the day.

Contraindications

Adderall’s combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine will contribute to withdrawal symptoms, low weight, and potential premature birth in newborns. Thus, this medicine should not be used if you are pregnant or are planning to have any children.

Adderall is potentially addictive, so be sure to keep your medicine in a secure location. Subsequently, follow the specific instructions that have been printed on the bottle’s label by the issuing pharmacy.

If you are prone to migraines, Adderall may not be the choice for you, as the drug may cause them or make them worse.

You may want to receive a brain wave test before going on Adderall just to make sure you are not an at-risk patient.

Combined with Counseling

Adderall is one of the most popular choices for patients with ADHD. Usually, the medicine is combined with a counseling approach to treat cases of ADHD.

Doctors will check in with patients, and through counseling sessions, can determine whether a dosage change is required.

Dosage Forms and Cost

Because of Adderall’s popularity, it is also available as a generic medication, dramatically reducing the cost of each prescription.

As mentioned above, Adderall comes in a few different forms, including a time-release capsule. This makes it easy to work with your schedule.

If you aren’t able to rearrange your duties throughout the day to accommodate taking a pill. In that case, the extended-release dose is designed for one moment throughout the day when you’ll have to remember.

If you need to put your child on Adderall and they opt for an immediate-release prescription, it’s likely they will need to take the second dose with them to school.

In this case, they’ll need to be comfortable swallowing the pill or have some kind of food with them that will allow them to mix their dose in with their meal.

Choosing Between Concerta and Adderall

Now comes the important question in the Concerta vs. Adderall debate: which one is actually best for you?

Both brand names are the go-to prescriptions for ADHD treatment, with Concerta also known as Ritalin as its brand name.

Both drugs are used in combination with a counseling method. So that the therapists can monitor their patients’ progress and discuss how they drug is affecting moods and mental states. As well as physical characteristics like appetite, energy level, and bodily functions.

They’re both available as generics so you won’t have to shell out too much for a prescription, and both come in multiple formats.

With a comparison like that, it might be difficult to tell what the difference is. Therefore once it goes into your body, the Concerta vs Adderall debate can be decided.

The most fundamental difference between the two is the chemical makeup of each drug.

While Concerta consists of just methylphenidate. Adderall’s combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine raises the potential for problematic interactions between other medicines that might be in your system.

If you have other prescriptions, Concerta should be your first option after discussing the potential interactions with your doctor.

Concerta has been studied and shown to affect the growth of children. For this reason, the diagnosis of ADHD should come with a recommendation for Adderall for patients. In addition, to those who are still going through growth stages, especially as they approach adolescence.

Adderall is recommended for people who have no major problems with insomnia. In that case, as it may cause you to experience trouble sleeping if the second dose is taken closer to your normally scheduled bedtime.

Concerta will be prescribed to those who have difficulty with sleeping. Furthermore, to older patients who may be prone to bouts of narcolepsy.

Alternative Choices

If you find out that deciding between Concerta vs Adderall is not going to work for you, there are a few other options to consider.

Strattera

A lesser-known medicine, Strattera (atomoxetine) is prescribed for patients who can’t handle a stimulant.

Most of the time, you’ll only need to take this drug once a day. Alternatively, making it a great solution for those who don’t have any available breaks throughout their day.

Unfortunately, Strattera is not available as a generic medication. Which means you’ll have to pay for the brand name if Concerta or Adderall aren’t going to work for you.

Kapvay

Another non-stimulant alternative, Kapvay (clonidine) is an excellent choice for anyone who is prone to addiction or has a history of problems with controlled substances.

Unlike Strattera, Kapvay is available in generic form and can be used to treat different types of blood pressure conditions as well as nervous and psychiatric disorders.

However, Kapvay is not without its own share of side effects.

Kapvay requires up to two weeks’ worth of doses before any noticeable behavioral changes happen, which might feel frustrating when you need relief from ADHD.

Kapvay is not available in anything other than a pill, making it difficult for those who have trouble swallowing medicine in capsule or pill form, especially children.

The Final Decision

In the end, your choice between Concerta vs. Adderall is going to depend on your own personal health history, as well as that of your family.

Keep a close eye on your heart, blood pressure, and ability to turn down any potentially addictive substances.

One of the bigger factors might come down to age.

Concerta can negatively affect younger patients’ growth.

For children and adolescents, the better choice may be Adderall to avoid any long-term effects. While older patients without any other health problems should consider Concerta.

Featured image: CC Public Domain by amenclinicsphotos ac via Flickr

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