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Vyvanse vs Adderall: Primary Differences and Similarities

Vyvanse vs Adderall: Primary Differences and Similarities

ADHD medications are commonly debated but is one better than the other? Here’s an in-depth look at Vyvanse vs Adderall in terms of differences and similarities.

Zack Bone
Last updated: Jul 15, 2021 | Dec 01, 2020

Table of Contents

ADHD medications are commonly debated but is one better than the other? Here’s an in-depth look at Vyvanse vs Adderall in terms of differences and similarities. 

Vyvanse vs Adderall is commonly debated as they are common treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But is one better than the other? Our findings saw that they have major differences, potential benefits, and the risks involved with each.  

Vyvanse vs Adderall: What Are They? Differences and Side Effects

Vyvanse vs Adderall: Similarities

Vyvanse and Adderall are both central nervous system stimulants. 

They can speed up mental and physical processes to improve attention and alertness. Both also contain amphetamines. 

Both can be used as prescribed, these drugs are safe and effective at managing symptoms of ADHD, but unfortunately, both are also prone to abuse. 

The federal government has classified each as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning they both have a high potential of becoming addictive as it’s habit forming. 

Vyvanse vs Adderall: Primary Difference

  • Vyvanse has a slower absorption rate, starts working in 1 to 2 hours whereas Adderall has a faster absorption rate, starts working in 30 minutes. 
  • Vyvanse has effects lasting 14 hours whereas Adderall has effects that last 4 hours for Adderall IR, 10 to 12 hours for Adderall XR. 
  • Vyvanse has a lower risk of abuse since cannot be inhaled or injected whereas Adderall has more potential for abuse
  • Vyvanse has no generic available until after 2023 whereas Adderall has generic availability. 

Absorption Rate

  • Perhaps the biggest difference between Adderall and Vyvanse is that Vyvanse is a prodrug. This means that it needs to be taken orally to be metabolized by the body’s enzymes to become effective. 
  • It is also often described as ‘smoother’ than Adderall simply because it has a slower absorption rate—there is not a ‘kick’ or ‘jolt’ to the system upon the medication starting to work.

Medication Rebound

  • Not only is it smoothe, but there is less medication rebound when Vyvanse starts to wear off. The effects of Adderall start to work quickly within 30 minutes. On the other hand, Vyvanse takes approximately one to two hours to take effect.
  • As Adderall can be consumed in both intermediate and extended versions, it allows for great flexibility in the ways it can be taken. For example, a person might be prescribed to eat Adderall XR to take daily and have Adderall IR when a more immediate effect is needed for headaches. Similarly, another is beneficial to have the medication wear off before bedtime.


  • Both Vyvanse and Adderall are Schedule II drugs meaning there is potential for abuse and dependency. Both are approved to be taken orally but since Vyvanse needs to be converted in the body, it can’t be inhaled or injected as a way to become high. So it Vyvanse is less likely to be misused when compared to Adderall and other stimulant medications. 
  • Always store your medications away from other people for their own safety.
  • Some people find that generic versions of Adderall are not as effective for them as the brand version. Vyvanse is not available in generic form. Online pharmacies might advertise generic forms of Vyvanse but be careful because: generic Vyvanse has not been approved, giving it the potential to be unsafe.

Forms and Dosages

  • Adderall IR is available in versions ranging from 5mg to 30mg. Adderall XR is available in six different doses varying from 5mg to 30mg. 
  • Vyvanse is available in capsules and chewable forms of several strengths in doses ranging from 30mg to 70mg.
  • Doctors usually write a lower dose during the start of this medication and gradually increase it until they find the right therapeutic dose for you and your symptoms.


  • Both of these medications are brand names and a month’s supply without insurance can range from around $150 to $400 in cost depending on the frequency and dose. Adderall can be bought in generic versions (amphetamine salt combo), which can be considerably cheaper in cost. 

How Does Vyvanse Work?

Vyvanse consists of lisdexamfetamine, an amphetamine salt. When lisdexamfetamine comes into contact with red blood cells, it is modified into dexamphetamine, a different amphetamine salt. After the conversion, the substance increases dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. As those increase, a person with ADHD can more effortlessly focus and control their impulses. Vyvanse is also approved to treat binge-eating disorder in adults, but it’s crucial to remember that the drug has not been approved for weight loss.  

Vyvanse is available as a chewable form as well as a capsule. Typically, the effects of a single dose can linger for up to 14 hours.

What Are the Side Effects of Vyvanse?

Vyvanse carries the risk of physical and psychological dependence. Side effects may include:  

withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, depression, trouble sleeping and anxiety.

decreased appetite



dry mouth


upper stomach pain


weight loss

How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall is similar to Vyvanse in function, but with a key difference. Instead of containing one amphetamine salt, Adderall features a mix of four, including dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Similar to Vyvanse, Adderall raises norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain, leading to heightened concentration and focus.

Adderall capsules can be fast-acting and short-acting, or fast-acting and longer acting. In its original form, a dose usually alleviates symptoms for approximately four hours. With Adderall XR, the effects can linger for up to 12 hours.

What Are the Side Effects of Adderall?

The side effects of Adderall are similar to Vyvanse being the most serious is the risk of dependence. Side effects of Adderall may include: 

Withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, and changes in sleep or appetite

changes in mood

dry mouth 

difficulty sleeping



loss of appetite 

stomach pain

Zack Bone | Massive thanks to these 2 Amazing women 👭🏼 you have both shown me what dedication to your health and fitness looks like. It’s helped me to take my own to the next level. We also did my favorite type of cardio.


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