Adderall IR vs. XR

imageAdderall is a medicine used for treating ADHD and narcolepsy. It is produced since 1996 by Shire Pharmaceutical. They produce it in two formats of release, one being instant release and the other one which is developed as an extended release which can last up to 12 hours. The second format went into pharmacies in 2001. Instant release format last for 4-8 hours and you have to take more than one pill a day to get the full effect for the whole day. Since this is a drug for ADHD which is primarily found in children, it can be a bit hard to cope up with obligation with taking more drug dosages per day. Adderal XR is a solution for those who need prolonged effect which will ease the treatment of the ADHD. Both formats contain the same active ingredient which is a mixture of an amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, where these are amphetamine salts.

Adderall IR vs. XR Comparison Chart

Adderall IR Adderall XR
Duration of effect 4 to 6 hours (Short-acting) 12 hours (Long acting)
Format Tablet (100% immediate-release) Capsule (50% immediate-release / 50% delayed-release)
Generic name Mixed Amphetamine Salts Amphetamine Salt Combo XR
Dosages 5 mg/7.5 mg/10 mg/12.5 mg/15 mg/20 mg/30 mg 5 mg/10 mg/15 mg/20 mg/25 mg/30 mg
Date released (1996) (2001)
Cost (30 pills) $158 to $170 $225 to $240
Generic cost (30 pills) $25 to $40 $75 to $140

As you see in the chart above, there are no significant differences between those two formats of medicine. They both have the same amount of active ingredient: 75% dextroamphetamine and 25% levoamphetamine, and this should not be different in concern to drug response. There should not be any other differences in a matter of side effects. The only thing that should be different among these two drug formats is the drug time span effect, which is 4-8 hours with IR and 12 hours with XR. Adderall XR has two types of beads were the first ones are released immediately and the other half is delayed. This is the way to create a span for 12 hours of drug effect.


The Adderal IR includes 7 options in regards to dosage: 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg and 30 mg. The Adderall XR has only 6 form of dosage with 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg and 30 mg. It is obvious that the XR has wider increment than those compared to the IR Adderall. The IR has more options for treatment adjusting, whether if your therapy is too strong or too mild, there are smaller dosages for which you can increase/decrease your amount of treatment. This should be done only by a certified physician.

There are no significant differences between those two formats, except someone prefers smaller increments between dosage and others might find convenient to use the dosage of 25 mg of XR which is not found in IR form. It is basically the same if you take 10 mg of XR form instead of taking two dosages of 5 mg of IR Adderall.


This can be totally individual, but some say that they have a better respond to XR form of Adderall, while other claim the opposite where they like better the IR one. It can be due to a different absorption since XR has two types of beads inside the capsule, which reacts differently among individuals. Either, the drug should work the same and have the same effect, even if it has different time of release. Some people have better absorption of one pill and the XR form does not suit their organism, but that is different from person to person.


These are two different forms of the drug. The Adderall Immediate Release (IR) has full capacity drug from the beginning, affecting about 30 to 60 minutes after the intake. It is a one-time capsule which is smoothly absorbed and some people have a better reaction to those.

Adderal Extended Release (XR) has two types of beads inside, where the 50% of pellets are released immediately and the other 50% have delayed-release. So, the XR form will also give drug effect after 30 to 60 minutes of intake, but will have the second effect after the other half starts to break down. They are made in a way where the delayed pellets are in the middle of a drug, and the immediate pellets make the outside layer of it. The delayed layer is further covered with a polymer which has a delayed release coating as well, where it will act as a separator and it will give the time for the first kick to pass before the delayed effects start to develop.

Duration Of Effects

This is the main difference between these two drug forms since the IR last about the half the time of an XR one. Instant Release lasts from 4-6 hours while the Extended Release form lasts up to 12 hours. When the manufacturer says 4-6 hours, it is different from person to person, depending on their digestive system. Some absorb the drug quickly than the others, so around 5 hours per tablet is the average time. The effect is the same if you take one XR Adderall or two IR Adderall pills which are the half of the grammage of the XR. For some, it is more convenient to take one XR form and not to worry for 12 hours ahead.

Abuse Potential

Since both forms have the same amount of active ingredients, they are both considered highly risky for abuse possibilities. They are classified as “Schedule II” controlled-substances. This basically means that it creates dependence and it has a high potential for abuse and habit forming. The main dependence they create is a psychological dependence, meaning the users will try to take a higher dosage of medicines to obtain the same effect of the drug or wanting to get “better” effect when using more quantity of the drug. They think that that will help them with a school activity, positive mood retention, and attention. IR Adderall, therefore, has a higher potential of a drug abuse, since it gives the “rush effect”. It creates a high concentrate of the drug immediately, and it is often used for snorting, injections and other forms of abuse. They can create psychostimulant euphoria effect and also trigger stimulant psychosis, so they have to be taken only with a prescription.


There are some differences between those two forms, where for IR brand name Adderall you will have to pay from $158 to $170. For the XR form, you will have to pay more, where it goes from $225 to $240. There are also generic names of these medications, where for IR form you can pay from $25 to $40 for 30 pills. On the other hand, XR is again pricier with the cost of $75 to $140 for 30 pills. So, in general, IR are cheaper, but considering that the XR lasts a double of time, we should compare 60 pills of IR and 30 pills of XR, which makes XR more economical.


When it comes to popularity, the IR form is a bit more popular. This is somewhat due to an abuse potential, where it is easier to insufflate an IR tablet because it is crashed more easily than tiny pellets which are inside XR form for delayed effect.

Side Effects

The side effects are basically the same, due to the exact active ingredients in both formats of the drug. They can cause adverse effects such as headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, dry mouth, abdominal pain, insomnia, fever.


There is a slight difference when it comes to withdrawal when comparing these two formats of Adderall. Since withdrawal symptoms depend on the dosage and the time span of consuming, this can create a difference when it comes to discontinuing the drug. The XR version creates non-stop effect for 12 hours where the body is constantly medicated and it is harder to discontinue to a longer time span. This should be decreased with a proper tapering to slowly decrease the dosage over time in order to avoid any adverse effects. Another thing which is a downside is that the XR version has a higher increment between dosages, where it is a 5 mg difference, which is bigger than 2.5 mg for the IR. That is important when it comes to tapering where it is important to slowly decrease the dosage and titrate the grammage. Adderall IR can also be cut into less dosage with a simple pill cutter, making it more convenient to taper the dosage down. It has smaller increments which are more convenient and it is easier to go through the withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Uses

Both Adderall formats, Immediate Release, and Extended Release are used for ADHD therapy and narcolepsy. It is usually used as one option drug, depending on the preference, but it can be used as a combination, for the sake of convenience. Sometimes, an Adderal can be used as an “off-label” drug for depression or anxiety since it acts on dopamine levels which are important to mood retaining. It can help with emotional depression and some prefer XR formats for those therapies where it provides the long lasting effect.

What are your thoughts when it comes to different formats of Adderall? Do you prefer IR or XR format better? Do you think some out of these two is superior to the other? Comment down bellow to share your experience.