Focalin vs. Adderall for ADHD

The good news about the drug market for conditions such as ADHD is that it is highly saturated meaning that if one drug doesn’t work to calm the symptoms that often associate themselves with the condition, there will always be something else that you can try, giving you a much higher chance of finding something that will work perfectly well for you.

There are two drugs most commonly given to patients suffering with the condition, ADHD standing for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and these are Focalin and Adderall and we are about to take a closer look at the two to see the pros and cons for both.

Focalin

Focalin vs. AdderallAlso known as dexmethylphenidate, Focalin is considered to be a mild stimulant to the brain, changing the way the central nervous system works by controlling the chemicals. It is these chemicals which contribute to many of the symptoms that come hand in hand with the condition, including an inability to control impulses and hyperactivity.

Who can’t use Focalin? 

We’ll start with the obvious point – Focalin SHOULD NOT be taken by those suffering from a number of other conditions including glaucoma, agitation, tension, stress, anxiety, Tourette’s Syndrome, or other nervous tics.

You should also be aware of drug interactions. Focalin should not be taken in conjunction with the following medications, or you should medical advice beforehand:

  • Tranylcypromine
  • Selegiline
  • Rasagiline
  • Phenelzine
  • Linezolid
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Methylene blue injection
  • Other MAO inhibitors

It is possible to become addicted to Focalin so the drug should ONLY be used when prescribed by a doctor, and should never be passed to friends, relatives or other people, especially patients who have a background and history of alcohol and other drug addictions.

Incorrectly using the medication can cause a number of dangerous side effects including problems with the heart and even death in severe cases. Incorrect usage means taking the medication NOT as directed by your medical professional.

You should also be wary / watchful when taking Focalin if you have any of the following:

  • Family history of heart-related conditions and illnesses
  • High blood pressure
  • Congenital heart defects 
  • Depression and other forms of mental illness
  • Problems with blood circulation 
  • Epilepsy and / or seizures
  • During pregnancy and / or breastfeeding

If any of the above apply to you, you should consult a medical professional prior to taking it.



Common side effects of taking Focalin

Focal does come with some negative side effects and the most commonly reported are:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness 
  • Anxiety

Adderall

Focalin vs. AdderallMade up of two ingredients – amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, Adderall does a very similar job to Focalin, stimulating the central nervous system to ‘manipulate’ it in a way to calm those tics and outbursts. Not just used to treat ADHD, Adderall can also be used to treat a number of other medical conditions including narcolepsy.

Who can’t use Adderall?

People who can’t use, or need medical supervision when using, Adderall are actually similar to those who can’t use Focalin – those with glaucoma, agitation, stress, anxiety and the mental health disorders, heart disease and other heart related ailments, and also drug and alcohol addiction. The reason for the latter is because Adderall can be addictive when used for long periods of time and also for those on high doses.

You cannot take Adderall if you are taking other medications, and just like Focalin, you should wait a minimum of fourteen days before combining the drug with any of the following:

  • Tranylcypromine
  • Selegiline
  • Rasagiline
  • Phenelzine
  • Linezolid
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Methylene blue injection
  • Other MAO inhibitors

You should also not take Adderall if you have a condition affecting the thyroid and to be more precise, an overactive thyroid. Just as with Focalin, incorrectly using Adderall can and will be detrimental to your health, resulting in death in serious cases.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take Adderall because of the harm it can do to unborn babies and young children.

Adderall is not safe for use under the age of six.

Common side effects of taking Adderall

As with any drug, some side effects can be experienced when taking Adderall and the most common ones include:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability 
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Dry Mouth 

Focalin vs Adderall: The Differences & Similarities

Adderall is made up of a mixture of two main ingredients – dextroamphetamine and amphetamine whereas Focalin is dexmethylphenidate. Both are stimulants of the central nervous system.

Focal is generally deemed safer to take to treat ADHD when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Taking Adderall during pregnancy can lead to low birth weights, premature births, and even babies showing signs and symptoms of Adderall withdrawal after birth.

Taking Adderall when you are breastfeeding can cause the two ingredients – dextroamphetamine and amphetamine to be passed to the infant, and it is not considered safe for a pregnant or breastfeeding woman to take Adderall.

Both Focalin and Adderall can come in Immediate release or Extended release formats.

Focalin (made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals) doses will generally start from 2.5mg, going up in increments – 5mg, 10mg in immediate Release, 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg, 30mg, 35mg, 40mg available for extended release.

Adderall (made by Shire Pharmaceuticals) doses will generally start from 5mg – 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, 15mg, 20mg, and 30mg in immediate release. 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg and 30mg in extended release.

Both have a legal status of Schedule II (US) which means they are drugs with a high potential to be abused by patients, and are also drugs which are easily habit-forming.

Both Focalin and Adderall have an immediate release length of 4 to 6 hours, plus an extended release length of 12 hours. The half lives are different however – Focalin with 2 to 4.5 hours and Adderall with 11 to 13 hours. This means that Adderall will stay in your system for longer with the extended release versions. This also means longer withdrawal should you choose to discontinue using the drug.

Focalin vs Adderall – The Conclusion 

Both of these drugs used to treat ADHD are first-line response drugs, meaning they’ll often be the first medications prescribed to treat the illness. They are both potent combinations and tested very positively, hence being approved by the FDA. Although Focalin has not been approved for treatment against narcolepsy, studies are proving to be positive and the extended release versions could be an effective treatment in the future.

Dose by dose, the drugs do pretty much the same job for the same length of time, and there have been studies that argue both one is better, and then the other. If you’re talking in terms of potency and effectiveness, they are both on the same kind of line, making them equally as good as each other. The withdrawal symptoms for both will generally be around the same but of course, will differ from patient to patient, and the length of time it will take to withdraw completely is around the same for both, again taking into consideration things like height, weight, length of time taking the drug, plus a whole bunch of other factors which will affect recovery time.

One of the only things that seems to set these two drugs apart, and therefore puts one slightly in front of the other, is the cost. Generic versions of both drugs in immediate and extended release format will cost pretty much the same for a month’s supply, but Adderall immediate release is more expensive than Focalin immediate release. At the same time, Adderall extended release is cheaper than the same version of Focalin.

The only other difference that really sets the two medications apart, with the exception of their makeup which, as we have already discovered, is different, is the length of time in which the drug works in your system, and therefore stays in your body. Focal has a half-life of between two and 4.5 hours, making it quicker to get out of the body. Adderall is significantly longer, weighing in at between eleven to thirteen hours.

If we’re talking in statistics, Adderall XR showed symptom relief by as much as 80% in a recent study. The same study showed Focalin XR has having a 79% symptom relief action.

Essentially, there’s just 1% in efficiency and potency between the two. 


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