Child Development

What's the Difference Between Vyvance vs Adderall?

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ADHD can come with a range of challenges that affect vital areas of a person's life, such as their education. Stimulant medications are used to treat ADHD and are highly effective. Around 80% of those who take stimulant medication for ADHD symptoms see a reduction in ADHD symptoms.

As you consider medication options for your child with ADHD, you may wonder what the differences and similarities are between each of them. In this article, we talk about the ways in which two popular ADHD medications, Vyvanse and Adderall, are alike, as well as how they differ. 

What Is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse is a prescription medication that is used to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, teens, and adults who are aged 6 or above. It is a stimulant, and the main ingredient of this medication is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate. It was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2007. 

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication that is used to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, teens, and adults who are aged 3 or above, save for the extended-release version, in which case, one must be 6 or older. Like Vyvanse, it is a stimulant. Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine salts. It was approved by the FDA in 1996, and the extended-release version was approved in 2002.

Vyvanse vs Adderall

While these medications may sound similar based on the information above, they do differ in some ways. Here is a table that highlights some of the differences between Vyvanse and Adderall.

Vyvanse Adderall Adderall XR
What doses of this medication are available? 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, 60 mg, and 70 mg 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg
What are the other names for this medication? Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate Amphetamine-dextroamphetamine Amphetamine-dextroamphetamine
What form is this medication available in? Capsules and tablets Tablets Capsules
Is there a generic version of this medication? No Yes Yes
How often will my child need to take this medication? VyVanse may be taken once daily in the morning. This is typically recommended for stimulant medications to decrease the risk of insomnia. Adderall may be taken once daily in the morning , or it may be taken more than once per day (up to 3x). This is due to the fact that the medication works for a shorter amount of time. Since, as the name suggests, Adderall XR is an extended-release medication, it’s typically taken only once per day, also in the morning.
How long do the effects of these medications last for? The effects of Vyvanse last for up to 14 hours. The effects of adderall last for around 4 hours. The effects of Adderall XR last from around 8 to 12 hours.

Other differences between Vyvanse and Adderall may be seen in the side effects, the cost of these medications, and the interactions or risks that are affiliated with these medications. All of these things may be relevant as you discuss medication with your child’s prescribing doctor. 

As with any ADHD medication, Vyvanse and Adderall can be used alongside other interventions, treatments, and forms of support, including but not limited to behavior therapy for the child, parent training, and games or apps, such as Joon. 

Side Effects

Side effects are a common concern for parents who are considering medication for their children. Here are the potential side effects of Vyvanse and the side effects of Adderall. 

Vyvanse

The most common side effects seen in those who take Vyvanse include:

  • Nervousness or feelings of anxiety
  • Loss of appetite or a decrease in appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Weight loss 
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability or agitation 
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Headaches

Less common, but serious, side effects can include slowed growth in children, heart problems, and serotonin syndrome.

Adderall

The most common side effects seen in those who take Adderall include:

  • Loss of appetite or a decrease in appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Weight loss 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pain 
  • Dizziness 
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dry mouth 
  • Nervousness or feelings of anxiety
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Headaches

Like with Vyvanse, less common, but serious side effects of Adderall can include slowed growth in children, heart problems, and serotonin syndrome. If you notice symptoms such as tachycardia, a high temperature, vomiting, skin rash, tremors, or other serious effects, seek medical help immediately. 

Costs

Some medications are more expensive than others. Here is a cost comparison for the ADHD medications Vyvanse And Adderall:

Vyvanse

The cost of Vyvanse will vary based on dosage. Some individuals may see a bill of around $200 per month, as indicated by the standard wholesale price, but others, such as those who take the highest dose at 70 mg, may see a price up to around $460.55/month without insurance. There are no generic options for Vyvanse at this time.

Adderall

The wholesale cost of brand name Adderall is $113/month. If you opt for the generic version of Adderall, however, it should only cost around $45/month. If Adderall XR is the best option for your child, the cost per month would be around $236/month for brand name Adderall XR or $118/month for the generic version of Adderall XR. 

There are ways to decrease the cost of the medications you or your child takes. To decrease the cost of your child's ADHD medication, you may use health insurance or use a manufacturer coupon. Manufacturer coupons can be found online in many cases.

If you face difficulty in covering the cost of your child's medication, consult with their doctor to ask for advice. A pharmacist may also know more, particularly about coupons that can be used for these drugs. 

Interactions and Risks

Just as all medications come with the potential for side effects that are important to keep an eye out for, there are affiliated interactions and risks to be aware of. Here's what we know about the possible interactions and risks associated with Vyvanse and Adderall.

Vyvanse

Risks affiliated with Vyvanse include but aren't limited to visual disturbance, a lower convulsive threshold or higher potential for seizures (especially in those who have a history of seizures), long-term suppression of growth, serotonin syndrome, aggression, changes in mood, psychosis, hypertension, and serious cardiovascular conditions or issues.

There are a number of possible drug interactions to look out for if you or your child gets a prescription for Vyvanse.

Any medications or supplements (such as SSRI medications, SNRI medications, or herbs such as St. John's wort) that can affect serotonin levels can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, which is serious and can be fatal if left untreated. Other stimulants, including caffeine, may increase side effects such as jitteriness and should be avoided, limited, or moderated.

Discuss all of the possible interactions that can happen with Vyvanse with your or your child's doctor. Sometimes, a doctor will recommend a lower dose of Vyvanse to avoid interactions, or they may change your or your child's medication routine altogether. 

Adderall

Risks affiliated with Adderall include but are not limited to visual disturbance, a lower convulsive threshold or higher potential for seizures (especially in those who have a history of seizures), long-term suppression of growth, serotonin syndrome, aggression, changes in mood, psychosis, hypertension, and serious cardiovascular conditions or issues.

There are 180 other medications known to interact with Adderall, and 36 of those interactions may be severe, whereas even more or moderate. Like with Vyvanse, common medications that can lead to interactions include antidepressants, other medications that can lead to an increase in serotonin, and other stimulants. The same is true for non-medication stimulants, such as caffeine, or herbs that can promote serotonin production, like St. John's Wort. 

This is why, although supplements may seem harmless, and while they may be viewed in a way similar to how someone would perceive the act of taking a vitamin, it is not the same, and it is something that is wise to check in with your child's prescribing doctor. 

It is also relevant to acknowledge that both Adderall and Vyvanse have a high potential for abuse and should only be taken by the person who has a prescription for the medication. It's indicated that, while the potential for abuse is still there, Adderall XR and Vyvanse may have a lower potential for abuse because they last longer than the non-extended-release version of Adderall.

If your child has a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder, or if they have had a seizure before, this is something to discuss with their doctor before they start a stimulant medication like Vyvanse or Adderall.

Both Vyvanse and Adderall must be taken at an appropriate dose, as determined by your child's doctor, and they should never be shared. Make sure to attend regular doctor's visits, as your doctor should monitor your child to see how they're doing on their medication.

Takeaway

Every individual will react to any given medication in a different way. The most suitable medication for your child may vary based on a number of different factors, and sometimes, trial and error will be needed to determine the right prescription and dosage. Medications are prescribed by medical professionals when the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

This article is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for individual medical or mental health advice. Please consult with your or your child's prescribing doctor before changing, starting, or stopping a medication routine.