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How Is Vyvanse Different From Adderall?

Vyvanse vs Adderall What's the Difference? Sprout Health Group

When it comes to treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), two popular medications often come to mind: Vyvanse and Adderall. While both drugs are effective in managing the symptoms of ADHD, they have some key differences that make them unique. In this article, we will explore the distinctions between Vyvanse and Adderall, helping you gain a better understanding of these medications and their effects.

The Basics: Vyvanse and Adderall

Vyvanse and Adderall are both stimulant medications commonly prescribed for ADHD. They belong to a class of drugs called amphetamines, which work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help with focus, attention, and impulse control.


Vyvanse, the brand name for lisdexamfetamine, is a long-acting stimulant that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007 for the treatment of ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults. It is also approved for binge eating disorder in adults.

One unique aspect of Vyvanse is that it is a prodrug, meaning it is inactive until it is metabolized in the body. The prodrug form helps to reduce the potential for abuse and misuse compared to other stimulant medications.

Vyvanse is available in capsule form and is typically taken once daily in the morning. The medication is gradually released throughout the day, providing a steady and consistent effect.


Adderall, on the other hand, is a combination of amphetamine salts, specifically dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. It was approved for the treatment of ADHD in 1996 and is available in both immediate-release and extended-release formulations.

The immediate-release form of Adderall typically lasts for about 4 to 6 hours, while the extended-release version can last up to 12 hours. This variability in duration allows for more flexibility in dosing and may be beneficial for individuals who require shorter or longer coverage throughout the day.

Key Differences: Vyvanse vs. Adderall

While both Vyvanse and Adderall are effective in managing ADHD symptoms, there are several key differences between the two medications:

Mechanism of Action

Vyvanse is a prodrug that is metabolized in the body to become active, while Adderall contains active amphetamine salts. This difference in mechanism of action affects how the medications are absorbed, metabolized, and eliminated from the body.

Duration of Action

One of the main differences between Vyvanse and Adderall is the duration of action. Vyvanse is a long-acting medication that lasts throughout the day, while Adderall has both immediate-release and extended-release formulations, allowing for more flexibility in dosing and duration of effect.

Abuse Potential

Due to its prodrug nature, Vyvanse has a lower potential for abuse compared to Adderall. The gradual release of the medication and its metabolism in the body make it less likely to be misused or abused.

Prescription Requirements

Vyvanse is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse. As a result, it requires a new prescription for each fill, and refills cannot be called in or transferred between pharmacies. Adderall is also a Schedule II controlled substance and follows the same prescription requirements.

Choosing Between Vyvanse and Adderall

When it comes to choosing between Vyvanse and Adderall, it is important to consider individual factors and preferences, as well as the advice of a healthcare professional. Factors to consider may include:

Duration of Coverage

If you need medication coverage throughout the day, Vyvanse may be a better option due to its long-acting nature. However, if you prefer more flexibility in dosing or require shorter coverage, Adderall may be a suitable choice.

History of Substance Abuse

If you have a history of substance abuse or concerns about potential misuse, Vyvanse may be a safer option due to its lower potential for abuse.

Side Effects and Tolerability

Individuals may respond differently to different medications, so it is important to consider the potential side effects and tolerability of both Vyvanse and Adderall. Some common side effects of both medications include decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, and dry mouth.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage and cost can also play a role in medication selection. It is important to check with your insurance provider to determine which medication is covered and what the out-of-pocket costs may be.

In Conclusion

Vyvanse and Adderall are both effective medications for the treatment of ADHD. While they have similarities, such as being stimulant medications, they have key differences in terms of mechanism of action, duration of action, abuse potential, and prescription requirements.

When considering Vyvanse versus Adderall, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your individual needs and provide guidance on which medication may be most suitable for you. Remember, medication is just one component of a comprehensive ADHD treatment plan, and it is important to combine it with other strategies such as therapy, behavior management, and lifestyle modifications for the best outcomes.

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