Compare Adderall vs. Focalin

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Adderall
(Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)

Focalin
(Dexmethylphenidate)

Helps you focus and stay alert. Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD that's available as a generic, but it's a stimulant, so it can cause insomnia and other side effects.Helps you focus and stay alert. Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD that's available as a generic, but it's a stimulant, so it can cause insomnia and other side effects.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.333592534992224Adderall
Reviews for Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)
74%
of people say Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine) is worth it
53%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate)
52%
22% vs. Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)
31%
22% vs. Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)
22%
6% vs. Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)
Side effects
AdderallFocalin

The Adderall FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Adderall side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Focalin side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
How it works
AdderallFocalin
Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine) is an amphetamine stimulant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is a stimulant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.
Type of medication
AdderallFocalin
StimulantPrescription only
StimulantPrescription only
Available as
AdderallFocalin
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
AdderallFocalin
Risk factors for serious side effects
AdderallFocalin
  • History of heart problems
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • History of high blood pressure
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Taking with alcohol or drugs
  • Children ages 7 to 10
Detailed Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine) risks & warnings »
  • Taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) 14 days before starting
  • History of drug abuse
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Ages 7 to 10
  • History of seizures
        Detailed Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy category
        AdderallFocalin
        CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        See the FDA package insert
        CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        See the FDA package insert
        Alcohol
        • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
        • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
        Food
        No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
        Kidneys and liver
        No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
        Sex
        No specific sex-related info.
        • There have been reports of men having an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate). This has been rare. If not treated in time, this can cause permanent damage to your penis, including impotence. Talk to your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if this happens.
        Sleep
        • Can cause trouble sleeping, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
        No specific sleep-related info.
        Weight
        • Can cause blurry vision, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dry mouth, or anxious feelings.
        • Appetite suppression may occur. In clinical studies, long-term treatment with stimulants similar to Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine) caused a temporary slowing of growth rate (both height and weight) in children ages seven to ten years. Doctors should monitor children's growth during treatment.
        • Appetite suppression may occur. In clinical studies, long-term treatment with stimulants similar to Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) caused a temporary slowing of growth rate (both height and weight) in children who started the medication between ages 7 and 10. Doctors should monitor children's growth during treatment.
        Upsides and benefits
        AdderallFocalin
        • First-choice medication to treat ADHD.
        • Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
        • Available in both immediate and extended release forms.
        • The capsules can be opened, mixed in a spoonful of applesauce, and swallowed if you can't swallow the whole capsules.
        • Available as a generic medication.
        • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
        • Available in both an immediate-release form, which is given twice a day, and an extended-release form, which is given once a day.
        • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
        • Available as a generic medication.
        Downsides and risks
        AdderallFocalin
        • Has to be taken in the morning and early afternoon, otherwise it can cause insomnia.
        • Not safe for people with a history of heart problems.
        • For schooled-aged children, the second dose will likely need to be given at school.
        • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
        • Needs to be taken in the morning and early afternoon, or else it can cause insomnia later that night.
        • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        AdderallFocalin
        • Can cause blurry vision, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dry mouth, or anxious feelings.
        • Can cause trouble sleeping, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
        • If using the extended-release version, the first dose is best taken right after waking up in the morning.
        • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled on applesauce, which can then be swallowed without chewing.
        • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
        • Store Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) in a locked area to prevent abuse.
        • Take it early in the morning to prevent insomnia later that night.
        • It can cause changes in your mood and vision.
        • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
        • The extended-release capsules can be opened and sprinkled on a small amount of applesauce.
        • Common side effects include a decreased appetite, nausea, and insomnia.
        • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
        Learn more
        More about AdderallSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert