Compare Adderall vs. Ritalin

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

Adderall
(dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)

Concerta
(methylphenidate)

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 difficulty sleeping and other side effects.Helps you focus and stay alert. Concerta (Methylphenidate) is a first-choice treatment for ADHD. It comes in many different forms and is also available as a generic. That said, the immediate-release form needs to be taken more frequently than other alternatives.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.34Adderall
Reviews for Adderall
74%
of people (All ages) say Adderall is worth it
53%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
1309 reviews
Have you used Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Ritalin
60%
+14% better vs. Adderall
42%
+11% better vs. Adderall
19%
+3% better vs. Adderall
526 reviews
Have you used Concerta (methylphenidate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
AdderallRitalin
  • Loss of appetite 34%
  • Dry mouth 30%
  • Sleep difficulty 14%
  • Headache 13%
  • Difficulty sleeping 15%
  • Stomach pain 4%
More Adderall side effects »
  • Upper abdominal pain 5%
  • Decreased appetite 5%
  • Headache 5%
  • Dry mouth 5%
  • Nausea 5%
  • Sleep difficulty 5%
  • Anxiety 5%
  • Dizziness 5%
  • Weight loss 5%
  • Irritability 5%
More Ritalin side effects »
How it works
AdderallRitalin
Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine) is an amphetamine stimulant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for ADHD, but it increases the activity of the hormones norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which affects attention and behavior.Concerta (Methylphenidate) 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
AdderallRitalin
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
AdderallRitalin
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Chewable tablet
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
  • Patch
Used for
AdderallRitalin
Risk factors for serious side effects
AdderallRitalin
  • History of heart problems
  • Misuse of Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • History of high blood pressure
Detailed Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine) risks & warnings »
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Children ages 7 to 10
  • History of drug abuse
Detailed Concerta (methylphenidate) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

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.

Alcohol
AdderallRitalin
  • Don't take it with alcohol or illicit drugs.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
  • Patients should avoid alcohol since it'll cause worse side effects from Concerta (Methylphenidate).
Weight
AdderallRitalin
  • Can cause blurry vision, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dry mouth, or anxious feelings.
No weight related info.
Upsides and benefits
AdderallRitalin
  • First-choice medication to treat ADHD.
  • Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
  • Available as a generic medication.
  • Available in both immediate and extended release forms.
  • For the extended release capsule, if you can't swallow the whole capsule, the capsule can be opened, mixed in a spoonful of applesauce, and swallowed.
  • First-choice medication to treat ADHD.
  • Concerta (Methylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
  • Available as a generic medication.
  • Available in many different forms: extended-release and immediate-release oral tablets, chewable immediate-release tablets, liquid, suspension, and skin patches.
  • Capsules can be opened and sprinkled in water or applesauce for people who don't like swallowing pills.
Downsides and risks
AdderallRitalin
  • Has to be taken in the morning and early afternoon, otherwise it can cause difficulty sleeping.
  • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
  • Not safe for people with a history of heart problems.
  • For school-aged children, a second dose will likely need to be given at school.
  • The immediate-release form needs to be taken two or three times a day.
  • After taking Concerta, the tablet shell can be seen in your stool, but don't be concerned since the medication was still absorbed by your body.
  • The second or third dose needs be taken by early afternoon, otherwise insomnia can affect you that night.
  • Patients should avoid alcohol since it'll cause worse side effects from Concerta (Methylphenidate).
  • It's a controlled medication and should be locked up to prevent potential abuse.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
AdderallRitalin
  • Can cause blurry vision, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dry mouth, or anxious feelings.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or illicit drugs.
  • Can cause trouble sleeping, so don't take it 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 should be consumed immediately, and swallowed without chewing.
  • Since it comes in many different forms, there are different requirements for how to take or use each type. Make sure you know how to take the one you have.
  • Store Concerta (Methylphenidate) 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.
  • Can raise your blood pressure and pulse, so it's not safe for people with heart problems.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
Learn more
More about AdderallSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about RitalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Concerta (methylphenidate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it