Compare Focalin vs. Adderall

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

Focalin
(dexmethylphenidate)

Adderall
(dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)

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.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.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.45Focalin
Reviews for Focalin
55%
of people (All ages) say Focalin is worth it
35%
say it works well
21%
say it's a big hassle
141 reviews
Have you used Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Adderall
74%
-19% worse vs. Focalin
53%
-18% worse vs. Focalin
16%
-5% worse vs. Focalin
1309 reviews
Have you used Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
FocalinAdderall

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

FDA side effect reports for Focalin »
  • Loss of appetite 34%
  • Dry mouth 30%
  • Insomnia 14%
  • Headache 13%
  • Difficulty sleeping 15%
  • Stomach pain 4%
More Adderall side effects »
How it works
FocalinAdderall
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.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.
Type of medication
FocalinAdderall
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
FocalinAdderall
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
Used for
FocalinAdderall
Risk factors for serious side effects
FocalinAdderall
  • 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
Detailed Focalin (dexmethylphenidate) risks & warnings »
  • 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 »
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
FocalinAdderall
  • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or illicit drugs.
Weight
FocalinAdderall
No weight related info.
  • Can cause blurry vision, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, dry mouth, or anxious feelings.
Upsides and benefits
FocalinAdderall
  • Focalin (Dexmethylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
  • Available as a generic medication.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Downsides and risks
FocalinAdderall
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
FocalinAdderall
  • 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.
  • Don't take it with alcohol or drugs.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Learn more
More about FocalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about AdderallSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Adderall (dextroamphetamine / amphetamine)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it