Compare Ritalin vs. Adderall

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

Concerta
(Methylphenidate)

Adderall
(Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)

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.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.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
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4.770873786407767Ritalin
Reviews for Concerta (Methylphenidate)
59%
of people say Concerta (Methylphenidate) is worth it
41%
say it works well
19%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Adderall (Dextroamphetamine / Amphetamine)
74%
+15% vs. Concerta (Methylphenidate)
53%
+12% vs. Concerta (Methylphenidate)
16%
+3% vs. Concerta (Methylphenidate)
Side effects
RitalinAdderall

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

More about Ritalin side effects »

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

More about Adderall side effects »
How it works
RitalinAdderall
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.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.
Type of medication
RitalinAdderall
StimulantPrescription only
StimulantPrescription only
Available as
RitalinAdderall
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Chewable tablet
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
  • Patch
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
RitalinAdderall
Risk factors for serious side effects
RitalinAdderall
  • History of heart problems
  • History of psychotic episodes
  • History of Bipolar Disorder
  • Children ages 7 to 10
  • History of drug abuse
  • History of seizures
      Detailed Concerta (Methylphenidate) risks & warnings »
      • 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 »
      Pregnancy category
      RitalinAdderall
      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
      • Patients should avoid alcohol since it'll cause worse side effects from Concerta (Methylphenidate).
      • 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
      • There have been reports of men having an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on Concerta (Methylphenidate). This has been rare and usually happened after a person's dose of Concerta (Methylphenidate) was increased. 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.
      No specific sex-related info.
      Sleep
      No specific sleep-related info.
      • Can cause trouble sleeping, so don't take it too close to bedtime.
      Weight
      • Appetite suppression may occur. In clinical studies, long-term treatment with stimulants similar to Concerta (Methylphenidate) 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.
      • 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.
      Upsides and benefits
      RitalinAdderall
      • Concerta (Methylphenidate) is used in combination with counseling or other non-drug therapies to treat ADHD.
      • 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.
      • First-choice medication to treat ADHD.
      • Available as a generic medication.
      • 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.
      • First-choice medication to treat ADHD.
      • Available as a generic medication.
      Downsides and risks
      RitalinAdderall
      • 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.
      • 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.
      Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
      RitalinAdderall
      • 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.
      • 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.
      Learn more
      More about RitalinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about AdderallSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert