Compare and contrast Concerta and Adderall

Concerta and Adderall are two very common prescription drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and excessive sleepiness associated with narcolepsy.

They are all stimulants and can treat ADHD By reducing the hyperactivity and impulsive behavior of patients with ADHD or narcolepsy and improving alertness. This article outlines the differences between Concerta and Adderall.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition of inattention and inattention, with or without ADHD. People with ADHD face impulsivity, forgetfulness, and inattention problems in all aspects of life, including school, work, relationships, and family life.

ADHD is divided into three different subtypes, which are characterized by specific main symptoms:

  1. Mainly impulsive hyperactivity: This includes restless behavior, restlessness, constant talking, blurting out inappropriate comments, and impatience.
  2. Mainly inattention: difficulty in following instructions, easy to be distracted, difficulty in organizing thoughts and learning new things, difficulty in focusing on a single task, daydreaming and not listening.
  3. Combination: Symptoms are not entirely inattention or hyperactive impulsive behavior, but a combination of symptoms from these two categories.

Misuse of Concerta and Adderall

Unfortunately, Concerta and Adderall are considered drugs of abuse due to their stimulating effects. These two drugs, as well as other prescription drugs in the amphetamine category, are often referred to as “smart drugs” and “study drugs.”

Both drugs are controlled substances, which means they are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because they do have the potential for misuse and abuse.

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“Smart drugs” and “research drugs” are more than just escapist chemicals. People often abuse them to improve the brain’s ability to think under pressure, stay alert, work long hours, and track large amounts of information.

Are Concerta and Adderall addictive?

Yes, stimulants reconnect to the brain by releasing more neurotransmitters (especially dopamine), thereby increasing the alertness of the brain and the body.

Dopamine can help you focus, but it can also trigger a sense of pleasure. Too much will make you feel intense excitement and happiness, and eventually, you may wish to increase the dose to mimic this euphoria.

Over time, the brain and body will get used to this, and when you stop taking these drugs, your body will collapse. You may feel sluggish, irritable, depressed, disconnected from the outside world, and may even have problems with sleep and concentration. In other words, once you stop taking the study drug, your body and brain will enter a withdrawal state.

Withdrawal symptoms

Since these drugs are technically abusive drugs, if taken improperly, they will have a withdrawal effect when the drug is suddenly stopped. The impact includes:

  • Depression, irritability, or other mood changes
  • hard to fall asleep
  • fatigue
  • Nausea
  • stomachache
  • Vomit

Sometimes, stimulant withdrawal symptoms can make you look hangover or intoxicated. Again, this situation occurs more often in people who do not use these drugs as directed.


Methylphenidate is the active ingredient in Concerta and is considered a stimulant, but it is different from the active ingredient amphetamine in Ritalin (another drug used to treat ADHD).

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The FDA classifies methylphenidate as a Schedule II controlled substance. Therefore, although it has therapeutic value, it can also be abused.

Methylphenidate is often confused with amphetamine, not only because it sounds similar in sound, but also because it has the same dopamine and norepinephrine release properties as amphetamine. In urine drug screening, individuals taking drugs containing the active ingredient methylphenidate (such as Concerta) will not test positive for amphetamine.

Compared with amphetamine, methylphenidate is less addictive, so many doctors believe that Concerta is less addictive than Adderall.


The Concerta dose depends on whether the individual is currently taking methylphenidate. Based on the current dose, the starting dose of methylphenidate will be titrated appropriately.

If the individual has taken a higher dose of methylphenidate, the starting dose of Concerta will also be higher, because the individual is likely to have tolerated it.

Tolerance occurs when the individual no longer responds to the drug or drugs in the way it was originally at the initial dose. Therefore, higher doses of drugs or drugs are required to achieve the same effect as the individual initially started.

If a person is not currently taking amphetamine, the initial dose of Concerta is 18 mg per day for children and adolescents, 18 mg per day for adults or 36 mg per day. This is usually a lower dose compared to individuals currently using methylphenidate, because these individuals are new users and have not yet developed tolerance.

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Concerta has extended-release tablets. The medicine slowly enters your system and the effect can last up to 12 hours. A pill in the morning is designed to help you manage your ADHD symptoms throughout school or work day.


Adderall is the brand name of a mixture of two stimulants called amphetamine-dextroamphetamine. In addition to the active ingredients, the main difference between Adderall and Concerta is the form of release.

Concerta is only available for extended tablets, and Adderall comes in two different forms: an instant version (Adderall, although sometimes called “Adderall IR”) and an extended version (Adderall XR).

Adderall IR treats ADHD symptoms for about 5 to 8 hours, while Adderall XR usually lasts 10 to 12 hours.

side effect

Both Adderall and Concerta are stimulant-based drugs and therefore have common side effects. The most common side effects of Adderall and Concerta include:

  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • lose weight
  • Nausea
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • stomach ache

Unfortunately, Concerta and Adderall, like all other stimulants, can cause strokes, heart problems, finger and toe circulation problems, and increased chances of blurred vision. As with any medicine, you should always consult your doctor before taking ADHD medicine.

If side effects do occur, it is important to discuss this with your healthcare provider immediately.