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Adderall and Adderall XR for ADHD

Adderall and Adderall XR for ADHD


Updated May 29, 2014

Like Ritalin, Adderall is a stimulant, but instead of being made of methylphenidate, Adderall is a mixture of different amphetamine salts. It can help to reduce or improve the symptoms of ADHD, including having a short attention span and/or being hyperactive and impulsive.

Adderall is a short acting stimulant and is generally given twice a day.

Adderall XR is a long acting form of this stimulant that can be given just once a day, so that children don't have to take a lunch time dose. It usually lasts 10-12 hours in many children.


As with other stimulants, the usual philosophy is to start with a low dosage and then work your way up as needed, either until it is working well or the child is having untolerable side effects.

In general, the dosage of Adderall is about 1/2 that of methylphenidate (Ritalin) containing products, so 20mg of Ritalin would be about equivalent to 10mg of Adderall.

Adderall is approved for use in children over age 3 years. It is generally started at a dose of 2.5mg in children under age 5 and gradually increased as necessary. Older children often start with a 5mg dose. These double scored tablets are available in sizes of 5mg, 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg and 30mg.

Adderall XR (extended release) is approved for children over age 6 and it is available as a once a day capsule. It is available in sizes of 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg and 30mg. For children switching from regular Adderall to Adderall XR, you usually just add up the dosage they take throughout the day and that is there single dose of Adderall XR. So kids taking 10mg of Adderall twice a day would take one Adderall XR 20mg in the morning.

Side Effects

Although generally well tolerated, the main side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR include anorexia (loss of appetite), insomnia (difficulty sleeping), weight loss, emotional lability, increased tics, abdominal pain (stomachache) and depression.

You should not take Adderall if you have a heart defect, other heart problems, including high blood pressure, and heart or blood vessel disease, an overactive thyroid, glaucoma, or a history of drug abuse.

If side effects don't improve with time, your Pediatrician may have to lower your child's dosage or consider changing to another medication, such as Vyvance, Concerta, or Strattera.

The FDA is conducting ongoing studies to look at possible links between Adderall and other stimulants and an increased of sudden death, especially in children with preexisting heart problems.

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