It has been said that no two snowflakes are the exactly the same.
This is equally true for human beings’ own molecular structure. Each and every person has been gifted with their own exclusive DNA structure which is the blueprint that designs who they are and how their bodies react to certain situations, stimuli, and chemicals. Human DNA is so uniquely individualized that each person has their own particular fingerprint and eye print.
Those in the medical community recognize the unique differences that make up the molecular difference of each individual person. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies work closely with practitioners and therapists to provide different compounds and individualized treatment options for those who need prescription medications for a variety of disorders, illnesses, and diseases.
One such brain disorder that is treated with prescription medication is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, a person must be evaluated by a licensed clinician with expertise in ADHD.
The individuals that have been diagnosed with ADHD have trouble sitting still, playing quietly, or remembering things for important life tasks such as keys, wallet, pen, or pencil.
These symptoms must be long-lasting, inhibit a person’s basic functioning, and cause a person to fall behind normal development for their age.
For individuals who suffer from ADHD, they have brain patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes with their basic life functioning or interrupts their development. These individuals seek medical help to find the right balance of prescription medication that will help them live full and complete lives.
Those with ADHD frequently need medication to help control those brain patterns. ADHD is most commonly treated with prescription stimulants. Two different but widely recognized medications to treat this brain disorder are Adderall and Ritalin. These two drugs belong in the same class of medications.
They are called CNS stimulants. Although they are in the same class of drugs, they have significant differences . The human brain responds differently to these two drugs which helps each unique individual who suffers from ADHD find the right medication and dosage to help them function well.
Here are some similarities and differences between these two prescription medicines.
Adderall is the brand name of a prescription medication that is a mix of of two stimulants: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is an amphetamine. Doctors and practitioners prescribe Adderall primarily for ADHD but it is also used for those who are diagnosed with a sleep disorder called narcolepsy.
Adderall changes the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine in an individual’s brain. These two chemicals affect a person’s concentration.
In 1996, Adderall was approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD in people 3 years old and older.
Ritalin is the market name for a stimulant called Methylphenidate. It is also commonly prescribed for ADHD. Like Adderall, Ritalin changes the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine in an individual’s brain to improve their concentration.
Methylphenidate was introduced as a medication in 1956.
Adderall is an amphetamine prescribed for ADHD and is because of its addictive qualities, it is classified as a controlled substance.
The Drug Enforcement Agency has classified Adderall as a Level II substance since it has such a high potential for abuse. Therefore, prescriptions of Adderall are closely monitored by a physician and should be used as part of a total treatment plan that may include therapy or counseling. Adderall stays active in a person’s body longer than Ritalin.
Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of ADHD. It is prescribed to people 6 years old and older, though it has been successfully used in children under the age of 6. The similarities between Adderall and Ritalin continue as Ritalin is also classified as a Level II controlled substance.
Therefore, Ritalin also must be closely monitored by a physician who uses a total treatment plan that could include therapy or counseling. While Adderall stays active in a person’s body longer, Ritalin works faster and reaches peak performance more quickly.
The major difference between these two medications is that Adderall is an amphetamine and Ritalin is not.
Adderall is prescribed to be taken either once or twice a day, with at least 4-6 hours between doses. Depending on the condition being treated and the patient’s age, the recommended dosage is between 2.5 to 60 mg daily.
Ritalin is prescribed by doctor’s based on the patient’s response. It can be given once, twice, or even three times a day. The recommended dosage is between 10-60 mg daily, given in two or three doses.
It is believed that Adderall increases the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine for people who suffer from ADHD. Dopamine and norepinephrine aid the brain to be alert and to focus. By increasing these chemicals in the brain, Adderall gives those who have a ADHD a better ability to concentrate and focus.
Ritalin changes the the part of the brain that controls impulses, also known as mid-brain. Though it is not completely understood how Ritalin changes that area of the brain, it is commonly accepted that it changes the balance of chemicals in the brain that control impulses.
Studies show that stimulants work well for 80% of the individuals who take them for ADHD symptoms. Adderall works by changing the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine in the person’s brain.
By changing these levels, individuals have increased attention, focus, listening skills, and positive behavior, as well as decreased impulsiveness that is associated with ADHD.
Similar to Adderall, Ritalin is a stimulant that helps change the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in a person’s brain. By changing the levels of these two chemicals, people have increased attention, focus, listening skills, and decreased impulsiveness that is a symptom of ADHD.
Adderall is known for its addictive properties and its withdrawal symptoms and should only be used under the close supervision of a physician. Common side effects of Adderall are stomach ache, decreased appetite, and nervousness.
More serious side effects include slowing of growth including height and weight in children, seizures, problems with eye sight and blurry vision, and Serotonin syndrome.
As a stimulant, Adderall can raise a person’s blood pressure and heart rate and increase their anxiety. If a person diagnosed with ADHD has other health problems like high blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease, or they have an anxiety disorder, these individuals should talk to their physician or practitioner before taking Adderall.
A less common side effect of Adderall is psychotic reactions. These reactions are extremely rare but nevertheless worth mentioning.
The most dangerous side effect of Adderall is its addictive qualities. Adderall may have a higher abuse potential than Ritalin. Adderall contains two chemicals while Ritalin only contains one.
Because Ritalin is so similar to Adderall, the side effects of Ritalin mirror those of Adderall. Both medications are highly addictive and should only be used under the close supervision of a physician.
Common side effects of Ritalin are nervousness, headaches, sleeplessness, and decreased appetite. More serious side effects can include slow growth in children, tremors, tics, hives, diarrhea, constipation, raised blood pressure, and skin rash.
Just like Adderall, Ritalin is a stimulant. Stimulants raise blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. If an individual has been diagnosed with ADHD but they also have high blood pressure, seizures, heart disease, glaucoma, liver or kidney disease, or they have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, they should discuss these diagnoses with their doctor before taking Ritalin.
A less common side effect of Ritalin that has been reported by children and adults is priapism. priapism is a penile erection that is either a painful or not painful but lasts over four hours. Males who suffer from priapism should seek medical attention immediately.
There have also been reports of incidents of Tourette’s Syndrome with those who use Ritalin. These reports are rare but those who have family members who have Tourette’s Syndrome should use Ritalin with caution.
As with Adderall, Ritalin is highly addictive and should only be used under the close supervision of a physician or practitioner.
The prescription medications Adderall and Ritalin are very similar. In almost every way, Adderall and Ritalin show no significant difference between them. In fact, earlier studies of these two drugs showed no difference at all,
However, they are enough different that they are classified as two distinct medications and are treated as so. Just like snowflakes and humans, they are not the same.
Thankfully, both of these medications are used to help individuals who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder balance their own unique levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in their brain. Used with close medical supervision, Adderall and Ritalin are successful prescription medications in treating ADHD.