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Alternatives to Adderall: Natural and Pharmaceutical Substitutes

adderall drug and natural alternatives

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For those who have ADHD, life can be very challenging and daunting.. Simple tasks, like completing school work or holding down a job can be nearly impossible, and with a tendency for impulsivity can even harm their social life. As a result, many seek out treatment with Adderall, or a generic alternative or similiar substitute.
Adderall was once considered something of a miracle for those with ADHD. However, as the medical field have learned more and abuse of the drug has become widespread, people are now rethinking its use. There has even been a high-profile Adderall lawsuit.
Now, doctors and patients are exploring Adderall alternatives, both natural and pharmaceutical.

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Table of Contents

Why Should Patients Explore Adderall Alternatives?

Despite the fact that amphetamine-based medication is now known to be less safe than originally thought, it is still prescribed to millions of Americans every year, including children and adolescents. While there are alternatives to Adderall, doctors tend to stick with what they know, and despite its risks, they know that the drug is effective at managing ADHD—and rather more so than most of its substitutes however this is often to the detriment of their patients.
The drug is a central nervous system stimulant. On the surface, it seems like it would be contraindicated for those who have ADHD. However, because the brains of those with ADHD work differently than others, stimulants do, in fact, help. But with this comes other effects. For example, patients may consume the drug for recreational purposes (abuse) such as the effects of snorting Adderall, and who are likely to develop tolerance to this drug and create a need for a replacement medication.
The primary problem with the stimulant is it produces feelings of euphoria by flooding the system with dopamine. This tends make it appealing to those without ADHD and push the individual further to use more of the medication to continue feeling high. When comparing with Meth, many of the sensations are identical. Eventually, physical dependence can develop, leading to abuse, addiction, and even overdose (death). If addiction is suspected, substance abuse treatment will be needed, and this is indeed the case for those also taking the drug for treating ADHD where substitutes for the drug will need to be used to manage ADHD.

What Are the Generic Names for Adderall?

Adderall is the brand name of a drug mixture often referred to as amphetamine salts; mixed at a 3:1 ratio of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. As such, there is no debate between using Dextroamphetamine vs. Adderall because in Adderall amphetamine is a key element of the drug; true alternatives will have entirely different ingredients.
bottles with generic pills

The pill has been on the market since the 1990s, which means its patent has long since expired and there are numerous generic versions on the market at varying doses (Adderall 20 mg being the most common). Shire Pharmaceuticals makes the brand-name version of the drug. Companies manufacturing generic Adderall include Teva, Aurobindo Pharma, Corepharma, Mallen-croft, Barr Labs, and Mylan. Those names are usually familiar to the users who know how to lose weight with Adderall.

Each of these companies has a slightly different formula for their generic composition, which means the effects can be slightly different, and some even have their own “brand names,” which can confuse consumers. However, they all have the same active Adderall ingredients, so those looking for substitutes, due to its dangers, should carefully research any ADHD medication they are prescribed.

What Drugs Are Similar to Adderall?

While the stimulant may be the most commonly known drug for treating ADHD, there are numerous pharmaceutical alternatives. These Adderall replacements or substitutes should never be taken without a prescription from a doctor and should be researched by the patient. Any drugs similar to Adderall have potential problems.
Below are some commonly known substitutes.

  • Vyvanse: When comparing Vyvanse vs. Adderall, consider both as amphetamines, which means they carry similar risks. Additionally, the key ingredient in Vyvanse—lisdexamfetamine—is actually converted by the body into dextroamphetamine—the key ingredient in Adderall, which makes it a questionable substitute.
  • Ritalin: The difference to note when looking at Ritalin vs. Adderall is Ritalin uses methylphenidate as its key ingredient. When comparing methylphenidate vs. Adderall, keep in mind that both are known to be addictive and are used recreationally. However, Ritalin is not an amphetamine, which makes addiction less likely.
  • Concerta: Looking at Concerta vs. Adderall, note: both Concerta and Ritalin use the same active ingredient—methylphenidate. The differences between the two drugs come down to strength and dosing frequency. Concerta, for example, only comes in extended release formulas while Ritalin has extended and instant release options.
  • Provigil: When looking at Provigil vs. Adderall (or its generic, Modafinil vs. Adderall), the primary difference is that Provigil is not a stimulant, but it does have stimulant-like effects. This significantly reduces the likelihood of a patient becoming addicted to it or seeking to abuse it. However, it also is not clear how it works, which may feel risky to some.
  • Strattera: The key difference between Strattera vs. Adderall is that Strattera is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, not a stimulant. Its active ingredient is atomoxetine. However, clinical trials have shown it to be much less effective than Adderall and other stimulants in treating ADHD, so it may not be an option for those whose disorder is severe.
  • Focalin: When looking at Focalin vs. Adderall, patients should note: both are stimulants, and as such, they both carry risks of addiction and abuse. Focalin is not an amphetamine, but it does stimulate the release of dopamine, producing a high. If addiction is a concern, Focalin may not be the best substitute.
Recreational use of Adderall or any similar drug equals abuse and is illegal, not to mention the health risks.

What Are the Natural and Non-Prescription Alternatives?

There are numerous non-prescription and natural alternatives to Adderall. These substitutes are unlikely to have as strong of an impact on the patient, but for those whose ADHD is not severe, and for those considering medication for studying purposes, (those who involve in Adderall abuse in college  and who are likely to develop a severe addiction) here are some of natural substitutes:

  • AddTabz (the closest over the counter drug to Adderall)
  • Piracetamcoffee beans natural stimulant
  • Adrafinil
  • Zinc
  • Alpha Brain
  • Magnesium
  • Aniracetam
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • B vitamins
  • Caffeine
  • Noopept
  • Huperzine A
  • French maritime pine bark extract
It is important to note that while these substitutes are all available without a prescription, it does not mean that these alternatives do not cause negative effects or interact dangerously with other drugs. Also, if concerned with how long does Adderall last, be aware that these substitutes do not last as long. Speak with a doctor before taking any Adderall alternatives or stopping altogether.

Getting Help for Amphetamine Abuse

While considering alternatives to Adderall is a step in the right direction, if addiction is present, help is needed beyond switching to a substitute. This is especially true if a stimulant is being abused with other categories of drugs, like depressants—Xanax or Wellbutrin, for example. If someone is worried about how to get prescribed Adderall, this is a clear sign of a problem. Also, if they are looking to get Adderall online without a prescription, help is needed.
Many rehabilitation centers are equipped to assist those with amphetamine addiction, and patients can choose between an inpatient and outpatient facility. Ultimately, between rehabilitation and alternatives, there is no need to suffer in silence.

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  1. Irena P. Ilieva, Martha J. Farah, Enhancement stimulants: perceived motivational and cognitive advantages,
  2. Andrew R. Adesman, The Diagnosis and Management of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Pediatric Patients,
  3. David W. Goodman, Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate (Vyvanse), A Prodrug Stimulant for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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