Ritalin and Adderall – Know the Similarities and Differences

Addiction Resource > Addictive Substances: The Anatomy of Drug Addiction > Ritalin – Highly Addictive Dopamine and Norepinephrine Stimulant > Ritalin and Adderall – Know the Similarities and Differences

Ritalin and Adderall are both stimulants. Therefore, they increase the dopamine levels in the brain. Harvard describes dopamine as a chemical that tells the brain to repeat a process.

Ritalin And Adderall

Ritalin and Adderall are examples of addictive drugs and stimulants. As a result, they stimulate the ‘’reward circuit’’ in the human brain. This creates memories that link the substance to a pleasurable reward. In the case of stimulants, this would be the feeling that you get when taking Ritalin or Adderall.

What are the Similarities of Ritalin and Adderall?

Ritalin and Adderall may contain different ingredients. However, they classify both as Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants. Both drugs are clinically approved and commonly used to treat different conditions. For example, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Both Ritalin and Adderall are prescription drugs. As a result, both can help patients increase focus and reduce impulsive behavior. Some doctors even prescribe Ritalin or Adderall to treat obesity and aid in weight loss.

Ritalin and Adderall mostly share the same side effects which include:

  • Addiction
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Psychosis (hallucination)
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome – It’s a condition where certain body parts feel cold and numb under certain circumstances.

What Is the Difference Between Ritalin vs Adderall?

There is a study in the efficiency and time course in children with ADHD. They published on aapublications.org. It’s where they gave 25 children diagnosed with ADHD different doses. They got either 175mg Ritalin, 7.5mg Adderall, or a placebo twice a day for 8 weeks. As a result, it showed that a lower dosage of Adderall was more effective than Ritalin in a short period of time.

The active ingredients in Adderall differ from those in Ritalin. Ritalin’s main active ingredient is Methylphenidate. Conversely, Adderall is a mixture of amphetamine salts, Dextroamphetamine and Levoamphetamine.

The withdrawal from Ritalin and Adderall differ slightly. Adderall withdrawal may cause extreme fatigue, irritability, insomnia and depression. However, withdrawal symptoms from Ritalin may include psychosis. Furthermore, there may be a temporary worsening of the symptoms of ADHD.

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Ritalin vs Adderall High

Currently, there are people who use Ritalin or Adderall for purposes other than what it is really for. Strangely enough, they prefer Adderall over Ritalin. This is to achieve a similar ‘’high’’ that both medicines can cause. 68.6% voted that Adderall is more effective than Ritalin, which achieved 31.4% of the vote.

In essence, it is possible to misuse both Ritalin and Adderall. As a result, they will have the same effect on the brain as cocaine would have.

You get a Ritalin high crushing and snorting it. Otherwise, you can dissolve it in water and then drinking the substance. In some cases, you can inject the solution intravenously. Another method called ‘’parachuting’’. This is where you crush Ritalin and wrapped in either tissue or other soft paper and swallow it. Incidentally, it is also popular among Ritalin abusers.

What about Adderall? Currently, there are no reported specific methods of achieving an Adderall “high”. However, mixing Adderall with a high caffeine drink could up the feeling of euphoria. This is something that an Adderall user may experience.

Ritalin vs Adderall – Potency

Uacap.org shows a Stimulant Equivalency Table by Matt Swenson (MD). In this case, it indicates that Adderall is twice as potent as Ritalin. It also specifies that Adderall’s effect lasts up to 4 – 5 hours, compared to Ritalin’s 3 – 4 hours.

However, each user will respond differently to both medications. Sometimes, you can have different factors and conditions. They include nutrition, other medications, and estrogen levels. As a result, they can all influence the potency of the drug.

Which One is More Addictive, Ritalin or Adderall?

First, let’s have a look at how each of the medications’ addiction occurs.


Over a period of time, the body may become dependent on Ritalin to function normally. The user builds up a tolerance to the drug. As a result, this means that they will have to take a larger dose in order to gain the same effect.

A Ritalin addict will crave the drug and panic if you deny them access to the drug. The root of the addiction can vary. First, they might try to stay awake for a longer period, recreationally to achieve a ‘’Ritalin high’’. Second, they might attempt to numb the pain caused by trauma.


The body can become accustomed to Adderall, even if you have used it for a short period. Dependency.net explains that the body expects you to give it Adderall every day. Also, it expects the dopamine levels to increase.

In some cases, you can also take Adderall in a non-medically approved way. They include snorting or injecting into the blood stream.

So which one is more addictive?

They consider both Ritalin and Adderall to have a high potential for addiction. As a result, they classify both as Schedule II Controlled Substances.

Mentalhealthdaily.com notes that Adderall’s abuse potential may be slightly higher. This is because they consider it to provoke a greater rush than Ritalin. Adam Rogers was a medical student at the time he posted his experience on Quora.com. He stated that he had used both Ritalin and Adderall for many years. As a result, he found Adderall to be more the more addictive substance. He added that Adderall could cause both mental and physical dependence.

What are Symptoms of Overdose on Ritalin and Adderall?

As with all medications, Ritalin and Adderall share some common signs of overdose. However, there are some differences to take note of.


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Over-responsive reflexes
  • Euphoria
  • Muscle twitching
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Sweating and flushing
  • Headache
  • Extreme fever
  • Abnormally fast resting heart rate and palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilation of the pupils, usually unresponsive to light
  • Dryness of the mucous membranes
  • Muscle breakdown
  • A coma can follow convulsions or fits


  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Tremor
  • Fever
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Panic
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Depression
  • Rapid respiration
  • Muscle breakdown
  • Serotonin syndrome (a fatal condition caused by an excess of nerve cell activity)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Failure of blood circulation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and abdominal cramps
  • Convulsions that can result in a coma


Rehabilitation programs for Ritalin Adderall addiction are quite similar. Rehabilitating from either drug will involve detoxification, therapy as well as aftercare.


The detox process will address the physical matters you will encounter. It can happen when going without the drug for a while. It will take place under thorough observation by medical practitioners. Doctors may prescribe anti-depressants and sleep aids may during this process. Furthermore, they may lower the dose in increments. Finally, doctors will closely track the withdrawal symptoms. This process can last up to a week.


therapyIn some cases, a rehab patient will take part in both individual and group therapy sessions. Mostly, they will do it after the user physically stabilizes. This helps the patient get to the root of the addiction. They will ask what caused it, any trauma that could have caused the addiction. As a result, they will get the necessary attention. Group sessions will help the patient understand that they are not alone. Also, they may be able to associate with other people who are going through the same experience.

There may also be practical therapy involved. Of course, it depends on the patient’s individual needs. These can include art therapy or outdoor activities such as equine-assisted therapy. In some cases, it might even include cinema therapy or psychodrama. It is a form of psychotherapy where patients act out events from the past.


Aftercare services are very important in the rehabilitation process. Sober living facilities are very effective and popular. Notably, it is where a patient can take their time to find their feet. Such facilities develop a community of support. For example, the ex-user will have support groups and the well-known 12-step program.

That pretty much concludes our comparison of Ritalin vs Adderall. However, this is only for information purposes. We highly advise you to consult your physician for a prescription. Above all, don’t use any drugs without doctor’s advice.

Ritalin and Adderall – Know the Similarities and Differences

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