Strattera Vs Adderall: How The Two Differ

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Strattera (atomoxetine) and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine) are two of the most well-known ADHD drugs available in the United States. While they treat the same condition, when one looks at Strattera vs. Adderall, it becomes clear that there are many differences between the medications. Let’s look at what to consider when examining Strattera compared to Adderall.

Is Strattera The Same As Adderall

Strattera and Adderall are two very different medications that treat the same condition—ADHD. When looking at atomoxetine vs. Adderall, the differences between the two medications are vast.

Drug Class & Mechanism Of Action

One of the first differences between Adderall and Strattera that patients need to understand is their drug class.

As a result of their drug classes, amphetamine/dextroamphetamine and atomoxetine schedules are different. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine is a Class II drug, meaning it has therapeutic benefits but is often abused. On the other hand, atomoxetine is not a scheduled drug.

Also, separating these two medications is how they act on the body. Being a stimulant, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine speeds up physical processes, with the idea being that this will allow the overactive ADHD mind to become in sync with the rest of the physical self. Atomoxetine does not cause any stimulation. Instead, it increases the presence of norepinephrine in the brain.

age limits of strattera vs adderall treatment

Uses And Age Limits

When looking at age limits with Strattera vs. Adderall, there isn’t a notable difference. Both medications are cleared for use in patients with ADHD who are six years or older, though amphetamine and dextroamphetamine can be used in children as young as three with significant restrictions. They are also both meant to be used with caution in older adults.

Their uses are also quite similar. Both are medications that are designed to treat ADHD but have numerous off-label uses. Strattera off-label uses are mood disorders, including Strattera for anxiety, eating disorders, cognitive dysfunction, treatment of addictions. Likewise, Adderall has the following off-label uses: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder. All of these overlap with atomoxetine’s treatment of mood disorders.

Abuse Potential

Something that every patient should consider when looking at the difference between Adderall and Strattera is how their abuse potential differs. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine is a drug with a high potential for abuse, which is why it is heavily controlled and part of the DEA drug schedule. Atomoxetine, on the other hand, is considered to have minimal abuse potential. In other words, it can be abused, but it is not likely, and users are not known to become physically addicted to it.


Strattera and Adderall are roughly equal in their effectiveness when treating ADHD. FDA studies show that Adderall does address ADHD symptoms in some patients, though not all, and the effectiveness can taper off. Studies show the same for Strattera. As such, no patient should choose one drug over the other based on effectiveness.

effects of strattera and aderall on the patients

Side Effects And Tolerability

When looking at Strattera side effects vs. Adderall, there is some overlap, but also plenty of key differences. For example, both Adderall and Strattera sexual side effects exist, but amphetamine and dextroamphetamine tends to increase sex drive while atomoxetine curbs it. Both medications, however, can lead to tolerability, or the body is becoming so accustomed to the medication that the desired effects become dulled. This can result in increasing the dosage taken or switching medications.

Costs Of Different Formulations

When looking at Strattera compared to Adderall, price should also be a consideration. Generally speaking, Strattera is cheaper for a month’s supply than Adderall, and the same is true of their generics. Buying Strattera online in licensed pharmacies can make it even cheaper. However, there are ways that amphetamine and dextroamphetamine can be made more affordable as well, which users should look into.

Switching From Adderall To Strattera

Because atomoxetine is considered to be a safer drug, many patients are interested in switching to it from Adderall and other stimulant ADHD medications. It is possible to make a change.

In general, doctors will not suggest a long waiting period between stopping amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and starting atomoxetine. However, they might prefer it to be done at a time that is more suited to the needs of the patient. For example, children might be best making the switch over summer break while adults might want to do it during a period of vacation from work. In most cases, it takes about six weeks for the full effects to be noticeable.

safety of taking strattera and adderall together

Can One Take Strattera And Adderall Together?

Doctors prescribing both Strattera and Adderall together are rare. However, it is not unheard of. In general, this is done when Adderall is effective but wears off too early in the day. The patient may then take a Strattera dose to cover the rest of the day without risking an Adderall overdose.

In Case Of Strattera Or Adderall Misuse

Any medication can become problematic if the user approaches it incorrectly. Whether someone is addicted or just wants to stop the use, they can turn to an addiction center. There, treatment for substance abuse passes under close medical supervision with the right therapies to help the user get and stay clean.

Page Sources

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  2. Upadhyaya HP, Desaiah D, Schuh KJ, et al. A review of the abuse potential assessment of atomoxetine: a nonstimulant medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013; 226(2): 189–200. doi:10.1007/s00213-013-2986-z.
  3. ADDERALL® (CII). 2007.
  4. Prasad S1, Steer C. Switching from neurostimulant therapy to atomoxetine in children and adolescents with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder : clinical approaches and review of current available evidence. Pediatric Drugs. 2008; 10(1): 39-47.
  5. STRATTERA®(atomoxetine HCl). Eli Lilly and Company. 2007.

Published on: November 13th, 2019

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.


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