Adderall Alternatives: Prescription ADHD Medication Substitutes


More and more adults and parents of children with ADHD are turning to Adderall alternatives to control the symptoms of their condition. While Adderall is effective in treating ADHD, it is also connected to bothersome and sometimes dangerous side effects. These side effects include tolerance development, addiction, and even long-term depression. Fortunately, there are alternatives to Adderall that can be purchased with a prescription and produce satisfactory results.

Adderall is part of the amphetamines group of ADHD medications. Most people tolerate it well, although in others it may lead to mild or severe reactions. All-natural supplements are much safer and can serve as great substitutes, but few are as potent as prescription ADHD meds. As an example, curcumin benefits brain health and might be an excellent natural alternative, but it may not be the solution for those with severe cases of ADHD.

In combination with other factors, such as lifestyle and dietary changes, including therapy – the medications that we will discuss below produce the best results in treating ADHD and other related disorders.

Other Adderall substitutes work similarly by affecting the central nervous system, and the chemicals in the brain that regulate it. The two primary tasks that need to take place in the brain for proper function are the release of dopamine and the process of clearing excess dopamine. These alternatives to Adderall trigger the release of dopamine, while simultaneously increasing energy and focus.


Known under the brand name of Strattera, this Adderall replacement medication is used for the treatment of ADHD in children, adolescents, and adults. Although technically considered safe, there have been reports of allergic reactions in both adults and children, who take Strattera for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. Patients with a history of mental problems, psychosis, mania, bipolar illness, or depression are advised to look for another Adderall substitute.


Clonidine tablets (Catapres) are commonly prescribed alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. Clonidine extended-release (long-acting) tablets (Kapvay) are part of a treatment program to control symptoms of ADHD in children and adults. This replacement drug works by affecting the part of the brain that controls attention and impulsivity.


Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin) is commonly used for treating ADHD symptoms as it is similar in chemical structure to methylphenidate (Concerta and Ritalin). Focalin stimulates the CNS (central nervous system) much like amphetamines. It is FDA-approved and safe for use by adults and children, although it should not be mixed with alcohol and inhibitors. People suffering from glaucoma or with an allergy to dexmethylphenidate or methylphenidate should not take Focalin as an alternative for Adderall.


This original ADHD medication is an amphetamine, legally approved for use by the FDA 50 years ago. It comes in both long- and short-acting forms – Dexedrine, Dextrostat, and ProCentra. The short-acting tablet comes in 5 mg dosages with one dose usually lasting about 2 hours. The longer-acting capsule is available in 5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg sizes and is effective for 8 to 10 hours post-administration. When using the same dosage, Dexedrine is a stronger medication than Ritalin and has a higher potential for addiction and abuse, so it is not the best alternative to Adderall. It is safe only for use in children older than three years of age and can produce multiple side effects, such as irritability, nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, fever, chest pain and others.


Available in the US under the brand names Intuniv and Tenex, Guanfacine works by controlling the nerve impulses along certain nerve pathways to relax the blood vessels so that blood passes through them more easily. This alternative to Adderall increases attention and decreases restlessness, but produces best results when it’s part of a treatment program that also incorporates social, educational, and psychological procedures.


Known under the brand name Vyvanse, this substitute for Adderall is an FDA-approved stimulant for the treatment of ADHD. It stimulates the presence of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Considered a controlled substance, Vyvanse carries the risk of addiction if used for extended periods of time and is recommended for children older than six years of age. Although effective in improving ADHD symptoms, the replacement drug has mild to severe side effects, which include stomach pain, vomiting, insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, hallucinations, mania, and even sudden death syndrome (SDS).


As a central nervous system stimulant, Methamphetamine (Desoxyn) affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is a habit-forming drug and may lead to addiction in children and adults, so it’s not among the most suitable alternatives to Adderall for adults. Some conditions conflict with the use of this medication, so patients should always check their and their family’s medical history to ensure it is safe. What’s even more – improper doses can cause death or serious side effects on the heart.


Prescription stimulants have long been used for the treatment of ADHD symptoms as they have a calming and “focusing” effect on children and adults. Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant available under different brand names: Concerta, Metadate CD, Metadate ER, Aptensio XR, Methylin, Ritalin, Ritalin LA, Ritalin-SR, and Quillivant XR. Approved for legal use by the FDA, it comes in the form of tablets or capsules of varying dosages. Treatment of ADHD with stimulants is often advised in conjunction with psychotherapy to improve ADHD symptoms along with the patient’s social interactions. Numerous studies have been completed detailing the effects of Ritalin in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although considered a suitable replacement drug, Methylphenidate is not the best Adderall alternative as it is also addictive and associated with a long list of possible side effects. It is known to affect growth in children apart from causing chest pain, trouble breathing, seizures, hallucinations, numbness, pain, muscle twitches, loss of appetite and nausea.

When selecting an Adderall alternative for an adult or a child who has ADHD, it’s important to consider that stimulants could affect an individual’s vulnerability to developing later drug problems. Numerous studies conducted so far show that the misuse of prescription drugs is a common problem. This can lead to serious health complications later in life, so choosing a suitable prescription alternative to Adderall is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Although these medications are typically more potent for treating ADHD, we recommend all-natural supplements and nootropics, especially in adolescents.


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