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Concerta vs Adderall XR for ADHD


Concerta vs Adderall XR

Concerta and Adderall XR are two very common and popular treatments for ADHD.

They are both long acting forms of two similar yet different medications: one Ritalin, and one Adderall.

How well do they work?  And how do they compare?

If you want to learn more about what Ritalin is and how it works, see here.


Concerta is a long acting form of Ritalin, also known as methylphenidate.  On a biochemical level, it acts on dopamine and norepinephrine receptors.  It temporarily blocks their ability to remove those neurotransmitters from the space in between cells.

And since dopamine and norepinephrine stay around for a longer time, they have a stronger effect.  This leads to better focus concentration and motivation.

Adderall XR

Adderall XR is a long acting form of Adderall.  Adderall is a mix of different amphetamines, including both the l and the d form.  Amphetamines, like Ritalin, also act to prevent the removal of dopamine and norepinephrine from the space inbetween cells.

Unlike Ritalin, however, Adderall may also cause the cell to pump out dopamine.

Efficacy: Concerta vs Adderall XR

About the same percentage of people will get benefit from Concerta as will from Adderall XR.  They work at almost the exact same rates.  Around 70% of those who use either medication along with therapy will have very significant improvement in ADHD symptoms.

We recommend that you read our analysis of Ritalin vs Adderall to learn more about the specific differences between the two.

That said, it is possible that someone will respond better to Concerta than to Adderall.  Dr. Tuckman, a clinician with significant ADHD experience, reports that roughly 1/3 of patients will respond best to a Ritalin type medication, 1/3 best to an amphetamine, and 1/3 will respond equally to both.

Long lasting form

It is important to note that both Concerta and Adderall XR are long lasting forms of stimulant medication.  They both last for an extended period of time, roughly 10-12 hours.

This is important because clinicians report superior treatment results with long lasting forms as opposed to the instant release.  Studies are also starting to strongly support the superiority of long lasting treatment versus short lasting.

In one study of 70 patients, for instance, 97% preferred the long acting form of Ritalin over the short acting.  In another, 44% of those on long lasting form of medication had ADHD symptom remission, as opposed to only 16% of those on short acting.

Side Effects

Both Concerta and Adderall XR have similar rates and similar types of side effects.

The most common side effects from both include anxiety, insomnia, and trouble eating.  Some studies have indicated that side effects for the medications tend to diminish over time.  This may be due to the body becoming used to the med.  It may also be because those for whom it is a significant issue, discontinue use.

It is possible that long term use of either medication is associated with slight decreases in weight and/or height in children.

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  2. A Full List of ADHD Medications – Explained

If prescription medication isn’t working you might wish to consider natural options. Please do your research, this is not a recommendation

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This post was written by on Sunday, February 28, 2010. This author has written 223 posts on this blog and has 6338850 total posts views.

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  1. To Tina, PLEASE watch “The Medicated Child” , (can watch on Netflix) or prob rent it. It may be available free online also. My heart breaks for these children

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