- 1 Pay Attention to ADHD!
- 2 Medication for ADHD: Adderall and Concerta
- 3 Are Adderall and Concerta the Same?
- 4 So What Are the Differences Between the Two?
- 5 What Are the Side Effects of the Drugs?
- 6 Interference With Other Medications and Conditions
- 7 Ultimately, Which Is the Better Drug?
- 8 The Final Verdict
Pay Attention to ADHD!Though ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children, it can be hard to recognize and even harder to understand. The prevalence of the disorder is dependant on factors such as age, gender, the presence of other mental disorders, and even geographical locations. ADHD varies from child to child, in causes as well as symptoms. However, some of the general causes of ADHD could be:
- Smoking and Drinking During Pregnancy: Not only are these practices highly harmful to the developing fetus, but also to the health of your child post-birth. Studies suggest that kids exposed to tobacco and alcohol are more likely to develop ADHD than those who aren’t.
- A Stressful Home Environment: Children who grow up in troubled houses where the parents frequently argue, fight, or abuse each other are more likely to have ADHD. The children could develop the disorder as a defense mechanism.
- Brain Injuries: Children who suffer from brain injuries such as a serious blow to head, strokes, or tumors are more susceptible to ADHD, though such a cause only affects a small portion of children.
- Genes: Research has shown that there is a strong link between ADHD and genetics. Children whose parents have suffered from ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves.
- Food Additives and Pesticides: Food that is inorganically grown with pesticides or that contains artificial food additives (such as sodium benzoate) can also be a cause for ADHD, due to the effect of the chemicals on the developing brain tissue in children.
Symptoms and Treatment of ADHDSymptoms of ADHD are subjective, ranging from person to person. Commonly, in children as well as adults, it could be the inability to remain still, pay attention, losing things, difficulty in following instructions and difficulty in organizing their tasks. These symptoms are classified as inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive and combined, and diagnosed accordingly. The treatment for ADHD can be in the form of structured parenting, behavioral therapy or medication. As our article focuses on the comparison of Concerta and Adderall, which are the two most commonly used medicines to treat ADHD, we delve further into the topic of medications.
Medication for ADHD: Adderall and ConcertaTypically, the medication for ADHD is categorized as stimulants and non-stimulants. The former includes methylphenidate and amphetamines, while the latter includes atomoxetine and guanfacine. Stimulants work on the central nervous system, sending messages to stimulate brain activity. Non-stimulants also do the same, but take longer to work.
What is Adderall?Adderall is a prescribed medication used to treat ADHD as well as narcolepsy, though its usage in the former is more common. Adderall is a controlled substance, available in the form of “oral extended-release capsules” and “oral immediate-release capsules”. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, Adderall is used to improve attention and reduce hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is a stimulant, meaning that it works by affecting the central nervous system and sending impulses or messages to the brain.
What is Concerta?Concerta is also a prescribed medication that is used to treat ADHD as well as narcolepsy. Less effective than Adderall, this drug was approved by the FDA in 2000 and has since been used by children and adults. Though Concerta also works as a stimulant, its effects are milder than other stimulants. Concerta is available as “oral extended-release” capsules, and works by calming down the symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, and increasing focus.
Are Adderall and Concerta the Same?Though both drugs are similar, Adderall and Concerta are not the same. Both are psychostimulant treatments for ADHD and narcolepsy and are available as “oral extended-release” capsules that work on the central nervous system. They are both brand names of the generic medications they are composed of and are long-term treatments. They are also both controlled substances, with a risk of withdrawal and potential for misuse, and can result in the same side effects. They can also interfere with other medication you may be taking. Due to their potential for misuse, both drugs are prescription drugs, controlled by the US Government, and it is illegal to possess these drugs without a prescription. They are both governed by Schedule II in the United States.
So What Are the Differences Between the Two?Adderall and Concerta, despite their similar purpose, have a whole lot of differences between them. Some of the differences are:
- Chemical Composition: Adderall is a combination of the chemicals amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, while Concerta is made of methylphenidate.
- Available Forms: Adderall is available as both an “extended-release” as well as “immediate-release” oral capsule, while Concerta is only available as the former.
- Dosage Strength: Adderall is available in 5, 7.5, 12.5, 15, 20 and 30 mg dosages as an “immediate-release” capsule and in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 mg as an “extended-release” capsule. Concerta is available in 18, 27, 36 and 54 mg. However, 10 mg of Adderall is believed to be equivalent to 36 mg of Concerta.
- Cost: Adderall and Concerta are both available in their generic as well as branded forms. Adderall is available at a cost of $4.65-5.33 and $7.60 per capsule respectively, while Concerta costs $8.60 per 36 mg capsule and $9.25 per 54 mg capsule, and $3.90 per 40 mg capsule and $7.10 per 50 mg capsule (the latter two being generics).
- Addictive Qualities: Both Adderall and Concerta have the potential for misuse, as mentioned earlier. However, only Adderall is physically addictive.
- Effect of the Drug: Though Adderall and Concerta work the same way (by affecting the central nervous system), the effects of Concerta are milder than Adderall. Also, Concerta affects the mental activities of patients rather than their motor activities.
- Duration of Effect: The effects of Concerta is believed to last for 12 hours, whereas Adderall is effective for a maximum of 10 hours.
- Safety During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Adderall is shown to be transferred during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and thus, is an absolute “no” at such times. Not enough is known about Concerta to realize its effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
What Are the Side Effects of the Drugs?As mentioned, Adderall can become physically addictive, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when stopped. Such problems aren’t typically reported with Concerta; however, they can be habit-forming and should be gradually stopped rather than abruptly. Adderall is to be taken once or twice a day, as per your doctor’s instructions, with at least 4-6 hours between the doses. Doctors recommend anywhere between 2.5 to 60 mg as a daily dose, depending on the patient. Concerta can be taken once, twice or thrice daily in its available dosage strength, as per your doctor’s instructions.
Minor Side EffectsExcessive consumption of both drugs results in similar minor side effects, such as:
- Inhibition of growth in children (both height and weight)
- Headaches and dizziness
- Dryness in your mouth
- Nausea, vomiting or an upset stomach
- Excessive sweating
Serious Side EffectsLong-term usage and incompatibility with these drugs can result in more serious conditions, such as:
- Chest pain and shortage of breath
- Numbness in fingers
- Mental disturbances such as auditory hallucinations and increased violence or violent thoughts
- Painful erections that last several hours
Interference With Other Medications and ConditionsConcerta and Adderall can sometimes disrupt the effectiveness of other medications that you may be regularly taking (such as for high blood pressure) and with other health conditions you may have.
People Who Should Avoid Concerta or AdderallConcerta and Adderall can work differently on different people. They may not be the right drug for everyone with either ADHD or narcolepsy. People with the following health conditions should avoid both the drugs:
- People suffering from anxiety
- People hypersensitive to both drugs or their generic medications
- People who have glaucoma
- People taking antidepressants, especially Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI)
- Advanced arteriosclerosis
- Moderate to high blood pressure
- Symptomatic cardiovascular disease
- Any history of drug usage