ADDerall ADHD Medication

Douglas Cowan Psy.D. MFT's picture
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Adderall Medication for Attention Deficit Disorder

ADDerall and ADDerall XR are stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - in both children and adults.

Made from a combination of four amphetamine compounds, ADDerall is useful because it covers a broad range of attention deficit disorder symptoms, and because it is a "one a day" dosing. A child with attention deficit disorder usually has to take only one dose of adderall per day to get through school and get his homework done. ADDerall can really help students with their studies, and it is often called "the study drug" by students, especially college students. And yes, it is often abused by college students.


Adderall is a "cocktail" drug, or a mixture of four drugs, all from the amphetamine family. As a result it has a broad spectrum of symptom coverage. It also tends to last for about six hours per dose, so it can cover the entire school day.

It can be less "harsh" than Ritalin. ADDerall might be worth talking to your doctor about as either the first or second medication to try.

ADDerall tablets come in 5, 10, 20, and 30 mg doses offering great flexibility to a physician in targeting the optimum dose for any patient. Even greater flexibility is offered because the tablets are double-scored so they can be accurately split into halves or quarters. This means that ADDerall can be administered in increments as low as 1.25 mg, or adjusted in 1.25 mg increments.

adderall tablets adhd medication image

ADDerall begins to work more gradually than Ritalin, or Dexedrine, and the "drop-off" slope is also much more gradual, meaning that there is less of a "trough" time at the end of the dose.

Expectations and Drawbacks of Adderall

ADDerall can be expected to work very well for the "space cadet" ADHD kids. Stimulants (including caffeine) are great for "inattention" or "brain fog" symptoms. We would estimate that 70% of Attention Deficit Disorder - ADHD Inattentive Type kids would respond to Adderall very nicely. For them, Adderall is a very easy treatment intervention.

Hyperactive-Impulsive kids respond less well to the stimulants. Maybe 60-65% will benefit.

Kids with impulsivity or temper outbursts either do very well, or they do very poorly.

These kids may also need something like Extress for temper, or Clonadine for extreme outbursts. We recommend the Extress nutraceutical medicine first. We have seen Extress work very well in reducing temper outbursts. You can buy it at from VAXA International. The Clonadine is like a "sledgehammer," but use it if you need to.

For the best results using a natural homeopathic medicine see our Specific Treatment Strategies, and use "Attend".

The main drawbacks of Adderall that we have observed are loss of appetite (feed a protein shake twice a day to help keep weight up), some irritability or anger (as when you have had too much caffeine), possible short term growth inhibition (though long-term this may not be a problem). Remember, every medication has possible bad side effects, so always closely monitor your child when taking medications!

If there is a problem, don't give the next dose, and call your doctor right away.

Adderall Medication Side Effects

Adderall XR

Adderall XR information from pharmacist YouTube

All stimulants have side effects, and the side effects from Adderall can be serious.

Any amphetamine can be over used and result in drug addiction. It is a commonly abused drug on college campuses, especially around finals. It is often referred to as "the study drug."

Extra: The Brave New World of Adderall

University of Kentucky Communications Professor Dr. Alan DeSantis was so surprised by the use of Adderall on campus that he decided to study it.

Because Adderall is made from amphetamine, it can cause your child's heart to race, elevate heart rate to dangerous levels, and raise blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Adderall side effects include overstimulation of the central nervous system, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, tremors, headaches, hyperactivity, and tics or Tourettes Syndrome.

A common Adderall side effect is a dry mouth, a bad taste in the mouth, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, and loss of appetite.

Children often lose weight when taking stimulants.

Stimulants may reduce growth rates in children.

Sexual dysfunction is a common problem in adults using stimulants.

How effective is
stimulant medication when compared to alternative treatments for ADHD?

Read FDA WARNINGS on Adderall

Clearly a stimulant medication for ADHD like Adderall works. But Adderall can also have serious side effects.

Alternative medicines like ATTEND also work, but without the side effects. They only drawback to ATTEND is that it takes about 30 days to really do the job, while stimulants begin working right away.

ADDerall ECONomics : Shire and Generics

Shire Pharmaceuticals has had the patent on Adderall XR for several years. But Shire’s patent on the drug expired in April of 2009. This meant that other companies could begin selling “generic” versions of Adderall XR (which will initially be manufactured by Shire) potentially at prices far lower than Shire’s prices for Adderall XR. adderall adhd image

As of today, Shire is manufacturing both the "brand name" and the generic form, and Teva (who recently bought out Barr) and Global are distributing the generic, often at discounted prices.

Barron’s Magazine claims that Shire’s Adderall XR is the most prescribed drug for ADHD in the world with about 23% of the market, and that of Shire’s $2.4 billion in revenue last year, over 40% came from Adderall sales (about $1 billion).

Vyvanse is Shire’s newest ADHD medication, a true pro-drug, where the medication’s precursors are linked to amino acids to make the medications less likely to be abused. At present Barron’s reports that Vyvanse has captured about 7.5% of the ADHD drug market, and that it is not gaining in popularity as quickly as some had hoped.

The Bad News: Shire is actually good for us and we don’t want to see it suffer too badly. Shire Pharmaceuticals is one of the few companies in the entire world that is interested in developing, testing, and improving medications for ADHD children, teens, and adults. Most other pharmaceutical companies just want to tinker with what we already have, what we already know. Shire is willing to try new things, like using pro-drugs, in the treatment of ADHD. If there is ever going to be a really big breakthrough treatment brought to us from the pharmaceutical industry (as opposed to from the nutraceutical medicine industry) for the treatment of ADHD, it will certainly come from an innovative company like Shire.

Stay in touch with your physician on this. So let’s keep our eyes open and see what happens next with Adderall XR.

This book section: ADHD Medications

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource at His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.

Christian Counselor counseling Tehachapi for ADHD, depression, anxiety, and more.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
27400 Oakflat Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561
(661) 972-5953

ADDerall, ADDerall XR, Side Effects

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