Dexedrine vs Adderall: What you need to know

One of the primary treatments for ADHD is stimulant medication. Two options are Dexedrine and Adderall, but if you are curious about Dexedrine vs Adderall. What are these two drugs, and what do you need to know about their differences? 

Dexedrine and Adderall are two prescription medicines classified as central nervous system stimulants. Dexedrine and Adderall are brand-name medicines, but they have generics available. These two CNS stimulants treat a condition known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. These medications affect neurotransmitters in the brain, which affect how focused and alert a person feels. 

What Is Adderall?

Adderall combines amphetamine salts, containing a 3-to-1 ratio of Dextroamphetamine (d-amphetamine) and levoamphetamine (l-amphetamine). It has the active ingredient of Dexedrine, combined with other amphetamines. It is a prescription drug for treating ADHD and narcolepsy and works in the same way as Dexedrine. Adderall is available in a much more comprehensive range of strengths than Dexedrine. Adderall comes in immediate-release tablets. Adderall XR is an extended-release capsule formulation. 

Adderall is a prescription stimulant medicine. Stimulant medications increase the activity of the central nervous system. When people take Adderall, they experience increased focus and clarity. This makes it easier for someone to pay attention. As a result, one of the common conditions Adderall treats ADHD. Importantly, Adderall is frequently combined with other treatments, including therapy, to help children with ADHD. Adderall is also a federally controlled substance (Class II) because it may lead to addiction and is prone to abuse. 

What Is Dexedrine?

Dexedrine is a brand of medication with a generic Dextroamphetamine sulfate. It is a CNS stimulant and a type of Amphetamine. Amphetamines stimulate norepinephrine release, and their activity is primarily in the brain's cerebral cortex. CNS stimulation by amphetamines leads to decreased fatigue, increased motor activity and alertness, and a better mood. Dexedrine is FDA-approved for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. It is also prescribed off-label, or without approval from the FDA, in treating certain types of obesity-resistant to other interventions. Dexedrine comes in immediate-release tablets, spansules, and extended-release capsules. 

Dexedrine is another stimulant medication to increase the activity of the central nervous system. Dexedrine is a controlled substance and requires a prescription. Furthermore, it is also effective in the treatment of ADHD. It is combined with therapy to help people take a comprehensive approach to managing ADHD. Individuals who take Dexedrine have an easier time focusing and paying attention after doing so. Dexedrine is also a Class II federally controlled drug because it is prone to abuse and may lead to addiction. 

Conditions treated by Dexedrine and Adderall

Dexedrine and Adderall are effective in the treatment of ADHD. ADHD is a moderate to severe distractibility, short attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. If untreated, ADHD may affect academic and professional performance and daily functions.

Dexedrine and Adderall are each prescribed in the treatment of narcolepsy as well. Narcolepsy is excessive and uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. Like ADHD, untreated narcolepsy may have adverse effects on daily activities.

Dexedrine is used off-label in the short-term treatment of obesity that is not responsive to other interventions, like diet, exercise, group programs, or other drugs. 

Is there a difference between Dextroamphetamine and Adderall?

There are many similarities between the two drugs. Both are prescription medicines,  are stimulant medications, and both are Class II federally controlled drugs. But is Dexedrine stronger than Adderall? Yes, Dexedrine is more potent than Adderall because Dexedrine only contains the most active ingredient, Dextroamphetamine. 

On the other hand, Adderall combines two ingredients, Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine. Although it contains Dextroamphetamine, it also contains Amphetamine, which is not that strong. So, Dexedrine is more powerful than Adderall because Dexedrine only includes the most potent stimulant ingredient. The difference between the drugs is: 

  • Both are central nervous system stimulants, but the active ingredient in Dexedrine is Dextroamphetamine sulfate, and Adderall contains Amphetamine salts (d-amphetamine and I-amphetamine). 
  • Dexedrine is available in Tablets, Spansules, and extended-release Capsules. Adderall comes in Immediate-release Tablets and extended-release Capsules. 
  • The standard dosage of Dexedrine is 5mg once/twice daily, titrated up to 40 mg daily. Adderall's dosage is 5 mg once or twice daily, titrated up to 60 mg/day. 

Adderall and Dexedrine take 30 minutes to an hour to show their effect and 3 hours to reach peak levels in the blood. Both have also been effective for around 4 to 6 hours.

How to know which is best?

Adderall and Dexedrine cause similar effects in most people. However, everyone responds to medications differently. Therefore, it usually takes time to determine which type and medication dose works best. Factors that help determine which ADHD medication is best for a person are: 


  • Children under age 3 cannot safely take ADHD medicines.
  • Adderall XR and Dexedrine Spansule are not for children under 6.
  • Dexedrine Spansule is not for use in people over 16.

Length of efficacy

Many prefer long-acting medications, such as Adderall XR and Dexedrine Spansule, to short-acting formulas because they do not need additional daily doses. However, short-acting versions allow doctors to adjust the dosage to manage side effects. 

Side effects

Most people know whether or not they will experience any side effects within a week. If one drug causes significant side effects, they can try another form.


Dexedrine and Adderall are brand names for the widely prescribed stimulant medications to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD.

The medications share similar possible side effects, risks, and warnings. But some slight differences between Adderall and Dexedrine may make one more suitable for a person than others.