Differences between Adderall XR & IR

If you have been recommended Adderall, you may wonder what the difference between Adderall XR and IR is. Adderall, a combination of Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine, is a popular prescription drug in different forms and strengths. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe Adderall or Adderall XR. The doctor may also recommend behavioural therapy on top of prescription ADHD medications. 

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant. All forms of the drug consist of amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine. The medication is for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Both forms of Adderall have the same active ingredients and work in precisely the same way. However, they differ in formulations and how soon you will experience their effects and how long they last. 

Available Forms and Strengths of Adderall

Adderall is available in two different forms.

  • Immediate-release (IR): Adderall Tablet comes in 5mg, 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, 15mg, 20mg, & 30mg Tablets.
  • Extended-release (XR): Adderall XR Capsule comes in 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg, & 30mg strengths.

The immediate-release formulation is available under the brand name Adderall. The 12 hours extended-release formulation is available under the brand Adderall XR. The 16 hours extended-release formulation is available under the brand Mydayis. The immediate and extended-release formulations of Adderall are available as generic drugs in the UK. Mydayis is available only as a brand-name drug. 

Conditions Treated By Adderall VS Adderall XR

Adderall IR and XR are FDA-approved to treat ADHD. ADHD is a chronic mental disorder affecting children, adolescents, and adults. The common symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsiveness, and restlessness. As CNS (central nervous system) stimulant, Adderall may help balance brain chemicals to sharpen focus.

Adderall is also approved to treat narcolepsy. It is a sleep disorder which involves excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks. People with narcolepsy usually have disrupted sleep-wake cycles that may affect their daily work and social lives. Although Adderall XR is not prescribed for this purpose, Adderall IR may help alleviate these symptoms and improve wakefulness. 

Differences in Adderall IR and XR

Both the IR and XR forms of Adderall consist of Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine. Both forms of the drug have the same potential side effects. The IR version of Adderall is a tablet, and the XR form comes in capsule form. The XR capsule contains both immediate-release and delayed-release beads, which is how it attains its long-lasting effects. Thus, taking one 20 mg dose of Adderall XR is comparable to taking one 10 mg dose of Adderall IR followed by another 10 mg Adderall IR dose 4 hours later.

Research suggests that IR stimulants are more likely to be misused and diverted. For example, some users grind the tablets and snort the powder to fasten the action of the drug’s effects. Reasons for misuse include wanting to boost alertness, increase concentration, experience a high, or experiment. The significant differences in the drug forms are: 

  • Adderall IR is for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness). Adderall XR is prescribed for ADHD only.
  • Adderall is an immediate-release, and Adderall XR is an extended-release drug. This indicates the active ingredients (d-amphetamine and I-amphetamine) are slowly released over time from Adderall XR than from Adderall.
  • You need to take Adderall IR multiple times a day, whereas Adderall is once a day. 
  • Effects may go off sooner with Adderall versus Adderall XR, which has a more gradual impact throughout the day. The results of Adderall last for around 4-6 hours, while those of Adderall XR last up to 12 hours.
  • It takes about 7 hours for Adderall XR and around 4 hours for Adderall to reach peak levels in the blood. In this way, some people experience effects faster with Adderall than with Adderall XR. However, Adderall XR may benefit people who experience crashing with Adderall IR.
  • Adderall is an oral tablet. At the same time, Adderall XR is an oral capsule. Adderall is available in 5mg, 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, 15mg, 20mg, & 30mg strengths. Adderall XR is available in 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg, & 30mg strengths.

Is Adderall or Adderall XR More Effective?

Adderall IR and XR have the same active ingredients that help treat symptoms of ADHD. However, as ADHD treatment is personalised toward the specific symptoms and your response to the drug, either form of Adderall may work for you.

Some adults and children forget to take the second dosage of Adderall later in the day. This may result in effects dropping off throughout the day. Adderall XR has the plus point of once-daily dosing with effects lasting throughout the work or school day.

Adderall XR tolerates well and may produce fewer side effects in people with heart or blood pressure problems. Some studies indicate that extended-release Adderall is worthwhile for those with high blood pressure (hypertension). Adderall XR also has long-term safety and effectiveness for treating ADHD.

Adderall XR capsules contain tiny beads of the drug. Doctors instruct patients to open the capsules and add the beads to soft foods like applesauce. For those who have trouble swallowing medicine, Adderall XR can be an effective treatment option.


Adderall and Adderall XR both have a combination of Amphetamine salts. However, they are not the same drug. Adderall is an immediate-release, and Adderall XR is an extended-release drug.

The effective form of Adderall is the one that works best for you. You must take Adderall multiple times daily, while Adderall XR is once daily. Adderall XR tends to have more long-acting effects compared to Adderall.