Adderall and Concerta are both stimulant medications used primarily for the treatment of ADHD, as well as treatment-resistant depression, hypersomnia, lethargy and others. Both drugs act in a similiar way, but there are some important differences.
Adderall is an amphetamine mixture, and Concerta is an amphetamine derivative called Methylphenidate. Both are strong stimulants with a mode of action similar to cocaine. While Adderall is related to methamphetamine, they are not the same.
The efficacy of stimulants in general has been demonstrated in classroom settings. The long-term affects of both, however, are more controversial. Paradoxically, while both are stimulants, they have the effect of calming the user and allowing him to focus on a task.
Amphetamines are generally more potent than Concerta and more likely to produce euphoric “high” in users. As a result, according to a statement by Terrance Woodworth of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on May 16, 2000, both are considered to be addictive and therefore both are Schedule II controlled substances in the United States.
Both drugs stimulate the peripheral nervous system. Nearly all the peripheral effects are considered “side effects.” Adderall tends to have “harsher” side effects, including tachycardia, loss of appetite, excessive sweating and elevated blood pressure. Concerta has a similar, but less intense profile.
Which Do Doctors Prefer?
While Adderall use is increasing in the United States, according to the DEA, Concerta (and the short-acting formulation, Ritalin) is currently more commonly prescribed due to its lower abuse potential.