ADHD Medication and Treatment Reviews

Adderall XR: ADHD Medication

Generic Name: Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate, and Amphetamine Sulfate

What is Adderall XR? Is Adderall a Narcotic?

Adderall XR is a once-daily, timed-release stimulant ADHD medication primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) in children ages 6-12, adolescents, and adults. It has not been studied in children under the age of 6. According to the FDA, Adderall XR is a federally controlled substance (“Schedule II Stimulant”) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. It is an amphetamine.

Stimulant medications like Adderall are typically the first choice to treat ADHD symptoms because they improve symptoms for 70-80% of people with ADHD.1 Adderall XR (Generic names: dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine sulfate) may improve focus for people with inattentive ADHD and decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior, two hallmark symptoms in patients with attention deficit. The benefits of Adderall XR are typically felt within an hour of taking the medication.

Adderall was first used to treat ADHD in 1937 and is well known for its efficacy and safety. The statistical calculation called Effect Size that measures how well a treatment works is very robust. Stimulants that treat ADHD are some of the most effective medications.

Originally, Adderall was developed to treat narcolepsy; it should not be used to treat tiredness or other sleep-related problems without a doctor’s specific instructions and prescription.

How Long Does Adderall Last? Adderall Dosages Explained

Adderall XR is taken orally, with or without food, once daily. The first dose is typically taken first thing in the morning; it should be taken at the same time each day for the best results.

Adderall capsules should be swallowed whole with water or other liquids. If your child is unable to swallow the capsule, it can be opened and sprinkled over a spoonful of applesauce. Taken this way, the mixture should be swallowed whole without chewing, followed by a drink of water or other liquid. Capsules should never by crushed or chewed. As with all medications, follow your Adderall XR prescription instructions exactly.

Adderall capsules are available in the following dosages: 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 25mg and 30mg. The time-release formulation is designed to maintain a steady level of medication in your body throughout the day.

The optimal Adderall dosage varies patient by patient; is not determined by age, weight, or height, but rather by how a person metabolizes the medication. The following factors impact dosage:

  • How much of the medication is absorbed into the blood stream and across the blood-brain barrier
  • How much of the medication is absorbed into the blood stream from the intestines
  • How acidic the GI tract is — high acidity from fruit juices can keep amphetamine from being absorbed while low acidity from taking an antacid can accelerate absorption
  • How quickly the amphetamine is excrete in urine

Your doctor may adjust your daily dosage by 5mg increments until you or your child experiences the best response — that is, the lowest dosage at which you experience the greatest improvement in symptoms without side effects.

If you or your child exceeds the prescribed dosage, call your doctor or poison control, or seek emergency medical care.

Some patients report developing a tolerance to Adderall after long-term usage. If you notice that your dosage is no longer controlling your symptoms, talk to your doctor to plan a course of action.

What are the Side Effects of Adderall XR?

Most people taking Adderall XR do not experience any side effects. That said, the most common side effects of Adderall XR are as follows:

Children (ages 6 to 12):

  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • abdominal pain
  • emotional lability
  • vomiting
  • nervousness
  • nausea
  • fever

Adolescents (ages 13 to 17):

  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • abdominal pain
  • weight loss
  • nervousness


  • dry mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • headache
  • weight loss
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • dizziness
  • tachycardia
  • diarrhea
  • asthenia
  • urinary tract infections

Adderall and Weight Loss

Adderall should not be taken off-label to help you lose weight. Weight loss is not an approved use for this medication.

Adderall and Eyesight

Changes in eyesight is another serious side effects of Adderall XR. Taking the medication may impair your or your teenager’s ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor.

Adderall and Heart or Blood Pressure Related Problems

Report to your doctor any heart-related problems or a family history of heart and blood pressure problems. Patients with structural cardiac abnormalities and other serious heart problems have experienced sudden death, stroke, heart attack, and increased blood pressure while taking Adderall XR. Stimulants can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Physicians should monitor these vital signs closely during treatment. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences warning signs such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Adderall XR.

Adderall and Mental Illness

Disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, bipolar illness, tics, or depression. The drug manufacturer of Adderall XR, Shire, recommends evaluating patients for bipolar disorder, tics, and Tourette’s syndrome prior to stimulant administration. Adderall XR may create new or exacerbate existing behavior problems, bipolar illness, or Tourette’s syndrome. It can cause psychotic or manic symptoms in children and teenagers. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or sudden suspicions.

Adderall and Circulation Problems

Discuss circulation problems with your doctor before taking Adderall XR, which has been known to cause numbness, coolness, or pain in fingers or toes, including Raynaud’s phenomenon. Report to your doctor any new blood-flow problems, pain, skin color changes, or sensitivities to temperature while taking Adderall XR.

Adderall and Substance Abuse

Amphetamines like Adderall XR have a high potential for abuse and dependence, especially among people who do not have ADHD. It is a “Schedule II Stimulant,” a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule II drugs include Dexedrine, Ritalin, and cocaine. People with a history of drug abuse should use caution when trying this medication. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Who Can Take Adderall XR? Medication Precautions

You should not take Adderall XR if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Advanced arteriosclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • Symptomatic cardiovascular disease
  • Moderate to severe hypertension
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Known hypersensitivity or idiosyncrasy to the sympathomimetic amines
  • Glaucoma
  • Agitated states
  • History of drug abuse
  • During or within the administration of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Adderall XR with your doctor. Animal studies indicate a potential risk of fetal harm; infants may be born prematurely, with low birth weight, have learning or motor deficits, or experience withdrawal. Adderall XR is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.

The effects of Adderall XR on the elderly have not been studied.

Store Adderall XR in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Adderall XR prescription with anyone, even another person with ADHD. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.

Interactions Associated with Adderall XR

Before taking Adderall XR, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor. Adderall XR can have a dangerous, possibly fatal, interaction with antidepressants including MAOIs.

Exercise caution with medicines including anti-psychotics, lithium, narcotic pain medicines, seizure medications, blood thinners, blood pressure medications, stomach acid medications — like antacids —, and cold or allergy medicines that contain decongestants. Even over-the-counter medications may contain ingredients that raise or lower the level of the medication in your blood to a dangerous level.

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, and let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Adderall XR before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.


1Advokat, Claire, et al. “Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications as cognitive enhancers.” Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7: 82. 29 May 2013. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00082

More Information on Adderall XR and Other ADHD Medications

40 Adderall XR: ADHD Medication Comments & Reviews

  1. We’ve had tremendous success with Adderall 5mg extended release for my daughter. She is 8 years old now but she started it when she was 6. She is normally a happy, feisty, little tornado, but when her medicine wears off about 5pm she gets grouchy and irritable. The doctor gave me a prescription for the regular Adderall 5mg and told me to give it to her around 3:30 pm after school. She didn’t get to sleep until about midnight. So after about a week I dropped the extra pill in the afternoon and deal with the irritability, which has improved some. Her symptoms return immediately when she doesn’t take it. She hasn’t had to progress to a higher dose in over a year and half.

  2. My son (who is 6 ½ years old) is currently taking Adderall XL 20 mg. He tried Medidate and Concerta, both of which worked well, but the dose kept increasing. He has been on Adderall XL 20 mg. for about 6 months now and is doing great. He is a totally different kid on the medicine (focused, much calmer, and responsible). When not on the medicine, you can definitely see the difference (very hyper, giddy, not focused, lack of personal boundaries, etc). Thus, I would say that Adderrall has worked great for him.

  3. My child was diagnosed with comprehensive ADD and was prescribed Adderall. She takes 20mg XR in the morning and 10mg regular in the afternoon. She has been on it for about 2 years now but it doesn’t seem to work as well anymore.

  4. I am a 56-year-old woman and was diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar II a year ago. One of my biggest problems has been with impulsive talking that seems to have gotten worse since I’ve gotten older. I talked to my doctor about it a couple of weeks ago and she suggested trying Adderall XR 30mg instead of the Concerta ER 54mg I was taking. It really seems to be helping!

  5. My first experience with Adderall XR was horrible. It changed my mood and behavior. I would get angry easier and cry easier. It made me get horrible bad breath, dry mouth, and body odor. I had to switch meds.

  6. I was diagnosed with the inattentive type just before my 40th birthday. I take 20 mg slow release generic Adderall XR. The immediate positive effects were: absence of paralyzing fear and uncertainty about what to do/ how to complete any task; decisiveness; effortlessness of any task or decision; confidence; naturally stay on task without thinking about it; automatic follow through without effort; clear sight – where before I felt I was in a deep fog; assertiveness where timidity and passivity would have been; diminished appetite – where constant hunger was previously; physical body pains relieved; need much less sleep and rest. The negative side effects at first were: dry mouth without ability to drink a lot; diarrhea on day two or three after an afternoon coffee; diminished sensory experience – no longer seeking pleasurable activities or food; feeling ‘amped up’ (like shortness of breath, short temper, cry easily, easily irritated); not as easy as normal to fall asleep, harder to observe my thoughts, less vivid dreams, less ‘awareness’.

  7. I am 30 years old and have ADHD. I have been taking Adderall for approximately 3 years now and the last dose (25 MG XR 24 hour as my doctor states) I received makes me extremely irritable, especially when my concentration gets broken. It seems to be progressing, especially the anxiety.

  8. I’ve had only one side effect taking Adderall IR 20mg: dry mouth. I did get a slight headache at the end of the day when it started to taper off, but nothing that bothered me.
    Now that my doctor has moved me up to 30mg I’ve been experiencing a dull, mild headache all day long. It starts about the time my medicine kicks in and lasts till the drop off headache would normally subside.

  9. I just started Adderall XR on Friday. It worked great this weekend and for the beginning of this week at work. Today, it took 40 minutes to kick in (instead of a half hour), and it stopped working after three and a half hours instead of 10.

  10. 45 year old male diagnosed with ADHD (ADD). Started with 10ml for 30 days…nothing. Increased to 20ml for another 30 day trial…still nothing. Doctor wanted to switch to something else but I asked if we could try 30ml before doing that and so we did. One word…WOW. That did it. Super focused through most of the day. I’m still in my first week with no side effects other than the increased focus. I did wake up with a head ache this morning but not sure if I’m blaming it on the med or my sinus issues. Regardless, I’m certain I’ll be telling the doctor on my next follow up visit we found it!

  11. I’ve used Adderall and I hated it. It seemed to work at first, but then I had an accidental overdose (went from 5mg to 10mg to 15mg too quickly) and nearly passed out WHILE DRIVING to the doctors office. I refuse to use Adderall again.

  12. I was diagnosed at 50 yrs old and for most of the past 20 years I have taken Dexedrine. For a year or so because I had a new doctor, I was prescribed Adderall and hated it. It made me jittery and my focus and ability to concentrate for periosds of time was awful. I absolutely will never take it again. Subsequently, I had another doctor who would not prescribe Dexedrine gave me Vyvanse which was better than Adderall but not much. SO when I went into Medicare with Kaiser they gave me Dexedrine 60 mgs. and I am a happy camper. I did not like Ritalin at all- I told the doctor that if this was the cure I would rather have the disease. So Dexedrine is my go-to medication.

  13. 6 year old daughter, 5mg Adderall for 11 days. She seemed to be spaced out, and would take 3-4 tries to pull her back to the moment. She developed a strong sense of fear, and scared of things that were not a bother before. She woke up the first night with a nightmare, stating bugs were crawling on her bed. (That was the only night there were sleep issues)

    After a conversation with the Dr we decided to try another medication.

  14. I just have a question or what any inputs to my situation pls, I’m 43 and I’m on adderall prescribed 30mg 3x day but I usually only take 2 almost everyday and I’ve been taking this for a while now prolly 1yr or 2 but all of a sudden well say all of a sudden in the last 3 to 6 months I have been feeling terrible jus overall dont feel good and also noticed that now when now time I take my adderall first thing in morning I get headache and even later when I take my 2nd dose. Do I need to check into changing my med or what ya think is causing this now? Is this med just no longer working for me?

  15. My 11-yr old son was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD about 4 mos. ago. We started medication right away. He responds to amphetamine, not methylphenidate (sp?). He had a great response to Vyvanse but his “ideal” dose of 15 mg was not available, so we have landed at 20 mg of generic Adderall XR. It’s been a godsend as regards schoolwork. He experiences little or no side effects. And what a blessing b/c it’s SO much cheaper than Vyvanse.

    We had to try about 8 different iterations of meds over about 4 mos. before hitting on the right thing. I would encourage parents, adults, and providers to stick with it until you get it right – it’s worth it!

  16. I took 15 mg of Adderall XR for over a decade, but moved to 20 when I hit perimenopause. It works wonders for me. I can concentratrate and accomplish things, which is a blessing since I have severe ADHD. My daughter tried the XR, though, and it had no effect. Non-XR works great for her, though. It’s just a matter of finding the medication that works for you.

  17. If You use this product Adderall can also give the side affect of depression so if you do take this product I highly recommend using Zoloft Or Sertraline it helps calm you down and helps with anxiety and depression

  18. I was diagnosed with ADHD a few months ago at age 16. I currently take 15mg Adderall XR. For me, this medicine has worked wonders. My grades are up, I actually know what’s going on in my classes, my relationships with my friends are better. However, as with most medications, there have been side effects. Since I started taking it, I lost 10 lbs, now weighing 106 lbs at 5’5 1/2” and I have to drink a lot of water because my mouth gets dry. Overall though, I’m very with how it works and the benefits FAR outweigh the risks.

  19. Daughter was on 20 mg of Adderall XR for about 3 months. Our insurance no longer covered Vyvance– which worked well– and the doc said that Adderall should behave similarly, so we tried it. Over the course of three months, she became a different person. Generally hostile, and could could flip like a switch into a rage over insignificant things. With teens, it’s often hard to tell whether hostile & moody behavior is a side effect of medication or a side effect of adolescence, but her behavior crossed the line. I made an emergency call to the doc to change medications when she misplaced her phone one morning and could do nothing but scream– not even yelling words; just screaming, both inside and outdoors, with no concern of who heard her. She slammed the back door so hard that she broke it. I insisted she start Vyvance again; I was willing to pay hundreds a month if necessary. If she had behaved that way at school, I’m sure someone would have called 911 and she’d have been taken to a hospital and held for observation. Thankfully, I found a discount coupon for Vyvance and it is (currently) only costing me $40 a month. My point in writing this review– these medications can cause severe behavioral changes. Don’t be afraid to go back to your doctor and say, “This isn’t working for us.” You know your child best and it often requires trying several different medications to find one that works.

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