What To Know About Generic Adderall (Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine)

A combination drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy

man holding a small white pill

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Generic Adderall is a combination medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It belongs to a group of drugs known as stimulants and comes in the form of a pill.

It’s called a combination drug because it is made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are drugs that stimulate your central nervous system. They work by helping to increase attention and control behavioral problems. 

The generic name for Adderall is dextroamphetamine-amphetamine. It’s also sometimes referred to as amphetamine salts. Generic and brand name drugs perform the same functions and contain the same active ingredients. They are also just as effective and safe as their brand name equivalent.

Generic drugs, however, are cheaper than brand name drugs and might have different inactive ingredients such as coloring.

Uses

Adderall can only be prescribed for use by a doctor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of Adderall for these two conditions: 

  • ADHD: Adderall helps to treat symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention in people with ADHD. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in their brains. This helps to improve symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. Research shows that 75 to 80% of children with ADHD show a significant improvement in their symptoms when they take Adderall.
  • Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and in some cases hallucinations. People living with this condition often find it difficult to stay awake for long periods and can fall asleep in the middle of an activity. Adderall is used to help people with this disorder stay alert during the day by increasing the dopamine levels in the brain. It might also increase serotonin and norepinephrine, which are chemical messengers that promote wakefulness. 

Off-Label Uses

Even though it’s not approved by the FDA to treat any other conditions aside from ADHD and narcolepsy, Adderall is sometimes prescribed for other conditions by some doctors. This is called off-label use. Common off-label uses for Adderall include: 

  • Bipolar disorder: Adderall might be prescribed in combination with other bipolar medication, to help with depressive symptoms of the disorder. 
  • Depression: People who show no signs of responding to other depression medication might be prescribed Adderall. 

Before Taking 

Adderall is a prescription-only drug, which means it can only be given to you by your doctor.

Before Adderall is prescribed, a doctor will determine whether or not you have any allergic reactions to stimulant medication.

Your doctor will also ask about your family history to make sure it’s safe for you. People with a family history of blood circulation problems, depression, Tourette’s syndrome, and other mental conditions are usually discouraged from taking Adderall.

Your doctor will not prescribe Adderall if you’ve taken any monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) fourteen days before your consultation.

Precautions and Contraindications

When talking to your doctor it’s important to disclose if you have any history with the following conditions: 

  • Alcohol or drug dependency: Adderall is a habit-forming drug, which means it can easily be abused. It’s rarely ever prescribed to people with a history of alcohol or drug dependency.
  • History of heart disease: There have been incidents (although rare) of people on Adderall who have experienced heart attacks or strokes. This makes it a high-risk drug for people with a history of heart disease. 
  • High blood pressure: People on Adderall sometimes experience a spike in their blood pressure. If you already have a history of high blood pressure, it might not be prescribed to you.
  • Depression or any other mental conditions: The use of Adderall might cause or worsen symptoms of psychosis.  

Adderall is also not prescribed for pregnant women, as it may cause premature births or other pregnancy complications.

Other Stimulants 

There are other types of stimulant medications also used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD aside from Adderall. Some of them that perform the same functions as Adderall include:

  • Concerta and Ritalin (methylphenidate): Concerta and Ritalin are both made up of methylphenidate, which is the active ingredient in both drugs. Concerta is an extended-release drug, which means that when taken, its active ingredient is slowly released into your body over several hours. It’s usually active for about 10 to 12 hours. Ritalin is an immediate-release drug, this means that its active ingredient is immediately released and can be active for 4 to 6 hours. 
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine): Dexedrine is also sold under the brand name Dextrostat. Its active ingredient is dextroamphetamine.

Dosage

Adderall dosage depends on what form of the drug has been prescribed to you and what condition it's being used to treat. They are two forms of Adderall: immediate-release and extended-release. The generic version of both forms is available. 

The difference between both forms is that while the immediate-release version, as the name suggests, works quickly, the extended-release version takes a longer time for the full effect of the drug to set in. The effects of immediate-release drugs also tend to wear off much quicker than extended-release drugs. 

For ADHD 

  • Immediate-Release: The initial recommended dosage is 5 milligrams (mg), usually prescribed to be taken once or twice a day. If this is not effective, the daily dose might be raised by 5 mg weekly until the ideal dosage is found.
  • Extended-Release: 20 mg once per day is usually recommended.

For Narcolepsy

The immediate-release form of Adderall is what is often prescribed for narcolepsy. The initial dosage is usually a total of 10 mg daily, divided and taken at 4 to 6-hour intervals throughout the day.

Modifications 

In children with ADHD who are between the ages of 3 to 5, an initial dosage of 2.5 mg a day is usually recommended. This might go up according to the child’s needs. For children between the age of 6 and 12 who have narcolepsy, an initial dosage of 5 mg a day is typically recommended.

All listed dosages are according to the drug manufacturer. Check your prescription and talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the right dose for you.

How to Take and Store 

You should take Adderall according to your doctor’s prescription. You can also read the prescription label on the drug if you are unsure of how to take it.

You don’t have to take the pill with food, but you should swallow it whole. Especially if it’s the extended-release form of the drug.

You should also store the drug in a dry place at room temperature. If you miss a dose of your medication, you can take it as soon as you remember. 

Adderall is a drug that is often misused and it's possible to overdose on Adderall. Be sure to only take the dosage prescribed by your doctor and never take someone else's prescription drugs.

Side Effects

Some side effects from regular use of Adderall have been reported. Some are fairly common while in rarer cases they might be more severe. 

Common

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea
  • Constipation 
  • Headache 

Severe

  • Problems with blood flow circulation 
  • Mood swings 
  • Depression 
  • Decreased libido 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Uncontrollable movements 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Blurred vision

Warnings and Interactions 

Certain interactions with other drugs might hinder the effects of Adderall. If you are on an antidepressant that raises your serotonin levels, you should avoid taking Adderall or switch to another antidepressant to avoid developing serotonin syndrome.

Adderall use may also cause false results in certain tests. You should disclose use of the drug to laboratory technicians before any blood and urine tests or brain scans. 

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Article Sources
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