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Strattera vs. Adderall: Risks, Side Effects, and More

Introduction

Strattera and Adderall are both medications
commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They’re
designed to help improve your attention span while decreasing hyperactivity and
impulsiveness. Adderall is also an effective treatment for narcolepsy.

Strattera is the brand-name
version of the drug atomoxetine, and Adderall is the brand-name version of the
combination drug amphetamine/dextroamphetamine. Although they’re both used
primarily to treat ADHD, Adderall and Strattera are very different medications.
Here’s a comparison of their uses, side effects, interactions, and more.

Drug features

Strattera
is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It’s not exactly known how it
works to improve symptoms of ADHD.

Adderall
is a central nervous system stimulant. It works by increasing the release of
neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. These
neurotransmitters are linked to ADHD. Increasing their release is thought to
decrease ADHD symptoms.

The table below summarizes other
important features of these drugs.

Brand name Strattera Adderall
What is the generic name? atomoxetine amphetamine/dextroamphetamine
Is a generic version available? no yes
What does it treat? ADHD ADHD, narcolepsy
What form(s) does it come in? oral capsule oral tablet, extended-release oral capsule
What strengths does it come in? 10 mg, 18 mg, 25 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, 100 mg oral tablet: 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg; extended-release oral capsule: 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, 30 mg
Who is it approved for? adults and children 3 years and older adults and children 6 years and older
What is the typical length of treatment? ask your doctor ask your doctor
Is this a controlled substance*? no yes
Is there a risk of withdrawal†? no yes
Does this drug have potential for misuse¥? no yes

 

*
A controlled substance is a drug that is regulated by the government. If
you take a controlled substance, your doctor must closely supervise your use of
the drug. Never give a controlled substance to anyone else.


If you’ve been taking this drug for longer than a few weeks, do not stop
taking it without talking to your doctor. You’ll need to taper off of the drug
slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, and sleeping
trouble.

¥
This drug has a high misuse potential. This means you can get addicted
to it. Be sure to take this drug exactly as your doctor tells you to. If you
have questions or concerns, talk with your doctor.

Adderall is approved to treat
ADHD in adults and children who are 3 years or older. You may take your dose
once or twice per day based on your doctor’s instructions. To help reduce your
risk of insomnia, don’t take it late at night.

Strattera may be used in adults
and children who are 6 years or older. Your doctor will tell you to take it
once or twice per day. Be sure to swallow the capsules whole. Do not open them
up.

FDA warnings

Adderall and Strattera each have
black box warnings, which are the most serious warnings from the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA).

Strattera has a black box warning
for suicide risk in children and teens.

Adderall contains two black box
warnings that indicate the potential for abuse and the potential for cardiac
events. The drug can be quite habit forming. Adderall may also cause sudden
death and serious heart-related issues. Talk to your doctor to learn more about
these warnings.

Keep reading: Why students are misusing ADHD drugs »

Side effects

Like most medications, Adderall
and Strattera have side effects. The chart below lists examples of side effects
of Strattera and Adderall.

Common side effects Strattera Adderall
nausea X
upset stomach X
vomiting X X
loss of appetite X X
mood swings X X
nervousness X
dry mouth X X
headache X
weight loss X
insomnia X
fatigue X
constipation X
dizziness X X

 

Although
these drugs share several common side effects, their serious side effects are
quite different. The table below lists the serious side effects of these drugs.

Strattera Adderall Both
heart-related problems, especially in people with heart disease heart attack or stroke, especially in people with heart disease slowed growth in children
priapism (an erection that won’t go away) circulation problems, especially in your fingers and toes
trouble urinating blurry vision
liver damage high blood pressure
allergic reaction, such as swelling, hives, skin rash faster heart rate
anxiety and irritability new or worsening psychiatric problems
hostility and aggressiveness seizures, especially if you have a history of seizures
impulsive behavior abuse and dependence
panic attacks withdrawal if you stop taking it suddenly
insomnia
mania
suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children and teens

 

Read more: Effects of Adderall on the body »

Drug interactions

Both Strattera and Adderall can interact
with other medications or supplements. Some substances can make your medication
less effective. Interactions with other drugs can also threaten your health. Be
sure to give your doctor a list of all the drugs and supplements you take, both
prescription and over-the-counter.

The chart below lists examples of
drugs that may interact with Strattera and Adderall.

Strattera Adderall Both
decongestants acidifying agents monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
methylphenidate alkalizing agents, such as sodium bicarbonate medications for high blood pressure
albuterol tricyclic antidepressants
antihistamines such as Benadryl
lithium
proton pump inhibitors
phenytoin
phenobarbital

 

Use with other medical conditions

Some health issues change the way
Strattera or Adderall works in your body. It can be risky to take these drugs
if you have certain problems or conditions. The chart below lists medical
conditions you should discuss with your doctor before taking Strattera or
Adderall.

Strattera Adderall Either
liver problems hardening of the arteries glaucoma
high blood pressure heart disease
hyperthyroidism pregnancy
anxiety
history of substance abuse

 

Both of these drugs are
considered pregnancy category C drugs. This means animal studies have shown
side effects on the fetus, but there aren’t enough studies in humans to tell
what would happen if a woman took them during pregnancy. Let your doctor know
if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. They’ll discuss if these
drugs are safe for you.

Cost, availability, and insurance

Most pharmacies keep both drugs
in stock. At the time this article was written, Strattera cost more than
Adderall. Adderall is also available as a generic drug, and Strattera is not.
Generic drugs usually cost less than their brand-name counterparts. That means
that overall, Adderall will probably be less expensive for you.

Price check
You can check the most recent prices of these drugs on GoodRx.com.

Nevertheless, your out-of-pocket
cost will depend on your health insurance coverage.

Talk with your doctor

If you’re considering Strattera
or Adderall to manage your ADHD, talk with your doctor. In general, both drugs
work well. However, they work in different ways. Your doctor will recommend the
one that’s best for you based on your health, other drugs you take, and other
factors. Keep in mind that if one drug does not work well to treat your ADHD,
there are other options, which you can learn about in Healthline’s ADHD medication list.

Keep reading: How to tell if your ADHD medication is working »

Posted by: Dr.Health

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