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Dextroamphetamine vs. Adderall: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 12, 2023
Dextroamphetamine is a single isomer amphetamine compound, while Adderall is a mixed amphetamine salt composed of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine.

Key Differences

Dextroamphetamine emerges as a potent psychostimulant, primarily amplifying the concentration of specific neurotransmitters within the neural synapses. Notably, it exerts its influence predominantly by enhancing the synaptic concentration of norepinephrine and dopamine. Contrarily, Adderall embeds itself as a brand name prescription medication that amalgamates two active ingredients: dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. These combine to facilitate a broad-spectrum modulation of neurotransmitters, ensuring an augmented effect compared to dextroamphetamine alone.
The utilization of dextroamphetamine often finds its alignment with conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and occasionally, narcolepsy, due to its capability to enhance focus and minimize unwarranted fatigue. On the flip side, Adderall, also a prevalent option for managing ADHD, garners an additional utility belt due to its dual active components, becoming favorable for cases demanding a more sustained release and an extensive duration of therapeutic effects. These divergent pharmacokinetic profiles bestow different therapeutic values on dextroamphetamine and Adderall.
It's pivotal to acknowledge that dextroamphetamine, as a singular entity, perpetuates a specific physiological and psychological influence, focusing heavily on influencing dopaminergic pathways. Meanwhile, Adderall, by virtue of its composition, secures a somewhat varied neurological influence, establishing a balance between dopaminergic and noradrenergic pathways, attributing a distinct psychoactive and therapeutic profile when contrasted with dextroamphetamine.
A discourse on dextroamphetamine also brings forth discussions regarding side-effects, which might encapsulate elements like insomnia, increased heart rate, and potential anxiety. Adderall, while sharing a semblance of side-effect profiles with dextroamphetamine due to its inherent components, might also usher in a different spectrum of side effects or varied intensities of similar side effects, considering the presence of levoamphetamine, which might influence both the central nervous system and peripheral systems distinctively.
Despite the evident differences between dextroamphetamine and Adderall, it’s indispensable to appreciate their convergences, especially regarding their classification as Schedule II controlled substances in the United States. This underlines their potential for abuse and dependency, thereby necessitating judicious prescription and administration. It’s the nuanced distinctions in their pharmacodynamics, therapeutic applications, and side-effect profiles that delineate the strategic applications of dextroamphetamine and Adderall in clinical settings.

Comparison Chart

Constituent Salts

Singular active component
Mixture of dextro- and levoamphetamine

Brand or Generic

Often available as generic
Branded medication

Therapeutic Duration

Generally shorter
Can be longer due to mixed salts

Pharmacological Action

Mainly on dopamine
On both dopamine and norepinephrine

Usage Popularity

Somewhat less popular
More commonly prescribed

Dextroamphetamine and Adderall Definitions


Dextroamphetamine is commonly prescribed to manage Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
After being diagnosed with ADHD, Jake started taking dextroamphetamine to help him focus at work.


Adderall combines dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, enhancing its therapeutic efficacy.
Adderall is often chosen over other stimulants due to its mixture of amphetamine salts.


Dextroamphetamine is a psychostimulant utilized to enhance attention and focus.
Many students use dextroamphetamine to improve their concentration during exams.


Adderall is widely recognized for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
The doctor prescribed Adderall to help manage Sam’s ADHD symptoms.


Dextroamphetamine was once used for its appetite-suppressing properties.
In the past, dextroamphetamine was sometimes utilized to assist with weight loss due to its ability to suppress appetite.


Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, denoting a risk of abuse and dependence.
Although Adderall is effective for ADHD, its status as a controlled substance requires meticulous prescription practices.


Dextroamphetamine can be used to address the symptoms of narcolepsy by promoting wakefulness.
To manage her narcolepsy and prevent sudden sleep episodes, Lisa was prescribed dextroamphetamine.


Adderall is sometimes illicitly used by students seeking enhanced focus during study sessions.
Despite the risks, some students use Adderall to pull all-nighters before exams.


Dextroamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, indicating a high potential for abuse.
Despite its effectiveness in treating ADHD, dextroamphetamine must be used cautiously due to its potential for dependence and abuse.


Adderall may suppress appetite, an effect sometimes considered in weight management.
Some people experience significant appetite suppression when taking Adderall.


A drug, C9H13N, that is the dextrorotatory isomer of amphetamine and is used in the form of its sulfate salt as a central nervous system stimulant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. It is used illegally as a stimulant.


(pharmaceutical drug) One of the stereoisomers of amphetamine, with the chemical formula C9H13N, that is used to stimulate the central nervous system.


Can dextroamphetamine be used for weight loss?

Historically, it was used for this purpose due to its appetite-suppressing effects, but it's not a recommended use today.

What is the primary difference between dextroamphetamine and Adderall?

Dextroamphetamine is a single-compound medication, while Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine.

Is Adderall effective in treating ADHD?

Yes, it is commonly prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms effectively.

Is dextroamphetamine available in various formulations?

Yes, it is available in various forms, such as tablets and extended-release capsules.

How does Adderall affect neurotransmitters?

Adderall increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

What is dextroamphetamine used for?

Primarily to treat ADHD and narcolepsy by enhancing focus and alertness.

What are common side effects of Adderall?

They can include insomnia, dry mouth, increased heart rate, and anxiety.

How is Adderall dosage determined?

Dosage is based on factors like age, medical condition, and response to treatment, and should be determined by a healthcare professional.

How should dextroamphetamine be stored?

It should be stored in a secure location at room temperature, away from light and moisture.

How often should Adderall be taken?

The frequency is based on the prescribed dosage and should be determined by a healthcare professional.

Is Adderall addictive?

Yes, Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and addiction.

Can dextroamphetamine interact with other medications?

Yes, it can interact with various medications, affecting their efficacy or causing side effects.

Can Adderall impact physical health?

Yes, side effects can include heart issues, appetite changes, and potential impact on growth in children.

Is Adderall suitable for all age groups?

Adderall is typically prescribed for children over the age of 3, adolescents, and adults, with careful dosage considerations.

Can dextroamphetamine affect mental health?

Yes, it can impact mood and mental health, sometimes causing agitation or mood swings.

What precautions should be considered when taking dextroamphetamine?

Precautions include considering heart health, mental health history, and potential interactions with other medications or substances.

Can dextroamphetamine cause insomnia?

Yes, insomnia is a potential side effect of dextroamphetamine.

Is Adderall a brand name?

Yes, Adderall is a branded medication combining dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine.

Can dextroamphetamine influence academic performance?

It can enhance focus and attention in individuals with ADHD, but its effects on academic performance are varied.

Can dextroamphetamine be utilized for conditions other than ADHD or narcolepsy?

Its primary uses are for ADHD and narcolepsy, but off-label uses should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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