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Understanding The Difference Between Adderall IR And Adderall XR (Detailed Comparison)

Understanding The Difference Between Adderall IR And Adderall XR (Detailed Comparison)

Adderall is a combination of two substances, amphetamine, and dextroamphetamine, which doctors use to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Adderall IR (immediate-release) and Adderall XR (extended-release) are two different forms of this medication.

There are two main types of Adderall: an immediate-release kind (often referred to as “Adderall IR”) and an extended-release variety (Adderall XR). While Adderall XR normally lasts 10–12 hours, Adderall IR typically only addresses ADHD symptoms for roughly 5-8 hours.

Drug Enforcement Administration classifies both as Schedule II substances.

In this article, we will be looking into the differences between these two medications, from an overview, dosage, and potential side effects to how to choose which one to take. Let’s dive in!


Adderall IR and Adderall XR are two forms of the same medication: amphetamine-dextroamphetamine. They are used for the treatment of narcolepsy and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

However, their form, preparation, release speed, effects on the body, side effects, and recommended dosages differ.

Let’s compare Adderall IR with Adderall XR so that you can make an informed decision on which is best for you.

Adderall IR Vs. Adderall XR

Adderall IR (Instant Release) and Adderall XR (Extended Release) are two medications used to treat ADHD.

The main difference between them is in the way they are formulated.

Adderall IR is released into the body quickly, and its effects last between four and six hours. This allows for multiple daily doses, providing people with ADHD with symptom relief as needed.

Adderall XR, on the other hand, has a slightly different chemical formula that releases medication over a much longer period, generally around 12 hours.

This eliminates the need for multiple daily doses but does not provide immediate or rapid symptom relief. It’s important to understand your situation and talk to your doctor about which medication may work best for you.

Dosage Differences

Instant Release is taken every 4-6 hours
Instant Release is taken every 4-6 hours.

When it comes to understanding the disparities between Adderall IR (instant-release) and Adderall XR (extended-release), one of the most significant distinctions is dosage.

Adderall IR is taken every four to six hours throughout the day, with a maximum daily dose of 40 mg.

On the other hand, Adderall XR is taken just once a day, with doses ranging from 10 mg to 30 mg, depending on your doctor’s recommendation. In addition, due to its extended-release formulation, it may take up to three hours for you to start feeling the effects of an Adderall XR dose.

Adderall IR is available as a tablet, while Adderall XR is available as a capsule. The XR capsules include immediate-release and delayed-release beads, resulting in prolonged effects.

As a result, one 20mg Adderall XR dose is equivalent to one 10mg Adderall IR dose followed by another 10mg Adderall IR dose four hours later.

Let’s cover the differences between Adderall IR and XR in the table below:

 FeaturesAdderall IRAdderall XR
Impact TimeAdderall IR is readily absorbed by the body and has a half-life of four to six hours.Adderall XR has a slightly different chemical makeup that allows the medication to be released over a considerably longer time, typically around 12 hours.
DosageThe maximum daily dose of Adderall IR is 40 mg, taken every four to six hours throughout the day.It is used once daily in doses ranging from 10 mg to 30 mg, depending on your doctor’s advice.
FormOral tabletOral capsule
Used ByAdults and children aged three and upAdults and children aged six and up
Adderall IR vs. Adderall XR

To gain more insight into the difference between these two, watch the YouTube video below.

Let’s find the difference.

Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects of Adderall IR and Adderall XR include headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, dizziness, and dry mouth. Others include diarrhea, constipation, irritability, restlessness, or jitteriness. Individuals might also experience heart palpitations or chest pain.

In rare cases, it can cause increased blood pressure, an irregular heart rate, or acute liver injury. Contact your doctor immediately if you have a major adverse response to the medication.

According to research, IR stimulants are more likely to be abused and misdirected. To speed up the start of its effects, some users describe breaking up the tablets and inhaling the powder.

Individuals’ reasons for usage and diversion include seeking to increase alertness, and concentration, experience a high, or experiment.

Abuse of Adderall, whether IR or XR, can result in the development of a substance misuse disorder. Professionals should treat those who have substance use issues.

Whether a person’s substance use disorder is caused by Adderall IR, Adderall XR, another prescription stimulant, or another type of substance, research-based care can assist them in learning.

Medication Interactions Of Adderall IR And Adderall XR

  • Both versions of Adderall have comparable medication interactions. Adderall and Adderall XR can interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), alkalizing medications, and CYP2D6 inhibitors.
  • Taking these medicines with Adderall can raise amphetamine levels in the blood, raising the chance of adverse effects.
  • Adderall and Adderall XR can also interact with acidifying agents, lowering amphetamine levels in the blood. Taking these medications together may reduce the effects of Adderall.
  • Adderall and Adderall XR can reduce the effectiveness of beta-blockers and hypertension medicines (blood pressure-lowering medications).
  •  This is due to the stimulant effects of amphetamine, which can raise blood pressure.

Which Conditions Are Treated By Both?

Both types of Adderall are FDA-approved for the treatment of ADHD.

ADHD is a long-term mental illness that affects children, adolescents, and adults. Inattention, impulsiveness, and restlessness are the most common symptoms of ADHD. Adderall, as a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant, can assist balance of brain chemicals in promoting focus.

Adderall is also licensed to treat narcolepsy, a sleep condition characterized by excessive daytime drowsiness and unexpected sleep attacks. Narcolepsy patients have interrupted sleep-wake cycles, which might interfere with their everyday work and social activities.

Although Adderall XR is rarely used, for this reason, Adderall IR can help reduce these symptoms and improve wakefulness.

Off-label Adderall usage may include the treatment of depression and anxiety, particularly in those who already have ADHD. Approximately 75% of persons with ADHD have another disorder.

Some practitioners may prescribe a stimulant in conjunction with an antidepressant to treat both ADHD and depression. Other research has shown that stimulant substances such as Adderall can be beneficial in treating ADHD with anxiety.

Which One Is More Effective?

Adderall and Adderall XR contain the same active components that can be used to treat ADHD symptoms.

Because ADHD treatment is tailored to your unique symptoms and medication response, either type of Adderall may be effective for you.

Both contain the same active components
Both contain the same active components.

Adults and children may forget to take their second Adderall dose later in the day. This could cause benefits to fade throughout the day. Adderall XR provides the advantage of a once-daily dose schedule and effects that can last all day at work or school.

Adderall XR is well tolerated and may have fewer side effects, particularly in persons with heart or blood pressure concerns.

According to several pieces of research, extended-release Adderall benefits people with high blood pressure (hypertension). Adderall XR was also proven to be long-term safe and effective in treating ADHD.

Adderall XR tablets contain tiny medication particles. Some doctors advise their patients to open the capsules and mix the beads with soft meals such as applesauce. Adderall XR can be a good therapeutic choice for people with difficulty swallowing medicine.

Your overall condition and symptoms determine whether you are prescribed Adderall IR or Adderall XR. These medications’ dosing is very customized and, in some situations, must be changed over time.

Consult your doctor about your potential treatment options.

How To Choose Which To Take?

Choosing the right medicine
Choosing the right medicine

Regarding Adderall IR and Adderall XR, the two prescription medicines are very similar but have some important differences. The most important factor when deciding which to take is your doctor’s recommendation, as they will be familiar with your situation.

Additionally, discuss any side effects or allergies you may have experienced with either substance in the past so that you can make an informed decision. Depending on your body chemistry and the desired long-lasting relief, one of these prescription medicines may be better suited for you than the other.

Ultimately, understanding the difference between Adderall IR and XR is essential for making an educated choice to best meet your individual needs.


  • In conclusion, it is essential to thoroughly understand the differences between Adderall IR and Adderall XR when considering medication for ADHD.
  • Adderall IR is a fast-acting form of immediate-release medication that works quickly but does not last very long.
  • On the other hand, Adderall XR is an extended-release form of the same medication with a slower onset but longer-lasting effects.
  • Knowing which type will work best for you or your child’s condition can help ensure that they get the best treatment possible.

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