Ritalin Vs Adderall
This article will examine the differences between Ritalin and Adderall, two of the most popular ‘smart drugs’ available today. It will look at what these two drugs are, their legality in the UK, their effects and their side effects. We will also present some effective alternatives to these two ‘smart drugs’, in the form of 'natural nootropics'.
At the end of this article, we will summarise and share our favourite 'natural nootropic'.
Ritalin is a widely-used prescription drug, which might also be used as a ‘smart drug’ by students or other individuals. Its popularity is greater in America than the UK, but many students in Great Britain do use Ritalin as a 'study drug'.*
What is Ritalin?
Ritalin is the brand name for methylphenidate. Methylphenidate was first synthesised in 1944, and has been used medically since the 1950s. It was originally marketed as a ‘pep pill’, to boost energy and productivity. Today, Ritalin is used as a treatment for ADHD, narcolepsy, and other disorders. As mentioned, it’s also used as a ‘smart drug’ by some people.
How Does Ritalin Work?
Ritalin works primarily through increasing levels of dopamine in the brain, by blocking dopamine dissipation. Dopamine is the ‘pleasure neurotransmitter’, and has numerous effects on the body, chief amongst which is increasing feelings of pleasure. It can also boost executive function, and has numerous other effects.
It also works in a similar, though less potent, way with the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, blocking uptake in the brain so the neurotransmitter builds up more. Norepinephrine promotes alertness and vigilance, as it contributes to the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Is Ritalin Legal In The UK?
No. Ritalin is a Class B drug in the UK, which means it is illegal to sell or possess without a prescription. The maximum penalties for possession are a 5 year prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or both, and sellers risk 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. However, it is available on prescription from the NHS.
What Are Ritalin's Effects?
Ritalin increases wakefulness, and can help people concentrate on their work. This is because a boost to dopamine can drive you to concentrate more. As a result, Ritalin is prescribed for people with ADHD, narcolepsy or other conditions associated with fatigue or lack of concentration. Ritalin may also be prescribed for depression in some instances. Ritalin’s effects tend to last for around 2-3 hours.
What Are Ritalin’s Side-Effects?
Most studies into Ritalin’s side effects are on people with ADHD, meaning they might not be applicable to people using it as a ‘smart drug’. As they do not have a cognitive 'need' for Ritalin, there may be different side effects if it is used by people who do not suffer from a mental disorder.
Ritalin's common side effects include headache, decreased appetite, stomach ache, nervousness, trouble sleeping and nausea. More serious side effects might include seizures, problems with vision, cardiovascular issues or circulation problems.
The NHS also prescribes methylphenidate as an ADHD treatment. They say that increases in blood pressure, increases in heart rate, loss of appetite (which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain), trouble sleeping, headaches, stomach aches and mood swings are among the common side effects associated with the drug.
Other studies of Ritalin's side effects have found that it can, rarely, cause psychological problems. It can activate or exacerbate pre-existing mental issues, and precipitate hypomanic or manic symptoms and paranoid psychosis. While quite uncommon, it's important to bear these symptoms in mind as potential side effects of Ritalin nevertheless. Consult with your doctor prior to using Ritalin, prescribed or off-label, if you suffer from psychiatric problems, heart issues or problems with your vision.
Adderall is a medication, used to treat similar disorders to Ritalin: frequently, ADHD or narcolepsy. However, Adderall is also used quite often as a ‘smart drug’ or ‘study drug’ by people without a prescription for it.*
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is an amphetamine, and is prescribed for the treatment for disorders such as ADHD and narcolepsy. It was first used in the 1990s to treat ADHD, and continues to be used medically. More generally, amphetamines have been used since the 1930s for numerous purposes, and are powerful stimulants.
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall works in a similar, though not identical, way to Ritalin. Adderall increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, but primarily by increasing the amount that is released as well as inhibiting its dissipation. This may mean that Adderall might deplete your stores of these neurotransmitters more readily than Ritalin.
Is Adderall Legal In The UK?
Like Ritalin, Adderall is a Class B drug in the UK, which means it is illegal to sell or possess without a prescription. The maximum penalties for possession are a 5 year prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or both, and sellers risk 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. Again, it is available on prescription from the NHS as a treatment for ADHD and other disorders, though it seems to be very rarely prescribed. Dexamphetamine, a primary ingredient in Adderall, is also prescribed on its own by the NHS.
What Are Adderall’s Effects?
Adderall is able to help people with ADHD or narcolepsy overcome their disorders, by improving their focus and wakefulness. Adderall may also be used in some rarer cases to treat chronic pain or depression. As an amphetamine, Adderall can cause weight loss, and in very rare cases it might be prescribed as an extreme treatment for obesity. Adderall’s effects tend to be longer-lasting than Ritalin’s, often persisting for 4 to 6 hours.
What Are Adderall’s Side-Effects?
Adderall can often cause decreased appetite, stomach aches, or nervousness. Other side-effects include nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting among other potential issues.
Adderall use can cause or exacerbate psychiatric problems, and can also cause heart issues that could be very severe. This is admittedly rare: Adderall most commonly causes hypertension or tachycardia. Studies indicate that side effects from chronic use of Adderall may include ‘psychosis, seizures and cardiovascular events’.
Other common side effects of Adderall are insomnia, emotional lability, nervousness, increased body temperature (potentially developing into hyperthermia) and fever. Most of these are described as ‘time limited’, meaning they disappear soon after discontinuing use of Adderall. Regardless, if you suffer from psychiatric or cardiovascular problems, speak with a doctor before using Adderall either prescribed or off-label.
Alternatives To Ritalin & Adderall: Natural Nootropics
If you want to take a 'smart drug' like Ritalin or Adderall, but would also like to avoid the potential for side effects, then consider a ‘natural nootropic’.
'Natural nootropics' are fast growing in popularity among both experienced nootropic and new users. Why? Because they can deliver similar results but by using natural, herbal or protein based ingredients.
For example, the leading natural nootropic BrainZyme uses Tyrosine, which has been found to boost dopamine in the brain in a similar way to Adderall or Ritalin. But, as it's from a naturally occurring protein rather than a synthetic pharmaceutical, it can arguably cause less of the side-effects associated with either of these drugs.
Conclusion & Differences
As this article has illustrated, both Ritalin and Adderall have some issues. Both drugs are quite similar in their mode of action and effects, however Ritalin’s effects tend to be more short-lived, and might be less intense, but it might in turn be less likely to deplete your brain’s stores of dopamine or norepinephrine. Conversely, Adderall is by many reports stronger but can cause some more severe problems.
Adderall’s primary ingredient - amphetamine - has been in existence for longer than methylphenidate, meaning it may have more research done on it, and might be more well-understood by doctors. If you suffer from a disorder for which you might be prescribed Ritalin or Adderall, and want to find out more about the options regarding medication, please speak with your doctor.
The primary difference does, in fact, seem to be in chemical composition and their side effects. Adderall is a composite drug of several different amphetamines, while Ritalin appears to contain only methylphenidate. And, Ritalin seems to have the potential to cause vision problems while Adderall may generally be stronger, both in its effects and side effects. And, as mentioned earlier, Ritalin may also last less time than Adderall.
Nevertheless, both drugs have the potential to cause numerous side effects, and both are in fact illegal to possess without a prescription in the UK. This makes them risky to take as ‘smart drugs’, and there might be severe downsides to their off-label use.
This makes natural nootropics an attractive alternative, as they provide a similar degree of effectiveness as 'smart drugs', while avoiding the majority of their side effects, particularly on the more severe end of the scale. As a result, the need to use Adderall and Ritalin as ‘smart drugs’ lowers tremendously.
Our Favourite Natural Nootropic
We believe in BrainZyme, a 'natural nootropic' cognitive enhancer. We believe there has been a scientifically rigorous approach taken to formulate it with a variety of superfood, herbal, amino A, vitamin and mineral ingredients. In this case, 'natural nootropics' can be far more useful to your brain than pharmaceutical based ones.
In evaluating BrainZyme, we like the fact that it can actually help support your concentration and motivation** naturally - and it's also a great plus for us that it's made in the UK, safe, legal and affordable (less than 1/2 the price of a synthetic nootropic like Ritalin or Adderall). Both media reviews and customer reviews agree that BrainZyme is a great way to help your cognitive performance.
We personally all have tried BrainZyme and found it to be excellent for improving concentration, motivation, mental energy levels - and as such we think it might be the best 'natural nootropic/smart pill' in 2018.
However, we’d always encourage you to do your own research, and find what works for you personally.