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Ritalin Vs Adderall: Which is Best for Studying in 2019? | Nootropic Review

Ritalin Vs Adderall: Which is Best for Studying in 2019? | Nootropic Review


We asked our team of experts to discuss the effects, side-effects, legality and safety of two of the world's favourite nootropics, Ritalin and Adderall and to provide recommendations on what they prefer.

Their answer may surprise you...

By the end of this article, you will also be an expert on all things Adderall and Ritalin.

If you're interested in the topic of Ritalin and Adderall, you should also consider checking out our 7 Best Modafinil Alternatives To Boost Your Brain in 2019 article.



What is Ritalin?

How Does Ritalin Work?

Is Ritalin Legal In The UK?

- What Are Ritalin's Effects?

What Are Ritalin’s Side-Effects?


What Is Adderall?

How Does Adderall Work?

Is Adderall Legal In The UK?

What Are Adderall’s Effects?

What Are Adderall’s Side-Effects?

- Ritalin vs Adderall Dosage

Effective Alternatives To Ritalin & Adderall: BrainZyme®

Conclusion & Differences

smart drugs


Ritalin (also known as concerta or methylphenidate) 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 in the UK, but many students in Great Britain do use Ritalin as a 'study drug'.*

What is Ritalin?

ritalin tablets

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.

Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta actually have the same active ingredient, but the three of these substances still have different results.

If you would like to read more about Ritalin, then click here to go to our ultimate UK Ritalin guide or continue reading below.

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.

Quick Tip: BrainZyme Professional works as a great alternative to synthetic smart drugsQuick Tip:
Adderall and Ritalin's mechanism of action is (by a large degree) to act on the brain neurotransmitter dopamine, of which one pathway has a major motivational component. It can for some also increase wakefulness and decrease appetite.

If you want a powerful natural alternative that works on the same pathway (and thus have similar results with fewer side-effects), you should try BrainZyme® Professional.

ritalin 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 and is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy.

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.

Effects tend to last for around 2-3 hours, and reviews of Ritalin suggest it is similar to other pharmaceuticals.

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 a 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.

ritalin side effects

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 (concerta) 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.

Of course, different people can experience different side-effects, and some people won't experience any at all.

If you would like to read more about Ritalin side-effects, then please click here.


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.

adderall effects

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.

adderall for studying

For a legal alternative, click here to learn more about natural nootropics.

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.

Adderall reviews are mostly positive - but a fair number of users report side effects that can become rather severe.

What Are Adderall’s Side-Effects?

Adderall can often cause decreased appetite, stomach aches, or nervousness. Other side-effects include (but aren't limited to) nausea, diarrhoea, and vomiting.

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, which are generally minor unless a pre-existing condition results in complications.

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.

adderall side effects

Ritalin Vs Adderall Dosage

For the average adult who takes Ritalin, the average dose is around 20-30mg, with doctors not recommending exceeding 60 mg.

Adderall is about the same, but Adderall has a greater chance of fostering a physical dependency so it is recommended to start low, about 5-10mg and build up in increments of 5-10mg until you achieve the required results.

Effective Alternatives To Ritalin & Adderall: BrainZyme®

The risk of side-effects that can occur by taking Adderall, Ritalin and other similar substances can actually lead to lower productivity long-term.

That's why we recommend you use a natural brain food supplement instead.

We recommend BrainZyme, as it has been scientifically proven to support concentration, mental performance and the reduction of tiredness in under one hour.

You can learn more about why BrainZyme makes a fantastic alternative to pharmaceutical nootropics by clicking here.

Conclusion & Differences

As this article has illustrated, Ritalin and Adderall have some marked differences.  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 in turn, Ritalin may be less likely to damage or deplete your brain’s dopamine or norepinephrine systems. 

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 (risk of side effects), meaning it may have more research done on it and might be more well-understood by doctors. 

That said, amphetamines can cause real problems such as addiction for people who take them - they certainly aren't less dangerous even if they are more well-known.

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 differences seem to be in chemical composition and side effects. 

Adderall is a composite drug of several different amphetamines, while Ritalin contains only methylphenidate. 

Ritalin seems to have the potential to cause vision problems, compared with Adderall. 

However, Adderall generally seems to be stronger, both in its effects and side effects. 

As mentioned earlier, Ritalin's effects may also wear off faster than Adderall's.

Nevertheless, both drugs have the potential to cause numerous side effects, and both are illegal to possess without a prescription in the UK.

This makes them risky to take as ‘smart drugs’, and there are both legal and physical risks 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.

If you've enjoyed this article, you should also consider checking out the following related articles:

The Ultimate 2019 Adderall UK Guide: Legality, Alternatives & More.

The Ultimate Ritalin UK Guide - Uses, Side Effects and Legality in the UK.

Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones To Try and Which To Avoid.

* = Important note - whilst BrainZyme is scientifically proven to support concentration and mental performance, it is not a replacement for a good diet, moderate exercise or sleep. BrainZyme is also not a drug, medicine or pharmaceutical. It is a natural-sourced, vegan food supplement with ingredients that are scientifically proven to support cognition, concentration, mental performance and reduction of tiredness. You should always consult with your Doctor if you require medical attention.
** = Anecdotally, the improved concentration from BrainZyme enables increased motivation.


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