Adult ADHD, Adderall or Ritalin? - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Adult ADHD, Adderall or Ritalin?

johnfamilyman profile image
28 Replies

Hi I’m 67-year-old male diagnosed five years ago ADHD and alcoholic in recovery for 11 years.

Has anybody with adult ADHD experienced nothing using Ritalin and switched to try Adderall?

I have not experienced any benefit from Ritalin 40 to 60mg during the past 8 months. My psychiatrist wrote me a new Rx for; Adderall, 10 mg twice a day.

What’s your experience been on Ritalin and switch to Adderall.

I would appreciate your comments!

Thank you all to this wonderful support and community for adult ADHD.

28 Replies
Giancarlo97 profile image

None if you were or have a history of substance abuse no stimulant medications will be good for you it will lead to more addiction.

hsouter profile image
hsouter in reply to Giancarlo97

I think your comment was out of concern... Still, I think the questioner stated that he is in recovery and is working with a qualified healthcare professional, so his choice to pursue medication as one option to address his ADD should be respected. I think he has come here to learn from other people’s experience if they choose to share and not for judgement.

Giancarlo97 profile image
Giancarlo97 in reply to hsouter

Wasn’t judgmental I was just stating what it says on all research from those medications that I did for 5 months or more all the controlled substance 2 are extremely addictive and have be very very supervised for peeps with history it’s more out of concern because even if he’s in recovery it can damage it on the long term adderall is addictive on the long term as long as he’s on low dose with of course supervised by his neurologist or psychologist it’s fine I’m just saying what it says on the medications guide I got and also on all research your free to do won’t say anything different than what I’ve said.

hsouter profile image
hsouter in reply to Giancarlo97

Yes. Ritalin, Alderall and other stimulants CAN BE addictive IF it is used by those who do NOT require them for conditions that may be treated by their use under the careful supervision of a qualified medical professional. It seems this member IS under such supervision. Therefore, I think he likely is wanting to learn from the experiences of others as PATIENTS so he could consider them and discuss them with his qualified healthcare profession. Perhaps I am mistaken, but that is how I took his post...

Giancarlo97 profile image
Giancarlo97 in reply to hsouter

Yeah that’s all I was trying to say at first well hopefully, and yeah judging not really my thing I’m more caring but yeah you understood got the point so good have a good day hsouter

johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to Giancarlo97

I’ve tried Strattera but that didn’t do anything for me the Ridellan didn’t do anything for me so I’m starting on Adderall

johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to Giancarlo97


Thank you for your reply and I respect your comments. Yes, ADD “ controlled substance” meds can lead to addiction.

I am an alcoholic - in Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step recovery program. I have 11 years sober, an AA home group I attend and a sponsor and a God of my understanding. During this time I have experienced many AA’s share about there alcoholism and (ADHD self diagnosis.)

For this alcoholic in recovery, I have a daily reprieve from alcoholism based on my spiritual connection and Practicing the spiritual 12 steps of AA.

Your response is greatly appreciated

Thanks John

gettingitdone profile image
gettingitdone in reply to johnfamilyman

I know this post was 7 months ago but I had to applaud you on your recovery. A lot of the time people have an addiction problem due to undiagnosed ADD. If only they would have known and could have had treatment, their life may have been different. Keep taking it one day at a time my friend. Sincerely, a friend of Bill's.

OwlyCat profile image
OwlyCat in reply to Giancarlo97

If taking a stimulant medication for diagnosed ADHD (those who truly have ADHD), it can actually lower rates of substance abuse (including alcoholism). It affects impulsivity and the need to self-medicate.

When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I began taking Adderall IR. Over the course of a couple of months, and I stopped drinking soda and I quit smoking. These were both unintentional (but positive) side effects that came with the medication. Every day I craved these things less and less. I might not be an alcoholic, but I was certainly self-medicating with 6-7 Diet Cokes and 10 cigarettes per day.

Read peer-reviewed journal articles that discuss studies showing that addiction rates are much lower when one takes the proper stimulant medication to help ADHD symptoms.

Just because this person is an alcoholic doesn’t necessarily mean that stimulants are off the table. They could actually help with the alcohol addiction.

Please consult your doctor and make sure he/she knows about any medical history, including alcoholism.

Sara1985 profile image

I tried Ritalin but it did nothing for me. I've been on Adderall for about 5 years now and it has worked well once I figured out the right dose. I also found that the extended release capsules work better than the tablets which seem to wear off quicker even though I was taking half a dose in the morning and the other half at lunchtime. We have to consider though that everyone responds to different meds differently than other people so it's all about finding what works best for you. Best wishes!

GregorysMom profile image
GregorysMom in reply to Sara1985

I was put on Ritalin for the first time last year at 68 years of age. For the first time in my life I could focus better in spite of my mental health professionals knowing for years that I had ADHD.

Ritalin is better for focus than nothing but I would be interested to learn if adderal is even better. If you don't know what sharp focus is like, how do you know you have a problem, except when you get cold flaky or space cadet etc. It was only with my latest psychiatrist in a long line of them, who said let's try you on it. (And that's with good medical coverage). Friends immediately noticed my conversation patterns work clearer, and even my tennis improved because I could focus on the ball! BUT if it could get better I'd certainly like to know.

johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to Sara1985

Sara, thanks for the reply:

The trial and error method on the ADHD meds is very tiresome it’s hard to understand that this is how you have to figure out how to be treated on the meds for ADHD. but then ADHD is a difficult and I have and chronic mental health disorder.


johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to Sara1985

Sara thanks Your comments are greatly appreciated John

Lmcdon1234 profile image

My only experience with adderall is after using for awhile it made me really anxious. Now I’m not on it at all and suffer from panic attacks.

johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to Lmcdon1234


Well it’s good to know what your action is so I can monitor how I feel thank you


johnfamilyman profile image

Hi mom, You’ve just written and told my story in the same age bracket been on Ritalin Didn’t seem to find much of an improvement for about 10 months and then I asked my psychiatrist if I could start on Adderall or, it was oh that’s much stronger the dosage is going to be a little lower but there has been a slight improvement today is day to take 10 mg in the morning 10 at lunch I’ll see what happens

Hi John,

I'm also an Alcoholic and ADDer in Recovery. I've been sober for 24 years, and found out that I have ADHD about 2 years ago. As you know, AA members are chuck full of opinions on this subject. That being said, AA as a whole has no opinion on outside issues, and ADHD is an outside issue.

Time-released Vyvanse has worked pretty well for me. I'm on a low dose of 20mg. Insurance wouldn't pay for it until I tried something cheaper, like Adderall. Adderall didn't work well for me personally because it starts and stops working so quickly and leaves me in an unprotected ADHD state in the late afternoon. Given my addiction history, my Med Manager thought Vyvanse would be better choice because of how its effectively diminishes more slowly. While those with a history of addiction to speed could be susceptible to stimulants, there's no medical evidence that ADHD stimulant meds CAUSE addiction. Simulants have been found to be very effective at relieving of Executive Function challenges, with most people finding 'some' relief and some people finding a lot of relief.

There are other approaches for alleviating challenges of ADHD: Exercise, certain nutrients like Activated Folate, B6, Zinc and Fish Oil, consistent mindfulness practice, ADHD Coaching, support groups of ADHD adults (like those found in CHADD and ADDA at, gratitude lists work well to help refocus, Dynamic Proprioceptive Activities (climb a tree, balance on a ball) for Rumination, boundary work, managing underlying conditions like Apnea to get a good night sleep, eating well, etc. Hope that helps. If you want to chat more, feel free to reach out. Warmest Regards, Will W

KiminWis profile image

Hi John,

I'm 63 years old and have been on meds since 2006 for ADD(inattentive type). I have been on Ritalin for 7 or 8 years. I was taking 40mg ERT + 10mg IR in the morning and 40mg ERT + 10mg IR at noon for at least the last 2-3 years. I didn't feel like they were working very well any longer so I talked to my doctor about switching to Adderall. So, last October (2019) He switched me to Adderall XR 20mg in AM and 20mg at noon. I didn't notice ANY difference to speak of. Then my doctor left the clinic and I had to get a new doctor. My first appt with the new doctor, I said I didn't think Adderall was helping enough. Well, new doctor had a whole new philosophy about ADD meds and gave me the lecture right off about how addicting they were blah, blah, blah. I left that first appointment feeling accused of being an addict and at the same time she increased my dose to 40mg in AM and 20mg at noon, but wrote for the IR(Immediate release or short acting) instead of the XR. I questioned the pharmacist when I picked up the prescription, and she assured me that is what the doctor wrote, so, not wanting to argue with this new doc I sucked it up and took it home and tried it. Needless to say, it was not a good month. I was pretty much done for the day by 4pm and if I was home, I was asleep by 5pm. Any scheduled evening activities I was totally useless, my brain was just done for the day. When I had my month follow-up I told her I had no idea she was changing me to the short acting and told her I did not remember discussing it (thinking it was my ADD and I just missed that part of the conversation), and then I said I left last month feeling accused of being an addict. Well she admitted she made an error in writing the prescription, apologized, and then I said she had no concerns about me having any addictive tendencies!! Once we got that out of the way, I said I didn't think Adderall worked any better than Ritalin, and we decided to go back to taking Ritalin. She refused to prescribe the amount I was on previously, (100mg/day) and said the most she would allow was 60mg/day. So, Ok, I start taking 60mg ERT per day, 40mg in the morning and 20mg at noon. I honestly can't tell the difference, and I'm surprised by that. So I'm sticking with Ritalin 60mg per day which according to this new doctor is the max dose. I checked with the pharmacist, and she said 60mg is the RECOMMENDED max dose but the literature says "some people may need up to 100mg/day". Either way, I can't say I felt any difference between Ritalin and all. I'm going to work with a therapist now who specializes in ADD and see if that helps. I have never EVER felt taking ADD meds have helped me a LOT. I know without them, I might as well stay home, sit in a chair and look out the window watching the world go by because that's about all I can be good at. As far as the addicting part, I'm not addicted and I know that because I can stop at any time and I am not crushing them and snorting them to get high which is what those without ADD do to get high. I feel if you have ADD these meds will not work to get you "high". I wouldn't take them if I didn't need them to function and they certainly don't give me any kind of super power when it comes to focus. I still struggle with the many of the typical ADD challenges, meds haven't been able to solve that. I've been able to muddle through life using many compensatory strategies I have created on my own. I also use my cell phone for many reminders and take notes or tape conversations so I can review them later. You have to adapt how your brain works to the world to get by. I have recently been researching L-tyrosine, an amino acid that helps build neurotransmitters. I ran that by my doctor at my appt a few days ago and she gave me the go ahead to try it. I haven't ordered it yet, but I'm thinking it may make my ADD meds work better.

Sorry so long, this whole ADD thing is such a process...


johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to KiminWis

Thanks Kim!

Lady67 profile image
Lady67 in reply to KiminWis

I can totally relate to this! I have been in such a flux since December 2019, when I lost my long term physician because she didn’t accept Medicare! I am on the third doctor (and I researched them beforehand) and have switched to a new antidepressant and stopped any Adderall since December. I am drowning! I hate to admit it, but I guess I need a medication to treat my add! Because of my age (67) any of the past drs. are reluctant to prescribe stimulant type of meds. I am sinking more each day into a depressed non functioning state! I feel like I have no control over my healthcare since starting Medicare. I want to get on top of my mental health but it seems to be out of reach!


ace195011 profile image


I was diagnosed at 63 and put on Concerta, it was good, but Vyvanse was Better with a 5mg Adderall booster around 3pm. I am on Vyvanse 50mg. Each ADHD situation is different and of course an co-morbids.


johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to ace195011

Scott, thanks, I will be seeing a new provider this month for a new evaluation. The Dr. was recommended to me from Karen the monitor on this forum. Thanks


I am a 62 y/o male who switched from Adderall to Ritalin, so this may not be all that helpful. When first diagnosed at 55 with ADD (which I’d had essentially all my life), I was prescribed Adderall, but after several weeks of no visible benefit and growing muscle tightness, it turned out I was allergic to the binder (I had developed carpal tunnel syndrome, strangely) and was switched onto regular Ritalin, which I’ve been on for the past seven years. Initially, Ritalin was helpful with sustaining attention, but in recent years, it has felt like my symptoms have returned to where they were when I first started Ritalin. Since I don’t seem to benefit nearly as much as I did initially, I am weaning off of it slowly, going from 20mg every 4hrs [at 6, 10, 2, 6 = 80mg] down to zero over 9-10 months or more. So individual responses to stimulants may vary across a wide continuum, but dose of use over time and age should be considered as well.

iopsydoc profile image

I can talk about Adderall. It comes in 2 forms. One is Adderall, and the other is Adderall XR; it depends on which one you are taking, and the dosage is important.

As far as the comparison with Ritalin, it is another stimulant, and the main element in it is methylphenidate. Ritalin is faster in efficacy as compared to Adderall. Both of these medicines have different reactions.

What other medical conditions do you have? Are you taking extra medications along with it? So there must not be any contraindication that can be very problematic in the long run.

Medication for ADHD different in terms of absorption rates, the effect that lasts(in hours), risk of abuse, and availability/access of generic.

For your age, medical history will matter also. Talk to your doctor about all other alternative medicines best suited for your situation.

Do not forget to mention any recent health developments too. Stay healthy.

johnfamilyman profile image
johnfamilyman in reply to iopsydoc

I’ll be seeing a new provider this month and new evaluation. My current med’s seem, not to helpful. Thanks

iopsydoc profile image
iopsydoc in reply to johnfamilyman

yes that is a good idea. Have the medication revised. Do note down your symptoms on a note pad so doc takes it seriously. Love and light.

StoneJeweler profile image


Hi John. I’m 53 and was diagnosed a little over a year ago. My doctor told me that Ritalin is the drug that they have to start with because of insurance coverage, but that Adderall is more effective. We tried the Ritalin and it did help, but it just didn’t seem to last that long. Switched to Adderall and noticed an immediate difference. I chose to use the regular formula vs long acting to have better dose control depending on what I have going on. But all in all, Adderall is much better at controlling my symptoms can Ritalin.

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