Difference Between Amphetamine and Methylphenidate

Amphetamine and Methylphenidate are drugs that function as central nervous system stimulants. These drugs are mainly used in the treatment of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


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Though they belong to the same class, they differ in their active ingredients, side effects or impacts on patients.

Key Takeaways

  1. Amphetamine is more potent than Methylphenidate.
  2. Amphetamine has a longer half-life than Methylphenidate.
  3. Methylphenidate has fewer side effects than Amphetamine.

Amphetamine vs Methylphenidate

Amphetamine (a.k.a. Adderall) is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Methylphenidate (a.k.a. Ritalin) is a nervous system stimulant, that works faster, reaches peak performance earlier, has milder effects, and leaves the system faster than Amphetamine.

Amphetamine vs Methylphenidate

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Amphetamine is a type of medicine that works as a central nervous system stimulant. It is mainly used to treat patients suffering from ADHD or attention deficit hyperactive disorder.

Compared to other stimulant drugs, it causes severe impacts on the body. Contrary to the belief, amphetamine increases hyperactive behaviour but also helps to reduce it.

On the other hand, methylphenidate is also a central nervous system stimulant but with different active ingredients from amphetamine. It is used to treat similar medical conditions like amphetamine.

But the side effects are less severe on the patient’s body for this drug. But one needs to be very careful as it may interact with other medications the patient might be on.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAmphetamineMethylphenidate
Parent CompoundAmphetamine belongs to the family of phenythylamines.Methylphenidate comes from the family of piperidine.
Impact on bodyAmphetamine causes severe impacts on the body.Whereas the effects of methylphenidate are comparatively less severe.
HarmfulAmphetamine can be harmful as it might turn into an addiction.But for the consumption of methylphenidate, the chance of an addiction is very minimum.
Diseases to treatThis drug is used to treat patients with ADHD, narcolepsy.it is also used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactive disorder, narcolepsy and palliative sedation.
EfficiencyAmphetamine takes a bit of time to affect in the body.Methylphenidate, on the other hand, works faster than amphetamine.

What is Amphetamine?

Amphetamine is a drug that acts as a sympathomimetic. It is mainly used in two cases. The first is to treat the condition of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Narcolepsy is the other medical condition where patients with this disease are often given amphetamine. This medicine is referred to as a central nervous system stimulant.

The medical condition of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is mostly seen in children. In this condition, they suffer from hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour and excessively active that is abnormal in nature.

Thus they lack attention, and in such conditions, amphetamine is often prescribed as part of the treatment.

However, amphetamine, as a central nervous system stimulant, encourages hyperactivity. So the use of this drug to treat children with ADHD is quite paradoxical.

Though it causes hyperactive behaviour, it also helps to lower it down. So amphetamine is used to treat a serious clinical condition like this.

Narcolepsy is another serious medical condition where patients are often attacked lie a sudden feat of sleep not at night but in the daytime. Here this drug helps to keep the patient awake.

Now there are many effects that can be experienced by patients consuming amphetamine, such as headaches, dizziness, restlessness etc.

Euphoria is one of the dangerous side effects of this drug that can result in a serious problem of addiction. If the drug overdoses, it may cause others serious nervous system disorders like seizures. So this drug needs to be carefully handled.

What is Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate is also a type of CNS stimulant. Like amphetamine, call mom. This drug is also used in medical conditions like patients with ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and also palliative sedation.

This drug is available in three forms such as tablets or pills, modified-release tablets and capsules.

Children with ADHD suffer from inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity due to lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

The consumption of methylphenidate increases the secretion of these two neurotransmitters and helps to control these medical conditions. The use of the drug in wrong doses may cause severe side effects and worsen the symptoms.

It is advised that you consume this drug with a full stomach or with a meal to avoid severe side effects. Unlike other medicines chewing or crushing it down will not reduce its effects.

But it is slightly different for the modified-release tablets and capsules. You need to swallow it because biting it or dissolving it decreases the intensity of its effects.

Though methylphenidate is a very effective drug, it causes severe effects such as headache, breathlessness, anxiety, diarrhoea, hypertension etc.

However, consumption of alcohol and other medications because to severe interaction with methylphenidate. So it is safer to discuss with your doctor before consuming it.

Main Differences Between Amphetamine and Methylphenidate

  1. Amphetamine belongs to the family of phenylethylamine, whereas methylphenidate falls in the family of piperidine. 
  2. Amphetamine can turn into an addiction, whereas, for methylphenidate, that chance is lesser. 
  3. Amphetamine takes more time than methylphenidate to work on the body. Thus, the latter drug reaches its efficiency level sooner than the former. 
  4. If not properly used, amphetamine can cause severe damage to the body. For methylphenidate, the side effects are less severe. 
  5. Amphetamine is used less in increasing the dopamine level in the body. But methylphenidate is more used for this purpose. 
Difference Between Amphetamine and Methylphenidate
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/108705470000300403
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1974659/
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