What Does Taking Ritalin/Adderall Feel Like?

Blue Adderall XR Pill

Blue Adderall XR Pill

What does it feel like to take Ritalin or Adderall in a therapeutic way for ADHD?  To answer that question, we’ll provide a story.

The following stories both start the same exact way.  An 18 year old freshman in college has just come to the library to get some studying done.

Version A:  Not medicated, normal ADHD

Looks at watch.  Okay, it’s 3pm, time to study some chemistry.  Soo boring!

Pulls out books, starts reading, taking notes. This is so boring.  Darn, it’s just so hard.  Looks at paper, blankly.  Didn’t I just read that paragraph?

Rereads paragraph, tries to take some notes on itNotices two people who just walked by and that they’re talking about the College band. This is driving me crazy!  The text is just so dense – who writes this stuff?

Tries again to read the first few pages.

Version B: Took an ADHD medication

Looks at watch.  Okay, it’s 3pm, time to study some chemistry.  Soo boring!

Pulls out books, start reading, taking notes. This is so boring.  Darn, it’s just so hard.  Look at clock – only 5 minutes?  Is the Ritalin doing anything?

Okay, I just have to focus.  Now what are the main classes of chemical bond?  Starts drawing a neat flowchart that summarizes the material quickly but thoroughly.

Looks at watch30 minutes have passed.

30 minutes?  That went by so fast!  And I don’t feel like ripping the book into pieces, running out the library, and doing something completely different!

What it should not feel like:

Just took a high dose of Ritalin to get some studying done, enter room, see clothes on the floor.  Wow, that’s so messy.  I have to clean it up.

2 hours later, lots of stuff cleaned but no work done.


When taken at the proper dose, medications like Ritalin and Adderall can make life a lot better for people with ADHD. It is true and can not be denied that they also are popular as drugs of abuse.  But that doesn’t change the fact that for people with ADHD they improve the quality of life consistently, effectively, and – in general – safely.

Many medications used therapeutically can be abused.

12 thoughts on “What Does Taking Ritalin/Adderall Feel Like?

  1. Adderall is far better than Ritalin. They both do the same thing but Adderall can get inside of cells where Ritalin can not. Also Adderall lasts a lot longer. Both medications also boost adrenalin but Ritalin can do this more so than Adderall. When the positive dopamine effects of Ritalin wear off you are left with the negative effects of feeling spaced out from the adrenalin. Since the positive effects of Adderall lasts much longer you don’t have the agonizing crash you get from Ritalin. I’ve also noticed that people taking Adderall have a friendlier disposition and sharper focus than those taking Ritalin.

  2. A little tip on those who find themselves or a loved one for one reason or another taken out of their daily routine/lifestyle for an extended period of time, ie. a leave of absence from school, teens moving from a city to rural lifestyle, medical issues that leave you confided to your home for months, my case (house arrest for a DUI)… These medications can easily throw a persons mind into a “more favorable situation” leading to exclusion or metaphorically speaking “hibernation” and go from, life for the time being to, life. The tip here being, if you feel comfortable\productive taking the medication on and off, its sounds like its doing its job. If you take it everyday and its providing the same results, you’ll most likely never read this. I strongly believe what was said above, if your an adult and find your not reacting the same, try something else. I too am not a medical doctor just sharing an experience. I ended up finding my equilibrium with Adderall was taking it 3 days on 3 days about every 15 days, the key was not keeping it scheduled or even very consistent and let my body tell me! Good luck to all those seeking a quite mind.
    -Not A MD

  3. Ok so basicaly i used to be on adderal xr or whatever and now im on 30 mg cause i just started im big for my age im 14 years of age 6’2 ft tall and 150 ibs but i felt great on task for the first time in a long time i had taken the pill at 8ish kicked in like 10ish completly witch was 2nd period i was doing great then about lunch i started felling less on task then by 6th i was back to normal now this pill im taking is a 2 step you know like an instantish acting one then a delay one but i just never felt the delay kick in should i ask the doctor to an upgrade to 40 mg cause he said ill probley need more since 30mg is just for my body weight and will this enhance side effects cause really im fine with everything but the not eating and trust me im not fat im a swimmer with no fat on me its just the stuff didnt make me want to eat for like 3 days several years ago and i passed out =-(

  4. I have gone back and forth for several years from adderall, vyvanse, straterra, ritalin, in both IR and ER forms. I have had the best results with Adderall, however I follow a set of rules that I set aside for my own use through trial and error. My first and foremost rule is what I call the “3 day rule” I will not take them for more than 3 days. I noticed, especially with the Adderall XR, that it altered my entire thought process. Yes, I was more productive and I had my day planned perfectly; however it turned me into a robot. i lost almost all emotion and interest in everything that i didnt deem worthy of my time. After I noticed the effect, I stopped cold turkey and slept for almost a full day. Beginning the following monday i started counting days of normal function, before my roboticism kicked in. Personally, the 3 day rule works for me, however on my day without i am lethargic and have to plan ahead while I am medicated in order to keep my planning and production up to par. This is just my experience, and we all know “experience is only good for one person, and thats the one who has it” Good luck in finding your own ways of dealing with things.

  5. Like Ryan said, talk to your doctor.
    However when I don’t need to be doing anything productive I will take a break without fear of too large a withdrawal (I just feel really sleepy/lazy the first 2 days.)

    A thing to consider though is whether she will be doing ANYTHING that she may want to be productive doing, even while on “vacation.”  The only reason I say that is because even when i personally go on vacation, I still tend to take my meds so that I can accomplish chores/tasks/errands and not just get stuck hyper-focusing on some interesting thing the entire holiday.

  6. Just started using Ritalin after a very long process of being diagnosed with ADHD-i.  You described the experience perfectly.  Most of my close family/friends are opinion that ADHD is just a state of being lazy/undisciplined, reading your description does alot to ease my mind on that topic.

    Hey George,
    The idea is to take breaks and drug holidays whenever you don’t need it to stay focused.  The human body likes equilibrium, and usually acts to counterbalance any internal interruptions of homeostasis.  In this case, this is accomplished by building up a tolerance to Adderall so it has less and less of an effect.  By taking drug holidays, the body gets used functioning without a stimulant again, so that it remains an effective treatment when you start again.  

    <just a scatterbrained med student.   You should definitely talk to a doctor who's familiar with you and your daughter if you have questions about it.

  7. Hi George,
    I am not a doctor so please do not take anything I say as any authority at all. The thought that pops into my mind is why do you think she should not stop taking it for a week? Will she be studying during that time or something? Are you concerned about withdraw symptoms?

    Personally, if I do not plan to study (which is very rare, I am constantly studying- I am a graduate student), I do not take my Adderall. I have yet to have any “withdraw” symptoms other than sometimes feeling a little foggy for a day(and by a little I really mean a little). As I understand it (again, I am not a doctor), Adderall is very short lived in your system and does not require a longer withdraw phase like an anti-depressant. If I head off somewhere on vacation and plan to study- I take my Adderall with me. My personal philosophy is to use as little as I need to be productive- no more, sometimes when I can afford to slack off a little I skip it all together and give my brain a chance to cool down a little.

    I have read (and I do not mean to sound like a broken record, but practicing without a license, giving medical advice, legalities yada yada- I am not a doctor, I am a guy with an IP, check with your doctor please) that there may be some concern that EXCESSIVE long term Adderall usage can lead to a build up of free-radicals in the brain, hence one reason for the drug holidays. Again, this is what I have read, I take it with a grain of salt, so should you.

    For me, another consideration, I have Anxiety problems. Adderall tends to lower the threshold for me having panic attacks(although this has improved drastically)- so I have good reason to abstain once in a while.

    The moral, if I were in your daughters situation, I would be asking myself if I actually need the Adderall. Is there some distinct reason to take it while on vacation? I cannot answer that for your daughter, that is what you guys need to decide but that is what I would be considering. I would not be worried about medical reasons for not taking it- I would feel perfectly safe skipping for 2 weeks

    Final Disclamer: This is not medical advice, talk to your doctor about what is appropriate regarding treatment. (I could be really silly and claim that my comments are for entertainment purposes only, but I will refrain)

    Best of luck to you, I hope your vacation is restful

  8. I have a 16 year old daughter whose primery care physician first put her on Concerta March 2009 and then switched her to Adderall. She is in Boarding School in NH—her grades have gone up to A’s and B+’s

    My question is she stops taking the medication on weekends and vacations ie Thanksgiving and we are about to go to Hawaii for Xmas break for 14 days . I think she should stay on her medication and not go on and oif—–opinions and expereiences would be very welcome GVB

  9. The experience described above is exaclty how i was before starting medication the problem is I am on concerta at the 36mg suppose to last all day by 2 in the afternoon I am whiped out and laying down for a nap….any suggestion?

  10. I am with you Ryan, I could not have described it better myself! This is precisely my before/after experience. You don’t really feel anything, but you actually get things done.

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