Guanfacine vs Adderall – ADHD Drugs Uses, Side Effects & Interactions

Guanfacine (brand names include – Tenex, Estulic, and Intuniv) is a sympatholytic drug used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and high blood pressure.

It works by reducing the nerve impulses in the blood vessels and heart. It belongs to a class of drugs called centrally acting alpha2A-adrenergic receptor agonists.

However, unlike other medicines used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it is not a stimulant.


It is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as part of a monotherapy or a total treatment plan including educational, psychological, and social measures. Also, it can be used as a complementary treatment alongside stimulant drugs. It is occasionally given together with other blood pressure drugs.


The usual recommended dose for treating ADHD symptoms is 1 to 4 mg a day.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • constipation;
  • drowsiness;
  • tiredness;
  • dizziness;
  • stomach pain;
  • dry mouth;
  • irritability;
  • weight gain;
  • headaches;
  • nausea.

Rare side effects may include:

  • increased need to urinate;
  • chest discomfort;
  • chest pain;
  • passing urine more than usual;
  • a cough;
  • pounding heartbeat;
  • problems breathing;
  • tightness in the chest;
  • noisy breathing;
  • mental depression;
  • fainting;
  • dizziness;
  • lightheadedness;
  • irregular heartbeat.

Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages while using this medication because your tolerance to alcohol may be considerably reduced. This may lead to more side effects.

Before you take this medicine, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • low blood pressure;
  • stroke;
  • coronary artery disease;
  • heart block;
  • heart disease.


This medication contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, nervous system stimulants which affect chemicals in the brain. Therefore, it increases concentration, attention span, and focus.


It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD is characterized by cognitive and behavioral symptoms, like -inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disorganization. If left untreated, this condition may negatively affect sufferers as well as their friends, families, and coworkers.

Moreover, this medicine is used for the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder characterized by cataplexy, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis – inability to move or speak, and hypnagogic hallucinations).

Despite the widespread belief that this medication can improve a person’s capacity to learn, it does not boost thinking ability in individuals who do not have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


This medicine comes in varying doses, depending on the size of the sufferer and the severity of symptoms. It is available as an extended-release capsule (Adderall XR) or as a tablet. It comes as tablets of 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, and 30mg.

The usual recommended dosage for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is 5 or 10 mg each morning. The dose may be adjusted in 5-10 mg increments up to 30 mg a day. It takes approximately 30-45 minutes after taking the medication to feel the effects.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • restlessness;
  • nervousness;
  • anxiety;
  • excitability;
  • tremor;
  • dizziness;
  • fear;
  • headaches;
  • convulsions;
  • insomnia;
  • hallucinations.

Note – this drug is abused by many young adults and college students. According to the data, somewhere between 20 to 30% of college students regularly abuse this drug. Serious side effects may include:

  • hypertension;
  • stroke;
  • mood swings;
  • dizziness;
  • depression;
  • constipation;
  • chest pain;
  • abdominal pain;
  • kidney problems;
  • panic attacks;
  • insomnia;
  • psychosis;
  • sexual dysfunction;
  • blurred vision;
  • tremors;
  • muscle weakness;
  • seizures;
  • heart attack;
  • difficulty breathing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that nursing mothers not to use this drug while nursing since it is passed through breast milk. Also, because it contains dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, it can be habit-forming, especially when higher than prescribed dosages are used or when it is used by an individual who does not have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

If you use either iron supplement, multivitamins, or fluoride, this medicine may not work as well.

Guanfacine vs Adderall – ADHD Drugs Differences

Both drugs are prescribed for the treatment of ADHA symptoms, however, they function differently as well as contain different substances.

For instance, guanfacine is not a stimulant and is effective in the short-term (8 to 9 weeks) treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

On the other hand, Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant and is used for the extended treatment of ADHD. However, it is physically addictive. Some signs of addiction include:

  • manic episodes;
  • aggression;
  • restlessness;
  • anxiety.

6 Ways to Prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

This condition is diagnosed 2–3 times more frequently in boys than girls. Both adults and children can have it, but symptoms always start during childhood.

More importantly, it is commonly “co-morbid” with other mental conditions, like – anxiety and depressive disorders, conduct disorder, substance abuse, and antisocial behaviors.

Symptoms include impulsivity, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity, however, they differ from patient to patient.

No one knows precisely what causes this brain disorder, but some things are known to play an important role.

#1 Lead

Lead is a neurotoxin that has been removed from most schools and homes, however, traces of it are still everywhere. According to data, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to have higher blood-lead levels than healthy children.

#2 Food Additives

It has been suggested that ADHD is caused by food additives, or that the intake of food additives exacerbates the signs and symptoms of this brain disorder.

 Food additives include artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and preservatives. Some of these food additives include:

  • FD&C Red No. 3 and No. 40;
  • Sulfur Dioxide (E220);
  • Citrus Red No. 2;
  • Aspartame;
  • Orange B;
  • Sodium Sulfite (E221);
  • Sodium Nitrite;
  • High fructose corn syrup;
  • FD&C Green No. 3;
  • FD&C Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine);
  • Potassium Bromate;
  • FD&C Blue No. 1 and No. 2.

#3 Smoking Tobacco

In utero, smoking exposure may interact negatively with genes to increase the odds of this condition. Furthermore, scientists have found links between the use of marijuana and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially in people who also have other psychological conditions.

#4 Alcohol

According to research, pregnant women who drink alcoholic beverages may have a higher risk of having a child with this condition. Also, this disorder is 5 to 10 times more frequent among adult alcoholics than it is in people without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

#5 Electronic Screen Time

Cell phones, laptops, TVs, and tablets can be over-stimulating to a child’s nervous system and may increase the risk of ADHD.

#6 Nutrition

Children with ADHD who followed a diet that consisted mainly of rice, fruits, vegetables, and water, experienced a notable improvement in their symptoms.

Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty

READ THIS NEXT: Dyslexia vs ADHD – Symptoms


Leave a Comment