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I Beat Adderall. So Can You!

But first, lets understand the basics…

Adderall Alternatives - How Adderall Works

Adderall Works

How does Adderall increase alertness and productivity? The active ingredient in Adderall is amphetamine. Amphetamines work by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain (see illustration). While the exact mechanism is unknown, amphetamines are thought to work by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters that regulate focus and attention. In a nutshell, Adderall keeps the neurotransmitters in your synapses longer by blocking their re-uptake, thus improving focus and attention.

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Modafinil: Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent that is slowly earning a reputation for its off-label use an an alternative to adderall. Out of everything I have tried as pharmaceutical adderall alternatives, Modafinil is the best overall. Even the scientific community has some unusually strong support for it. For example, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Oxford University (Battleday and Brem, 2015) wrote that “modafinil may well deserve the title of the first well-validated pharmaceutical ‘nootropic’ agent”. For more information read this article on Modafinil Benefits.

Amphetamines: Amphetamines are a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant used in the treatment of ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, obesity, and are prescribed for other uses at the discretion of a medical professional. Amphetamines exist in two major forms: dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Different drugs in this class contain different ratios of dextroamphtamine and levoamphetamine. Adderall, for example, contains 25% levoamphetamine salts and 75% dextroamphetamine salts.

Methylphenidate: Methylphenidate, like amphetamines, are a central nervous system stimulant and are used in the treatment of ADD/ADHD, and narcolepsy. Although methylphenidate exists in 4 forms, only d-threo-methylphenidate is pharmacologically useful. Different drugs in this class contain different concentrations of methylphenidate, binders, and delivery mechanisms (tablet, gelcap, liquid, etc).

Common NameFamilyTypePrescribed For
ModafinilAfinilEugeroicNarcolepsy, Shift Work Sleep Disorder, Sleep Apnea, ADHD
DextrostatAmphetamineStimulantADHD, Nacrolepsy
Dynavel XRAmphetamineStimulantADHD
VyvanseAmphetamineStimulantADHD, Binge Eating Disorder
Aptensio XRMethylphenidateStimulantADHD
ClonidineHypotensive agentNon-stimulantADHD, Cancer Pain
ConcertaMethylphenidateStimulantADHD, Narcolepsy
DaytranaMethylphenidateStimulantADHD, Narcolepsy
DesoxynMethamphetamineStimulantADHD, Obesity
GuanfacineAntihypertensiveNon-stimulantBlood Pressure, ADHD
Metadate ER/CDMethylphenidateStimulantADHD, Narcolepsy
MethylinMethylphenidateStimulantADHD, Narcolepsy
RitalinMethylphenidateStimulantADHD, Narcolepsy


Nootropics or ‘cognitive enhancers’ are compounds, supplements, or other substances that improve cognitive function. Nootropics can help improve executive function, memory, creativity, and motivation. In simple words, they are brain boosters and are great potential Adderall alternatives. At first, I thought that these substances were all hype and new-age gibberish without much merit. I was wrong. Yes, nootropics are popular these days, but in reality the merits of these compounds have been known for a long time. For example, l-theanine, is a natural ingredient in tea which promotes relaxation. The Chinese have been drinking tea since ancient times. And, the Koreans have been growing ginseng for its stress reducing and immunity-boosting medicinal value for centuries.

Similarly, I found extensive scientific evidence that the Indian herb, bacopa monnieri, is beneficial for memory. Bacopa is at least as old as Ayurveda. I have been a coffee drinker for most of my adult life. The caffeine in coffee certainly helps me with focus and attention. But, the combination of l-theanine and caffeine gives me a relaxed alertness which is many times more effective than either compound alone (thank you reddit nootropics group!). Lastly, I use creatine to boost my strength training regime. Turns out creatine is also one of the most underrated nootropics and can increase brain energy capacity. I am pretty certain that one or more of these compounds can help you, and here are the products that I personally use and recommend.


Best Foods for Focus and Attention

Read about Diet

Meditation & Mindfulness

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One of the top suggestions for non-medication Adderall alternatives is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a practice that helps people increase awareness of their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and has been shown to be an effective way to increase focus and attention in people suffering from ADD/ADHD. One of the foremost experts in the field, and a founding member of the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), Dr. Lidia Zylowsky M.D. and her colleagues have extensively
researched the effectiveness of mindfulness training on normal people as well as those suffering from ADD/ADHD. Their results show remarkable improvements in focus, attention, and mental health. Mindfulness meditation is remarkably simple and at its core involves only two main steps:

1) Focusing on the present moment, and

2) Having an attitude of openness, curiosity and acceptance (non-judgement)

Meditation has become a big part of my life. Not only does it decrease the noise in my head, but also instills an overall sense of well-being and inner confidence. I highly recommend listening to this audio session and trying it for yourself!

The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals

Cognitive Behavioral

So far we have covered other medications, supplements, diet, exercise, and meditation as effective adderall alternatives. Now it is time to discuss cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Although traditionally used to fight anxiety and depression, CBT has recently been studied for its potential to help change irrational thought patterns associated with ADD/ADHD. Most people who suffer from ADD have issues with organization skills, planning and time management. CBT offers strategies and techniques to help people address these issues. Learn more about the potential of CBT to treat ADD/ADHD.

Adderall Alternatives - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


National Institutes of Health

The National Resource on ADHD

New York Times- A Natural Fix for ADHD

Alternative treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Results from the largest treatment study of ADHD ever conducted (Rabiner, PhD)

Center for Disease Control: ADHD

Behavioral Treatments for Kids With ADHD

Treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: overview of the evidence.


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