Over 900,000 Americans use prescription stimulant drugs for recreation each month. [1] Adderall, one of the most popular prescription stimulant drugs in the US, is a mix of amphetamine salts that works by increasing chemical activities in certain areas of the brain. Over an extended period of regular use, Adderall can rewire how the brain works and create a dependency or addiction.

While Adderall is an appropriately prescribed prescription drug for many people with severe ADHD, many people stand to benefit from avoiding its negative side effects and dependency by opting for an Adderall alternative.

In this article, we’ll discuss in detail the many different options for Adderall alternatives, including all-natural Adderall alternatives, OTC Adderall alternatives, and prescriptions Adderall alternatives.

Always defer to the advice of your doctor when it comes to taking drugs, supplements, or nootropics whether they require a prescription or not.

The predominant benefit Adderall users seek is alleviation from the symptoms of ADHD through increased focus, attention span, energy, concentration, and reduced anxiety. Though the exact pharmacological mechanisms of action will differ from substance to substance, many of these benefits can be achieved or recreated with Adderall alternatives, many of which are safe and natural and can be purchased online or over the counter. 

The Best All Natural Alternatives to Adderall

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green and black teas, but is relatively uncommon in the rest of the human diet. L-Theanine is one of the most widely used and promoted nootropics due to its effects of increased focus and relaxation without inducing a state of drowsiness. It is generally considered to be a safe substance to ingest with no confirmed harmful side effects [6], though anecdotal reports of mild side effects have surfaced. Other reported uses include anxiety and stress relief, increased immunity, better sleep quality, blood pressure control, sinusitis relief, and tumor and cancer treatment [6]. L-Theanine can be naturally found in tea leaves (such as green and black teas) and various species of mushrooms.

L-Theanine is one of our favorite nootropics for people with ADHD since it is generally accepted as safe by the FDA. 

Most people we’ve come in contact with rave about the cognitive improvements from taking L-Theanine, especially when it’s taken in conjunction with caffeine. Which leads to our next natural Adderall nootropic alternative. We recommend Sports Research L-Theanine from Amazon.

Caffeine

Yes, caffeine is a great Adderall alternative for some people. You may be thinking this is a silly recommendation, but bear with us for a moment. You likely think of caffeine as the thing in coffee and mountain dew that gives you a nice spike of energy, then makes you crash. In reality, if you’re experiencing these big crashes it’s more than likely a result of the sugar you’re taking in with your caffeine as well as taking in many disparate sources of caffeine randomly throughout the day. Drinking a coffee with cream and sugar in the morning then several sodas or energy drinks throughout the day is a recipe for having a lot of ups and downs. Not only will this make you feel terrible, but it can contribute to brain fog a lack of focus.

Instead of consuming caffeine in sugary drinks, consider consuming caffeine without sugar in the form of black coffee, tea, a capsule, or in conjunction with L-Theanine. Here is an Amazon link to the best L-Theanine + Caffeine product we’ve tested: Sports Research L-Theanine + Caffeine in MCT Oil. The L-Theanine and Caffeine mixture is suspended in MCT oil which has been studied for numerous health benefits including increased energy, focus, and weight loss. 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that has a long history of being taken to increase endurance and reduce fatigue. If you suspect that you’re having trouble focusing due to being fatigued, run-down, or tired, Rhodiola Rosea may be an excellent herbal Adderall alternative for you. Normally in this situation, you may want to try to get more sleep or better sleep, but that’s not always an option for many people. Also consider the effects Adderall could be having on your sleep quality if you’re an existing Adderall user. If you suspect Adderall could be effecting your sleep quality in a negative way, it may be worthwhile to consult your doctor and ask them to recommend an Adderall alternative for you.

Rhodiola Rosea may be the Adderall alternative you need to power through the last few hours of work or class.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri is one of the most effective and safe nootropic supplements to use as an Adderall alternative for those with ADHD. This 2016 study concluded that using botanical alternatives to Adderall and other conventional ADHD medications is a safer treatment option. What is Bacopa Monnieri? It’s a perennial plant that grows on most continents and has been used in traditional Indian medicine for a very long time. Bacopa Monnieri is commonly used for treating Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD, and users commonly report the effects of reduced anxiety, better memory, and better learning.

We recommend the Doctor’s Best Bacopa Monnieri brand as one of the best natural Adderall alternatives on Amazon.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is an extract made from the leaves of the Ginkgo, also known as the Maidenhair, tree which is native to China. It’s benefits as a nootropic supplement and Adderall alternative include reduced anxiety, enhanced brain function, better vision and eye health, and reduced symptoms of dementia. [7]

One study concluded that a special Ginkgo Biloba extract was effective in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If you are interested in trying out Ginkgo Biloba as an Adderall alternative, we recommend sticking with Nature’s Bounty Gingko Biloba from Amazon.

The Best OTC Alternatives to Adderall

There are plenty of synthetic alternatives to Adderall that are available over the counter and online. In general, synthetic just means that the substance was created in a lab, and not derived from a plant like the natural alternatives discussed above. Some of the following drugs like Citicoline and Alpha-GPC are biosynthetic, which means that the chemicals are naturally found in the body, but are recreated synthetically.

Just because a drug or supplement is natural, does not mean it’s automatically safer than a synthetic drug, and vice versa. Additionally, just because a drug can be purchased over the counter, does not mean it is safe. Always do diligent research and consult a medical professional before taking any type of supplement or drug.

Piracetam

Piracetam is the first drug designed in the racetam drug group specifically for increasing cognitive function. It was developed in the 1960s and marketed as the first nootropic drug to increase brain function without inducing a state of stimulation or sedation. Piracetam improves brain function by increasing cell membrane fluidity. Other reported benefits from taking Piracetam as an Adderall alternative include reduced inflammation, better focus, decreased brain fog, and a reduction in the symptoms of dyslexia. [8]

You may find yourself thinking that surely by now someone has developed something better (Nooptept), but in the world of pharmaceuticals, there are benefits to drugs that have been around for a long time. For one, the longer a drug has been used by the general public, the more data there is on whether or not it is safe. Additionally, there has been a lot of time for clinical studies to be done on a drug synthesized in the 1960s.

Noopept

Noopept is the branded name for the drug that is known as N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester which is a synthesized molecule similar to that of Piracetam, both of which provide users with increased mental cognition. The main difference between Noopept and Piracetam is the standard dose for Noopept is much lower, as it’s a much more potent substance. Noopept is a much newer drug than Piracetam, as it was first synthesized in 1996.

The brain-boosting effects of Noopept can be felt within minutes of oral ingestion. Very limited clinical testing has been done on Noopept compared to its counterpart, Piracetam, though they are very similar Adderall alternatives.

Citicoline

Citicoline, also known as Cognizin, is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that is commonly taken as a supplement or medication to treat Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, stroke, and brain trauma. [2] [3]. Citicoline works by increasing a brain chemical known as phosphatidylcholine which is extremely important when it comes to brain function. Common dosages of citicoline range from 1000 to 2000 mg per day. [4] Choline is an essential nutrient that can be found naturally in many foods including eggs, meat, peanuts, and dairy. Common symptoms of choline deficiency include low attention span, trouble learning, and brain fog. Choline deficiency can even lead to liver and muscle damage. [5] Vegetarians, vegans, and those who partake in other restrictive diets are at a particularly high risk of not getting enough choline in their diet.

So why is citicoline one of the best nootropic Adderall replacements? Most people who take citicoline report increases in focus, energy, concentration, a clear state of mind, and better working memory. Most pre-made commercial nootropic mixes use citicoline as their primary ingredient as it is one of the most potent and reliable brain-boosting supplements on the market. Citicoline delivers choline to the brain, which is an essential nutrient that is an important ingredient in the production of brain cells and structures.

Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC, is a biosynthetic precursor of acetylcholine. Biosynthetic means that it is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, but it can be artificially recreated in a lab for commercial and medical use. Alpha-GPC promotes increased mental cognition as well as higher power output in athletes. Additionally, it may increase growth hormone secretion in adults. [8] Alpha-GPC and citicoline are quite similar in their benefits, however, they work slightly differently. Alpha GPC contains acetylcholine, so as Alpha-GPC is broken down, acetylcholine is released, whereas citicoline is simply a precursor of acetylcholine.

If you are looking for an Adderall alternative to help you focus and concentrate, stick with citicoline. If you are an athlete or frequently exercise intensely than Alpha-GPC is the better option considering its potential effects on power output and growth hormone.

GABA

GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the brain that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA is responsible for regulating depressive and sedative brain signals. When GABA comes into contact with a GABA receptor in the brain, effects of calmness and relaxation are elicited. GABA is commonly taken to reduce anxiety, increase focus and concentration, induce relaxation, improve sleep quality, and alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. GABA is an excellent OTC alternative to Adderall for those who have trouble relaxing and calming down.

Phenibut

Phenibut is a synthetic GABA-mimetic, which just means it imitates GABA to the extent of attaching to GABA receptors in the brain just like GABA does. It differs from GABA, however, in that it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly enter the brain. [9] There is a general lack of clinical data on Phenibut and anyone interested in the drug should do in-depth research and proceed with caution. Some people have reported experiencing both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when taking Phenibut for extended periods of time to treat anxiety. Phenibut is commonly taken to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, improve focus and concentration, and treat the symptoms of ADHD.

Recommended Reading on the Risks of Phenibut

Common Prescription Adderall Alternatives

If you do not react well to Adderall, your doctor may prescribe a different drug to treat your ADHD. Two of the most common prescription alternatives to Adderall are Ritalin and Vyvanse:

 

Ritalin

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant that can help improve focus and reduce impulsive behavior. It’s commonly used as an Adderall alternative to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Ritalin is a controlled substance in the United States because it can easily lead to dependence and is often abused. Side effects from Ritalin often include nervousness and anxiety, stomach ache, loss of appetite, weight loss, and nausea. While Ritalin works for many people with ADHD, the side effects and risks do not outweigh the benefits for many. Always communicate your concerns to your doctor when you are being prescribed medication.

Vyvanse

Vyvanse, or lisdexamfetamine, is another prescription Adderall alternative that is commonly used to treat ADHD and Binge Eating Disorder. Similar to Ritalin, it is a controlled substance because dependence and abuse are common. The list of potential negative side effects from Vyvanse is staggering and includes nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, stomach ache, weight loss, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, headache, nervousness, irritability, dizziness, and restlessness. If your doctor wants to prescribe you Vyvanse, it is because he/she has deemed the potential benefits to be greater than the potential risks, however, you should always make your concerns clear and ask your doctor to consider natural or OTC ADHD treatment options.

 

Best Adderall Replacement Nootropic Stacks

There are several nootropic stacks, or nootropics taken in conjunction with each other, that might be a viable Adderall alternative for you. 

 

Best All Natural Stack: Caffeine + L-Theanine + Citicoline

Caffeine + L-Theanine is a wildly popular nootropic stack that is commonly taken to reduce anxiety and increase focus, concentration, mental cognition, physical performance, wakefulness. Caffeine and L-Theanine work so well together that they are commonly sold pre-made in the same capsule. We recommend Sports Nutrition’s Caffeine + L-Theanine because it comes from a high quality, reliable supplier and is suspended in MCT oil, which has been studied for numerous health benefits including improving athletic performance, memory, energy levels, and promoting weight loss.

 

Citicoline is usually the main ingredient in most pre-made nootropic stacks for a reason. It is generally regarded as one of the most potent, reliable, and safe nootropic substances available for purchase today. It is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that plays a very important role in brain function. 

 

Best All-In-One Pill Stack: MindLabPro

Mind Lab Pro contains a pre-made mixture of several of the natural nootropic substances discussed in this article at the proper dosages, plus a few more high quality, research-backed ingredients. Mind Lab Pro contains a total of 11 nootropic ingredients at clearly disclosed dosages that should be both safe and effective for the vast majority of users. For a full breakdown of benefits and ingredients, visit the Mind Lab Pro website. We at Nootropics Resource have personally used Min Lab Pro and stand by it as a quality all-in-one nootropic supplement and Adderall alternative.

 

Best All In One Drink Stack: MUD\WTR

Sometimes just taking a pill is too boring, or you’re looking for something to replace the morning ritual of drinking coffee. MUD\WTR is a powdered mixture of nootropic ingredients that create a tasty morning coffee replacement when mixed with hot water. It contains a total of 9 natural ingredients, many of which are on this list of natural Adderall alternatives. For more details, you can read our full 30 day test and review of MUD\WTR here and view their product page here. 

 

Why You Should Consider an Adderall Alternative

Adderall is the brand name for the combination of four different amphetamine salts, all of which are stimulants. Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance because it carries with it a high risk of dependence and abuse. According to the American Addiction Center side effects of Adderall include: Hypertension, fast heartbeat, insomnia, appetite suppression, overdose, sudden cardiac death, stroke, headache, constipation, mood swings, abdominal pain, depression, panic attacks, psychosis, kidney disease, seizures, muscle weakness, sexual dysfunction

Keeping in mind the risk of these side effects as well as abuse and addiction, you may want to ask your doctor about alternatives to Adderall. As discussed above, there are plenty of safe, natural, and effective alternatives to Adderall that can be purchased over the counter.

Adderall Addiction (Symptoms)

Adderall is considered an addictive substance that can foster dependence over time. Symptoms of Adderall addiction include feeling tired and groggy without the drug, needing a larger dose to feel its effects, and not being able to work without it. If you feel like you may be addicted to Adderall or another drug, consider calling the Addiction Center at 866-695-0204.

Quitting Adderall (Detox)

Adderall withdrawal can be quite unpleasant and is commonly accompanied by side effects such as headache, irritability, low energy. fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, oversleeping, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or longer, and usually last longer when the user is detoxing from Adderall XR.

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