Methylphenidate and Focalin are stimulants used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults.  Methylphenidate can be obtained in generic form or by its brand name of Ritalin. Focalin is the brand name for dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride.

Both medications are federally controlled Schedule II drugs. This means they have an approved medical use but can also be abused and possibly cause addition.

Methylphenidate can be prescribed to treat ADHD, depression, and narcolepsy, and may cause some side effects, such as insomnia. It is available in five different forms.

Focalin can be prescribed to treat ADHD and may cause some side effects like heartburn or nausea. It is available as a tablet only.

A common question asked of both medicines is, “Which is stronger?” We explore that here.


What is Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate is in a class of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. The drug works by increasing the natural chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. It collects all of those natural chemicals and activates them, making them last longer than similar drugs. These chemicals send signals to other parts of the body, which help improve ADHD symptoms, such as increasing attention and decreasing impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Methylphenidate is sold under the brand names Ritalin and Concerta, two of the most commonly prescribed stimulants.

What is Focalin?

Focalin contains dexmethylphenidate, a stimulant derived from methylphenidate. Its mechanism of action is that it inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. This causes the release of those two neurotransmitters, which regulate mood and behavior.

Focalin contains an isomer of the methylphenidate called dexmethylphenidate HCL. Isomers are almost identical forms of the molecule but have a different arrangement of atoms, which makes them work differently in the body. Focalin’s dexmethylphenidate HCl isomer means the medication may be more potent than taking methylphenidate alone or in Ritalin. It also means it could cause fewer side effects.


Which One is Stronger?

It can be surmised that Focalin may be stronger than methylphenidate because its molecular composition makes it stronger than methylphenidate. However, it might be wise to consider what your definition of “stronger” is.

If it means a more powerful-acting medicine, then Focalin might be stronger for you or someone else to take.

If  “stronger” means “lasts longer” to you, then perhaps methylphenidate is the stronger medication.

It is necessary to mention that both Focalin and methylphenidate are prescription stimulants, that if abused, can lead to chemical dependency and addiction. Never share stimulant drugs with friends, and especially those who are prone to substance use.

If you or someone you know is becoming dependent on any stimulant, reach out and contact an addiction treatment center for more information.

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