Are there any over-the-counter Adderall alternatives that actually work like the ADHD medication?
It may surprise you, but the answer is yes.
Although they are not as effective, as powerful or as dangerous, there are many nutraceutical, compounds and dietary supplements that have similar effects to the most prescribed study drug in the USA today.
You will need to get a prescription from your doctor in order to use Adderall. You may not be able to obtain an Adderall prescription for various reasons. Or you might be able to use Adderall legally but you want to try to find a new replacement or substitute to avoid the medications many side effects. There are lots of reasons why you might be looking for alternative ways to gain similar benefits to Adderall, be it for your work or other areas, but you all ultimately want the same thing: a viable alternative that works the same as Adderall without the risks.
This article will take you on a tour through the top legal Adderall substitutes and the products I use to imitate the effects of this dopamine-boosting, ultra-potent study drug.
The 13 Best Adderall Alternatives You Can Legally Buy OTC
So what are the best alternatives to Adderall you can buy OTC without a prescription right now?
Below is our official ranking. We have chosen substances which are legally available over the counter in several (but nit necessarily all) jurisdictions, and whih have been clinically proven to work in a similar way to Adderall. Each substance may not have all of the same effects as Adderall, but every one will provide at least one benefit of the drug.
#1 – Vyvamind
Vyvamind is the closest thing to Adderall you can buy over the counter today. This stack has been specifically designed to deliver many of the same benefits as Vyvanse and Adderall but without the same side effect and long-term health risks. The result is easily the most effective nootropic for rapidly sharpening focus, increasing energy levels and boosting motivation on the market right now.
Rather than relying on large doses of stimulants, Vyvamind combines optimal doses of clinically proven nootropics to deliver a broad range of benefits, including:
- Sharper focus
- Faster processing speeds
- Enhanced learning and productivity
- Improved working memory
- Increased mental energy and stamina
- Rapid increase in motivation
Vyvamind uses a precise dose of caffeine proven in clinical trials to produce the most benefits and the fewest side effects. Because this dose is combined with L-Theanine, users will experience the effects of a far larger dose of caffeine but with none of the anxiety, jitters or energy crashes that come with it.
At the end of the day, to replicate the benefits of Adderall with over the counter supplements, you need to use a supplement designed for that specific purpose. Other nootropics typically lack either the ‘punch’ of Adderall or the significant increase in motivation and processing speeds the drug gives you. Vyvamind strikes this balance perfectly because that is exactly what it was designed to do.
#2 – NooCube
NooCube is probably the single best nootropic supplement on the market right now and it makes for a great over the counter Adderall substitute. As a complete brain supplement, NooCube enhances every aspect of cognitive performance. Using NooCube every day is known to significantly improve memory retention and recall, enhance focus and concentration, and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Here is the full list of benefits you can expect when taking NooCube daily:
- Improved memory function
- Enhanced focus and learning
- Faster information processing
- Tunnel-vision concentration
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved visual acuity
- Greater mental stamina
- Long-term cognitive enhancement
The thing that really ties NooCube together is the brain health support aspect. Several ingredients in NooCube work to actively protect your brain cells from oxidative stress. NooCube contains more than one potent antioxidant, as well as a large dose of Bacopa monnieri which encourages the growth and maintenance of neuron branches.
Of course, NooCube is not designed to act as an over the counter Adderall alternative. It is available for purchase over the counter without a prescription, but NooCube does not reliably deliver the same benefits as Adderall. Instead, it is a complete brain supplement designed to support overall cognitive performance and brain health.
On the other hand, NooCube is stimulant-free, so it may act as a much less intense Adderall substitute for people who want increased focus without the rush of caffeine or amphetamine.
#3 – Modafinil
Modafinil is perhaps the archetypal smart drug, and it is easily one of the most widely-used pharmaceutical nootropics out there. Of all of these substitutes for Adderall, Modafinil is likely the most similar to ADHD medications. In fact, trials are now being conducted to test Modafinil as an alternative treatment for ADHD.
Like Adderall, Modafinil works by dramatically increasing dopamine levels in the brain. However, unlike Adderall Modafinil is not a psychoactive stimulant (but rather a eugeroic). This means it increases alertness, promotes wakefulness and sharpens focus without makin you jittery like a stimulant. It’s little wonder then that Modafinil is being investigated as a potential alternative drug to Adderall for treating ADHD.
The benefit of using Modafinil instead of Adderall include:
- Longer increase in mental stamina
- Heightened alertness and focus
- No jitters, crash or comedown
- No “hangover”
- Bigger increase in motivation than Adderall delivers
- Safer when used long-term
We think Modafinil is generally a lot safer than Adderall if you do not have an ADHD diagnosis or a prescription for ADHD medication. The eugeroic is also generally considered safer for daily, long-term use than the amphetamine-based stimulant.
What is crucial when buying Modafinil is that you buy it from a reputable online vendor. We strongly recommend going with Modafinil XL. We have used these guys personally and can attest to the quality of their product, the fast shipping and the low prices.
#4 – Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is a popular nootropic stack which is often listed as one of the most complete daily brain supplements alongside NooCube and Vyvamind. Like these other supplements, Mind Lab Pro uses natural nootropic ingredients clinically proven to enhance various aspects of brain function, including motivation and focus – the two things people look for most from Adderall.
#5 – Oxiracetam
Oxiracetam is one of the most potent and fast-acting of all the racetams. While piracetam and aniracetam primarily help with memory function and overall brain health, oxiracetam typically gives users a much more intense experience. Oxiracetam works by stimulating the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. This means it enhances alertness, focus and processing speeds much more than it does memory, making it a great racetam for ADHD and a fantastic alternative to Adderall.
#6 – Fladrafinil (CRL-40,491)
Like Oxiracetam, Fladrafinil is a compound based on an extremely popular nootropic (Modafinil). And much like Oxiracetam, Fladrafinil is a much faster-acting, potent and stimulatory drug than the original compound on which it is based. Few people today use Fladrfafinil since Modafinil is so much more reliable and already quite potent. But if you are looking for a replacement for amphetamine-based ADHD medications, Fladrafinil might be a better option.
#7 – Caffeine
You may be used to consuming this stimulant on a daily basis, but you should never underestimate its power. Caffeine needs to be on any list of the best natural substitutes for Adderall because it is probably the closest natural substance to amphetamine you will be able to buy over the counter anywhere in the world.
Caffeine works by binding to adenosine receptors. This makes the brain feel wide awake and alert, removing the urge to sleep entirely. It also triggers the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and neurotrophic factors like BDNF. This makes it very similar in effects to Adderall and Vyvanse while also providing extra brain health benefits.
#8 – Methylliberine
Methylliberine is a stimulant increasingly used in both nootropics and pre-workout supplements, and it makes for a fantastic natural alternative to Adderall. Often used in the form of Dynamine (which is just a branded form of methylliberine), this compound is structurally similar to caffeine, but different in ways which give it slightly altered effects.
Clinical trials have now been done on methylliberine (Dynamine in particular), and it has been found to be highly effective for increasing alertness, focus and energy. When it is combined with theanine and caffeine, and doses are kept low, methylliberine can have extremely powerful effects on concentration and alertness. These effects can be said to be very similar to Adderall.
#9 – Huperzine A
Huperzine A is easily one of the closest natural supplements to Adderall you can buy over the counter today. Huperzine A is a acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholine is the brain’s main executive neurotransmitter, and acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme which breaks it down once its passed between neurons. Huperzine A stops the enzyme working, causing a slow and steady buildup of acetylcholine in the brain. A few hours after taking Huperzine A, people generally feel an intense, tunnel vision-like focus that lasts for several hours afterwards.
Combining Huperzine A and caffeine together is an extremely powerful combination for countering symtpoms of ADHD without using prescription drugs like Adderall, Focalin or Vyvanse.
#10 – Tyrosine
To replicate the benefits of Adderall, you’re going to need some Tyrosine in one form or another. Tyrosine is a basic building block of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Boosting dopamine levels is a large part of how Adderall works. More dopamine means more motivation, drive and mental stamina. Supplementing with Tyrosine (whether as L-Tyrosine or N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine) has been shown to increase dopamine in clinical trials.
In practical terms, Tyrosine is known to improve cognitive performance in people subjected to external/environmental stressors like sleep deprivation or loud noises. This makes it particularly good for people looking to treat ADHD symoptoms naturally, and it makes Tyrosine one of the best substitutes for Adderall.
#11 – Fasoracetam
As you have probably guessed from the name, Fasoracetam is a racetam just like Oxiracetam and the parent molcule, Piracetam. Also like Oxiracetam, Fasoracetam hasproperties which make it particularly good for treating ADHD symptoms. Initially developed and trialled for the treatment of vascular dementia, Fasoracetam is now being trialled as a novel ADHD medication, and early signs are very piositive.
Fasoracetam agonizes all three groups of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). This greatly excites the central nervous system and has the effect of calming the ADHD brain in much the same manner as Adderall. Current research suggests that fsoracetam is effective for treating ADHD in people with mGluR mutations, but there is evidence to suggest it can help everyone remain calm and focused.
#12 – Bromantane
Bromantane is a stimulant nootropic and easily one of the nearest things to Adderall you can buy OTC today. Sold under the brand name Ladasten in the US, is both a psychostimulant and an anxiolytic, making it a very atypical stimulant. What is typical is the effects of Bromantane, which are very similar to ADHD stimulant medications like Adderall XR (calmed mind, behavior control, focus and concentration, etc.).
Studies have shown that Bromantane’s benefits result from its effects on the dopaminergic neurotransmitter system. While the exact mechanism of action is unclear, evidence shows that Bromantane increases the production of tyrosine hydroxylase; the enzyme used to turn Tyrosine into dopamine. Bromantane therefore has a completely different mechanism of action to Adderall, making it a fantastic alternative to try if Adderall doesn’t work for you!
#13 – Armodafinil
Armodafinil is an amazing Adderall alternative that you can buy without a prescription. Many people find that Armodafinil is more like Adderall than Modafinil itself because of it produces more sustained effects and a softer ‘peak’ than its parent compound. Armodafinil is someties prescribed for ADHD in cases where Adderall is either found to be ineffective or is deemed too risky (amphetamine having severe side effects in some cases).
Like Modafinil, Armodafinil increases alertness and wakefulness. It is a eugeroic, not a typical psychostimulant. This makes it a great alternative to Adderall and Vyvanse when those drugs aren’t working, or where the user doesn’t want to put up with the side effects of classical psychostimulants.
Is there an alternative to Adderall XR?
Is there an over the counter alternative to Adderall XR that you can buy online right now?
The simple answer is yes, there are several over the counter nootropics that you can use to replicate many of the beneficial effects of Adderall XR and other extended release ADHD medications. The trick is to combine several of these natural Adderall XR alternatives in a single stack. A good nootropic stack will have synergistic properties, helping to bring you closer to the effects of Adderall XR.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is also increasingly being used to treat related conditions and sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or excessive daytime sleepiness.
Chemically speaking, Adderall is a brand name for a collection of amphetamine salts. These salts are:
- Dextroamphetamine saccharate
- Amphetamine aspartate
- Dextroamphetamine sulfate
- Amphetamine sulfate
By mixing these different salts of amphetamine, the makers of Adderall have managed to change the way Adderall affects your neurochemistry (and thus your behavior). The specific structure of these amphetamine molecules make Adderall as a whole longer lasting and more targeted and improving focus and productivity than regular amphetamine.
Can you buy Adderall over the counter?
No, you cannot buy Adderall over the counter. It must be purchased with a prescription from a doctor or pharmacist. In almost every jurisdiction around the world Adderall is a prescription-only medication and a controlled substance. In the US Adderall is a shcedule 1 narcotic when possessed or sold without the proper authorization. Penalties for posessing Adderall without a prescription can be severe.
Countries where Adderall is OTC
In no country can you legally buy Adderall, Vyvanse or any other ADHD medication over the couner at a pharmacy without a prescription. However, many people report that it is fairly easy to acquire Adderall OTC in Mexico, Thailand and some Eastern European countries when paying cash. We do not recommend buying Adderall in this way.
What are some prescription drugs you can use as Adderall replacements?
If you have an Adderall prescription but you’re looking for a replacement for some reason, there are a bunch of drugs on the market that you might prefer.
Some standard replacements for Adderall are Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), Desoxyn (methamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), Focalin XR (dexmethylphenidate), Concerta (methylphenidate), Strattera (atomoxetine hydrochloride), and Quillivant XR (methylphenidate).
Adderall Side Effects
Adderall poses serious side effect risks to all users. Those using Adderall to treat symptoms of ADD and ADHD are largely protected by doctor supervision and guidance. Anybody using Adderall without an ADHD diagnosis and without the supervision of a medical professional are running the risk of causing serious and sometimes irreparable damage to their brain and body.
The most immediate danger of using Adderall without medical supervision and without an ADHD diagnosis is cardiovascular damage. Using amphetamines for recreational purposes is known to drastically raise the risk of heart attack and stroke. Reams of clinical data make it clear that long-term, chronic amphetamine abuse massively elevates the incidence of heart disease in later life.
Some other immediate side effects of Adderall use include:
- Loss of inhibitions and behaviour control
- Mood swings
- Shortness of breath
- Panic attacks
- Chest pains
More long-term, Adderall use is linked with both poor cognitive function and poor mental health. People who have a history of using stimulants like Adderall display worse performance in cognitive tests and worse reported mental health scores in later life. It isn’t clear exactly what causes this effect, but it is likely a combination of poor sleep quality and the stress placed on your CNS by stimulant use.
Then there is the entirely separate but no less serious issue of Adderall addiction.
Is Adderall addictive?
Yes, Adderall is extremely addictive. There is a huge body of evidence proving that the repeated use of amphetamines causes addiction and dependence. People using Adderall to control ADHD symptoms have a lower risk of addiction than people using Adderall recreationally or as a cognitive enhancer, but the risk is still very real.
Benefits of using OTC Adderall Substitutes
Why should you use an Adderall substitute anyway?
If you have been prescribed Adderall to treat ADHD, learning difficulties or eating disorders, you should follow the advice of your doctor and stick to Adderall.
But Adderall is simply not right for everyone. A lot of people find that the drug either does little to help their ADHD or it does so but at the cost of serious side effects. This is especially common in people who have self-diagnosed ADHD or who are using Adderall without a prescription for cognitive enhancement.
In these cases, the main benefits of using over the counter alternatives to Adderall are:
- Fewer side effects
- No addiction or withdrawals
- Legal to buy over the counter
- Can typically be used with other substances
- Stacks can be tailored to individual needs and reactions
- Can be used with caffeine and nicotine
Over the counter stimulants similar to Adderall
What over the counter stimulants are most similar to Adderall?
The clinical evidence suggests that, in the context of treating ADHD, Caffeine, Dynamine, Bromantane and Fasoracetam are all stimulants similar in effect to Adderall.
Using over the counter stimulants for ADHD
Can you rely on OTC stimulants for ADHD?
If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you need to take the medication prescribed to you by your doctor. Using OTC stimulants to try to treat your ADHD is unlikely to end well. Abusing stimulants can make ADHD symptoms worse. The best case scenario is that you get mild relief from your ADHD.
However, if amphetamine-based medications such as Adderall aren’t working for you, your doctor may try using over the counter stimulants to help control your symptoms. If you’re using large doses of OTC stimulants like caffeine or bromantane for ADHD, we stronly recommend combining it with Theanine to help control side effects.
Over the counter nootropics most like Adderall
Which over the counter nootropics are most like Adderall?
Ignoring stimulants, the over the counter nootropics most like Adderall are Vyvamind, Modafinil, Citicoline, Tyrosine and Huperzine A. These nootropic stacks and compounds are all known to produce effects just like Adderall but without the adverse side effects. We strongly recommend stacking Citicoline, Tyrosine and Caffeine if you want to have something like Adderall. For convenience, we recommend using Vyvamind (as it contains these ingredients plus theanine and B vitamins).
Can nootropics help with ADHD?
Can nootropics really help you manage your ADHD symptoms?
The answer is yes, nootropics can help with ADHD. Both natural nootropics and pharmaceutical smart drugs have been clinically proven to help people manage ADHD symptoms and improve focus, learning and self-control in people with borderline ADHD.
Modafinil, Fasoracetam, Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine, Vitamin B6, L-Theanine, Maritime Pine Bark Extract, and Caffeine can all be used as an alternative to prescription stimulants in the treatment of ADHD.
Conclusion: What is the closest thing to Adderall over the counter?
So to put it bluntly, what should you buy if you’re looking for an OTC Adderall alternative? What is the closest thing to Adderall you can buy over the counter today?
The closest thing to Adderall you can legally buy OTC right now is Vyvamind.
This natural nootropic stack has been purposefully designed to replicate many of the benefits of stimulant ADHD medication such as Adderall and Vyvanse, but without any of the side effect risks, and without the need for a doctor’s prescription. In other words, it is designed to be as close as possible to Adderall and Vyvanse while still being available for purchase OTC.
Vyvamind rapidly increases mental energy and stamina while simultaneously sharpening focus, speeding up information processing, and dramatically increasing motivation levels.
Vyvamind does all of this without relying on stimulants beyond a modest dose of caffeine. Instead, most of the benefits of Vyvamind come from the precise combination of nootropics in each serving in conjunction with the energy boost from the caffeine.
By stacking optimal doses of Citicoline (increased acetylcholine production in the brain), Tyrosine (increased dopamine production), Theanine (reduced anxiety and brain fog elimination) and Caffeine (faster processing speeds and more mental energy) with select B vitamins (brain cell metabolism and neuron maintenance), Vyvamind is able to support peak productivity and learning without you having to worry about side effects, crashes, comedowns, or long-term health issues.
Can you get generic Adderall over the counter?
No, Adderall is not available for purchase over the counter without a prescription. Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat severe cases of ADD and ADHD, as well as some other behavioural and learning difficulties. You need a doctor’s prescription to use Adderall. The drug is a controlled substance in the US and Canada, and possession without a prescription can lead to jail time.
Can you buy Dexedrine over the counter?
No, you can’t buy Dexedrine over the counter. Dexedrine is a brand name for dextroamphetamine. This is an amphetamine enantiomer, and it is the strongest form of amphetamine that you can take. Dexedrine is one of the most powerful CNS stimulants widely used in medicine. It is used to treat very severe cases of ADD and ADHD.
Dexedrine vs Adderall: Which is better?
Dextroamphetamine is actually a constituent of Adderall, which is made up of two salts of amphetamine and two salts of dextroamphetamine. Dexdroamphetamine is significantly more powerful than simple amphetamine, as its structure allows it to have a much more potent effect on your CNS. In other words, Dexedrine is actually a much more powerful stimulant than Adderall! This does not mean Dexedrine is better than Adderall; this depends entirely on your own circumstances and how your body responds to each drug.
Can you get any ADHD medication over the counter?
ADHD medication is generally not available for purchase over the counter without a valid prescription from a doctor or medical specialist. The most widely used ADHD medications contain amphetamine as their active ingredient. Since amphetamine is a controlled substance in most jurisdictions, it is not legal to purchase medications which use it over the counter without a prescription.
- Adderall tolerance
- Nootropics for ADHD
- Supplements to take with Adderall
- Adderall and Tyrosine
- Adderall weight loss
Related compounds to look at:
- CRL-40,941 (Fladrafinil)
- Gouliaev, A H, and A Senning. “Piracetam and other structurally related nootropics.” Brain research. Brain research reviews vol. 19,2 (1994): 180-222. doi:10.1016/0165-0173(94)90011-6. PubMed link.
- Grekhova, T.V., Gainetdinov, R.R., Sotnikova, T.D. et al. Effect of bromantane, a new immunostimulating agent with psychostimulating activity, on the release and metabolism of dopamine in the striatum of freely moving rats. A microdialysis study. Bull Exp Biol Med 119, 294–296 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02445840. Springer link.
- Elia, J., Ungal, G., Kao, C. et al. Fasoracetam in adolescents with ADHD and glutamatergic gene network variants disrupting mGluR neurotransmitter signaling. Nat Commun 9, 4 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02244-2. Nature link.
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.