Adderall is a stimulant that’s prescribed to people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is sold in various formulations like Adderall (immediate-release) and Adderall XR (extended-release). The effects of Adderall vary depending on the type of formulation you take. Because it’s one of the most highly used ADHD medications in the United States, we wanted to look into the question, “How long does Adderall last in the body?” and why this is important to know if you’re taking it.
How long until Adderall kicks in depends on the formulation you take. Immediate-release Adderall usually kicks in within 30 minutes of taking it, hence its name. On the other hand, extended-release Adderall may take an hour or longer to kick in, with side effects lasting as long as 12 hours.
Immediate-release Adderall is usually taken several times a day because side effects only last for four to six hours. Adderall XR is most commonly used for people who are going to take the medication long-term and require daily doses, in which they may only take one capsule a day.
Regardless of the formulation, Adderall improves ADHD symptoms by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Dopamine and norepinephrine are two naturally occurring chemicals that affect different functions. While dopamine plays a role in mood and emotion, norepinephrine plays a role in physiological responses like breathing and heart rate.
However, while Adderall effectively treats ADHD symptoms like poor concentration, lack of focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, it can also produce some undesirable side effects like:
Some other serious side effects of Adderall use include coldness or numbness of the extremities, unusual wounds in the toes or fingers, mood swings, thoughts of suicide, and teeth grinding. It’s important that you reach out to your doctor or get medical assistance immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Additionally, because of its impact on dopamine and norepinephrine, Adderall is also a commonly abused stimulant. People abuse Adderall by crushing and snorting tablets, taking higher doses than prescribed, taking it with drugs or alcohol, or using it without a prescription. Keep in mind that this medication is addictive, and dependence, as well as overdose, are two very real risks of abusing Adderall.
Adderall is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and then deactivated by the liver or eliminated in the urine. Around 20% to 25% of Adderall in the body is converted into metabolites, which are traces of the drug that are detected in drug tests or screenings. So, while Adderall might be eliminated through urine, it works throughout the body and can be detected in several ways.
How long Adderall lasts in the body depends greatly on its half-life. The half-life of Adderall is between 9 and 14 hours, depending on the formulation that’s used. This means that it can take 9 to 14 hours for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. This means that Adderall only lasts three days or 72 hours in the body, give or take.
In addition to the formulation taken, several other factors affect how long Adderall stays in your body, including:
Even the pH of the person’s urine can affect how quickly the drug will be eliminated from their body, as people with a higher pH may eliminate the drug more slowly. People who have been using Adderall on a daily basis for long periods may also take longer to clear the drug from their system compared to someone who’s only taken it a few times.
Similarly, people who take higher doses of Adderall will need more time for the drug to leave their system than someone who takes a lower dose. Age, weight, and sex can also impact the rate at which Adderall is eliminated from the body. People with higher body weight or those who are older may take longer to process medications like Adderall than a person who’s younger and weighs less.
Furthermore, both the liver and kidneys play major roles in the elimination of Adderall in the body, so if one of these organs isn’t functioning properly, the elimination process can be affected. Likewise, people with underlying kidney or liver problems may struggle to metabolize this drug, as well.
Yes, Adderall can show up on certain drug tests. Employers, law enforcement, medical professionals, mental health specialists, and sports organizations commonly test for amphetamines like Adderall. Urine tests, blood tests, hair tests, and saliva tests are all used to determine whether a person has Adderall or other drugs in their system.
Below are the drug test detection windows for Adderall:
Adderall can be a life-changing medication for people with ADHD and narcolepsy. However, many people abuse Adderall and place themselves at risk of dependence, addiction, and overdose.
Fortunately, there are levels of care for substance abuse treatment available to help people break free from Adderall addiction. With the use of behavioral therapies like dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapy, our Palm Springs, CA drug rehab can help people stop using drugs and alcohol and learn strategies to stay sober.
Our rehab programs also include medically monitored detox to treat patients’ withdrawals as they’re gradually weaned off of Adderall, as well as both on and off-site programs where they can connect with therapists individually and in group settings.
Redwood Toxicology Laboratory - Amphetamines
University of Arizona - Biological Tests