How Long Does Adderall Last?
In This Article
What is Adderall & What Does it Treat?
Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that is defined by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inability to concentrate.
Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy, which is characterized by overwhelming drowsiness during the day and sudden sleep attacks.
Since its introduction in 1996, Adderall has become the most widely prescribed and effective drug for treating ADHD. However, while the drug has been approved for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, as well as for some other uses, some people abuse Adderall.
Abusing Adderall can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health, and overdosing can even lead to death.
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How Long Does Adderall Last?
The effects of immediate-release Adderall last for about four to six hours. Of course, higher doses will last longer. Again, metabolism and weight can also play roles in how long the effects of Adderall last.
Adderall also comes in an extended-release form known as Adderall XR, which is released into the body throughout the day. This can last up to 10 or 12 hours since it releases at a slower rate.
Adderall can still be detected in your system long after you’ve taken it. It usually lasts a few hours, depending on the dosage you consume. Your metabolism and weight will also play a role in how long Adderall stays in your system.
Here's how far back various drug tests can detect if you've used Adderall:
- Oral Drug Test — 72 hours after consumption
- Urine Drug Test — 72 hours after Adderall consumption
- Hair Drug Test — Three months after consumption
- Blood Test — 46 hours after consumption
How Adderall Works
Adderall works by increasing the user’s dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels in the brain.
Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that sends signals throughout the central nervous system (CNS).
It can help to regulate:
- Cognitive functioning
- And much more
Serotonin is a mood-stabilizing chemical. Sufficient levels reduce depression and anxiety.
When your serotonin levels are normal you feel:
- Less anxious
- More focused
- More emotionally stable
Finally, norepinephrine increases alertness and reaction times.
Those with ADHD often don't produce enough of these chemicals naturally, leading to various cognitive and emotional problems. Therefore, Adderall can help many children and adults manage their ADHD symptoms.
While some children may grow out of their symptoms as their brains change with development, some adults still suffer from ADHD symptoms that Adderall can help relieve.
How to Get Adderall Out of Your System
A person's metabolism, body weight, and frequency of drug use affect how long Adderall remains in the body.
While several products claim to speed up the process, the best way to remove Adderall from your system is to wait for the body to clear it naturally.
Many people have tried to use masking agents to pass a drug test. It is a myth that vitamin B3 (niacin) can cleanse toxins from the body. No evidence of its effectiveness exists.
Most products claiming to clear drugs from your body system or interfere with drug tests do not work, and they can be expensive. Labs can easily pick up masking agents in test samples.
Side Effects of Adderall
Side effects of Adderall may include:
- Blurred vision
- Sleep problems
- Dry mouth
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Stomach pain
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Low libido
- High blood pressure
- Fast heart rate
- Heart palpitations
When abused, these side effects of Adderall can become amplified.
Side Effects of Adderall Abuse
The prescribed dose of Adderall is considered safe. Still, drug abuse is common, and it can happen with Adderall, too. Amphetamine-based ADHD medications are commonly misused and abused.
When taken in high doses, Adderall can have neurotoxic effects that damage the nervous system. High levels of dopamine can cause neuron and nerve damage.
Side effects of Adderall abuse may include:
- Weight loss
- Impulse control issues
- Heart problems
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulties thinking and concentrating
- Learning complications
- Anxiety and depression
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Sleeping problems
- Stunted growth (for children)
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Organ damage
- Blurred or impaired vision
- Dry mouth
- Skin issues like Itching, rash, and sores
- Teeth clenching
- Breathing difficulties
- Suicidal thoughts
What Happens When You Stop Using Adderall?
Withdrawal symptoms may occur in individuals who have chronically misused Adderall and developed significant physiological dependence.
Withdrawal symptoms from using Adderall include:
- Lack of pleasure
- Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
- Vivid dreams
- Increased appetite
- Reduced movements
- Slowed heart rate
Adderall withdrawal symptoms typically develop within a few hours to several days after stopping Adderall. These symptoms can last up to two to three weeks.
In people with high stimulant dependence, a supervised medical detox may be necessary.
A supervised medical detox may include close patient monitoring and medicines to help ease and reduce withdrawal effects, manage any medical or mental health problems, and lessen the likelihood of relapse.
Studies have shown that relapse is common in amphetamine users and typically occurs within four weeks of quitting.7
Treatment for Adderall Abuse & Addiction
Here are some possible options for dealing with Adderall addiction:
Inpatient programs are the most intensive addiction treatment options.
These programs guide you through:
- Medically supervised detoxification
- Behavioral therapy
- Other services like medication-assisted therapy
They typically last 30, 60, or 90 days. However, they may be longer if necessary.
Intensive outpatient programs are the next level of addiction treatment. These programs provide similar services to inpatient programs such as detoxification and behavioral therapy.
The difference is that the patient will return home to sleep. Some programs also include transportation and meals.
PHPs are ideal for new patients and those who have completed inpatient treatment but still need intensive care.
Outpatient programs provide well-rounded treatment for people with a high motivation to recover. These programs are flexible and can be made around your schedule. They can also be customized to work best for you.
These programs work for new patients and those that complete an inpatient or partial hospitalization program.
While there is no FDA-approved drug to help detox from Adderall addiction, your doctor may be able to prescribe you a different ADHD medication that’s safer for you.
For example, brand drugs such as Strattera and Wellbutrin may be effective options to treat ADHD. Because they are non-stimulant medications, they have a lower potential for abuse. However, they may take longer to work (four to eight weeks to reach maximum effectiveness, compared to 30 minutes to an hour with Adderall).
If you or a loved one is struggling with abuse of stimulant medications or other prescription medications, seek medical advice immediately.
Call to find out how much your insurance will cover
- “Adderall Neurotoxicity: How Dangerous Is It? - Oxford Treatment.” Oxford Treatment Center
- Kelly, Kate. “What You Need to Know.” Adderall, Understood, 22 Oct. 2020
- “Narcolepsy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 Nov. 2020
- “NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms.” National Cancer Institute
- “Side Effects of Adderall (Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine Mixed Salts), Warnings, Uses.” RxList, RxList, 27 Oct. 2020
- “What Is Adderall?: Adderall Side Effects and Treatment: Arrow Passage.” Arrow Passage Recovery Center, 9 Oct. 2020
- The amphetamine withdrawal syndrome, Models of Intervention and Care For Psychostimulant Users, 2nd Edition - Monograph Series No. 51, Australian Government Department of Health, April 2004