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Updated on March 4, 2022

How Long Does Adderall Stay In Your System?

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription stimulant composed of two chemical compounds: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. 

The drug treats symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both children and adults. These symptoms include trouble focusing and difficulty controlling actions or staying still. 

Another reason doctors may prescribe the medication is to treat narcolepsy in those aged 12 and older. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes extreme daytime sleepiness.

Otherwise classified as CNS stimulants, drugs like Adderall alter certain natural substances in the brain to improve concentration and heighten alertness. 

Is Adderal Addictive?

Yes, Adderall is addictive and often misused/abused.

The effects of Adderall are a contributing factor to why many adolescents and college students in the U.S. misuse the drug.

Adderall is generally perceived as a study-aid medication among students who want to pull 'all-nighters' and study intensely. However, long-term side effects are not completely known and continual drug use can lead to serious health consequences.

The length of time for these drugs to take effect will vary. Adderall IR is an immediate-release pill taken 2 to 3 times per day. Adderall XR is an extended-release capsule that users take when they wake up.

Doctors may not introduce higher doses initially to monitor response and control progress. Adderall IR and Adderall XR can have side effects, build physical dependence over time, and result in withdrawal symptoms or overdose when misused. 

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Side Effects of Adderall & Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall use can have different side effects, including:

  • Nervousness
  • Headache
  • Alterations in libido or sexual performance
  • Intense menstrual cramps
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping 

It is important to seek medical help if any of the following serious side effects occur:

  • Slow or difficult speech
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the arms or legs
  • Seizures, which primarily occurs in individuals with a history of seizures. 
  • Motor or verbal tics
  • Blurred vision
  • Mental health issues, which may include hallucinations, depression, paranoia, or mania (frenzied or atypically excited mood)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Elevated heart rate 
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Fainting 

People with heart defects or serious heart problems have a higher risk of sudden death, heart attacks, or strokes.

Adderall is a prescription stimulant that affects the central nervous system (CNS). Prolonged use can lead to physical tolerance and dependence (when higher doses are needed to have the same desired effects).

People considering stopping the medication should speak with a medical professional to monitor withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of overdose. 

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Intense, unpleasant dreams 

How Long Does Adderall Stay In Your System?

The body absorbs Adderall via the gastrointestinal tract. The liver then breaks down the chemical substance and excretes it through urine. 

However, Adderall can be present or detected in different bodily specimens, including the hair, blood, and saliva.

The following list comprises approximate windows of detection for each type of test:

Urine Drug Test

This type of drug testing can detect traces of amphetamine or Adderall up to 7 days after the last use. There may be a higher concentration of the drug in a urine test, given that the body excretes it primarily through urine.  

Hair Test

This type of drug screening is convenient, as concentrations of Adderall can be present for up to 3 months in hair follicles. 

Blood Test

When other drug screening tests are not an option, a blood test can detect Adderall within minutes to hours. 

Saliva Test

Oral fluid screening can confirm concentrations of Adderall within 5 to 48 hours after last use. 

Half-Life of Adderall

The estimated half-life of the main ingredient of Adderall, dextroamphetamine, is between 9 and 13 hours. This means that the body will eliminate at least half of this chemical compound after this time has passed. 

The highest concentrations of the drug in the body’s system will occur approximately 3 hours after administration

Factors That Affect Detection Time

How long Adderall stays in your body will vary according to a number of factors, including:

  • Frequency of use: Chronic users of Adderall may have urine concentrations of the substance for more days than the average time. 
  • Age: Younger people tend to have stronger metabolisms and healthier organs than older adults. This is important, as poor liver or kidney function can inhibit proper metabolism and lead to extended exposure to the drug.
  • Body composition: Height, weight, body fat percentage, and muscle mass all play a role in how quickly the body can break down Adderall.
  • pH level: The pH level of urine can affect how quickly the kidney is capable of eliminating Adderall from the body. 
  • Dose: The amount of Adderall taken will also impact the duration of time that the substance is present. The higher the dose, the longer the drug stays in the body.  
  • Adderall IR or XR: Because Adderall XR is an extended-release capsule, traces of its main ingredients will be detectable for longer periods. The detection times mentioned above apply to Adderall IR. 

Treatment For Adderall Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from Adderall addiction, there are different options available to seek help and find relief. Before quitting, consult your nearest healthcare professional for medical advice.

Prescription stimulants like Adderall can lead to a substance use disorder (addiction) and cause cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 

A healthcare professional may recommend an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility to help you through detox and ensure a healthier recovery. Tapering (gradual reduction of drug dosage) may be included in your treatment plan to avoid sudden, severe withdrawal symptoms.

While there is no FDA-approved medication-assisted addiction treatment that can treat this type of drug, substance abuse treatment options include successful methods of behavioral therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy.  

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Resources

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  1. “ADDERALL® (CII) - Medication Guides Attached2007.” FDA, 2007, www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/011522s040lbl.pdf.
  2. “The Amphetamine Withdrawal Syndrome.” Department of Health | The Amphetamine Withdrawal Syndrome, www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7-aws.
  3. Benham, Barbara. “Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adults.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 17 Feb. 2016, www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2016/adderall-misuse-rising-among-young-adults.html.
  4. “Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html.
  5. “Hair Drug Testing.” LabCorp, www.labcorp.com/drug-testing/types-of-drug-tests/hair-drug-testing.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Commonly Used Drugs Charts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12 June 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Can Prescription Drug Addiction Be Treated?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 June 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/how-can-prescription-drug-addiction-be-treated.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Is the Scope of Prescription Drug Misuse?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 13 Apr. 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse.
  9. “Oral Fluid Drug Testing.” LabCorp, www.labcorp.com/drug-testing/types-of-drug-tests/oral-fluid-testing.

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