How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?

hand holding an adderall pill
Even though Adderall is a prescription medication, it is often abused. Misuse can lead to addiction, overdose, and significant adverse effects such as cardiovascular disease, unhealthy weight loss, and psychotic symptoms. People who have become addicted to the drug may benefit from professional substance abuse treatment.

If you or someone you know is addicted to adderall, American Addiction Centers (AAC) – the leading rehabilitation program in the U.S. can help. Contact us at [phone] to speak confidentially with an admissions navigator for help getting access to our successful substance abuse programs.

Adderall is detectable in urine for 72-96 hours after last use, in blood for up to 46 hours, in saliva for 20-50 hours, and in hair for up to 3 months. The length of time it can be detected is influenced by several factors, including urine pH, weight, frequency of use, dose, and last use.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It contains a mixture of both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Branded pharmaceutical formulations that include this stimulant combo include Adderall (immediate release), Adderall XR (extended release), and Mydayis (extended release). Immediate-release forms of the drug are available in oral tablet form; extended-release forms of the drug are available as capsules to be taken by mouth.1,2

The effects of Adderall last for varying amounts of time depending on the version of the drug. The immediate-release Adderall version will last around 4­–6 hours per dose, while Adderall XR, the extended-release version, only needs to be taken once each morning.2

Adderall is one of the most widely prescribed ADHD treatment medications. From 2016 to 2017, the number of people age 12 and older who used amphetamine products (which includes Adderall as well as Dexedrine, Vyvanse, and similar drugs) increased from just over 12 million (4.5% of this population) to 12.7 million (4.7% of this population).3

Is It Abused?

While many people take Adderall with a doctor’s prescription following a diagnosis of ADHD or narcolepsy, it is a commonly misused drug. From 2016 to 2017, the number of people age 12 and older who misused Adderall increased from 5.1 million to 5.2 million.3 Adderall and amphetamine abuse is on the risePeople who abuse Adderall often take someone else’s medication or buy it illegally. They may also take it in a way other than prescribed (by crushing, snorting, or injecting it) in an attempt to intensify the high. High school and college students may use the drug to improve their performance in school, and adults may take them to improve their memory or perform better at work.4

Abusing the drug is dangerous and can lead to addiction, anger, paranoia, psychosis, and heart problems.4

How Long Does Adderall Last?

Adderall is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and either deactivated by the liver or eliminated unchanged in the urine. About 20-25% of it is converted to metabolites, including hippuric and benzoic acids.5

The rate at which the drug is eliminated can be affected by the pH of the person’s urine.

How long Adderall stays in a person’s system depends on a number of factors. For example, the rate at which the drug is eliminated from a person’s body can be affected by the pH of the person’s urine. A person with a low urine pH will tend to eliminate the drug faster, while a person with a higher pH may eliminate the drug more slowly.5

Other factors that can affect how long Adderall stays in a person’s system include:6

  • How often the person took Adderall.
  • What dose the person took.
  • When the person last took Adderall.
  • Weight.
  • Kidney or liver impairment.

Employers, law enforcement, medical and mental health professionals, and sports organizations commonly test for amphetamines. Urine tests, blood tests, hair tests, and saliva tests are all used to determine whether a person has used Adderall or similar drugs.

  • Urine test: This is the most commonly used form of testing. You are most likely to test positive for Adderall on a urine test 72-96 hours after last use.5
  • Hair test: Though less commonly used than urine tests, hair tests offer a greater window of possible detection time. Traces of amphetamines can be detected for up to 3 months after last use.8
  • Saliva test: Traces of Adderall can be detected in saliva for 20-50 hours.7
  • Blood test: While traces of Adderall can be detected soon after last use, it will only remain in the blood for up to 46 hours.7

Is Adderall Addictive?

As stated earlier, Adderall abuse can lead to addiction. An addiction can interfere with many areas of a person’s life, such as their health, relationships, schoolwork, or employment.4

Signs of addiction include:4.9

  • Taking Adderall in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than intended.
  • Inability to cut back on Adderall use.
  • Spending a large amount of time acquiring Adderall, using it, or recovering from its effects.
  • Craving Adderall.
  • Difficulty taking care of responsibilities at work, school, or home due to Adderall use.
  • Continuing to use Adderall even though its use is causing social or interpersonal problems.
  • Not participating in previously enjoyed activities in favor of Adderall use.
  • Using Adderall in dangerous situations.
  • Continuing to use Adderall even though it is causing physical or psychological problems.
  • Building tolerance to Adderall, so that the person has to take progressively higher doses of the drug to get the same effect as before.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the person cuts down or stops use.

Abuse and addiction also increase the risk of overdose. People who develop tolerance to the drug may steadily increase their intake of Adderall, raising the likelihood of taking too much and overdosing.

Symptoms of an Adderall overdose include:1

  • Panic.
  • Confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Aggression.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • High fever.
  • Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown in muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood, which can damage the kidneys).
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • High or low blood pressure.
  • Circulatory collapse.
  • Restlessness.
  • Tremors.
  • Overactive reflexes.
  • Convulsions.
  • Coma.

Emergency medical services may be required in the event of an overdose, which can result in death.1

What Happens When You Stop Using?

Withdrawal symptoms may occur in people who have chronically misused the drug and developed significant physiological dependence.

Stimulant withdrawal symptoms may include:9

  • Cravings.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Lack of pleasure.
  • Agitation.
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than normal.
  • Vivid dreams.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Slowed movements.
  • Slowed heart rate.

Withdrawal typically develops within a few hours to several days after stopping Adderall and can last up to 2-3 weeks.9,10,11

In people with significant stimulant dependence, a supervised medical detox can be helpful. This could include close patient monitoring and medications to help ease withdrawal effects, manage any medical or mental health issues, and decrease the likelihood of relapse. Studies have shown that relapse is common in amphetamine users and often occurs within 4 weeks of quitting.10

Getting Help for Misuse

Adderall can be life-changing for individuals struggling with ADHD and narcolepsy. Many people, however, misuse Adderall and place themselves at risk of addiction.

Substance abuse treatment programs can help people break free from Adderall addiction. Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management, can help people stop using and learn strategies to stay clean. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people how to manage their triggers and adjust thought patterns that may lead to Adderall abuse, while contingency management rewards people for behaviors related to sobriety.4

Some programs may offer detox and addiction treatment on-site, while others may require you to undergo detox off-site.

If you’ve been abusing the drug, reach out for help today.

Sources

[1]. Food and Drug Administration. (2007). Adderall.

[2]. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Medline. (2017). Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine.

[3]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables.

[4]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription Stimulants.

[5]. Redwood Toxicology Laboratory. Amphetamines & Methamphetamine.

[6]. Moeller, K., Kissack, J., Atayee, R., and Lee, K. (2017). Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests: What Clinicians Need to Know About Urine Drug Screens. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

[7]. Verstraete, A. (2004). Detection Times of Drugs of Abuse in Blood, Urine, and Oral Fluid. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, 26(2).

[8]. MethOIDE. Biological Tests.

[9]. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

[10]. Australian Government Department of Health. (2004). The amphetamine withdrawal syndrome.

[11]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Protracted Withdrawal.

Last Updated on November 18, 2020
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Dan Wagener
Dan Wagener is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers.
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