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How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?

by Will Long

August 18, 2023
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Adderall can last up to a full day (24 hours) or slightly longer in the human body, with a half-life around 12 hours. It combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is a common prescription medication for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When prescribed, it effectively manages ADHD symptoms.

However, misuse can cause dependency or addiction. Knowing how long Adderall stays in the system is essential for medical professionals and those taking the medication.

The History of Adderall

Early Development and Predecessors

The history of Adderall connects to the broader history of amphetamines, a class of stimulants. In 1887, Romanian chemist Lazăr Edeleanu first synthesized amphetamine, but the stimulant effects weren’t discovered until the 1920s.

Soldiers used various amphetamines to stay awake and alert during World War II. In the 1950s, amphetamines gained popularity for treating ailments, including:

Check out the Smithsonian Magazine’s feature article on the history of amphetamines.

Introduction of Adderall

Richwood Pharmaceuticals first introduced Adderall to the market in 1996, and it later became part of Shire Pharmaceuticals. The initial approval was for an instant-release tablet to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Adderall combines four different amphetamine salts:

  • Amphetamine aspartate monohydrate
  • Amphetamine sulfate
  • Dextroamphetamine saccharate
  • Dextroamphetamine sulfate

This combination was designed to give a more prolonged effect than other amphetamine-based medications.

Expansion and Controversy

Adderall quickly gained popularity as an ADHD treatment, especially in children and adolescents. Its effectiveness in enhancing focus and controlling hyperactivity led to widespread adoption.

However, Adderall’s rise also sparked concerns and controversies. Some people criticized the overdiagnosis of ADHD and the subsequent over-prescription of Adderall. Others expressed concerns about potential misuse, addiction, and health risks, especially when taken without a prescription.

Adderall XR and Ongoing Developments

In 2001, Shire Pharmaceuticals introduced Adderall XR, an extended-release formulation that provides therapeutic effects over a longer period. This allowed for once-daily dosing and became a preferred option for many patients.

The understanding of Adderall’s potential risks and benefits has grown as awareness of ADHD and its treatment options has expanded. Ongoing research continues to investigate the medication’s long-term effects, optimal dosing strategies, and potential alternative treatments.

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How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?

Amphetamine, found in Adderall, gets absorbed in the stomach quickly, usually over 75% for a specific type called dextroamphetamine. How much gets absorbed depends on the stomach’s acidity or alkalinity, with more being absorbed in primary conditions and less in acidic ones.

Once inside the body, amphetamine spreads to most tissues, including the brain. Its two forms last from 9 to 14 hours in the body, but this can change based on the urine’s acidity, lasting up to 34 hours in very alkaline urine.

The two types of amphetamine, immediate-and extended-release, reach their highest levels in the blood at 3 and 7 hours after taking them, respectively. The body mainly removes amphetamine through the kidneys, with 30–40% leaving without changing. The amount found in the urine can be from 1% to 75%, depending on its acidity or alkalinity. About 90% of the amphetamine taken is gone within 3 days after the last dose, broken down by different enzymes into various products.

Explore data on Adderall medications and half-life on the National Library of Medicine’s study database.

What Factors Influence How Long Adderall Stays in the System?

Several factors influence how long Adderall stays in the system, including:

  • Age and Metabolism: Younger people with faster metabolisms generally process Adderall more quickly.
  • Dosage: Higher doses remain in the system longer.
  • Frequency of Use: Regular usage can cause the drug to accumulate in the system.
  • Kidney and Liver Function: These organs metabolize Adderall, so their health significantly affects how quickly the body processes the drug.
  • Other Medications and Supplements: Interactions with other substances can either slow down or speed up Adderall’s metabolism.

How Long Does Adderall Stay in Different Parts of the System?

  • Blood: Adderall is detectable for up to 46 hours after the last dose.
  • Urine: The drug is found in urine for up to 4 days.
  • Saliva: Saliva tests may detect Adderall for up to 48 hours.
  • Hair: Hair follicle tests can detect Adderall for up to 3 months.

Symptoms of Adderall Misuse

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Adderall misuse is the first step toward getting help. If you or someone you know is taking Adderall outside of a doctor’s prescription, watch for the following signs:

  • Increased Energy and Alertness: Adderall misuse can cause unnatural bursts of energy and hyperactivity.
  • Loss of Appetite: A sudden hunger and weight loss drop, common among stimulant users, may indicate Adderall misuse.
  • Mood Swings: Rapid and intense mood changes, including increased irritability, may be signs of misuse.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Adderall can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or disrupted sleep.
  • Physical Symptoms: Symptoms like sweating, dry mouth, headaches, and an elevated heart rate may occur.
  • Behavioral Changes: Obsessive behaviors, social withdrawal, or neglecting responsibilities may be present.
  • Chronic Misuse Symptoms: Long-term misuse can cause more serious health problems, such as heart issues, anxiety disorders, and dependency.

Understanding these signs aids early intervention and helps those struggling with misuse find the help they need.

Tips for Preventing Adderall Abuse

Preventing Adderall misuse begins with awareness and responsible practices. Here are seven tips to ensure Adderall is used only as prescribed:

  1. Follow Prescriptions Carefully: Take Adderall only as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Don’t increase the dosage or frequency without talking to a medical professional.
  2. Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge of Adderall’s potential risks and side effects can aid in responsible use.
  3. Keep Medications Secure: Securely store Adderall away from others who might misuse it, like kids or recovering addicts.
  4. Dispose of Expired Pills: If you have expired Adderall, don’t throw it away. Follow FDA guidelines or take it to a drug take-back event.
  5. Monitor Usage: If you or a family member is prescribed Adderall, track the amount used to notice any unusual patterns.
  6. Communicate with Healthcare Providers: Regularly check in with medical professionals to monitor for signs of misuse or dependency.
  7. Promote Healthy Alternatives: Encourage habits and coping strategies that don’t depend on medication, such as exercise, proper nutrition, or mindfulness practices.

Risks Associated with Adderall Misuse

Misusing Adderall can cause serious health risks, including heart problems, anxiety, and addiction. If you or someone you know struggles with Adderall misuse, seek professional help immediately.

Learn more about amphetamines at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s drug database.

The Path to Recovery

At Landmark Recovery, we understand the challenges of Adderall misuse and provide personalized treatment programs to help individuals regain control of their lives. Recovery is possible, and our compassionate team is here to support you every step of the way.

Adderall’s presence in the system varies based on individual factors and testing methods. Monitoring levels may be necessary for medical and legal reasons. Misusing this medication can result in severe health issues, but recovery is within reach with proper guidance and support.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one faces challenges related to substance misuse, reach out to Landmark Recovery without delay. Call us today at 888-448-0302. Your journey to recovery starts with one step.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.