How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?

Adderall has a potential for abuse as people without ADHD self-medicate on it to boost their physical performance and concentration. When taken in high doses, Adderall produces a sense of euphoria and increased energy levels.

The drug can cause numerous side effects and behavioral issues, including euphoria, sleep disruption, mental health problems or addiction. This article breaks down how long Adderall lasts in the system and factors that may affect its elimination from the body.

How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?

How long does Adderall last in your system

If you take Adderall, the therapeutic effects of the drug would begin about 45 – 60 minutes after and its peak effects should be felt two to three hours after taking it. Hence, the effects of a single dose of Adderall can last between four to six hours.

The time is longer if you take the extended-release formulation of the drug instead.

The extended-release formulation dissolves more slowly at consistent timed intervals. Its therapeutic effects are observed within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion and can last in the body for up to 12 hours. Peak effects for the extended release formulation are observed at about 4 to 7 hours after oral use.

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How long Adderall lasts in your system is dependent primarily on its half-life, but is influenced by a number of factors which will be discussed later in this article.

Adderall has a half-life of 9 to 14 hours. This means that 9 to 14 hours after the drug is ingested, only half of it would remain in the body, and after another 9 to 14 hours, only a quarter would remain in the body. In about three days, Adderall would be completely cleared off your system.

How long Adderall can be detected in the body also depends on the body fluid where it is being measured;

  • In the urine, Adderall can last up to 4 to 7 days depending on how chronic its use has been.
  • In the blood, it can be detected 12 to 24 hours after dosage and it stays in the blood for 24 hours. An immediate release formulation would produce a peak plasma concentration at about 3 hours after last use while an extended release formulation would produce a peak plasma concentration at about six hours after ingestion.
  • In the saliva, it can be detected 10 to 20 minutes after use and it stays in the saliva for about 24 to 48 hours. The saliva test for detecting Adderall can, however, be easily contaminated with smoking or ingestion of other substances.
  • In the hair, Adderall can be detected for up to 90days.

What Is Adderall?

adderall effect on the brain

Adderall is a prescription-only drug which has the ability to stimulate the central nervous system and is used majorly in the management of two conditions – Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Narcolepsy.  It is a combination of Dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. It belongs to the phenylethylamine class of drugs.

It elicits its effect by increasing the levels of two chemical substances – dopamine and norepinephrine – in the brain. People with ADHD have difficulty focusing or concentrating on tasks and tend to act impulsively. These chemicals help to stimulate the brain by slowly increasing the amount of dopamine so that the mind of the individual with ADHD can focus.

Factors That Influence How Long Adderall Stays In The Body

1. Genetic Composition

Genetic composition affects the elimination of Adderall from the system.

Some individuals are able to eliminate drugs from their bodies faster than other individuals. This is due to the presence of an enzyme called the CYP2D6 in the body. People who have these enzymes are called ‘rapid metabolizers’ and people who don’t are called ‘poor metabolizers’. The drug may remain in the body for a longer time in poor metabolizers than in rapid metabolizers.

2. Amount of Adderall Ingested

Dosage of Adderall ingested affects its elimination

The amount or the dose of Adderall ingested would affect its metabolism in the body. The more the dose, the longer it takes for the body to clear it out. Also, the extended-release formulation of Adderall stays longer in the body than the immediate release formulation.

3. Function Ability of Organs

Organ damage affects how adderall is cleared from the system.

Vital organs play essential roles in the breakdown of a drug, the availability of the drug for use in the body, and ultimately, the excretion of the drug. The kidney and the liver are two of the most important organs in the metabolism of Adderall.

Adderall is largely metabolized by the liver which results in a variety of excreted metabolic products. Hence, when the liver is damaged or not functioning as it should, the metabolism of Adderall is hindered.

This may lead to accumulation of the drug to a toxic level in the body and even its recirculation in the body. This is very dangerous and can potentially lead to complications. adderall has also been reported to cause acute liver damage in some patients.

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4. Level of pH

The PH of the gastrointestinal tract affects adderall absorption.

Adderall is well absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, that is, the stomach and the intestines. The dextroamphetamine component is reported to have over 75% bioavailability. However, the absorption and how long the drug stays in the body is dependent on the pH level of the individual’s gastrointestinal tract.

The ‘pH’ describes how acidic or how alkaline a substance is. With an alkaline pH level, the drug absorption via the lipid cell membranes of the human gut is enhanced. But with an acidic pH level, the drug is changed to its water-soluble form and it is less absorbed. The level of pH in the gut can be affected by a number of factors including what you eat and drink.

In the kidney, an alkaline or higher pH level causes the kidney to take longer to process the drug and, hence, elongates its exit time from the body. However, with a lower or acidic PH, the drug remains in its hydrophilic (water-loving) state and it is more likely to be excreted faster.

5. Physiological Composition

The physiological composition of a person affects the elimination of Aderrall from the body.

Your body composition can affect how you clear Adderall from your system. That is, the body fats, the height, weight, muscle mass play an essential role in the metabolism of this drug.

A person with a low muscle mass and high body fat will be cleared of Adderall faster than a person with a high muscle mass and low body fat. This is because Adderall is stored in water and absorbed in fat.

Your physical health also greatly affects how long Adderall stays in your body. It is eliminated more quickly from the body of a healthy individual than a person in poor health.

6. Stress Level In The Body

Stress levels can affect how long Adderall lasts in the body

Your mood can also largely influence the availability of Adderall in the body. For people who struggle with mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders, the rate of absorption of the drug in their bodies is considerably slower than that of an individual in a good mental health state.

7. Food and Hydration Rate in the Body

Food and drinks also affect how long adderall lasts in the body

Availability or non-availability of food in your system does not necessarily affect the mechanism of action of Adderall, it can, however, affect how quickly your body is able to get rid of the drug. When there is food in the body, the body does the dual work of metabolizing the drug and breaking down the food. This invariably elongates the time for completion of both tasks.

Also, the level of hydration plays a minor role in the elimination rate of the drug. The more water you drink; the quicker Adderall is eliminated from your body.

8. Frequency of Use

frequency of use determines how long Adderrall lasts in the body

Adderall takes longer to clear from the system of people who use it on a regular basis as compared with people who only take it occasionally. When used frequently, it accumulates in the body and takes longer to be metabolized and excreted from the body in the form of its metabolites. As a result, it may take longer for people who are addicted to Adderall to get rid of the accumulated drug.

What Is the Safe Dose of Adderall?

Adderall is available as an immediate release and an extended release formulation, the dose thus depends on the formulation that is being used.

In the management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults

The immediate release form should be administered at 5mg daily and can be increased to 10mg daily. However, the maximum daily dose should not exceed 40mg.

The extended-release form should be administered at 10mg daily and the maximum daily dose should not exceed 30mg.

In the management of ADHD in Children

ADHD in children

Adderall is not recommended in children under three years of age and Narcolepsy is very rare in children under 12 years of age.

In children of about 3 – 6 years old a dose of 2.5mg daily which can be increased but should not exceed a maximum daily dose of 40mg per day. It can be administered in divided doses with four to six-hour intervals.

In children above six years of age, a 5mg dose administered once or twice daily. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 40mg per day. For the extended release medication, a 10mg dose can be administered in the morning. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 30mg per day.

In the Management of Narcolepsy

Only the immediate release form of the drug is usually administered in Narcolepsy and dosage ranges from 5mg to 60mg per day. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 60mg.

In Conclusion

For a chronic Adderall user, it may take a longer time to completely clear Adderall from your system and medical attention or rehabilitation may be required.

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Grace Adejuwon, B.Pharm

Grace Adejuwon joined 25 Doctors in 2019. She has a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from the Obafemi Awolowo University with many years experience in pharmaceutical care, logistics and pharmacy business management. She is also the lead pharmacist at Synapse Services Ltd, a community pharmacy. An ardent lover of nature, she delights in spending time within the pages of books. She uses her love for welding words together to educate people, especially about drugs.
Grace Adejuwon, B.Pharm

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