The prescription drug Adderall is one of the drugs used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is composed of various forms of amphetamines that can be used therapeutically or abused as a stimulant drug. These component parts of Adderall can be found in sweat, urine, hair, blood and saliva and all of these body parts can be tested to measure Adderall levels. For anyone using Adderall for non-medical purposes, the question is always: how long does Adderall stay in the system? The short answer is: It depends on a number of factors.
How Long does Adderall Stay in Your System?
Depending on the type of Adderall and how your body metabolizes drugs, this medication can stay in your body for several hours to several days or months. Whether or not the drug is detected in your system will also depend on the type of test used to measure the level of Adderall.
Types of Adderall
There are two types of Adderall on the market: Regular (instant release) and XR (extended release). Levels of drugs are measured in “half-life”. A medication’s half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be excreted from the body. A good rule of thumb: You can do a pretty close calculation of how long it will take for a drug to be completely out of your system by multiplying the drug’s half-life by 6. So, in the example of a 10 hour half-life, it would take about 60 hours (10x6) for all of the drug to be excreted from the system. Of course, this will also depend on the individual’s ability to metabolize the drug.
- Regular release Adderall has a half-life of 4-6 hours. Using our formula, we can quickly estimate that all of the drug may be gone within 24-36 hours.
- Extended release Adderall has a half-life of about 10-13 hours. Using the formula once again, this means that this formulation of the medication may last in your system for 60-78 hours. All of this should be considered an approximation since individuals will process drugs differently.
Types of Test
Whether or not and how long Adderall can be detected in your system is directly related to the type of test used for the measurement.
- Urine Test. Urine tests are a very common way to test for drugs in your system. Adderall can typically be detected in a urine test for 1-4 days after you stop using the medication. If you have been using the drug for a long period of time, Adderall may be detected in your urine for up to a week.
- Blood Test. Because blood is purified very regularly in the body, Adderall will typically only be found in blood for about 12-24 hours. This type of test is usually used to manage a patient who has been prescribed the medication for a health reason. The physician can monitor blood levels of Adderall to ensure that the dosage is correct for the patient.
- Saliva Test. Testing for Adderall using your saliva is a convenient alternative to urine testing. The precision of this test is about the same as for urine testing, but it has not gained widespread acceptance since it has not been approved by the FDA.
- Hair Test. Hair testing for Adderall is less commonly used because it is a relatively expensive test that can cost from $100-200. In this test, the tester will try to get a lock of hair that is cut as close to the scalp as possible. Every attempt is made to get the most recent growth of hair which would be next to the scalp. Using this method, it is possible to determine about how long ago Adderall was actually used. Presence of Adderall in hair can be tested up to 3 months.
Precautions of Taking Adderall
Because Adderall is an amphetamine, there are several precautions that you should know about before taking the medication. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting the drug and be aware that you are probably not a candidate for Adderall if you have any of the following conditions:
- Allergy to amphetamines of any kind
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Heart disease including atherosclerosis, history of heart attack or rhythm disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Mental illness
- Seizure disorders including epilepsy
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Pregnancy or breast feeding
There are also side effects of this medication that you should watch for if you are taking Adderall:
- Urinary tract problems including pain, burning and blood in urine
- Irregular and fast heart rate
- Back or side pain
- Cough, fever and chills
- Headache and confusion
- Anxiety, mood swings
- Loss of appetite
If any of these or other symptoms show up after taking Adderall, be sure to see your healthcare provider. Watch a video for possible side effects: