Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts) is a stimulant medication that treats attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
When used appropriately, Adderall provides symptom relief for these disorders, promoting wakefulness, focus, and executive function.
Adderall is often abused, both as a means to get high and as a performance enhancer in sports and academics, most frequently by college students.
Whether it is abused or used appropriately, the effects of Adderall may last for several hours. However, like all drug effect timelines, the duration of Adderall’s effects can vary.
How Long Does Adderall Last?
Adderall works in the central nervous system, boosting dopamine and norepinephrine production.
People with ADHD, as well as people with narcolepsy, may have lower levels of these chemicals available, which can cause fatigue, impulsivity, and difficulty completing tasks.
Prescription stimulants, such as Adderall, are often helpful for people with neurotransmitter imbalances.
However, for people who already have normal levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, a dose of Adderall can boost their levels to dangerous heights.
Those who don’t need Adderall can experience a sense of euphoria when using the drug.
In addition to the sense of euphoria, people using Adderall may experience:
- increased heart rate
- high blood pressure
- weight loss
Whether Adderall is used therapeutically or to achieve a high, the amount of time Adderall lasts will depend on which formulation the person takes.
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How Long Does Immediate Release Adderall Last?
Immediate release Adderall (Adderall IR) begins working within 30 to 60 minutes for most people. The effects of Adderall IR usually last from four to six hours.
Many people who experience ADHD symptoms take this form of Adderall twice per day: once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
How Long Does Extended Release Adderall Last?
Extended-release Adderall (Adderall XR) is taken once per day. Adderall XR is a capsule that contains an immediate-release formula and a delayed-release formula.
The immediate-release formula begins working within 30 to 60 minutes and should continue to work for four to six hours.
The delayed-release formula should begin working shortly after the immediate-release medication wears off, providing an additional four to six hours of symptom relief.
The extended-release version of Adderall has a lower potential for substance abuse than the immediate-release version. However, some people find that this version is less effective.
How Long Does Adderall Last In The Body?
According to Johns Hopkins, the half-life of Adderall IR is roughly nine hours, while the half-life of Adderall XR is 10 to 13 hours.
Prescription drugs take roughly five to six half-lives to be eliminated from a person’s system completely.
Therefore, Adderall can stay in the average person’s system for 45 to 78 hours.
How Long Can Adderall Be Detected By Drug Tests?
Adderall can be detected in drug tests even after the effects of the drug have worn off. A urine test, for example, can detect Adderall for up to 72 hours from the last dose.
Other Adderall detection times include:
- saliva tests: up to 50 hours after last use
- blood tests: up to 46 hours after last use
- hair tests: up to three months after last use
How Long Does Adderall Withdrawal Last?
After a person stops taking Adderall, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may occur whether or not a person’s Adderall use is legitimate.
Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include:
- cognitive difficulties
- depressed mood
- sleep disturbances
- appetite changes
Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within hours of the person’s last dose, and symptoms generally subside after a few weeks.
However, the Adderall withdrawal timeline may depend on the person’s metabolism, frequency of use, and whether they’ve taken higher doses of the drug.
People who deal with Adderall abuse may find it helpful to attend a detox program, which can provide medical care and options for symptom relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you are dealing with Adderall addiction, have been prescribed Adderall, or have a condition such as ADHD, it’s natural to have questions about this medication.
Here you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions about Adderall.
How Long Does Adderall Last?
The therapeutic effects of Adderall can last from four to 12 hours, depending on the formulation that a person takes.
Is Adderall A Controlled Substance?
Adderall is a controlled substance. It is listed as a Schedule II drug because it has both therapeutic effects and a high potential for abuse.
How Can I Tell If A Loved One Is Addicted To Adderall?
There is a difference between addiction and dependence, and for people with specific medical conditions or mental health concerns, using Adderall does not necessarily indicate addiction.
However, for many people, the signs of Adderall addiction include drug-seeking behaviors, using Adderall illegally, and experiencing severe physical and mental side effects of Adderall.
What Is The Difference Between Adderall And Ritalin?
Like Adderall, the drug Ritalin is a prescription stimulant. However, the two prescription medications interact with the brain differently. That is why some people have more symptom relief from one or the other.
Can You Develop A Tolerance To Adderall?
Yes, it is common to develop Adderall tolerance. When the body gets used to prescription stimulant use, it may take higher amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects.
Can You Overdose On Adderall?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on Adderall, especially if a person abuses Adderall or combines it with other substances.
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Published on December 7, 2022
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Institute On Drug Abuse
- National Library Of Medicine
- United States Food And Drug Administration