Adderall is the brand name for a type of medication that’s often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s an amphetamine, which is a type of drug that stimulates the central nervous system.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, prescription stimulants like Adderall improve symptoms of ADHD in 70 to 80 percent of children, and in 70 percent of adults.

Adderall may also be used for some sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. It is used off label for severe depression.

Adderall has a high potential for misuse. It may be used by people who don’t have a doctor’s prescription to increase attention and focus.

Read on to find out how long this medicine typically stays in your system, as well as how it works and potential side effects.

Adderall is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. It is then metabolized (broken down) by your liver and leaves your body through your urine.

Although Adderall is eliminated through urine, it works throughout the body, so it can be detected in several different ways as outlined below.

Blood

Adderall can be detected by a blood test up to 46 hours after last use. Blood tests can detect Adderall most quickly after it’s been used.

Urine

Adderall can be detected in your urine for about 48 to 72 hours after last use. This test will usually show a higher concentration of Adderall than other drug tests, because Adderall is eliminated through urine.

Saliva

Adderall can be detected in saliva 20 to 50 hours after last use.

Hair

Drug testing using hair is not a common method of testing, but it can detect Adderall for up to 3 months after last use.

Summary

  • Blood: Detectable up to 46 hours after use.
  • Urine: Detectable for 72 hours after use.
  • Saliva: Detectable for 20 to 50 hours after use.
  • Hair: May be detected up to 3 months after use.

Different people’s bodies metabolize — break down and eliminate — Adderall at different speeds. The length of time that Adderall stays in your body before it’s metabolized can be affected by a variety of different factors.

Your body composition — including your overall weight, how much body fat you have, and height — can affect how long Adderall stays in your system. This is partly because larger people usually need larger medication doses, which means the medication takes longer to leave their body.

However, there is some evidence that after you take into account the dose according to body weight, drugs like Adderall, which are metabolized by a certain liver pathway, clear from the body faster in people who weigh more or have more body fat.

Metabolism

Everyone has enzymes in their liver that metabolize, or break down, drugs such as Adderall. Your rate of metabolism can be affected by everything from your activity level to your gender to other medications you take.

Your metabolism affects how long a drug stays in your body; the faster it’s metabolized, the faster it will leave your body.

Dosage

Adderall is available in a variety of strengths, ranging from 5 mg to 30 mg tablets or capsules. The higher the dose of Adderall, the longer it can take for your body to fully metabolize it. Therefore, higher doses will stay in your body for longer.

Adderall comes in both immediate and extended-release versions which dissolve in the body at different speeds. This can affect how long the medication stays in your system.

Age

As you get older, it can take longer for medications to leave your system. This is due to several reasons.

  • The size of your liver decreases as you age, which means it can take longer for your liver to fully break down Adderall.
  • Output of urine decreases with age. Kidney function may also decrease as a result of age-related conditions, such as heart disease. Both these factors can cause medications to stay in your body for longer.
  • Your body composition changes as you get older, which can lead to changes in how fast your body breaks down and gets rid of medications.

Organ function

Adderall is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, then metabolized by the liver and flushed out by the kidneys. If any of these organs or systems is not functioning properly, it can take longer for Adderall to leave your body.

It may seem counterintuitive, but Adderall works by stimulating the central nervous system.

It is believed that people who have ADHD don’t have sufficient dopamine in their frontal lobe, which is the brain’s “reward center.” Because of this, they may be prone to seeking stimulation and the positive feeling that comes with dopamine in the frontal lobe. This can cause them to engage in impulsive or thrill-seeking behavior, or get distracted easily.

By stimulating the central nervous system, Adderall increases how much dopamine is available in the frontal lobe. This helps people with ADHD to stop seeking stimulation which, in turn, helps them focus better.

Medication is usually just one part of an overall ADHD treatment plan, along with behavioral therapy, education and organizational support, and other lifestyle methods.

Taking too much Adderall can cause both mild and dangerous side effects, including:

In addition, your body can become dependent on Adderall if you take too much of it. When you try to stop using it, you can go into withdrawal. Besides having cravings for Adderall, other withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • fatigue
  • agitation
  • depression
  • sleeping issues, including insomnia or sleeping more than normal; you may also have vivid dreams
  • increased appetite
  • slowed movements
  • slowed heart rate

These symptoms can last for up to 2 or 3 weeks.

Many amphetamines, including Adderall, have the potential to be misused. In some cases, people who don’t have a prescription may take Adderall to try to improve their focus or to stay up for long periods of time.

A review of studies found that approximately 17 percent of college students reported misusing stimulants, including Adderall.

When Adderall is taken as intended, the effects of the medication can be positive. But for people without ADHD, who use the drug without medical supervision, the effects can be dangerous.

Even if you have a prescription, it’s possible to misuse Adderall by taking too much of it, or taking it in a way that wasn’t prescribed.

Adderall can be detected in your system for up to 72 hours — or 3 days — after you last use it, depending on what type of detection test is used.

The length of time the medication stays in your system depends on many factors, including dosage, rate of metabolism, age, organ function, and other factors.

It’s important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about Adderall.