What is Adderall?

Adderall® is the brand name of a drug that’s a mixture of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s primarily used to treat the symptoms of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and sometimes for narcolepsy. Many patients wonder: how long does Adderall stay in your system?

This stimulant medication helps improve attention and concentration in a similar way to coffee, but it’s much more potent than caffeine. Adderall binds to dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in the brain, making you feel more alert and ready to focus.

Like other stimulant drugs, Adderall can become addictive over time because it causes the brain to release dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. Stimulant medications have additional, troubling side effects, which is why they’re typically not the best treatment for ADHD and ADD.

Adderall Metabolism: How long does it last?

Adderall metabolizes relatively slowly, and trace amounts can linger in different parts of the body for days or months. 

How long does Adderall stay in your system? Here’s how long Adderall is detectable in different systems of the body:

  • Saliva test: 20-50 hours
  • Blood test: 46 hours after ingestion
  • Urine test: 48-96 hours, sometimes up to a week
  • Hair test: 3 months (hair follicle testing for Adderall is less common than other types of testing)

Factors like frequency of use, patient weight, urine pH, and dosage can affect the metabolism of Adderall.

What is the half-life of instant release Adderall? Adderall has a half-life of 10 hours, which means that half of the drug you take is eliminated from your body within 10 hours of your last use. The other half can take quite a while to work its way out, and the timeline varies by person.

Once Adderall is swallowed, the pill makes its way down to the gastrointestinal tract, where it dissolves and releases the active ingredients into the bloodstream. In the blood, it travels to the central nervous system, where it affects the neurotransmitters.

Just because it’s no longer working, that doesn’t mean the Adderall isn’t detectable in the body. Adderall is still detectable long after its effects wear off. If patients take a drug test before the end of these windows, they may test positive for Adderall use.

Because Adderall affects the neurotransmitters in your brain, it can have long-term impacts. Some patients become dependent on the drug and need specialized addiction treatment.

How long does it take for Adderall to leave your system? Adderall leaves your blood, urine, and saliva in 2-4 days, but can last for up to 3 months in the hair follicle.

Formulations Of Adderall

There are two main formulations of Adderall: standard Adderall IR and Adderall XR. Adderall IR is an immediate-release drug, and Adderall XR is the extended-release version that works over the course of the day. This slower release allows patients to take it less often.

Adderall XR stays in your body longer than standard Adderall because of its extended-release formulation, which gives the medication in small doses over several hours.

When you take Adderall IR, it reaches its highest concentration in your bloodstream after 3 hours. Adderall XR reaches its maximum concentration about 7 hours after taking it and is effective for about 12 hours.

Factors That Alter How Long Adderall Stays In Your System

There are several factors that can affect how long Adderall will stay in your (or your child’s) system. 

The factors affecting Adderall metabolism include:

  • Formulation: Adderall XR takes longer to leave your system than standard immediate-release Adderall because it takes more time for the drug to make it into your bloodstream.
  • Dosage: First, the dose of Adderall you take is directly related to how quickly your body can eliminate it. It will take your body longer to metabolize 10 mg of the drug compared to 5 mg.
  • Metabolism: Some people metabolize certain drugs faster than others, just like some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others.
  • Organ function: Adderall is broken down in your liver and removed from the blood by your kidneys where it’s excreted in urine. If your liver or kidney function is impaired, it will also take you longer to remove Adderall from your system.
  • Body composition: Your body fat percentage affects how quickly your body metabolizes Adderall. People with a higher body fat composition often metabolize drugs more quickly.
  • Urine pH: If your urine is more acidic (lower pH), you’ll excrete Adderall faster.

Adderall and Addiction

Adderall contains amphetamine, and it can be highly addictive. Remember, Adderall makes your brain release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine, which you experience as pleasure. For this reason, many casual users fall victim to Adderall abuse.

Drug testing often includes tests for Adderall use, particularly if you don’t have a prescription for it. Adderall substance use is particularly common among college students, who often start using it to help them study. 

It’s unfortunately incredibly easy for occasional Adderall use to turn into drug abuse or even Adderall addiction.

Adderall Prescriptions and Addiction

If you’ve been taking Adderall for a while, whether you have a legal prescription for it or you’re using it recreationally, you can experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it abruptly. 

Your brain gets used to its neurotransmitter levels being a certain way, and when you stop taking Adderall, it changes those levels. It can also harm your mental health to go through a sudden drop in dopamine levels.

Doctors will wean patients off their prescriptions slowly, so most people who experience Adderall withdrawal are recreational users or patients who go off the medication without talking to their doctor first.

Adderall Addiction Treatment

If you are or think you might be addicted to Adderall, there are treatment options available, including specialized treatment programs for prescription drug substance abuse, including Adderall. These programs can help you stop using and detox from Adderall safely.

Side Effects of Adderall Use

Like any drug, Adderall has many negative side effects if it’s misused or abused. 

What are the dangers of Adderall? The dangers of Adderall include the potential of addiction, as well as side effects like strokes, seizures, and heart attacks after abuse or heavy long-term use. Other dangers of Adderall include adverse effects such as:

  • High blood pressure: Adderall causes vasoconstriction, which raises blood pressure.
  • Raised heart rate: The amphetamines in Adderall can increase heart rate, particularly if you’re taking a higher dose than you’ve been prescribed.
  • Decreased appetite: Adderall can make patients want to eat less, particularly if they’re on high doses.
  • Insomnia: The stimulants in Adderall can make it difficult for you to sleep, particularly if you take the medication late in the day.
  • Stomachache and nausea: Adderall use can cause digestive discomfort since it slows down the digestive process
  • Headache: This is one of the most common side effects of Adderall
  • Mood changes: Adderall can make some patients feel more anxious, aggressive, or even depressed.
  • Parkinson’s disease: There’s evidence that long-term use of medications that affect your brain’s dopamine levels, like Adderall, can lead to Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
  • Addiction: Long-term misuse of Adderall can easily lead to addiction and you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it.

Alternatives to Adderall for ADHD

If you’re hesitant to give your ADHD child Adderall because of the side effects and the possibility of addiction, you’re not alone! Luckily, there are some very effective natural alternatives to Adderall that can help your kids cope with and overcome their ADHD.

Functional treatments are the most effective treatments for ADHD. Drugs simply address the symptoms of ADHD; functional treatment gets at the root source of the patient’s ADHD. It’s a solution for the problem, not just a band-aid.

Highly effective functional treatments for ADHD include:

  • Nutritional changes: Poor nutrition can lead to a suite of behavioral problems, including ADHD. It’s very important to treat nutritional deficiencies early on to see the best results and strongest symptom improvement.
  • Addressing food sensitivities and allergies: In addition to improving nutrition overall, it’s very important to identify and address any food allergies or sensitivities. Avoiding foods that you’re allergic to can improve ADHD symptoms.
  • Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy can help address some of the underlying causes of ADHD behaviors, and it can help children learn how to self-regulate more effectively.
  • Immune support: The immune system affects more than just your ability to fight off germs. Immune system problems are linked to ADHD and may be caused by inflammation.
  • Removing environmental toxins: Detoxification protocols can help remove environmental toxins that cause ADHD symptoms, like pesticides.

Functional medicine is one of  the best ways to address ADHD. The only side effect of these treatments is improved overall health with better nutrition and improved immune system function. 

Is a functional approach to ADHD better for your family?

You want what’s best for your loved ones and kids. That’s why you should consider a functional approach to managing ADHD instead of Adderall and other prescription stimulants

The good news is that your child’s ADHD can be treated in many different ways, according to their individualized needs. At the M Center for Pediatric Wellness, we specialize in functional treatments for ADHD and other behavior problems.  

We are not anti-medication! Sometimes even with functional and behavioral treatments, medication is needed to help ease symptoms for children. The medication can aid in quality of life for the child and the family. 

However, we do believe that medication is not a substitute for of proper diet, supplementation, behavioral interventions. We are happy to talk with you and your family about all options available! 

We would love to work with you to create an individualized plan to treat the source of your child’s ADHD. Click here to get in touch with our ADHD experts and learn how you can treat your child’s ADHD without Adderall.


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