Various factors, such as body size, age, and metabolism, affect how long Adderall stays in the system. The average half life of Adderall is about 13 hours, meaning the body eliminates it within a few days.

Adderall is a brand name for a drug that doctors use primarily for treating the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the misuse of this medication is common, particularly among college students.

People worried about withdrawal symptoms or drug tests may wish to know how long it will take for the body to eliminate Adderall. The length of time Adderall remains in the system can also help predict the duration of any side effects. How long Adderall stays in a person’s system varies among individuals.

Keep reading to learn more about Adderall, including its uses, risks, and benefits and how long it stays in the system.

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The half-life of a drug is the average amount of time that it takes for the body to eliminate half of the initial dose from the system.

Adderall contains two main drugs: dextroamphetamine (d-amphetamine) and levoamphetamine (l-amphetamine). Therefore, the half-life of each drug can indicate how long Adderall will stay in the system.

A person’s age will affect the average half-life of a drug. For d-amphetamine, this value is as follows:

  • adults: 10 hours
  • adolescents aged 13–17 years who weigh less than 165 pounds: 11 hours
  • children aged 6–12 years: 9 hours

For l-amphetamine, the average half-life is as follows:

  • adults: 13 hours
  • adolescents aged 13–17 years: 13–14 hours
  • children aged 6–12 years: 11 hours

These numbers are just averages, and a specific individual’s rate of clearance for Adderall may vary by up to a couple of hours.

Food may increase the length of time that it takes for Adderall to reach its maximum concentration in the blood.

It is important to note that the body is simultaneously eliminating d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine. Due to this, to determine the half-life, a person must look at which figure is larger rather than adding the two numbers.

On average, this means an adult can expect half of an Adderall dose to leave the body within about 13 hours.

The half-life is not the only predictor of how long it will take Adderall to leave the body. The overall dose also matters. In a person who has been taking Adderall for a long time, the drug may take longer to leave the body. Furthermore, if a person takes a second dose, the half-life resets.

Based on the half-life of Adderall, the body eliminates the drug within a few days. However, most people begin to notice withdrawal symptoms a few hours after their last dose.

It is not possible to confirm how long after taking a dose of Adderall a drug test can still detect it. This will depend on the sensitivity of the drug test and how much Adderall a person has in their bloodstream.

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant, which means that it speeds up activity in the brain and body. Many Adderall side effects stem from this function.

The most common side effects include:

In children, Adderall may slow growth, affecting their height and weight.

Some less common but more serious side effects include:

Adderall is more dangerous for people with heart problems and a history of high blood pressure, so it is important to tell a doctor about any heart health issues before taking the medication.

Learn more about the side effects of Adderall here.

The body and brain can become dependent on Adderall, triggering addiction. Over time, a person may become less responsive to their original dose of Adderall, causing them to use more of the drug. The body starts to “need” Adderall to feel normal, leading to an addiction.

People who suddenly stop using Adderall may experience withdrawal, which can involve both physical and psychological side effects.

While any user can develop an Adderall addiction, addiction is more likely in a recreational user because a doctor is not monitoring their dose. A 2016 study suggests that Adderall misuse and addiction are most common among people aged 18–25 years.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Adderall as a treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy in both adults and children.

However, some doctors prescribe the drug on an off-label basis for other conditions, such as:

  • depression that does not respond to antidepressants or that affects concentration
  • shift-work sleep disorder
  • recovery from stroke

Some people use Adderall as a recreational drug, either to feel more alert and awake or to trigger feelings of euphoria. It is also a popular performance-enhancing drug, particularly among college students, who believe that this stimulant may make it easier to study or stay awake.

However, a 2018 study disputes this claim. The researchers found that in neurotypical college students, Adderall did not improve performance.

Some people who do not want to use Adderall may consider taking another medication. The options include:

  • another stimulant, such as methylphenidate (Concerta), lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse), or methylphenidate (Daytrana)
  • drugs to stay awake, such as modafinil (Provigil)
  • antidepressants

The right medication will depend on the condition for which a person takes Adderall, as well as the specific symptoms they have and the side effects they hope to avoid.

People who use Adderall for ADHD also have other options for treatment. It is safe to use these options alongside medication or alone, depending on a person’s treatment goals:

  • academic and workplace accommodations
  • family support and education
  • therapy to help a person better manage their condition
  • time management strategies and tools, such as using a planner or alarms
  • exercise

Adderall is a medication for ADHD and neither a performance-enhancing drug nor a safe way to get high.

Anyone can develop an Adderall addiction or experience withdrawal. However, the risk is much higher among people who misuse the drug, such as by taking more than a doctor recommends or using it without the supervision of a doctor.

As everyone’s metabolism is slightly different, a person who needs to know exactly how long it will take Adderall to leave their body should consult a doctor.