Article at a Glance:

  • Adderall is a prescription stimulant given to people with ADHD.
  • The length of time that Adderall stays in the body depends on whether an extended-release formula (XR) or immediate-release (IR) formula was taken.
  • Based on the half-life of Adderall, two or three days are needed for it to be eliminated from the body. 
  • Adderall is typically detectable in urine for 1–5 days, in blood for up to 50 hours, and in a hair sample for up to 3 months.

Adderall is prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It works by increasing dopamine production in the brain and stimulating the nervous system, boosting focus and attention. The length of time Adderall lasts in someone’s system depends on a number of factors, but it can stay in your system for days. 

Because Adderall acts as a stimulant, it can create a high and increase feelings of well-being and confidence, making it more likely to be misused as a recreational drug instead of its intended medical purposes. 

Due to the potential for misuse, people are sometimes tested for the presence of Adderall for employment or legal purposes. People who use Adderall as a prescription medication or as a recreational drug may wonder how long it will affect them or how long it can be detected during testing.

Lengths of Time in the Body

The length of time that Adderall stays in the body depends on whether an extended-release formula (XR) or immediate-release (IR) formula was taken. After Adderall is taken, its effects begin within 30–60 minutes. These effects peak at around the three-hour mark for immediate-release formulations, and around the seven-hour mark for extended-release formulations.

The time that a medicine or drug remains in the body is normally calculated using the drug’s half-life, or the amount of time that it takes to reduce the amount of the drug in the body by half. Several half-lives are needed to eliminate the drug. 

The half-life of Adderall varies, but is typically 10–13 hours, meaning two or three days are needed for Adderall to be eliminated from the body. However, the amount of Adderall may fall below detectable levels in the bloodstream before then.


The most common method used for drug testing is urine samples, and people who use Adderall may ask, “How long does Adderall last in urine?” Adderall is typically only detectable in urine for 1–5 days.


Blood tests are usually used to test for drugs in legal situations, such as after a car accident, and read positive for the shortest time of all drug testing methods. Adderall is typically detectable in the bloodstream for up to 46 hours after the last dose but may be detectable for up to 50 hours if an extended-release formula is used.


Saliva testing is not as common as many other methods of testing, but may be done in some situations. Adderall is typically detectable for up to 48 hours in saliva.


Hair drug testing is rarely done, but may be used to detect the presence of drugs after the timeframe for other testing methods has passed. Hair drug tests will indicate if Adderall has been used in the past 90 days.

Breast Milk

Approximately 2% of the mother’s dose of Adderall is present in breastmilk. In several case studies, infant growth and development were not affected by Adderall. However, experts disagree on whether it is safe to use Adderall during pregnancy, and some recommend not to use it at all. Because of the relatively long half-life (10–13 hours), there is no safe “window” in which to breastfeed while taking Adderall.

Factors That Affect Absorption & Durations


It is unclear if Adderall is metabolized differently in older adults. Since the metabolism of many drugs slows with age, Adderall should be used cautiously in older adults and may accumulate. In children, Adderall’s half-life is about one hour shorter compared to adults. 


Pharmacokinetic studies show that Adderall exposure is approximately 20% higher in women because of differences in weight. When adjusted for weight, gender does not appear to affect absorption.

Current Drug Regimen

Adderall can have significant drug-drug interactions. Do not take Adderall if you are taking mono-amine inhibitors (MAOIs) because it can increase the amount of Adderall you are exposed to.

Durations & Dosages

The length of time that Adderall lasts in the body depends on the dose and whether it is immediate-release or extended-release. Extended-release Adderall is metabolized by the body at the same rate, but is slowly released into the body instead of being released all at once and therefore lasts longer.

Adderall Instant Release (IR)

Adderall IR is metabolized by the body as soon as it is taken. The effects of immediate-release Adderall typically peak at three hours and last for up to four hours.

Adderall Extended Release (XR)

Extended-release Adderall lasts longer because it is slowly released in the body, making it available over a longer time. It does not have the same peak effect as immediate-release Adderall and is present in steady amounts as it is released. The effects of extended-release Adderall typically last for about seven hours.

Can Adderall Be Flushed from the System?

No, there is no way to flush Adderall from the system for a drug test or breastfeeding. Adderall is a small, simple molecule that penetrates many different systems of the body. Adderall has such a long half-life because it is distributed widely and, therefore, more time-consuming for the body to metabolize and remove.

Prescriptions and Drug Tests

The urine drug screen for amphetamines like Adderall has a high potential for false positives. This is because amphetamine is a very simple molecule, with a similar foundation to many other drugs. If you get a drug test that yields a false positive, you could be asked to list the drugs and substances you use. Prescribed, valid Adderall use is generally considered okay on a drug test and usually isn’t marked positive.

Drugs and Employment

The primary reason that employers perform drug testing is that Adderall and other substances can affect work performance. Initially, Adderall provides a burst of energy that can make one feel they are performing better at work.

However, Adderall can affect sleep, diet, and activity levels over time, eventually leading to negatively impacted performance. Adderall also has a high potential for addiction, which can affect an individual’s livelihood, including work performance.

Finding Help for Adderall Abuse or Addiction

Adderall is extremely addictive and can be difficult to stop. In many cases, an Adderall use disorder starts because of a valid prescription that someone starts to misuse. Someone may also obtain Adderall from a friend because they think it will increase their performance at work or school.

It can be difficult to seek treatment for Adderall addiction, but addiction is a harmful disease that requires treatment. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, seek help immediately. 

If you live in Colorado or surrounding states and want to recover from an Adderall use disorder, help is available. The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is 15 minutes from Colorado Springs and only 60 miles from Denver, with a number of other locations across the country. Give us a call today to speak with our skilled, compassionate staff who can help you along your recovery journey.

Editor – Erica Weiman
Erica Weiman graduated from Pace University in 2014 with a master's in Publishing and has been writing and editing ever since. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Adderall Package Insert.” Teva Pharmaceuticals, January 2017. Accessed January 17, 2022.

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Adderall XR Package Insert.” Shire Pharmaceuticals, March 2007. Accessed January 17, 2022.

LactMed. “Amphetamine.” Drugs and Lactation Database, May 17, 2021. Accessed January 17, 2022.

Moeller, KE; Lee, KC; et al. “Urine Drug Screening: Practical Guide for Clinicians.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, January 1, 2008. Accessed January 17, 2022.

MedScape. “Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Rx).” Accessed January 17, 2022.

Sassi, M; Lucia, K; et al. “Amphetamine Use in the Elderly: A Sys[…]f the Literature.” Current Neuropharmacology, February 2020. Accessed January 17, 2022.

Marin, SJ; Doyle, K; et al.”One Hundred False-Positive Amphetamin[…]ass Spectrometry.” Journal of Analytical Toxicology, September 4, 2015. Accessed January 17, 2022.

Hersh, E. “How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?” Healthline Media, October 3, 2019. Accessed January 17, 2022.

Jakobsson, G; Kronstrand, R. “Segmental analysis of amphetamines in[…]PLC-MS/MS method.” Drug Test Analysis, January 16, 2014. Accessed January 25, 2022.

Cansford Laboratories. “Oral Fluid (Saliva) Testing.” Accessed January 25, 2022.

ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” January 2019. Accessed January 25, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.