How Long Does Adderall Last in Your System?

Adderall is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, and helps people to have increased focus and attention. Adderall increases the amount of certain chemicals in the brain and stimulates the nervous system. The length of time Adderall lasts in someone’s system depends on a number of factors and can last for days. 

Because Adderall acts as a stimulant, it can create a high and the feelings of well-being and confidence that accompany most stimulant drugs. The high that Adderall creates makes it more likely to be misused as a recreational drug instead of being used for its intended medical purposes. Further, because Adderall has a higher potential for being misused, 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 often wonder how long Adderall will have an effect on them and how long it can be detected during testing.

Lengths of Time in the Body

The length of time that Adderall remains in the body depends on whether it is an extended-release formula or an immediate-release formula. Adderall starts to affect the body within 30-60 minutes and will peak around three hours for immediate-release formulations and around seven hours for extended-release formulations.

The length of time that Adderall remains in the body depends on a variety of factors, including age, gender, genetics, overall health, the dose of Adderall used and the amount used. The time that a medicine or drug remains in the body is normally calculated using the drug’s half-life. The half-life is the amount of time that it takes to reduce the amount of the drug in the body by half, and several half-lives are needed to eliminate the drug. The half-life of Adderall varies but is typically 13-14 hours. This means that 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 that.


The most common method used for drug testing is urine samples, and people who use Adderall often wonder, “How long does Adderall last in urine?” Adderall is normally only detectable in the urine for two to three days.


Blood tests are normally used to test for drugs in legal situations, such as after a car accident, and will typically be positive for the shortest time of all the methods of testing for drugs. Adderall will normally be 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 was used.


Saliva testing is not as common as many other methods of testing for drugs but may be done in some situations. Adderall is typically detectable for 20-50 hours in the saliva.


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

Durations & Dosages

The length of time that Adderall lasts in the body depends upon the dose that is used and whether the dose is immediate-release or extended-release. The Adderall in extended-release formulations will be metabolized by the body at the same rate, but will be slowly released into the body instead of being released all at once, and will last for longer.

Adderall Instant Release (IR)

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

Adderall Extended Release (XR)

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

Different Doses of Adderall

People who use Adderall often wonder how long specific doses of Adderall will affect them. Because there are so many variables that affect how Adderall is absorbed by the body, including medical history, previous Adderall use and Adderall that is already in the body, it is not possible to predict how long a specific dose will have an effect on a specific individual. A dose of Adderall will also have a different length of effect if Adderall is being taken regularly vs if only one single dose is taken. 

While it can be difficult to predict the duration that a dose of Adderall will last, it is reasonable to assume, given that the half-life of Adderall is about 13 hours, that a double dose of Adderall will lead to an extra 13 hours of effect. However, the half-life may vary considerably for individuals, and different people may respond differently to varying amounts of Adderall.

If you or a loved one are using Adderall that you have not been prescribed or are using more Adderall than has been prescribed, then you should seek professional help. The Recovery Village has a strong record of helping those struggling with addiction to achieve full and lasting recovery. Reach out to one of our understanding team members to learn how you can start on your path to recovery today!

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Hersh, Erica. “How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?” Healthline Media, October 3, 2019. Accessed October 27, 2019.

DSM Pharmaceuticals INC. “ADDERALL® (CII).” March 2007.  Accessed October 27, 2019.