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How Long Does Adderall Stay In Your System?

Adderall is a prescription medication manufactured by Shire Pharmaceuticals containing a mixture of amphetamine salts (75% dextroamphetamine and 25% levoamphetamine).  It was first approved by the FDA in 1996 for the management of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and was later approved for the treatment of narcolepsy.  The medication is manufactured in multiple formats including: an immediate release (IR) tablet (delivering 4 to 6 hours of effect) and an extended release (XR) encapsulation (yielding 8 to 12 hours of effect).

Though its popularity may eventually fade, the name “Adderall” remains widely recognized among current-market ADHD medications, and arguably all pharmaceutical drugs.  In addition to its FDA approved indications, Adderall is sometimes prescribed off-label as an intervention for refractory cases of depression and atypical anxiety in which dopaminergic dysfunction is implicated.  The drug is also used illicitly as a performance enhancer (academically and athletically), as well as a “party drug” among those attempting to attain stimulatory intoxication.

Although a subset of individuals with ADHD and narcolepsy may consider Adderall to be a highly effective treatment, some will end up discontinuing the medication as a result of an inability to cope with side effects and/or long-term effects.  Others that have been using Adderall illicitly may quit taking it in fear that they may fail an upcoming drug test.  If you’ve quit using the medication, you may want to be cognizant of how long Adderall stays in your system after your final dose (continue reading to get an accurate estimation).

How long does Adderall stay in your system? (~3.2 days)

Assuming you’ve taken your final Adderall tablet or capsule, you’re probably wondering how long it’ll take to fully clear the drug from your system.  Within the first few days of quitting, you may feel as though you’ve transformed from a functioning, energetic human being to a complete zombie; this is completely normal.  In the early stages of quitting the drug, you’ll likely experience an initial Adderall crash, followed by Adderall withdrawal, and possibly a Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) if you were a heavy user or abused it.

To calculate how long Adderall stays in your system once you’ve quit, the first step is to examine the half-lives of its amphetamine isomer constituents, dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, respectively.  The dextroamphetamine isomer exhibits an elimination half-life of 10 to 12 hours, whereas the levoamphetamine isomer exhibits an elimination half-life of 11 to 14 hours.  Knowing the respective half-lives of the amphetamine salt constituents, we can estimate that dextroamphetamine should be eliminated from your system within 55 to 66 hours post-ingestion (~2.29 to ~2.75 days).

The levoamphetamine should be eliminated from your system within 60.5 to 77 hours (~2.52 to ~3.2 days).  It should be mentioned that a portion of the amphetamine isomers within Adderall undergo additional metabolism to form metabolites such as:  benzoic acid (20%), benzyl methyl ketone (3%), and p-hydroxy-amphetamine (3%).  That said, these metabolites are understood to get eliminated quicker than their parent compounds.

For this reason, you should expect that Adderall will be fully out of your system within ~3.2 days of your final dose.  Understand that even if it feels like Adderall is still in your system after 3.2 days, it probably isn’t.  Unless you have an extremely alkaline pH, a medical condition that compromises your ability to metabolize and/or excrete the drug, and/or were a heavy user – it shouldn’t be lingering in your body.

  • Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/amphetamine
  • Source: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/dextroamphetamine

Variables that influence how long Adderall stays in your system after stopping

For a more precise estimation regarding how long you can expect Adderall to remain in your system upon cessation, it is necessary to account for variables that may influence its elimination speed.  Examples of important variables to consider in regards to elimination speed of Adderall include: the specific user, dosage ingested, regularity of administration, and the formatting (XR vs. IR).  The cumulative influence of these variables will dictate whether Adderall stays in your system for a shorter or longer duration than average.

  1. Individual factors

Two people naïve to Adderall usage may administer a 20 mg extended-release capsule at the exact same time.  Knowing that neither user had used the drug before and considering that each took the same dose at the same time, we would expect Adderall to remain in systemic circulation for approximately equal duration in each user.  That said, it is likely that one user will eliminate the drug quicker than the other based on differences in individual factors such as: age, body composition, co-administered substances, pH level, and kidney function.

Age: There’s evidence to suggest that a person’s age may affect how long Adderall stays in systemic circulation.  On a mg/kg basis, children appear to eliminate the mixed amphetamine isomers within Adderall faster than adults.  It is estimated that the elimination half-life of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine are shortened by 1 and 2 hours (respectively) in children compared to adults.

This means that children may eliminate dextroamphetamine in 49.5 hours (2.06 days) and levoamphetamine in 55 hours (2.29 days).  By comparison, children may eliminate Adderall nearly 22 hours faster than adults (possibly requiring up to 77 hours for elimination).  Though unsubstantiated by research, it is reasonable to consider that elderly individuals may exhibit prolonged elimination speed of Adderall compared to children and healthy adults.

Prolonged elimination speed in elderly individuals may be related to age-related medical conditions and/or any medications used to treat those conditions.  It is also understood that elderly individuals may exhibit age-related decline in efficiency of kidney and/or renal function, each of which is understood to extend elimination time.  That said, elderly patients in good health [without any decline] may eliminate Adderall from their system as quickly as healthy adults.

Body composition: Your body composition may partially determine how long Adderall remains in your body following its ingestion.  For this reason, you’ll want to account for your body fat percentage, muscle mass, height and weight.  It is known that the amphetamine mixed salts within Adderall are hydrophilic, meaning they have an affinity for water stores throughout the body and will not accumulate in fat.

If you have a high percentage of body fat with low muscle, you’ll likely eliminate Adderall quicker than someone with low body fat and high muscle.  This is because muscle mass is associated with increased water storage, and more water should make it easier for Adderall to remain in circulation throughout your body.  Your height and weight will also have a subtle effect upon elimination speed.

Assuming dosage per kg of body weight is equal, individuals that are smaller (shorter and weigh less) should eliminate the drug quicker; this hypothesis is based on the finding that Adderall is eliminated faster among children.  If dosing of Adderall is equal, yet body sizes are unequal, expect the larger person to eliminate the drug quicker; he/she will have received a smaller dose in respect to his/her body size, making it easier to eliminate.

Co-administered agents: If you’re taking a drug and/or supplement along with Adderall, there’s a chance that systemic elimination speed of Adderall may be altered (expedited or prolonged) as a result.  In humans, the exact means by which amphetamine is metabolized remains unclear, however, numerous enzymes are suspected to play a role including: CYP2D6, dopamine β-hydroxylase, flavin-containing monooxygenase 3, butyrate-CoA ligase, and glycine N-acyltransferase.  Furthermore, it is suspected that CYP1A2 and/or CYP3A4 may assist in the metabolism of amphetamine metabolites.

Any co-administered substance that acts as an inhibitor of an aforestated enzyme will likely extend the duration Adderall remains in your system.  On the other hand, co-administered substances that function as an inducer of an aforestated enzyme should expedite the metabolism and elimination of Adderall.  In medical literature, it has been noted that MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) prolong the metabolism of amphetamine and are contraindicated.

If someone ended up taking an MAOI concurrently with Adderall, not only could a serious adverse reaction occur, but it would take much longer to eliminate Adderall from systemic circulation.  It is also understood that gastrointestinal and urinary pH have a profound effect upon absorption and metabolism of Adderall. Anyone ingesting alkalinizing substances such as acetazolamide or sodium bicarbonate will retain Adderall for a longer duration than average, whereas ingestion of acidifying substances will lead to quicker excretion.

Food intake: The packaging insert associated with Adderall suggests that food does not affect absorption of dextroamphetamine nor levoamphetamine, but can prolong the time it takes for Adderall to reach maximum plasma concentrations by around 2.5 hours.  Someone who consumes a high fat-meal with Adderall will attain peak plasma concentrations of dextro- and levo- amphetamine 7.7 and 8.3 hours later, respectively.  On an empty stomach, dextro- and levo- amphetamine would reach peak concentrations within 5.2 and 5.6 hours, respectively.

Considering this information, those who took their final dose of Adderall with food will metabolize and eliminate the drug slower than individuals who took their final dose on an empty stomach.  That said, it may be necessary to consider the type of food and/or beverages you consumed with your last dose.  If you drank something like alkaline water or ate an alkalinizing meal, you will retain Adderall for a longer duration than someone who consumed an acidic meal such as a steak with a glass of kombucha.

Gastrointestinal / urinary pH: The pH of your gastrointestinal and urinary tract may also affect the duration Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) remain in your system.  Someone exhibiting a high GI and/or urinary pH, indicative of alkalinity, will experience elevations in concentrations of non-ionized amphetamine molecules, and urinary excretion speed via the kidneys will be reduced.  Some have estimated that a high pH (above 6.0) could increase the half-life by hours and elimination time by an even longer duration.

On the other hand, a person with a lower GI and/or urinary pH (below 6.0), suggestive of an acidic state, will eliminate Adderall faster as a result of the acidity keeping the drug in its hydrophilic format.  Things most likely to affect your GI and/or urinary pH include co-administered substances (e.g. acidifying or alkalinizing agents), as well as the foods or drinks that you consume.  If your GI or urinary pH are relatively normal (e.g. around 6.0), you can expect normative elimination speed of the drug.

Genetics: A person’s genetics may influence how quickly amphetamine is metabolized and ultimately eliminated from their body.  An enzyme that may play a small role in the metabolism process is CYP2D6 (Cytochrome P450 2D6), encoded for by the appropriately-named CYP2D6 gene.  Individuals classified as ultrarapid CYP2D6 metabolizers (~5.5% of the population) may eliminate Adderall and/or its metabolites quicker as a result of expedited enzymatic breakdown through CYP2D6.

On the other hand, those who are poor CYP2D6 metabolizers (~7-8% of the population) will likely retain Adderall in unchanged form for a longer duration, leading to prolonged elimination time.  Individuals that are extensive metabolizers (most of the population) will eliminate the drug from their system within the average predicted timeframe.  That said, CYP2D6 does not play a huge role in metabolism of Adderall so may not make a major difference in terms of overall elimination speed.

Additional genes encoding for other enzymes implicated in the metabolism of Adderall (and its metabolites) may also affect elimination speed.  It’s reasonable to suspect that cumulative genetic expression and/or epigenetic expression may also determine how rapidly the drug is absorbed, metabolized and eliminated from circulation.  Keep in mind that differences in elimination speed of Adderall, associated with expression of alleles, are likely to be negligible.

Hydration: The degree to which you stay hydrated after your last Adderall tablet will likely have a slight affect on how long it remains in your system.  Someone who is extremely hydrated (as a result of drinking plenty of water) will experience an increased urinary flow rate.  The increased urinary flow rate will help your body excrete more Adderall at a quicker pace (in part because you’re peeing more often).

Anyone who is dehydrated or suboptimally hydrated will likely exhibit a poorer urinary flow rate, leading to less efficient excretion of Adderall.  It should be noted that the pH of the fluids a person consumes can affect the elimination of Adderall as well.  If you’re drinking alkaline water (with a high pH), the enhanced flow rate may not provide as much benefit due to the fact that the alkaline pH promotes Adderall retention.  Similarly, someone hydrating with highly acidic water (with a lower pH) should be expected to eliminate Adderall quickest as a result of the fast urinary flow rate coupled with acidification of the GI tract.

Kidney function: Following ingestion of Adderall, the kidneys are chiefly responsible for the excretion of unchanged amphetamine and its metabolites.  Should an individual exhibit any form of kidney impairment and/or dysfunction, he/she should expect to retain the drug in systemic circulation for a longer duration than average.  In some cases, renal impairment may result in drug recirculation as a result of inefficient and/or suboptimal excretion.

The additional amount of time it’ll take to eliminate Adderall with any form of kidney impairment will be contingent upon the degree of impairment as well as the dosage ingested.  Someone with mild renal impairment may not differ much in terms of excretion time – compared to a person with normative renal function.  Predictably, individuals with severe forms of renal impairment will be most likely to retain the drug for the longest time.

Liver function: The amphetamine constituents within Adderall (and their respective metabolites) undergo metabolism via hepatic isoenzymes (e.g. CYP2D6).  As a result, it should be expected that individuals exhibiting any degree of hepatic impairment and/or dysfunction will retain the drug for a longer duration compared to those with normative hepatic function.  As a general rule of thumb, the more severe a person’s hepatic impairment – the longer the drug should remain unmetabolized in systemic circulation.

Other complementary factors that affect Adderall elimination in cases of hepatic impairment include: the dosage administered, genetic expression (for hepatic enzymes implicated in metabolism of Adderall) and co-administered substances (e.g. enzymatic inducers vs. inhibitors).  High doses, CYP2D6 poor metabolizers, and/or enzymatic inhibitors should further prolong elimination of Adderall among those with hepatic dysfunction.  Low doses, CYP2D6 ultrarapid metabolizers, and/or enzymatic inducers should expedite elimination of Adderall among those with hepatic dysfunction.

Metabolic rate: It is unclear as to whether a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) has a significant influence on the breakdown and elimination of Adderall.  Many people assume that because they have a “fast metabolism,” that they’re able to clear drugs from their system quicker than average.  Others assume that because they have a “slow metabolism,” that they’ll eliminate medications from their system at a slower pace than usual.

If you have a faster metabolic rate, your body is using more energy at rest, which could translate into quicker processing and elimination of an exogenous substance like Adderall.  If you have a slower metabolic rate, your body is using less energy stores at rest, possibly leading to prolonged elimination of Adderall.  Though metabolic rate may have an effect upon elimination speed of Adderall, its influence is likely low compared to a person’s body weight, body fat, pH level, and hepatic/renal function.

Sex: Research demonstrated that systemic exposure to amphetamine is 20-30% greater in women compared to men.  That said, further analysis revealed that increases in systemic exposure resulted from giving the women equal doses to men, despite having lower body weights.  If the dose of Adderall administered to men and women is equalized in respect to their body weight (on a “mg/kg” basis), there are no differences in systemic exposure between sexes.

Nonetheless, since dosages issued for Adderall are often administered based on whether someone is an adult (as opposed to their body weight/size), we can expect that men and women Adderall users are taking relatively similar average doses.  Though the doses may be similar, women (on average) will be administering larger doses respective to their body weight, leading to increased systemic exposure.  If you are a female Adderall user realize that you may be taking a greater dose than your male counterparts in respect to your body weight, resulting in a longer duration of elimination.

  • Source: http://pi.shirecontent.com/PI/PDFs/AdderallXR_USA_ENG.PDF
  1. Dosage (High vs. Low)

The final dosage of Adderall that you took will have a significant influence on how long amphetamine (and metabolites) are likely to remain in systemic circulation.  Individuals using high doses of the drug as a result of abuse and/or developing a high Adderall tolerance should expect a slower elimination process compared to someone using standard doses of the drug.  In general, the lower your final dose of Adderall, the quicker you can expect the drug to be eliminated from your system.

Consider the fact that someone who administers a high dose of Adderall (e.g. 100 mg) will have ingested 10-fold the quantity of amphetamine isomers (dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine) than if that same person administered a low dose of Adderall (e.g. 10 mg).  The larger dose of amphetamine greater places burden upon biological mechanisms implicated in its absorption, metabolism, distribution, and elimination – leading to prolonged retention.  The greater the quantity of Adderall ingested, the larger the amount we can expect to undergo hepatic metabolism.

This leads to an increased hepatic load, less efficient metabolism, and formation of a greater number of metabolites.  Thereafter, more unchanged amphetamine isomers and metabolites will get distributed throughout the body, possibly lingering longer in hydrophilic stores as a result of the increased quantities.  After distribution, the amphetamine isomers and metabolites will necessitate renal elimination, however, the process will be less efficient due to their elevated quantities – leading to prolonged clearance.

Assuming the half-life for amphetamine isomers is a maximum of 12 hours in your body and you took a 100 mg dose.  This would lead to amphetamine levels of: 50 mg after 12 hours, 25 mg after 24 hours, 12.5 mg after 36 hours, 6.25 mg after 48 hours, 3.13 mg after 60 hours, 1.56 mg after 72 hours, and 0.77 mg after 84 hours.  Under the same 12-hour half-life assumption, if you took a dose of just 10 mg Adderall, the detectable quantity of drug in your system would be much lower by comparison.

At the 100 mg dose, you’d still have more than 10 mg detectable after 36 hours.  After a 10 mg dose, amphetamine levels would’ve been the following: 5 mg after 12 hours, 2.5 mg after 24 hours, 1.25 mg after 36 hours, and 0.75 mg after 48 hours.  Not only will the Adderall concentrations be more difficult to detect (e.g. on a drug test) after a small dose, but the drug will likely stay in your system for a shorter duration due to more efficient pharmacokinetic processes.

  1. Frequency of Administration (Acute vs. Chronic)

Research suggests that the regularity of Adderall administration may influence its half-life.  Those that used Adderall on a frequent basis (e.g. daily) will likely require more time to clear the drug from systemic circulation than infrequent or “one-time” users.  There are multiple reasons as to why chronic Adderall users may retain the drug in systemic circulation for a longer duration than acute users, including: accumulation and steady state concentrations, proximity of prior administrations, cumulative duration of usage, and dosing.

A frequent or chronic Adderall user is suspected to accumulate more of the drug in water stores throughout his/her body compared to an infrequent or acute user.  It is estimated to take between 4 and 6 doses (or 2 to 3 days) for Adderall users to attain a “steady state” in which the amount of amphetamine eliminated equals the amount administered.  Infrequent users are less likely to attain steady state concentrations of Adderall, and therefore should eliminate the drug from their systems at a faster pace.

Another thing to consider is that frequent and/or chronic Adderall users may dose multiple times within a short duration (e.g. take one pill a couple hours after their previous pill), leading to accumulation and slower elimination.  Furthermore, chronic users are much more likely to have developed a tolerance to lower doses of Adderall as a result of their frequent usage.  For this reason, we should expect that chronic users are taking high doses and thus eliminating the drug slower as a result.

It may also be necessary to account for the cumulative duration over which someone has regularly used Adderall.  Not only will a chronic long-term user likely be taking a higher dose of Adderall, he/she may experience poorer efficiency of elimination as a result of long-term usage.  Overall, most chronic long-term users will retain Adderall in their systems for an extended duration compared to acute short-term users.

  1. Format of Adderall (XR vs. IR)

Documentation reveals that a single capsule of 20 mg Adderall XR yields comparable plasma concentrations for amphetamine isomers (dextro- and levo-) to Adderall IR 10 mg twice daily administered 4 hours apart.  This means that if you administer two Adderall IR pills at optimal time intervals apart (e.g. separated 4 hours), the drug should remain in your system for approximately the same duration as a standalone Adderall XR capsule.  That said, if you take just a single Adderall IR, you should expect the drug to be eliminated from your body quicker than an an Adderall XR capsule.

An entire Adderall IR tablet will have been undergone full metabolism and distribution within 4 to 6 hours of its administration.  Comparatively, only half of an Adderall XR tablet will have been metabolized and distributed within 4 to 6 hours of its administration.  Since the Adderall XR encapsulation is analogous to taking a second Adderall IR dose, it’s a no-brainer as to why the extended-release remains in your system for a longer duration than the immediate-release.

Note: For further information about differences between the extended-release and immediate-release formats, read the following report: “Adderall IR vs. XR.”

Adderall: Absorption, Metabolism, Excretion (Details)

Upon oral ingestion of Adderall, the amphetamine isomer constituents (dextro- and levo- amphetamine) are absorbed at a predictable rate, regardless of whether taken with food or on an empty stomach.  That said, taking Adderall after a large meal or with high-fat food appears to delay the time until maximum plasma concentrations of each amphetamine isomer are attained by approximately 2 hours.  This is likely due to the fact that the body is metabolizing the food and drug simultaneously, delaying the drug metabolism process and its peak onset of effect.

After absorption, the amphetamine isomers undergo oxidation to form 4-hydroxy-amphetamine (via the 4 position of the benzene ring), alpha-hydroxy-amphetamine (via side chain alpha carbons), and norephedrine (via side chain beta carbons).  Thereafter, 4-hydroxy-amphetamine and norephedrine undergo additional oxidation to form 4-hydroxy-norephedrine.  The remaining alpha-hydroxy-amphetamine is subject to deamination to form phenylacetone, which is further broken down into benzoic acid (and respective glucuronide), as well as hippuric acid (a glycine conjugate).

As of current, researchers haven’t pinpointed all enzymes implicated in amphetamine metabolism, nor the extent to which each may be involved, however, dopamine β-hydroxylase, flavin-containing monooxygenase 3, butyrate-CoA ligase, and glycine N-acyltransferase seem to play a role.  It is also documented that hepatic isoenzymes CYP2D6, CYP1A2, and CYP3A4 may facilitate breakdown of amphetamine and its metabolites to varying degrees.  For this reason, one might suspect that variation in CYP2D6, CYP1A2, and CYP3A4 expression may affect the metabolism speed of amphetamine or its primary metabolites.

Since a majority of the population are extensive metabolizers and will exhibit normative gastrointestinal/urinary acidity, the elimination half-lives of isomers should align with medical reports noting: 10 to 12 hours (for dextroamphetamine) and 11 to 14 hours (for levoamphetamine).  Knowing that amphetamine isomers are eliminated quicker than their parent compounds, we can expect most individuals to eliminate Adderall from systemic circulation within 60.5 and 77 hours post-dose.  The amphetamine isomers and metabolites are subject to urinary excretion mediated by the kidneys.

Around 50% of an administered dose will appear in the urine as amphetamine metabolites such as alpha-hydroxy-amphetamine, whereas up to 40% will appear as unchanged amphetamine isomers.  Elimination may be prolonged among individuals exhibiting: genetic polymorphisms (e.g. poor metabolizers), highly-alkaline gastrointestinal pH, low urinary flow rate, and/or with hepatic/renal dysfunction – thus likely exceeding 77 hours for elimination.  On the other hand, highly-acidic gastrointestinal pH, high urinary flow rate, and ultrarapid hepatic metabolism may result in elimination of Adderall in under 60.5 hours.

The quantity of amphetamine content within urinary excretion will range between 1% and 75%, largely dependent upon pH and renal function.  The amphetamine isomers excreted in urine typically consist of:  4-hydroxy-amphetamine, 4-hydroxy-norephedrine, 4-hydroxy-phenylacetone, benzoic acid, hippuric acid, norephedrine, and phenylacetone.  To reiterate, nearly the entire dose and metabolites should be out of your system within 3 days of taking your final dose.

  • Source: http://pi.shirecontent.com/PI/PDFs/AdderallXR_USA_ENG.PDF

Types of Adderall Drug Tests

The amphetamine constituents of Adderall are one of the “big 5” drugs tested for on the SAMHSA-5.  Both standardized and extensive drug panels will screen for amphetamine.  The types of drug tests used to detect amphetamine isomers of Adderall include: urine, blood, hair, and saliva (sometimes referred to as “oral fluid”).  Urine testing seems to be most common modality of amphetamine testing, however, hair testing may be preferred in certain cases due to its extended window of detection.

Urine tests: A urine test is the most popular modality for determining whether someone has recently ingested amphetamine and/or metabolites within Adderall.  This involves collection of a fresh urine sample followed by a urinary analysis (or “urinalysis”).  The cutoff values for detection may be subject to variation depending on the specific test, but are often set at 1000 ng/ml.

If the urine is analyzed with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), the cutoff level may be reduced to 500 ng/ml, making it easier to detect a recent Adderall (amphetamine) ingestion.  Studies show that you have a better chance of passing a urine test if you took a lower dose.  In a study with 42 urine sample collections after amphetamine ingestion, only 8 tested positive (19%) from a 5 mg dose.

On the other hand, 24 tested positive (67%) from a 10 mg dose, and 37 tested positive (88%) after a 20 mg dose.  In many cases, the cutoff level of 1000 ng/ml is too high to detect smaller doses of amphetamine administration.  A majority of the amphetamine is eliminated within 2 to 18 hours post-ingestion and up to 44% of each dose is eliminated within 24 hours post-ingestion.  Though odds of testing positive for amphetamine increase between 2 and 8 hours after ingestion, it may show up on a urine screening for up to 3 days – possibly longer for a small percentage of users.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9788523

Hair tests: Though less common than urine testing, another means by which amphetamine can be detected is through a hair test.  This involves collecting a sample of hair follicles and analyzing them for the presence of amphetamine metabolites using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).  Hair follicles usually need to be at least 3 centimeters in length for accurate results and devoid of recent chemical-induced coloration.

A hair test may be used as an alternative to a urine test because it offers a longer window of detection.  A standard urine test can only detect amphetamine for around 3 days after ingestion, whereas amphetamine metabolites may remain detectable in a user’s hair for 1 month (or longer) post-ingestion.  The only drawback associated with hair testing is that it will be unable to determine whether a person ingested amphetamine recently (e.g. within the last few days).

It usually takes a week or two after a final Adderall dose for the amphetamine metabolites to show up in proximal follicular outgrowths.  For weeks thereafter, the metabolites should remain detectable in distal segments of follicles.  Duration of detectability is prolonged among persons with reduced melanin levels.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26329917

Saliva tests: A lesser utilized modality amphetamine testing involves collection of salivary or “oral fluid” samples.  Saliva testing may be used in the event that a urine test is inconvenient and/or a highly-recent ingestion of drugs are suspected.  After a sufficient quantity of saliva has been collected, it is encapsulated and analyzed in a laboratory using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

An advantage associated with using saliva testing is that amphetamine will appear in oral fluid quicker than urine.  Some estimates suggest that saliva collected after amphetamine ingestion can test positive within just 20 minutes of ingestion.  The total window of detection associated with saliva tests after amphetamine ingestion is thought to range between 1 and 48 hours – depending on the cutoff limits, dosage, and individual.

It is theorized that as technology progresses, newer saliva detection devices and/or breath-based detection devices will be engineered to accurately pinpoint amphetamine intoxication.  These strategies may prove useful to medical professionals (to ensure that patients are taking Adderall as directed) and law enforcement agents.  Moreover, saliva testing is more convenient than urine testing, so may be a preferred method of amphetamine detection in the future.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26349081

Blood tests: The single most uncommon method of amphetamine testing involves collection of blood samples.  Not only is blood testing invasive, but amphetamine isomers are detectable for the shortest timespan in the blood compared to urine, saliva, and hair.  Research suggests that blood testing is only capable of detecting Adderall for up to 24 hours post-ingestion.

The only advantage associated with blood tests is that amphetamine can be detected within just minutes of ingestion.  In other words, if someone just took an Adderall tablet 5 minutes ago, it should be detectable in the bloodstream within minutes.  The only scenario in which a blood test may be administered is during hospitalization (e.g. from overdose) and/or if a person fails to comply with other forms of testing.

  • Source: http://www.fmed.uba.ar/depto/toxico1/articulos/23.pdf

Who might get drug tested for Adderall?

Though the prescription drug “Adderall” is not specifically tested for on a drug test, its amphetamine isomer constituents will appear on the results.  This means that unless you have legally obtained a prescription of Adderall for a medical condition from a licensed medical professional, it is illegal to have ingested in the United States.  Amphetamine is classified as a Schedule II(N) controlled substance and is often abused and/or used unethically for performance enhancement among athletes.  Listed below are populations that may be subject to amphetamine drug testing.

  • Academics: As of current there are zero drug tests to detect amphetamine among high school, collegiate, and graduate students. Ethical debates have been held questioning whether drugs like Adderall should be allowed among students due to the fact that they provide a robust cognitive advantage among users vs. non-users.  It is possible that in the future, academic drug testing may be enforced to promote fairness and/or offset the competitive advantage among users.
  • Athletes: It is understood that collegiate, professional, and Olympic athletes are regularly tested for amphetamine. Not only does amphetamine provide a mental edge (in terms of enhanced focus during the sporting event), but it enhances physical endurance and power.  Those caught with amphetamine in their system as a result of an athletic drug test may: be banned from future competition, face suspension, and/or receive a hefty fine.
  • Criminals: Individuals caught in the act of a crime may be subject to mandatory drug testing. Law enforcement agents will aim to determine whether amphetamine (i.e. Adderall) was ingested during the act of a crime, as well as how it was acquired by the criminal.  Since many criminals buy, sell, and use amphetamine illicitly – it should be expected that they may undergo drug testing to determine optimal length of prison or jail sentencing.
  • Drug rehab patients: Those that have a history of Adderall and/or other drug abuse may be tested for amphetamine during rehab. The ultimate goal of rehab is sobriety and maintenance of a sober lifestyle.  Various drug rehab facilities may mandate that their clients agree to regular drug testing and stay committed to the process.  If a person is caught with amphetamine in his/her system, a longer stay at the rehab facility will be warranted.
  • Employees: Standardized drug tests are commonly given to employees of large companies to ensure that they’re not performing their work while intoxicated. While Adderall is thought to be a performance enhancer, it is not legal to use without a prescription.  If you’re taking Adderall for a medical condition, amphetamine showing up on a drug test shouldn’t be much of an issue as long as you provide proof that you have a prescription.  That said, if you’re taking Adderall without a prescription and amphetamine is detected on a drug test, you may get into some trouble.
  • Military members: In some circumstances, certain members of the military could be intentionally given performance enhancing drugs (e.g. Adderall) to use for enhancement of alertness and energy on long missions. That said, new military members will likely be subject to regular drug testing during initiation and training.  If amphetamine is detected on the SAMHSA-5 panel screening, or a more extensive drug test, individuals may be delisted and barred from future service.

How to get Adderall out of your system faster (Possible strategies)

If your intention is to get Adderall out of your system as soon as possible, there may be a few tricks you can implement.  Keep in mind that the safety and precise efficacy of these tricks are unknown and should be confirmed with a medical professional prior to implementation.  Also realize that using these tricks is not guaranteed to help you pass a drug test.

  1. Acidify pH: The literature has extensively documented that the greater the acidity of your gastrointestinal and urinary pH, the quicker Adderall (amphetamine) will get eliminated from your system. To acidify your urinary pH, you’ll want to avoid consumption of highly alkaline (basic) substances like sodium bicarbonate, alkaline water, etc. Consuming foods and beverages high in acidity such as grains, sugar, dairy, fish, and meat – can all acidify your pH and should help with the elimination, especially if alkaline foods are avoided.  There are also various supplemental urinary acidifiers that can be purchased to expedite elimination.
  2. Activated charcoal: If you just took Adderall and immediately panic and/or regret it as a result of a pending drug test, you’ll want to take some activated charcoal. The activated charcoal will bind to the amphetamine mixed salts before they’re absorbed and aid in expedited excretion. Activated charcoal can be a lifesaver for those who ingested too high of a dose and/or need some detoxification.  It’s unclear as to whether it helps once Adderall has already been ingested, but it acts as a great detoxifying agent.
  3. Calcium-d-glucarate: One of the best supplements to take to enhance detoxification and excretion of any drug (including Adderall) is calcium-d-glucarate. Prior to renal excretion of metabolic byproducts of a drug and/or other toxins, drugs undergo glucuronidation. It is the glucuronidation that likely enhances elimination speed of Adderall.  Calcium-d-glucarate inhibits the enzyme beta-glucuronidase which promotes elimination and prevents recirculation of metabolites back into the bloodstream.
  4. Drink more water: Assuming you don’t have access to any supplements and/or don’t know how to acidify your gastrointestinal tract, another strategy you could implement to eliminate Adderall from your system quickly is to drink high quantities of water. Water consumption should increase your urinary flow rate, resulting in quicker excretion of Adderall. Some also speculate that drinking a lot of water might dilute urine samples, making drugs more difficult to detect.  That said, you don’t want to overconsume water as this could lead to water intoxication (i.e. poisoning) as a result of excessive consumption disrupting electrolyte balances.  Moreover, ensure that you aren’t drinking alkaline water (as the alkalinity will prolong the retention of Adderall).
  5. Food intake: Another means by which you may be able to modify the duration Adderall stays in your system is to alter your food intake. The drug reaches peak plasma concentrations quickest if you were to take the drug on an empty stomach. If you hadn’t considered that ingesting the medication on an empty stomach will result in quicker onset of action and elimination, you may want to strategically alter your food intake.  Consuming highly acidic (low pH) foods such as: grains, fish, meats, and sugar – should expedite elimination of Adderall as a result of gastrointestinal acidification.
  6. Enzymatic inducers: A number of different metabolic pathways contribute to the metabolism of amphetamine, as well as respective amphetamine metabolites. That said, certain enzymes such as CYP2D6 (cytochrome P450 2D6) are understood to play a minor role in Adderall metabolism. Strategic administration of agents (drugs or supplements) that induce activity of CYP2D6 and/or any other enzymes implicated in Adderall metabolism may promote a quicker breakdown and elimination of the drug.  Conversely, agents that act as inhibitors of enzymes necessary for Adderall metabolism should be avoided, as these may prolong elimination.
  7. Exercise: Many people swear by exercising as the best way to detoxify from Adderall. Not only does exercise enhance cognitive function and alter neurotransmitter concentrations to increase dopamine signaling, but it may help your body excrete amphetamine quicker. Exercise upregulates your body’s endogenous antioxidant response to combat oxidative stress, but in terms of elimination, it is known to augment renal excretion.  Getting some exercise after your final Adderall dose should help keep your kidneys functioning to the best of their ability to maximize amphetamine excretion.

How long did Adderall stay in your system after stopping?

If you’ve taken Adderall and recently discontinued, how long do you believe it stayed in your system after stopping?  Do you have any evidence to support your belief such as results from a drug test that detected amphetamine?  Understand that many people confuse the drug still being in their system (i.e. in circulation) with: residual effects of the medication on the CNS, discontinuation symptoms, and/or Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

In other words, people suspect that because they don’t feel normal within 3 days of stopping Adderall, that it is somehow still in their system.  The truth is that unless a person exhibits high gastrointestinal alkalinity, hepatic dysfunction, renal dysfunction, and/or took a massive final dose of Adderall – the drug should be completely eliminated from systemic circulation in around 3 days time.  Only in extreme cases might it take several days longer (e.g. up to a week) to fully excrete Adderall (amphetamine) and its corresponding metabolites.

Do not make the error of confusing unwanted discontinuation symptoms with the drug still being in your system.  Feeling unlike yourself upon discontinuation is due to the fact that the medication induced a myriad of neurochemical and physiological changes while you were taking it.  When you stopped taking it, your body was expecting to receive its fix of Adderall, yet didn’t and will need some time to recalibrate itself to functioning without expecting to receive the drug.

As a result, your dopamine production and/or stores may be reduced, receptors downregulated, hormones altered, and you may feel miserable.  As your body realizes it’s no longer getting the drug, it will begin transitioning back to homeostatic function.  Often when people reestablish neurochemical and/or physiological homeostasis and perceive that their functioning is similar to before taking Adderall – they will claim that the drug is finally “out of their system.”

If you have an upcoming drug test and are worried about testing positive for amphetamine as a result of Adderall, you’ll have a good chance of passing if administered after 72 hours (3 days) of your final dose.  In the event that you’ve already been drug tested, feel free to share your results in the comments section, noting whether you “passed” (tested negative) or “failed” (tested positive) for amphetamine after taking Adderall.  Should you have any additional tips that you used to help get Adderall out of your system, be sure to mention them in your comment.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Jojo September 24, 2018, 7:28 am

    I took one 20mg XR Adderall on Saturday morning around 9 AM on an empty stomach. On Sunday morning about 830am I opened another 20mg XR capsule and poured about half of the salts in my mouth and took that on an empty stomach.

    I do not take Adderall on a regular basis and I may have a random drug test from my doctor on Wednesday afternoon around 12:30 PM.

    What’s the likelihood that I’ll pass the test? Please help! Thank you!

  • Nelly September 22, 2018, 6:23 am

    I am prescribed Adderall for adult ADHD. I was given 2 drug tests to insure the drug was in my system. BOTH reportedly came up as negative! The first was urine. The 1st test was negative as I had reported to my doc that I had been sick and hadn’t taken it for 2-3 days.

    The second was saliva. But I HAD taken the meds the day before, at approx. 5:30 AM. (30 mg XR + 10 mg ×2… One in AM with 30 mg XR and 2nd 4 hours later). The next dose was the very next AM, around 10 mins before my saliva test at 10 AM as I slept in and took it OMW to the appointment).

    How the hell could the test be negative? As a result, doc will no longer write my scripts… I’ve been on this med for 10+ yrs… I’m 47 years old, I work in education and my husband is a Sgt. Correction Officer… So not a drug dealer!! WTF? What can I do?

  • Jennifer miller March 1, 2017, 12:24 am

    I had a drug test today by probation and I passed by taking the supplements. I took the calcium d-glucarate and anti-oxidants. I was taking 80mg everyday for a month. I took 80mg Sunday morning, started the supplements Monday and took the test Tuesday and passed! Yay. Thank you so much for your advice.

  • Nunya Business November 11, 2016, 2:39 am

    I am interested in GC/MS detection for prolonged usage. I believe this article focuses mostly on urinalysis, but I believe GC/MS would yield positives at +7-10 days for significantly lower concentrations (< 3 ng/mL). This article should be updated to address confirmatory GC/MS and other methods beyond immunoassay and detection periods.

  • waynesworld August 8, 2016, 8:00 pm

    Amphetamines should be classified as extreme neurotoxins. Prescribing this toxic sewage to children was one of the worst things the pharmaceutical industry has promoted and has tarnished their reputation and demoted science into a degenerate money-making scam.

    Not a big of fan of the STAR*D protocol either. It promoted the me-too trend of endless SSRI after SSRI and stifled scientific creativity. Vilazodone perhaps represents the pinnacle of what an SSRI should be, imo production of new SSRIs needs to stop. It is a waste of energy and resources. STAR*D needs to be ridiculed as the dead end it is.

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