It takes a little more than three days for blood levels of the medication to fall below detectable levels.
Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication widely used to help children and adults diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The medication has two active ingredients: amphetamine and a related substance called dextroamphetamine.
Adderall is proven to help control the symptoms of ADHD and is also used to treat symptoms of narcolepsy including excessive sleepiness or sudden attacks of daytime sleepiness. However, when misused, this drug can trigger changes in the brain that lead to addiction. The medication stays in the body for some time after its use.
Although Adderall[i] has demonstrated effectiveness when used properly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that no one knows how it works[ii]. Experts believe that the combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine may provide a benefit by doing two things:
While it may seem counterintuitive that substances that speed up activity inside the brain would ease the symptoms of ADHD, this is precisely what happens to most people who receive a therapeutic dose of the medication.
Blood testing is the standard method of determining how long Adderall will produce its desired therapeutic effects. Once they enter the bloodstream, the medication’s two ingredients break down at different rates. It takes about 10 to 12 hours for the body to eliminate half the dextroamphetamine, and about 11 to 14 hours for it to break down and get rid of half the amphetamine (known technically as levoamphetamine).
Over the next 10 to 12 hours, the body will get rid of half the remaining dextroamphetamine. It will take 11 to 14 hours to get rid of half the remaining amphetamine. This process will repeat itself until all traces of Adderall leave the bloodstream. In total, it takes roughly 55 to 66 hours to eliminate all dextroamphetamine, and roughly 60 to 75 hours to eliminate all amphetamine. This means that, overall, it takes a little more than three days for blood levels of the medication to fall below detectable levels.
Urine sampling is the typical method of detecting Adderall in drug testing. During this type of testing, technicians mainly look for traces of the breakdown products of amphetamine. These products pass from the bloodstream to the kidneys, where they get excreted along with other waste products. It takes about four days for a standard dose of Adderall to fall below detectable levels in urine[iii]. The timeframe for elimination may increase by a couple of days in people who use the medication for long periods of time.
Saliva testing was once uncommon. However, use of this method of screening has increased in recent years. When a person consumes Adderall, some of the medication’s breakdown products will appear in saliva. To properly measure the levels of these substances, technicians must begin with an adequate sample of oral fluid (at least 1 milliliter).
As with urine testing, the focus for saliva testing is on amphetamine byproducts. It takes only a matter of minutes for these byproducts to appear in saliva. Once present, they can stay at detectable levels for up to two full days[iv].
It’s important to note that not everyone will break down and eliminate Adderall at the same rate. A range of factors can increase or decrease the speed of the process. Examples of these factors include the dose of the medication (usually 10 mg to 30 mg), the age of the person taking the medication and genetic predisposition. Other things that can have an effect include the amount and type of food consumed and the pH level of the gastrointestinal tract or the urinary system.
Like any substance that contains amphetamine or related substances, Adderall can trigger symptoms of stimulant addiction when used in excessive amounts and/or without a legitimate prescription[v]. There is no chemical test for Adderall addiction. Instead, doctors look for a range of issues that indicate the presence of a problem. Potential indicators include:
Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include sleep disruptions, a “down” or depressed mood, irritability, panic attacks, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, extreme hunger and unusual fatigue.
The first step to addressing a substance use disorder is medically monitored detox to help manage withdrawal symptoms. Once stabilized the rehab process can continue at an addiction treatment center, such as Transformations. Addiction therapy that follows an individualized treatment plan includes components such as individual therapy, group sessions, AA or NA meetings, nutritional supplements, life skills and recreational activities. Once PHP treatment is complete, clients meet with a member of the discharge planning team to create a plan that includes intensive outpatient care, referral to sober living and regular attendance at group meetings.
There are no medication-based options for people affected by Adderall addiction (or any other form of stimulant use disorder). However, this does not mean that doctors have no effective methods of treatment. Instead of medication, treatment programs rely on an active form of psychotherapy called behavioral psychotherapy. Behavioral therapy options for people addicted to stimulants include contingency management, 12-step facilitation and the Matrix Model[vi].
People in contingency management are encouraged to stay active in the recovery process through use of a voucher- or prize-based incentive system. Participants in 12-step facilitation receive encouragement that prepares them for enrollment in a mutual self-help group that uses peer interaction to motivate sobriety. Participants in the Matrix Model receive information that helps them understand the nature of addiction and the factors that contribute to treatment relapses. They also work with specialized therapists and receive information about mutual self-help groups.