Drugs Q & A

How Long Does Adderall Stay In Your System?

Adderall is a combination of Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age).

Adderall is used to treat ADHD in adults and children 3 years of age and older. Adderall XR is used to treat ADHD in adults and children 6 years of age and older. Mydayis is used to treat ADHD in adults and children 13 years of age and older. Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep) in adults and children 12 years of age and older.

How Adderall works

Adderall is in a class of medications called central nervous system stimulants. It works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking Adderall,

•          tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to Adderall, other stimulant medications such as benzphetamine, lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), or methamphetamine (Desoxyn); any other medications, or any of the ingredients in Adderall preparations. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.

•          tell your doctor if you are taking the following medications or have stopped taking them in the past 14 days: monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors including isocarboxazid (Marplan), linezolid (Zyvox), methylene blue, phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). If you stop taking Adderall, you should wait at least 14 days before you start to take an MAO inhibitor.

•          tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and herbal products you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: acetazolamide (Diamox); alpha blockers such as alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), prazosin (Minipress), tamsulosin (Flomax, in Jalyn), and terazosin; antacids and other medications for heartburn or ulcers such as cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), omeprazole (Prilosec, in Zegerid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); antidepressants (‘mood elevators’); antihistamines (medications for colds and allergies); ascorbic acid (Vitamin C); beta blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), labetalol (Trandate), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard), and propranolol (Inderal, Innopran); buspirone; chlorpromazine; fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Subsys, others); guanethidine (no longer available in U.S.); lithium (Lithobid); meperidine (Demerol); methenamine (Hiprex, Urex); medications for migraine headaches such as almotriptan (Axert), eletriptan (Relpax), frovatriptan (Frova), naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Imitrex, in Treximet), and zolmitriptan (Zomig); quinidine (in Nuedexta); reserpine; ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra); certain medications for seizures such as ethosuximide (Zarontin), phenobarbital, and phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Prozac, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and venlafaxine (Effexor); sodium bicarbonate (Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, Soda Mint); sodium phosphate; certain thiazide diuretics (‘water pills’); tramadol (Conzip, in Ultracet); or tricyclic antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as desipramine (Norpramin) or protriptyline (Vivactil). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.

•          tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John’s wort and tryptophan or nutritional supplements including glutamic acid (L-glutamine).

•          tell your doctor if you have glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye that may cause vision loss), hyperthyroidism (a condition in which there is too much thyroid hormone in the body), or feelings of anxiety, tension, or agitation. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take Adderall.

•          tell your doctor if anyone in your family has or has ever had an irregular heartbeat or has died suddenly. Also tell your doctor if you have recently had a heart attack and if you have or have ever had a heart defect, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, hardening of the arteries, heart or blood vessel disease, or other heart problems. Your doctor will examine you to see if your heart and blood vessels are healthy. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take Adderall if you have a heart condition or if there is a high risk that you may develop a heart condition.

•          tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had depression, bipolar disorder (mood that changes from depressed to abnormally excited), or mania (frenzied, abnormally excited mood), motor tics (repeated uncontrollable movements), verbal tics (repetition of sounds or words that is hard to control), or Tourette’s syndrome (a condition characterized by the need to perform repetitive motions or to repeat sounds or words), or has thought about or attempted suicide. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a mental illness, seizures, an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG; a test that measures electrical activity in the brain), or liver or kidney disease.

•          tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking Adderall, call your doctor. Do not breastfeed while taking Adderall.

•          talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Adderall if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take Adderall because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.

•          you should know that this medication may make it difficult for you to perform activities that require alertness or physical coordination. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.

•          you should know that Adderall should be used as part of a total treatment program for ADHD, which may include counseling and special education. Make sure to follow all of your doctor’s and/or therapist’s instructions.

•          you should know that Adderall may cause sudden death in children and teenagers, especially children and teenagers who have heart defects or serious heart problems. This medication also may cause sudden death, heart attack, or stroke in adults, especially adults with heart defects or serious heart problems. Call your doctor or your child’s doctor right away and get emergency help if you or your child has any signs of heart problems while taking this medication including chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting.

How should I take Adderall?

Take Adderall exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Adderall may be habit-forming. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

You may take Adderall with or without food, first thing in the morning. Do not crush, chew, break, or open an extended-release capsule. Swallow it whole.

To make swallowing easier, you may open the capsule and sprinkle the medicine into a spoonful of applesauce. Swallow right away without chewing. Do not save the mixture for later use.

While using this medicine, your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using this medicine.

Adderall can cause unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using this medicine. Do not take Adderall if it is expired or appears to have been tampered with.

Does Adderall work right away?

Adderall starts to work in approximately 30 minutes to one hour. The effects of Adderall typically begin to wear away after four hours. Adderall XR lasts approximately 12 hours. Although you may experience beneficial effects from amphetamine medications within a few days of starting the medication, it often takes several weeks to get the full effect of the medication. Your health care provider may also need to gradually adjust the dose to find the dose that works best for you.

How long does Adderall stay in your system?

There are several factors that come into play when estimating how long Adderall will stay in your system because every patient has physiology unique to them. Here are some major factors you should consider when trying to understand how long Adderall will stay in your body:

•        Age: Typically, the younger you are, the more efficient your body functions are. The more efficient your body functions, the faster Adderall will be removed from your system.

•        Body height/weight/fat: Your specific prescribed Adderall dosage corresponds to your body height, weight, and fat. Usually, larger people will be given a higher dosage of Adderall. The higher the dose of Adderall you have been taking, the longer Adderall will take to be removed from your system.

•        Genetics: Genes predispose people to different metabolic functions, which is a key factor in how your body processes medications like Adderall. For this reason, your genetic makeup comes into play when estimating how long Adderall will remain in your system.

•        Kidney and liver functions: The liver and kidneys eliminate everything you ingest, and Adderall is no exception. If your liver or kidneys are damaged, it will most likely take longer for your body to remove the Adderall from your system.

•        Metabolism: Your metabolism determines how quickly you process foods, liquids, and medications such as Adderall. If your metabolism is slow, it will take longer for your body to process and eliminate Adderall from its system than someone with a fast metabolism.

•        Usage frequency: The longer you have been taking Adderall, the longer it will remain in your system. For example, it will take longer for someone who has taken Adderall for several years to remove Adderall from the body than someone who has only been taking Adderall for a few months.

Adderall has a half-life of approximately 9 to 14 hours, meaning that only half of the drug remains in the body after this period. It usually clears a person’s system within 72 hours, but Adderall half-life may vary based on multiple factors already stated above.

In general, Adderall is detectable in:

  • Urine: for 72-96 hours after last use,
  • Blood: for up to 46 hours
  • Saliva: for 20-50 hours
  • Hair: for up to 3 months

What are the likely side effects of Adderall?

Adderall may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

•          changes in sex drive or ability

•          constipation

•          diarrhea

•          dry mouth

•          headache

•          nausea

•          nervousness

•          painful menstrual cramps

•          weight loss

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

•          agitation, hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist), fever, sweating, confusion, fast heartbeat, shivering, severe muscle stiffness or twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

•          believing things that are not true

•          blistering or peeling skin

•          changes in vision or blurred vision

•          depression

•          difficulty breathing or swallowing

•          dizziness

•          feeling unusually suspicious of others

•          hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)

•          hives

•          hoarseness

•          itching

•          mania (frenzied or abnormally excited mood)

•          motor or verbal tics

•          pain, numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet

•          paleness or blue color of fingers or toes

•          rash

•          seizures

•          slow or difficult speech

•          swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat

•          teeth grinding

•          unexplained wounds appearing on fingers or toes

•          weakness or numbness of an arm or leg

Adderall may cause sudden death in children and teenagers, especially children or teenagers with heart defects or serious heart problems. This medication also may cause sudden death, heart attack, or stroke in adults, especially adults with heart defects or serious heart problems. Call your doctor right away if you or your child has any signs of heart problems while taking this medication including chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this medication.

Adderall may slow children’s growth or weight gain. Your child’s doctor will watch his or her growth carefully. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have concerns about your child’s growth or weight gain while he or she is taking this medication. Talk to your child’s doctor about the risks of giving Adderall to your child.

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