October 10, 2023

How Long Does Adderall Last?

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If you’re wondering, “how long does Adderall last?”, the effects can begin around 30 to 60 mins after taking the medication, and last for 4 to 6 hours. 

You should always space doses of Adderall by at least 6 hours. Adderall is a prescription stimulant used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The medication is also prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy, a chronic condition associated with extreme daytime sleepiness.

If Adderall is used as prescribed, the medication can trigger positive effects, but these effects are potentially dangerous for those who use Adderall without a prescription.

In 1996, the FDA approved Adderall for the treatment of ADHD.

How Long Does Adderall Last?

The effects of Adderall IR begin 30 to 60 minutes after taking the medication. Effects last for between 4 and 6 hours. You should always space doses of Adderall by at least 6 hours.

How long does Adderall last, then?

In the case of extended-release Adderall, the effects persist for 12 hours after taking the medication. To mitigate the risk of Adderall overdose, you should not take Adderall XR more than once in a 24-hour period.

The elimination half-life of Adderall is between 11 and 17 hours. At this point, levels of Adderall in the system will be reduced by half. It takes between four and five half-lives for a substance to be completely eliminated from the system.

For Adderall to be effective in immediate release form, you must take spaced doses of the medication throughout the day. Adderall XR duration, by contrast, is 24 hours.

Adderall in immediate release formula is not likely to show up in urine if you undergo a drug screen. Adderall IR may nevertheless show up in either saliva tests or hair tests.

It can take up to four days for Adderall in extended release formula to leave your system completely.

How Long Do the Effects of an Adderall High Last?

When Adderall is abused without a supporting prescription, the effects induced last for about 4 hours. The following stimulant effects may present:

      • Increased alertness

      • Excitement

      • Accelerated heartbeat

      • Mood changes

      • Behavioral changes

    Since the effects of Adderall are relatively short-lived, this can prompt a vicious cycle of abuse that may lead to addiction in the form of stimulant use disorder.

    What is Adderall?

    Adderall is a stimulant classified as a schedule II controlled substance. Adderall is a combination medicine that contains two active ingredients:

        1. Amphetamine

        1. Dextroamphetamine

      Although Adderall is most commonly prescribed to treat the symptoms of ADHD, the medication is also used to treat narcolepsy.

      Adderall is available in in immediate release and extended release form:

          • Adderall IR: The immediate-release form of Adderall is available as an oral tablet in strength from 5mg to 30mg.

          • Adderall XR: The extended-release form of Adderall is available as an oral capsule in strengths from 5mg to 30mg.

        Both the immediate-release and extended-release forms of Adderall contain the same proportion of 25% levoamphetamine and 75% dextroamphetamine. Both types of Adderall are also available in generic form. Generic alternatives are labeled amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts.

        Adderall is a first-line treatment for ADHD. Studies suggest that both forms of Adderall may:

            • Sharpen attention

            • Improve focus

            • Reduce impulsive behaviors

          Data from the same study indicate that 80% of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder prescribed Adderall reported an improvement in their symptoms.

          If Adderall is prescribed to treat narcolepsy, the stimulant can increase daytime wakefulness. More research is required in this area.

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          Adderall Effects on Your Brain and Body

          Taking a stimulant like Adderall will increase concentration and energy levels. At the same time, stimulants suppress the appetite and reduce the need for sleep.

          Ingesting Adderall in any form increases the activity of the certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). These include:

            • Serotonin

            • Dopamine

            • Norepinephrine

          Adderall can also cause the following physical effects:

          Increased heart rate

          Higher core body temperature

          Raised blood pressure levels

          In the event of chronic Adderall abuse, severe medical complications may develop, including:

            • Heart attacks

            • Strokes

            • Seizures

            • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

            • Tachycardia (irregular heart rate)

          Isolated instances of Adderall abuse have been associated with sudden cardiac death.

          Beyond this, any sustained abuse of stimulants like Adderall can trigger side effects that include:

            • Dry mouth

            • Hyperactivity

            • Tremors

            • Dizziness

            • Constipation

            • Abdominal pain

            • Weight loss

            • Difficulty breathing

            • Heart palpitations

            • Headaches

            • Edginess

            • Insomnia

            • Heart disease

          Over time, abusing Adderall can bring about changes in the brain’s reward center. These changes are activated by overexposure to dopamine caused by abusing stimulants.

          The sustained use of Adderall can lead to the development of physical tolerance. When tolerance to Adderall forms, the effects of the medication are diminished. Oftentimes, this prompts a vicious cycle of increased Adderall consumption in an attempt to counteract tolerance. Abusive patterns of stimulant use will accelerate the formation of physical dependence.

          If you become physically dependent on Adderall, you will require the stimulant to function properly. In its absence, intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will present, as well as powerful cravings.

          Physical dependence often but not always leads to addiction. Tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal are all diagnostic criteria for Adderall addiction (stimulant use disorder).

          Is Adderall Effective for Everyone?

          Adderall is not universally effective, although the medication will typically relieve the symptoms of those diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy.

          When stimulants like Adderall are prescribed in small doses, they can deliver a contradictory effect, inducing calm and focus. As a stimulant, Adderall may also cause the following adverse effects:

            • Nervousness

            • Insomnia

            • Dizziness

            • Restlessness


          How long does 10 mg of Adderall last?

          The effects of 10 mg of Adderall varies by individual, but this dose typically lasts for 4-6 hours. 

          How long does 20mg of Adderall last?

          Like smaller doses, the effects of 20 mg of Adderall varies by individual, but also typically lasts for 4-6 hours. 

          How long does Adderall work?

          Adderall begins working around 2-3 hours after ingestion and can last about 4-6 hours before wearing off. Some people feel the effects longer or shorter than this, as everyone’s body operates differently. 

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          Adderall Addiction Treatment at Gratitude Lodge

          Whether you have been taking Adderall as prescribed or abusing it recreationally, reach out to Gratitude Lodge in Southern California to move beyond stimulant use disorder. We have pet-friendly rehab centers dedicated to whole-body addiction recovery located in:

          Our supervised medical detox program provides the safest and smoothest pathway to detox and ongoing recovery. When your system is purged of addictive substances like Adderall, you can transition directly into one of the following Gratitude Lodge treatment programs for stimulant use disorder:

            • 30-day inpatient program

            • IOP (intensive outpatient program)

          If you are grappling with an addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition like ADHD, you can access coordinated and integrated treatment if you engage with our dual-diagnosis treatment program in Southern California.

          Whatever level of treatment intensity is most appropriate for your needs, your treatment plan will be individualized, drawing from these interventions:

            • Psychotherapy (talk therapies like CBT or DBT)

            • Individual counseling

            • Family therapy

          When you complete your treatment program at Gratitude Lodge, you can step down to a less intensive form of therapy, or you can transition directly into sober living. Your treatment team will ensure that you leave equipped with relapse prevention strategies and a comprehensive aftercare plan. We’re here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond.

          To move from active Adderall addiction into ongoing recovery, place your trust in Gratitude Lodge. Call admissions at 800-994-2184.

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          Joe Gilmore

          Joseph Gilmore

          Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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          Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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