How long does Adderall last?

Immediate release Adderall effects last for 4-6 hours. But the extended release version of Adderall XR can last for 24 hours. Why? Different formulas of Adderall last for different periods of time. Learn more about Adderall effects and duration of action here.

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Immediate release versions of Adderall last for 4-6 hours and require repeated dosing. Extended release Adderall XR lasts a full 12 hours but should be taken ONLY ONCE every 24 hours. More here on how Adderall affects the body and brain, and how long its effects last. Plus, a section for your questions about Adderall’s duration at the end.

Adderall effects on the body and brain

Adderall is made of amphetamine salts when are central nervous system stimulants, used to treat people with excessive sleepiness (narcolepsy) by stimulating the central nervous system. Adderall works by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.  When taken therapeutically, Adderall can help people maintain focus and concentration.  When taken to enhance performance, Adderall addictive properties include its strong effects on the central nervous system, including enhanced concentration as well as euphoric effect.

Does Adderall work for everyone? No, the amphetamine salts contained in Adderall may not be the right treatment for you.  But, Adderall may also work wonders. In fact, Adderall  has a paradoxical effect when used to treat people diagnosed with ADHD, helping them focus and remain calm.  But as a stimulant, Adderall can cause:

  • difficulty with sleep
  • nervousness
  • restlessness

How long do Adderall effects last?

The effects of immediate release Adderall last anywhere for 4-6 hours. Tablets usually last about 6 hours, and should not be taken more frequently. Adderall XR’s effects will last a full 12 hours. However, Adderall XR should not be taken more frequently than once every 24 hours, to reduce the risk of potential overdose.

How long does a Adderall high last?

When people take Adderall get high, an Adderall high peaks after about 4 hours and will begin to decline unless another Adderall is taken at that point.

Adderall high effects

An Adderall high causes stimulant effects which may include:

  • increased alertness
  • excitement
  • fast/pounding heartbeat
  • mood or behavior changes

Adderall is addictive, so abusing it to get high does carry risks. An Adderall addiction can result in powerful withdrawal symptoms, uncontrollable cravings for the drug, and compulsive use of the drug despite negative consequences.

Adderall duration of action

The half life for Adderall can vary widely between people based on diet and other factors, but is typically between 11-17 hours. However, the immediate release formula of Adderall needs to be taken throughout the day to continue to be effective. Adderall XR only needs to be taken once every 24 hours.

Adderall time in the body

Any type of Adderall takes a little while to completely leave the body. After two days, the immediately release is unlikely to show up on a urine drug test, but it may still show up in hair or saliva tests. The extended release version of Adderall may take 3-4 days to clear your system since it takes a full 24 hours before it begins to leave your body.

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How long Adderall lasts questions

Do you still have questions about the effects or duration of action for Adderall? Please leave your Adderall questions or comments here. We are happy to respond to all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NHTSA Drug and Human Performance Fact Sheets: Methamphetamine (And Amphetamine)
Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Violence Prevention: Prescription Stimulants: Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine:
FDA Medication Guide: Adderall XR

ToxNet: Amphetamine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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