What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a medication made using a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is most commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

It is a stimulant; therefore it increases your ability to stay focused and improve concentration. It can also treat certain behavioural disorders and sleep disorders such as narcolepsy.  

Adderall comes in two forms: an immediate-release tablet and an extended-release capsule. Both forms are taken orally with or without food. It is most commonly taken first thing in the morning, and if larger doses are required, they are taken throughout the day.

However, it is not recommended to take Adderall too close to bedtime as this will impact your sleep.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Person looking overjoyed

Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine which makes it an addictive substance if not used carefully.

When a person takes Adderall as prescribed by their doctor, there is little concern that it can lead to an addiction. However, not following your physician’s instructions can lead to dependency.

Adderall works by releasing dopamine and serotonin – also known as the ‘feel-good hormones’ which increases focus and reduces depression [1]. Over time, the person associates positive feelings with the drug and only feels a heightened level of joy when they take it.

The dopamine rush coupled with the improved concentration levels means that Adderall abuse is most common among college students [2].   

You may have developed an addiction to Adderall if you:

  • Regularly take Adderall when it has not been prescribed to you
  • Take more than your recommended dosage
  • Do not feel like you can concentrate or focus on activities without Adderall
  • Spend large amounts of money and time trying to get more Adderall
  • Have cravings for Adderall
  • Have lost interest in taking care of your responsibilities because you are too focused on acquiring more Adderall
  • Mix Adderall with alcohol or other substances

What Happens When You Stop Using Adderall?

If you use Adderall according to your doctor’s instructions, you may be able to stop taking it with little to no side effects. In some cases, your doctor will recommend that you stop taking it for a short while from time to time to monitor your behaviour both on and off the drug.

However, if you have been taking Adderall recreationally, or have routinely taken more than your doctor suggested, it is not recommended to stop taking Adderall ‘cold-turkey’ – this is because it can cause a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Low mood and irritability
  • Intense cravings

How long do Adderall withdrawal symptoms last?

Unfortunately, the effects of Adderall withdrawal last different amounts of time depending on the frequency of which you took the drug and the amount you took. Your overall mental and physical health can also impact how long you will be dealing with the side effects of withdrawal

Typically, withdrawal symptoms will show up a day or 2 after you last took Adderall. Symptoms can last anywhere between several days to several weeks. 

How do I manage Adderall withdrawal symptoms?

Glass of water

Adderall withdrawal symptoms are usually managed at home. There is no need for a medically assisted detox and you usually won’t need to be under the care of a medical professional while you are detoxing.

Many people state that Adderall withdrawal symptoms are similar to hangover symptoms, so plenty of fluids and rest should help you overcome the side effects. 

How quickly does it leave your system?


Adderall is swallowed in either tablet or capsule form, and it is then absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract [3]. It is broken down through your liver and then leaves your body when you urinate. 

The length of time Adderall stays in your system depends on several factors including your overall health, your body mass index, your age, and your genetics. Those with a slower metabolism will have the drug in their system for longer than those with a fast metabolism.

However, traces of Adderall can be found throughout your body and it leaves different parts of the body in different time frames:

1. Blood

Adderall can be detected in the blood up to 46 hours after it was last taken.

2. Urine

Adderall can be detected in your urine for up to 72 hours after the last use. Because Adderall leaves your body through your urine, higher concentrations of the drug are usually found in the urine. 

3. Saliva

Adderall can be detected in the saliva for up to 50 hours after the drug was taken.

4. Hair

Hair follicles hold onto traces of drugs for much longer than blood, urine, and saliva. Adderall can be detected in a hair follicle up to 3 months after the drug was last taken. 

Can you overdose on Adderall?

It is possible to overdose on Adderall, however, there is no particular lethal dose as a dangerous dose will vary from person to person. 

A dangerous or lethal dose of Adderall will depend on many factors including the height and weight of the person and the amount of Adderall they have built up an immunity to.

It is believed that a lethal dose of Adderall is around 20 mg per kilogram of weight, so a person who weighs 80 kilograms could become incredibly sick if they were to take 1,600 mg of Adderall [4].

That being said, every person is different, and many people can overdose on a much smaller dosage. 

What are the symptoms of an Adderall overdose?

Woman with headache

Symptoms of an Adderall overdose range from mild to severe, with mild symptoms including:

  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • Confusion

And the more severe symptoms including:

  • Hypertension
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Heart attack
  • Tremors
  • Stroke
  • Death

An overdose of Adderall – especially when mixed with other medications, such as antidepressants – can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome occurs when too much serotonin is released and causes a build-up in the brain. Serotonin syndrome can be fatal in extreme cases, other symptoms of serotonin syndrome are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Coma
  • Convulsions

What to do if you overdose on Adderall

If you have taken too much Adderall, it is important to seek medical attention immediately – even if you feel well. 

Symptoms don’t always happen straight away, so you need to get medical care to make sure you are safe.

If you cannot get to a GP or emergency room, contact NHS 111

How is an Adderall overdose treated?

In most cases, you will be transported to a local hospital for treatment and observation.

You might be given medication to ease the withdrawal symptoms, and you may need to have the contents of your stomach pumped. 

It might also be necessary to administer IV fluids to replenish nutrients and to prevent you from becoming dehydrated. 

Don’t wait. Get help today

If you are struggling with an Adderall addiction, it’s not too late to get help.

Our addiction experts are friendly and helpful and we are available 24 hours a day to take your call.

Call us today on 0800 326 5559.


[1] International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology – Does Adderall increase serotonin levels? – https://www.ijest.org/energy/does-adderall-increase-serotonin-levels/ 

[2] Wiley Online Library – Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/brb3.78 

[3] National Library of Medicine – Effects of Food on the Bioavailability of Amphetamine in Healthy Adults After Administration of SHP465 Mixed Amphetamine Salts Extended-Release Capsules – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6544597/ 

[4] Medline Plus – Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine – https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html