How Long Does Amphetamine Stay in Your System?

Amphetamine in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

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Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that increases alertness, self-confidence, and concentration while creating a feeling of increased energy and decreasing appetite. Amphetamine is available by prescription but is also used illicitly as a recreational drug. It is also sometimes used by athletes as a performance-enhancing drug.

Doctors prescribe amphetamine-containing medications, such as Adderall (dextroamphetamine/amphetamine), Adderall RX (a long-acting form of dextroamphetamine/amphetamine), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), and Desoxyn (methamphetamine) for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines were also once used to treat narcolepsy and obesity, but this is less common today.

Amphetamine is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. It can be detectable for up to three months with certain tests.

How Long Does Amphetamine Stay in Your System?

Urine: Up to five days

Blood: Up to 48 hours

Saliva: Up to five days

Hair: Up to three months

How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?

The effects of amphetamine take place fairly quickly, often in less than an hour, and are similar to cocaine but last longer.

When taken as prescribed, amphetamine-containing medication can cause the following side effects, which often improve as your body gets used to the drug:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Dry mouth
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Increased tics
  • Depression

Side effects of amphetamine excessive use or misuse can range from mild to severe and include:

  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Cardiovascular issues (e.g., heart rhythm abnormalities, heart attack, stroke)
  • Circulation issues
  • Blockages in small blood vessels (if the drug is crushed and injected)
  • Psychosis and delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced cognitive ability
  • Breakdown of muscle
  • Malnutrition

How Long Does Amphetamine Last?

The half-life of amphetamine is an average of 10 hours, which means it takes that long for half of the ingested dose to be metabolized and eliminated from the bloodstream. When taken orally, amphetamine peaks at 12 hours. If taken intravenously, the elimination half-life is about 12.2 hours. Adderall XR, a long-acting form of prescription amphetamine, lasts up to 12 hours in most healthy children.

The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which amphetamine can be detected by various testing methods.

Urine

Amphetamine can be detected in a urine test for two to five days since the last dose.

Blood

Blood tests for amphetamine, which are typically done in a hospital setting, can detect the drug for up to two days.

Saliva

A saliva test, which uses a special device to extract a sample of saliva and deposit into a tube, can detect amphetamine for one to five days since last use.

Hair

Amphetamine, like many other drugs, can be detected with a hair follicle drug test for up to 90 days.

False Positive Testing

Certain antidepressants (such as bupropion, fluoxetine, trazodone, or selegiline), antihistamines, nasal inhalers, and cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine and/or promethazine can produce false-positive results for amphetamines on a urine drug screen. Always tell the clinicians about any prescription or over-the-counter medication you are taking.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

Trying to determine exactly how long amphetamine is detectable in the body depends on many variables, including how frequently it has been taken, how much was taken, and the person's metabolism, body mass, age, and overall health.

Dosage

Prescription amphetamines come in different strengths as well as immediate and extended-release forms, which can impact how long it takes for your body to metabolize the drug. For example, a 5mg dose of Adderall will have a shorter detection time than a 5mg dose of Adderall RX (the extended-release form).

Overall Health

Your liver and kidney function can play a role in how long it takes for your body to excrete amphetamine. People with decreased hepatic or renal function may eliminate amphetamine more slowly.

Frequency of Use

People who use amphetamine very frequently or as prescribed by a doctor will have longer detection times than those who use the drug one time.

Metabolic Rate

People with high metabolisms process and excrete amphetamine more quickly than those with a slower metabolism. Your metabolic rate can be affected by age, activity level, and overall health.

Swallowing vs. Snorting vs. Smoking vs. Injecting

The method by which you take amphetamine—swallowing, snorting, smoking, or injecting—also influences detection time. In general, the faster the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, the shorter the detection window, so if you smoke or inject amphetamine, it will leave the body faster than if you snort or swallow it.

How to Get Amphetamine Out of Your System

While many people try to sweat out or flush out amphetamines from their systems, the only proven way to clear your body of the drug is to discontinue use and to give your body the time it needs to metabolize and eliminate it. 

Symptoms of Overdose

One reason that it is important to know how long amphetamine remains in your system is because of the risk of overdose. If you or someone you love is prescribed a long-acting amphetamine, like Adderall RX, be sure to always swallow capsules whole; they should never be chewed or crushed, as this could release all the medication at once and increase your risk of overdose.

The following are some of the symptoms of a possible amphetamine overdose:

  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Feelings of panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Fast breathing
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • Fever
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing an overdose, call 911 or seek medical help immediately.

Getting Help

Another danger of taking more of the drug than prescribed is that it can become addictive. When taken as prescribed for a health condition, amphetamine is not usually addictive, but when misused—to get high or to improve performance—people can become dependent on it.

The body can also build up a tolerance for amphetamine, meaning that over time, it may require more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Taking more to reach the high or performance level you once experienced can lead to addiction or overdose.

Symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Strong cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains
  • Increased appetite
  • Sleep disturbances

If you experience any of the above symptoms when you try to cut back or stop using amphetamine, you should seek medical advice immediately.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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Article Sources
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  1. Verstraete AG. Detection times of drugs of abuse in blood, urine, and oral fluid. Ther Drug Monit. 2004;26(2):200-5. doi:10.1097/00007691-200404000-00020

  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What is methamphetamine? Updated May 2019.

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