Nearly 2.5 million Americans take Adderall for ADHD/ADD, depression, and narcolepsy. It’s the 24th most prescribed drug in the United States and is available in nearly every pharmacy across the state.
With it being used so prevalently, many are curious about its effectiveness past its expiration date. So, in this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about expired Adderall. Does Adderall expire, and if so, what are the side effects of taking expired Adderall?
Let’s find out.
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Does Adderall Expire?
The clear-cut answer to this question is yes, Adderall does expire. But like most food products, the expiration date on the bottle doesn’t reflect when the product expires, but rather when its potency starts to wane.
Most medications maintain their potency even years after the expiration date. According to research conducted by the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration, common drugs like aspirin and various amphetamines like Adderall retain 95% to 99% of their potency 15 to 40 years after the expiration date.
The truth of the matter is this: pharmaceutical companies don’t extend the expiration dates as there isn’t an incentive for them to do so. After all, it’s more profitable for patients to throw away out-of-date medications and replace them with new ones.
So the better question here isn’t whether Adderall expires, but rather when it expires.
To that, researchers have yet to provide a conclusive answer. In the experiment, amphetamine retained 100% of its potency five years after the expiration date and 95% of its potency 10 years thereafter. But since it’s a controlled experiment, results vary.
Therefore, tossing away drugs past their expiration date is always safer to minimize the risk of side effects.
Is It Safe to Take Expired Adderall?
Medical practitioners advise against taking medication past its expiration date. So while technically safe to take expired Adderall, one should refrain from doing so.
If you’re in a situation where you need a dose but can only find an expired bottle, taking a pill or two shouldn’t pose any harm. Just keep in mind that it won’t be as potent or effective as in-date Adderall.
Increasing the dose to match the effectiveness should be avoided at all costs. Taking more than the recommended amount, even if the medication isn’t as potent, may lead to unpleasant side effects and even overdose.
How to Tell If Adderall Has Expired
Some medications develop distinct characteristics when they start to lose potency.
Old Aspirin, for example, starts to smell strongly of vinegar because its molecules separate into acetic acid, a primary component of vinegar.
Unfortunately, Adderall doesn’t display any tell-tale signs of chemical degradation, so it’s nearly impossible to tell Adderall has expired from scent and looks alone. Because of this, you’ll have to depend on the expiration date to ensure it’s still in date.
Manufacturers usually set the expiration date two to three years from the dispensed date, but it’s recommended that you use the bottle within one year of opening.
That said, various factors affect the potency of Adderall and prescription drugs in general. Humidity, heat, light, and storage conditions are among these factors. Therefore, proper storage is of utmost importance to prevent premature loss of potency.
What Are the Side-Effects of Taking Expired Adderall?
When a drug expires, it can undergo chemical changes that may cause unexpected side effects. Some are even at risk for bacterial growth, leading to more severe illnesses. So if your prescription medication expires, the best thing to do is to throw it away safely.
Here are the potential side effects of taking expired Adderall:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
If you start to show any of these symptoms after ingesting expired Adderall, contact your physician straight away.
Another less-discussed side effect of Adderall is drug abuse. Since expired Adderall isn’t as potent as in-date Adderall, some people would take double or triple the dosage to reach the same potency it had before. This could ultimately lead to accidental overdoses and addiction.
How to Properly Store Adderall
Proper storage is crucial to extending a drug’s potency.
Improper storage may break down the active ingredient before its expiration date, making it less effective and, in rare cases, even toxic.
It could also lead to accidental or intentional misuse of Adderall, as improper storage may give house members trouble-free access to the drug.
Here are some important tips to follow when storing Adderall:
- Place the medication in a cool, dry place, preferably between 59 to 86°F (15 to 30°C).
- Keep the bottle out of easy reach and sight of children and animals. Store the medication in a drawer, storage box, closet, or atop a high shelf.
- Store the medicine in its original container with its label. If the container doesn’t have an expiration date, make sure to write down the dispense date. Adderall expires in two to three years, but it should be taken within one year of the purchase date.
- Don’t place your medication inside the bathroom cabinet as heat and moisture can speed up the degradation process.
- If the prescription bottle came with a cotton ball, take it out as the cotton ball puts moisture in the bottle.
- Don’t refrigerate your Adderall as the fridge could also expose it to excess moisture. The fridge can also be easily accessed by children, so it’s not a safe place to store.
- If you’ve been prescribed a range of ADHD medications, store them in a pill organizer. Label the organizer with the medicine’s name, frequency, dose, and expiration date so you know when to take them in what compositions.
Like all prescription medications, Adderall has an expiration date. However, the expiration date on the bottle doesn’t reflect when the medication expires, but rather when it starts to lose its potency.
Adderall can be used years after its expiration date, but it’s not recommended to do so because it won’t be as potent as it was before. If in doubt, it’s always best to discard the medication and purchase a brand-new bottle.