Adderall, like all FDA-approved medications, does expire. While studies have shown it may not affect the effectiveness, there are still good reasons not to use expired Adderall.

Adderall does expire, as do all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as mandated by the FDA. While it does expire, it probably doesn’t minimize its effectiveness or make it unsafe to take for people who legitimately need it. However, storing expired medicine at home or in medicine cabinets creates a chance for misuse and abuse.

Article at a Glance:

  • Adderall does expire and taking expired medicines can be risky.
  • It’s recommended that you do not store expired medicines as studies show recreational use often starts at home either through drugs obtained from friends or family or home medicine cabinets.
  • Expired Adderall should be safely disposed of by following the FDA-approved guidelines for disposing of expired medicine.

Does Adderall Expire?

Adderall does expire, as most all medicines do, but what does this mean? Most drugs tend to be fully potent for years after their expiration date, and Adderall is likely no exception. It may gradually lose some potency over the years, but most of the original active ingredient probably remains. This does not mean it is safe to take.

Before taking an expired Adderall tablet, consider whether or not something might have changed in your health that could make it dangerous to take the same dose you once did in the expired prescription. As our bodies and health changes, our needs and reactions this medication can also change, rendering past prescriptions ineffective, inappropriate, or even dangerous.

If you were prescribed the drug for ADHD or a sleep disorder, it’s important that you speak with your doctor before restarting an old prescription and never use someone else’s prescription.

The Dangers of Keeping Expired Adderall

It’s recommended that you do not store expired medicines as studies show recreational use and misuse often starts through drugs obtained from friends or family or home medicine cabinets. With that being said, Adderall is a controlled substance, so it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. It should be kept in a place away from children or people who could potentially abuse it.

It’s also important that you never use Adderall without a prescription, expired, or otherwise.

How to Safely Dispose of Expired Adderall

Follow the FDA-approved guidelines for disposing of expired Adderall. It can be dropped off at authorized collection sites like retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, or police stations. If no dropoff site is available, it can be discarded in the trash in a sealed plastic bag, mixed with foul-smelling food to help small children and pets avoid it if necessary.

More on Drug Safety & Expiration Dates

The concept of drug expiration dates goes back to the late 1970s when a law was passed requiring drug manufacturers to add an expiration date on products. The marked expiration indicates the date at which the maker of the drug guarantees the drug is fully safe and still works.

However, while it is a regulatory issue, a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration under the request of the military found that when looking at a massive stockpile of drugs that were about to be thrown out, more than 90% were good even 15 years after the listed expiration date. This looked at more than 100 types of drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter.

One of the exceptions that may be unsafe or less potent following its expiration date is tetracycline (an antibiotic). It can become toxic to the kidneys if used after its expiration. Also, certain medicines like insulin, nitroglycerin, and liquid antibiotics shouldn’t be used after their expiration date because they degrade quickly and may lose potency.

However, many drugs in tablet form remain potent well after their expiration date, as long as they’re properly stored. The best way to store any medicine is in an airtight container, away from heat and light, and places with high humidity.

As a reminder, Adderall is highly addictive and should always be kept in a place away from children or people who could potentially abuse it.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

Gikonyo, D; et al. “Drug expiry debate: the myth and the reality.” African Health Sciences, September 2019. Accessed May 23, 2020.

‌Food and Drug Administration. “Adderall.” July 2019. Accessed June 7, 2020.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Don’t Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines.” March 2016. Accessessed June 11, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.