ClickCease How Long Does Ritalin Stay In Your System? | Granite Recovery Centers

How Long Does Ritalin Stay In Your System?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Ritalin is a commonly known brand name drug that is used most often in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As more and more people are diagnosed, either clinically or by their parents, the popularity and usage rate of Ritalin will most likely continue to rise as well.

Ritalin is actually the brand name for the drug called methylphenidate. Methylphenidate is one of the approved treatments for ADHD, but it has other uses as well. For instance, it can be used to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Although Ritalin is abused by adults and kids, the drug’s close ties to ADHD make it both a highly controversial and a highly important drug in today’s world.

The CDC estimates that around 10% of children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Many of those children are prescribed Ritalin to cope with its effects. Even though Ritalin can be an effective tool to fight the effects of ADHD, it does come with risks. There are many ways to use Ritalin outside of what is prescribed, and the drug is addictive. At Granite Recovery Centers, our mission is to transform lives, especially if you are struggling with a Ritalin addiction. Call one of our experts today to see how we can walk with you through your addiction and help you get your life back.

Use of Ritalin

As mentioned above, Ritalin is one of the primary drugs used in the treatment of ADHD. According the CDC , ADHD diagnoses have almost doubled since the year 2000, and 62% of those diagnosed also took medicine to treat the diagnosis. While the number of people diagnosed with ADHD has stagnated over the past few years, there are still a lot of people prescribed to take Ritalin each year.

While Ritalin is most often prescribed and used for the treatment of ADHD, there are other reasonable uses of the drug as well. Ritalin is a stimulant, which means that it works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain. Stimulants, like Ritalin, can help increase your ability to pay attention, to stay focused on an activity, and to control behavior problems. Ritalin can also help you to organize your tasks and improve your listening skills. Other than ADHD, Ritalin can be used for certain types of sleeping disorders.

To make the most of Ritalin, you should take it consistently and at the same times each day so that the doses can work together to provide the best results. One of the key aspects of Ritalin usage is that you should not, without talking with a doctor, suddenly stop taking Ritalin after prolonged use. Even when taken as prescribed, Ritalin is an addictive drug that can have disastrous long-term effects. If you or a loved one find yourself trying to quit Ritalin after prolonged use, contact us at Granite Recovery Centers so that we can help you with this difficult task.

Abuse of Ritalin

The DEA has classified methylphenidate as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II controlled substances are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse. Using Ritalin, even as prescribed but especially outside of its prescribed usage, can potentially lead to severe psychological and physical dependency. Schedule II controlled substances are considered dangerous for a wide variety of reasons, and the abuse of Ritalin can lead to severe side effects and addiction.

Ritalin, in general, has been a very successful drug in the treatment of ADHD, but the more often it is used by children and teens, the more often it is abused as well. Ritalin is often abused either to provide a “high” or as a performance enhancer. Since Ritalin is a brain-altering drug that affects the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine, the drug produces a natural high that many people seek.

Ritalin seems to be more dangerous, however, as a performance enhancer. For instance, high school and college students are known to take large doses of the drug while studying for exams. As a stimulant, it can both help you stay up late and keep you focused through long study sessions. Adults who are in high-stress, high-demand jobs have also been known to use Ritalin to maintain focus in stressful situations, to stay awake longer without breaks, and to have their minds working at optimal levels. Here are just a few of the things that Ritalin can do as a performance enhancer:

  • Improve concentration
  • Increase mental sharpness
  • Help a person manage a heavy workload or a high-stress environment
  • Stimulate weight loss
  • Stay up later to accomplish more

The bottom line is that Ritalin is an oft-prescribed drug with highly addictive characteristics and a history of being hard to stop. Just like what can happen with strong pain killers, many people find themselves addicted to Ritalin after taking it in the prescribed way in the beginning. At Granite Recovery Centers, we can help you recover from a Ritalin addiction after an initial detox to the physical and psychological problems that come along with an addiction.

Side Effects of Ritalin Abuse

 There are an almost unbelievable number of side effects that are possible with Ritalin use. Here are a few of the more common side effects:

  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Muscle tightness
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncontrollable movement of a part of the body
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Heavy sweating
  • Back pain

There are other, even more serious side effects as well. Some of the more somber include depression, difficulty breathing, mood changes, fainting, and seizures. If any of the more moderate side effects listed above occur, monitor them closely. If any of the more serious side effects happen, see a doctor immediately. Those most dire side effects include:

  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Slow or difficult speech
  • Fainting
  • Weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • Seizures
  • Changes in vision or blurred vision
  • Agitation
  • Believing things that are not true
  • Feeling unusually suspicious of others
  • Hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
  • Motor or verbal tics
  • Depression
  • Abnormally excited mood
  • Mood changes
  • Frequent, painful erections
  • Erections that last longer than four hours
  • Numbness, pain, or sensitivity to temperature in the fingers or toes
  • Skin color change from pale to blue to red in the fingers or toes
  • Unexplained wounds on the fingers or toes
  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Blistering or peeling skin
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

It is a lot to list, but it is important to know when to call a doctor and when to get help if you are struggling with any of these side effects, especially if you want to quit using Ritalin after prolonged use. We will help create a recovery plan for you and your needs so that you can get back to your life as quickly as possible.

How Long Does Ritalin Remain in Your Body?

Most central nervous system stimulants, like Ritalin, have relatively short half-lives compared to what is found in many other drugs. This is why it is important to take multiple doses per day, and it is also part of the reason why the drug is addictive. With a shorter half-life, a drug has to be taken more regularly to have the desired effect. When a drug is taken more frequently, your body often builds up resistance to the drug so that more of the drug must be taken per dose.

There are currently two types of Ritalin on the market. The first is the immediate-release form of the drug. This form of Ritalin has a half-life of one to four hours, which means, to keep the drug working, you would have to take it more often than one time per day. The second is the extended-release form that lasts about 10 to 14 hours in your system. Here are some factors that could affect how long Ritalin remains in your system:

  • Age: The younger you are, the more quickly the drug will leave your system.
  • Body Mass: The more body mass you have, the quicker your body will be drained.
  • Use with Alcohol: Taking Ritalin while drinking alcohol is not encouraged, but if it is done, Ritalin will stay in your system longer.

Ritalin can be detected in numerous ways, including:

  • Urine screens can detect Ritalin between one and three days after use.
  • Saliva tests can detect Ritalin one to three days after use.
  • Blood tests are rarely, if ever, used to detect Ritalin.
  • Ritalin can be detected in your hair follicles for 30 days after use.

Ritalin’s Interaction With Other Drugs

It is also important to note that Ritalin interacts with other things in a way that can make side effects even worse. For instance, you should not take caffeine, ACE inhibitors, some blood pressure drugs, and seizure medications. Ritalin is a highly addictive drug, and that addiction can be triggered in numerous ways. Taking Ritalin with other drugs can be a push towards addiction, so be careful with these types of medicines:

  • Seizure medications
  • Warfarin
  • Antipsychotics
  • Blood pressure drugs
  • Cold or allergy medications
  • Antihypertensive drugs

Prior to starting on Ritalin, you should call your doctor and discuss what else you are taking and how Ritalin could affect your life. It is a strong stimulant that affects your brain, so it is really important to check and to cross-check these issues. Cold and allergy season is difficult, but cold and allergy medicines cannot be taken with Ritalin just like alcohol should not be either.

Granite Recovery Centers

If taken correctly, Ritalin can be a game-changer for someone who is struggling in school or work with ADHD. It can also just as quickly ruin a person’s life. At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to help you make sure that it does nothing more than help.

As mentioned before, coming off of Ritalin is a very difficult thing, and we can offer multiple programs, including a medical detox option. On top of that, there is often an underlying condition when a person is addicted, and our incredible staff can help you get on the road to recovery from those issues. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

You have relied on the drug for long enough, and now, you can rely on us as we help you get your life back and live a life as “recovered” and not “recovering.” If you or someone you know could benefit from our help in dealing with Ritalin abuse, give us a call at Granite Recovery Centers today.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.