Thursday October 2nd 2014

How long does Ritalin withdrawal last?

Are you ready to stop taking Ritalin (methylphenidate)?

What happens when you stop taking Ritalin? When you decide to detox from Ritalin after taking Ritalin for more than a few weeks, you will go through withdrawal.  Although Ritalin stays in your system for a few days after use, withdrawal from Ritalin starts a few hours after your next expected dose.

While withdrawing from Ritalin is an uncomfortable experience, it is not life threatening. So how long does it last? (for several weeks). More here on how long Ritalin withdrawal lasts, with a section for your questions about Ritalin at the end.

How long until Ritalin withdrawal starts?

Ritalin time in the body is up to 12 hours. Overall effects of immediate release Ritalin typically last 4-8 hours, while residual effects can last up to 12 hours. Overall effects of extended release Ritalin typically last for 12 hours, while residual effect can last up to 24 hours. Once you have decided to stop taking Ritalin, withdrawal symptoms can start as early as a few hours after the effect of Ritalin has worn off. The most common symptoms of withdrawal from Ritalin include:

  • agitation
  • change in heart rate
  • depression
  • extreme fatigue
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • unpleasant dreams

How long do Ritalin withdrawal symptoms last?

Symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal can last anywhere between a few days to several months after you last take the medication. The harsher, acute effects of withdrawal should resolve within about a month. However, people have reported still feeling fatigue and increased appetite, depression, and cravings long after the initial 30 days.

Ritalin withdrawal timeline

Ritalin affects people differently. In fact, symptoms of withdrawing from Ritalin will change from person to person. However, it can take days to weeks to completely remove Ritalin from the system. It is important to note that because Ritalin is a stimulant, withdrawal symptoms can be delayed. Furthermore, severe withdrawal from Ritalin has been compared to the street drug cocaine as both affect the brain and body similarly. In sum, it may take several weeks to months to no longer feel the effects of Ritalin withdrawal symptoms, especially for those who are abusing Ritalin and have developed a psychological need for it.

The first 24 – 72 hours of Ritalin withdrawal – General onset of symptoms can manifest shortly after the drug has worn off and linger for up to a few months after methylphenidate is totally out of the system. Intense fatigue, agitation/nervousness, continuing stimulation, and drug craving are typical symptoms that occur during the first days after coming off Ritalin. The worst onset of symptoms (fatigue, change in heartbeat, nausea) often occurs directly after withdrawal or coming off of Ritalin. Many people report that the most common reaction to acute Ritalin withdrawal is that of depression, nervousness, and fatigue. You might also experience uncontrollable shaking.

Week 1 Ritalin withdrawal – In the first week after stopping Ritalin, symptoms of withdrawal tend to even out with an apparent return to “normalcy”, although drug craving may occur and disturbed sleeping patterns are common. During this phase of withdrawal symptoms can include; depression, exhaustion, extreme fatigue, and an increase appetite.

Week 2 Ritalin withdrawal – Protracted withdrawal symptoms manifest at week two. Anxiety, nervousness, and depression which shows up on the onset with reappear during week two. Waves of severe drug craving also arise during week two of withdrawal as well as continued issues with sleep and fatigue.

Week 3-4 Ritalin withdrawal – During this phase of withdrawal, nervousness, and depression may still be present. Additionally, long periods or disturbances in sleep are still reported. You might also still crave Ritalin as the physical dependence starts to decrease the need to take it might still really affect you as stressors in your life present themselves.

Post-Acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) – The medical definition of PAWS is a set of symptoms that occur right after you stop taking Ritalin and can last several months afterwards. Sleeping disturbance, irritability, and mood swings are typical of Ritalin use and these symptoms can linger for weeks to months after your last dose of Ritalin. Additionally, cravings for the drug can linger longer after you have stopped taking Ritalin. People suffering from addiction are encouraged to seek help.

Ritalin withdrawal: how long?

Ritalin affects each person differently depending on the dosage and how long you have been taking Ritalin. In other words, each withdrawal period is unique to the person taking Ritalin. Various health concerns also need to be taken into consideration when creating a plan for Ritalin withdrawal. In general, however, if you taking Ritalin for medical reasons in doses as prescribed, symptoms of withdrawal tend to be less intense than someone abusing the medication or taking higher doses than prescribed.

How long Ritalin withdrawal questions

Did we cover everything you wanted to know about Ritalin withdrawal? If you have any more questions regarding withdrawal from Ritalin please ask. We do our best to respond to your questions personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: PubMed Health: Methylphenidate
The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention: Recreational use of Ritalin on College Campuses
PubMed: Methylphenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side Effects
PubMed: Withdrawal from Chronic Amphetamine Produces Persistent Anxiety-like Behavior but Temporally-Limited Reductions in Monoamines and Neurogenesis in the Adult Rat Dentate Gyrus.

Photo credit: bitzcelt

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25 Responses to “How long does Ritalin withdrawal last?
vicky
5:47 pm September 19th, 2012

please help me i am a healthy boy i took ritalin about 2000mg instant relaease and after i quit i nevr take ritalin but after quit i cannot focus or concentrate on things please help me it depends me to take again

11:05 am September 22nd, 2012

Hi Vicky. Can you please let me know what your question is? I’m not clear on how I can help you because I don’t understand what you are asking.

Marielle
12:45 am October 1st, 2012

Hi. I was prescribed concerta 36 mg XR by my psychiatrist for anxiety and ADHD symptoms. I am 23 yr old female recovered from an eating disorder. I currently take Celexa 50mg, Xanax .05 XR once daily at night to mitigate panic attacks (I virtually have none and am weaning off xanax) however, my brother had multiple ritalin in his drawer and I started to experiment. I took one 20mg and felt great (ontop of concerta) it’s been almost two months that I have taken ritalin (sometimes up to 60mg) sometimes I snort it sometimes I EAT it but I want to stop. I am afraid of telling my psychiatrist and I dont know how to stop but I want to so badly. Please help me taper it down, what should i do? I feel vapid and empty.

2:17 pm October 2nd, 2012

Hello Marielle. Yes, I know just how you feel. It’s the cycle of addiction. I would suggest that you fully disclose the pattern to your psychiatrist. If you find judgment and disappointment, find another psychiatrist. A good doctor will provide you with objective, unbiased information and help you to uncover the deeper issue behind using Ritalin and Adderall together. That you like the euphoric effect seems pretty normal to me. But you have to be willing to own up to the use, and to see where it’s heading. Get off the addiction elevator early, before it goes too far down. And then explore your inner self to get rid of that empty feeling. There is far more to yourself than you might be able to see right now. But you are an amazing and valuable person on this Earth!

Sandra
6:20 am January 1st, 2013

Hi,

My boyfriend is 43 and has been taking ritilan for adhd since he was 35. He took extended release once a day but not sure dosage,

He recently lost his dad and has been very stressed and he had gone to the doctor and learned his bp was high and he was placed on bp meds and a water pill.

After about a week he told me that he stopped taking ritalin cold turkey. I asked if that was safe without consulting a doctor. He said its out of your system in 12 hours and because of blood pressure he decided to stop.

Since he stopped he has been rude and made nasty remarks about people -a side ive never seen. on three occasions he was extremely mean and completely out of line in the way he treated me and comments he made to me. he sent a text saying hes sorry but then he did again and i saw someone id never seen before. Is this related to ritalin withdrawl? If so, is he aware that he is being completely rude and mean? I told him if he couldnt give me a proper apology in person i couldnt see him any longer until that happened. I tried to give him the opportunity to talk and i have not heard from him in two days. I started researching ritalin withdrawl and wondered if this might be the issue? In time would he realize his personality change and how he treated me? Should i be worried about him if i have not heard from him or just move on and assume hes okay,

12:08 pm January 2nd, 2013

Hi Sandra. It seems difficult to distinguish. You may want to give your boyfriend some leeway during withdrawal, because it’s truly difficult: physically, mentally and emotionally. He needs understanding and compassion at the moment and may perceive your hurt and need for an apology as restrictive and reproachful. Give him some time…and support, if you’re able to.

Quinton
4:15 pm February 5th, 2013

Ummm I was a long term taker of ritalin and im concerned some of the psychological issues i face in life right now might be due to long term use of ritalin (13 years, 2 pills a day) from around the age of 4 or 5 till about 2-3 years ago, near the end of high school i was battling depression as it was due to personal issues but around 2 years ago i started to get somewhat emotionally distant i have difficulty sleeping anxiety mood swings and a tendency to get occasionally rude or angry for no reason even when i have the best intent these changes seem to be getting worse what pointed me towards ritalin as a potential cause is that i decided to take it again tonight to help me concentrate on a school project (first time since the end of high school) and my mood immediately changed (have had a rather depressing week) and i now feel much better more calm honestly a little happier etc, is their potential for the ritalin to still be effecting me even though i havnt taken it in so long?

Quinton
4:20 pm February 5th, 2013

also i am definitely not reconsidering taking ritalin again on a regular basis

2:07 pm February 11th, 2013

Hello Quinton. Hmmm. The symptoms that you describe, if any, may be associated with Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms from long term Ritalin use. The problem with amphetamines and methylphenidate is that researchers still don’t know what long term effects can be associated with their long term use.

I’d suggest two things:.

1. Report the symptoms to the FDA: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/default.htm

2. Follow up with a medical doctor or mental health specialist to find alternative treatments and to address the underlying physical or emotional reasons that may be causing these symptoms.

You are not alone. You seem to be honest and brave enough to want to face these issues without pharmaceutical intervention. Help is out there for you.

Jennifer Steel
5:45 pm March 22nd, 2013

My friend has a past of drug even hard drugs; he’s stopped taking them since years now and let’s say once per year he has a weekend of music festival where he goes on drugs; but not addicted so after that weekend nothing.
These last two weeks he’s been working a lot and accumulate stress. He took about 8 Ritalin on 2 days. And now he is now in a very bad state, paranoia/panic/sweating hands/cold feet/very suspicious, agitated, etc – this has now last for 1 week – he’s been seeing doctors who gave him injection of Valium/Dorcomin injection and tablets/Deanxit, and nothing seems to work – he is himself and suddenly back in his world. Please advise what has to be done and if he can go better. are these medications good or should be totally avoided?

6:50 am March 24th, 2013

Hi Jennifer. This is a great question. For someone with a history of drug addiction, doctors warn against the use of stimulants like Ritalin. Drug abuse can start quickly, as you’ve seen. Total abstinence from mind altering pharmaceuticals is preferred.

Natasha
7:33 am April 2nd, 2013

My brother, aged 20 recently had exams and took around 60 mg of ritalin over two days to prepare for them. His decision was a bit surprising considering he doesn’t have ADD/ADHD. However now it’s been a week and he claims to still have withdrawal as he is fatigued and cranky. Is this possible? Or might there be something else wrong with him?

2:21 pm April 3rd, 2013

Hello Natasha. A one-time binge can cause withdrawal symptoms from Ritalin, but they are unlikely to last as long as one week after administration. Perhaps the extra studying and stress have taken a great effect on your brother than you assume. If you’re really concerned about him, talk openly about your concerns and ask if there’s something else going on in his life that he’d like to talk about.

Wyatt
5:45 pm May 2nd, 2013

Well I screwed up agian I took 3 ritalins not sure what does I feel alright just I started sweating under my arms out of no wear and my heartbeat is higher than normal and I know I’m dumb never agian am I doing that agian, but will I be ok will the side effects wear off when the ritalins out of my system or do I have to see a doctor? Thanks

Bachalah
5:47 am October 10th, 2013

I need to find out from taking Ritalin 30 mg Pill form for 38 days. Then Doctor puts me on Ritalin LA 30 mg once a day morning for 45 days. Which total 4 months 1 day of Ritalin which includes: Ritalin both forms Pill Form taken for 38 days. At Present time I take Ritalin LA 30 mg once a day taken for 45 days. Which I came up with both Forms taken for 4 months and 1 day I need to find out what kind of withdrawal to expect?

Bachalah
5:54 am October 10th, 2013

The reason I am not going to take Ritalin b/c I can’t think clearly. I still have ADD it only works for ADHD. I do have Angina. I had PE. Medication Wafarin, Wellbutrin 2 times a day, Kolopin 3 times a day for panic anxiety disorder. I also, take heart medication.

1:07 pm October 10th, 2013

Hello Bachalah. Talk with your doctor first about a taper. Setting up a tapering schedule can help you minimize the withdrawal symptoms and make them less severe- but always stop Ritalin under a doctor’s supervision.

Hamy
10:59 am November 15th, 2013

I have abuse a ritalin instant release 40mg once a day and i used it total 1500 mg in a month before my exams and after exams i quit ritalin and after 3months now i cannot focus on studies i cannot absorb the data of text in books please help me and reply me on urgent basis

maria
12:56 pm December 10th, 2013

I need help ASAP my wife is ADHD and has bipolar 1 disease her doctor just refuse to see her anymore cause she owe him money but she has insurance and she paid her copay he sent her to a treatment center but her appointment is not until Thursday I don’t know a lot about ADHD cause I been learning about her bipolar she is withdrawing off Ritalin and she is so agitated and snappy she ‘s become so mean to me I don’t know what to do to help her in the mean time she has been on this medication for over 25 years and to stop cold turkey is very hard for me and her when I tell her I will leave she doesn’t want me to but she still mean to me what can I do to help her is there another medicine to give her that will help I really need some help on this.

9:49 am December 12th, 2013

Hello Maria. Hang in there…mood disorders are possible due to withdrawal from Ritalin and can be normalized once she is on her medication again. What kind of treatment center will she attend?

colin
5:19 am February 11th, 2014

My doctor gave me ritalin for college, I was told i had add when i was little. I’ve never taken Ritalin before or other drugs for ADD. This was the first time and so i took the ritalin for about 4-5 months. The entire time i was taking it i felt pretty good like really good. It made class pretty easy. Toward the end of taking it i started getting really bad watery eyes and feeling depressed. It’s been about 8 months and i have these symptoms still.

Byraer
8:47 am March 12th, 2014

I found what I was looking for through the comment regarding the reactions of their partners upon either running out of Ritalin or voluntary withdrawal. This was not delineated in the main article but promptly articulated by the responder upon feedback from the those having the reaction of bad behavior associated with coming down or running out of Ritalin. This is something that I can relate to. Also searching for understanding on how to deal with that negative behavior and found that the commentator said it best or in a nut shell, if you love the person and they either run out of supply or voluntary withdrawal, they do need a time out from you. My approach this night was I did not engage my partner I let him rant and am trying not to feel hurt though I do. This too shall pass but how much can one take is the question for me? I need to know that when the pills run down is my relationship over? Sometimes I feel that way. Tonight despite his nastiness I thought of how he makes me laugh all the time and this one small window of time when things get bad I just have to suck it up for now. I am glad I found this site I am at ease now thanks

Rachel
6:24 pm August 18th, 2014

Hi, I’m a 24 yo female who was taking 60mg a day and I quit cold turkey. I’m experiencing extreme fatigue the first 10 or so days, then now I’m very awake and hyper and having very vivid dreams. I’m in recovery from anorexia which is why they took me off of it. I’m an addict and alcoholic, and the cravings are very intense.

I’m also on prozac 40mg, Lamictal 350mg, and Abilify 20mg.

What should I ask my pdoc about tomorrow, how long does this last, and what should I do about these side effects?

Thanks,

Rachel

ruqayya
4:22 pm September 18th, 2014

Hello,
I have an autistic brother who has also been diagnosed with ADHD. He was placed on ritalin for quite a while but we were advised to stop giving it to him because of its longterm side effects nd we did not know how to properly put him off the drug so we stopped abruptly. The problem is he can not talk so we do not know if he had gone through any severe adverse effects while taking the drug. We however noticed that he was very aggressive when he was taking it but he became a lot calmer after the drug was withdrawn. He has been off it for the past 6 months now, but lately he suffers from insomnia some nights, sometimes he is restless nd he has had two seizures ( in june nd august). My parents nd siblings don’t have a history of seizures. He has been placed on tegretol. Please I would like to know if the sudden withdrawal from ritalin might be the cause of his seizures?? If it is possible, what do you advice we do?. Looking forward to your response. Thank you

Ryan
9:29 pm September 28th, 2014

This is a great page. Thanks for putting it up. I’ve been on Concerta (an extended release version of Ritalin) for almost 12 years. I was taking 36mg per day, and I decided this weekend to stop taking it. I tried to stop in the past, but the withdrawal symptoms got so bad I had to go back. Starting from day 1, I’d always get overly tired, agitated, and my ability to focus was worse than before starting the meds.

This time is a little different however. I’m taking Wellbutrin which seems to be taking a lot of the edge off. I’m a little tired but still very much functional. In the past I wasn’t functional from day 1.

As a personal log that might help others who find this site, I’d like to post my update and progress here. 12 years is a long time, but the mediation is causing me high blood pressure and increased anxiety – so it’s time I find another way to deal with my ADD.

With the help of Wellbutrin, I plan to get through the next few weeks drinking lots of water, exercise and a positive outlook that these uncomfortable feelings I have are just temporary and will eventually go away.

Wish me luck! 24 hours so far and counting!

P.S. I intend to get lots of sleep in the next few weeks. :)
I hear sleep, drinking lots of water and exercise are key. With the help of Wellbutrin I think I can do it this time!

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