How much Ritalin is too much?
Ritalin (main ingeredient methylphenidate) is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug that has become the primary drug of choice in treating ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults. But, some people tend to abuse this medication either recreationally or for study purposes. So…when does dosing become dangerous?
First question: can you overdose on Ritalin? YES! When do users risk OD-ing on Ritalin? How much of the medication is enough to cause toxic and even fatal levels in your system? We review safety guidelines for Ritalin use and dosage safety in the article below. Then, we invite your questions in the designated section at the bottom of the page. We try to respond to all questions personally…or we’ll refer you to someone who can help.
Ritalin tablets are available in three strengths as immediate release tablets including chewable tablets for oral administration:
- 5 mg
- 10 mg
- 20 mg
But, Ritalin’s main ingredient – methylphenidate – is also available as sustained release tablets (Ritalin SR), extended release capsules, extended release oral suspension, extended release capsules (Ritalin LA), and as transdermal patches.
Immediate release Ritalin doses are usually be split into 2-3 doses to be taken throughout the day. Ritalin SR tablets have a duration of action of approximately 8 hours; while Ritalin LA are usually taken orally once daily in the morning.
How much Ritalin is safe?
Depending on your age, weight, and other factors, you might be prescribed anywhere from 10-60 mg of Ritalin a day. Dosage is individualized according to the needs and responses of each patient, so a safe dose of Ritalin for someone else may not be safe for you.
Basically, the safe dosage, frequency, and duration of treatment is suggested by your doctor and you should not take more Ritalin, more often, or in a different way than prescribed.
How much Ritalin can you take at once?
While the dosage range varies for children, the average daily dose of methylphenidate for adults is 20 to 30 mg/day. Most texts on the matter recommend that the daily dose should not exceed 60 mg, although some individuals may require higher doses.
How much Ritalin to overdose?
Ritalin overdose is possible at doses that are significantly higher than what you are usually used to. So, if you don’t have a tolerance to Ritalin and you are a recreational or first time user, overdose may happen as a consequence of taking more than your body can handle to process. But if you are dosing regularly, Ritlalin levels that provoke an OD will generally tend to be higher.
Acute toxicity due to Ritalin overdose results in symptoms similar to those of an acute amphetamine overdose. Physical and behavioral symptoms of Ritalin overdose may include:
- cardiac arrhythmias
- convulsions (may be followed by coma)
- dryness of mucous membranes
- muscle twitching
IMPORTANT: If you or someone you know has taken too much Ritalin and shows signs of overdose, CALL your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
How much Ritalin is fatal?
Ritalin overdose can be fatal especially in individuals with certain health issues.
Sudden death has been reported in association with CNS stimulant treatment at usual doses in children and adolescents with structural cardiac abnormalities or other serious heart problems. Ritalin and other stimulant products should not be used in children or adolescents with known serious structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, or other serious cardiac problems.
Adults taking stimulant drugs at usual doses for ADHD have suffered from sudden death, stroke, and myocardial infarction. Adults have a greater likelihood than children of having serious structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary artery disease, or other serious cardiac problems. Individuals with such abnormalities should generally not be treated with stimulant drugs like Ritalin.
How much Ritalin should I take?
It really depends on your condition, physical health, age, body mass, and other factors. People are usually prescribed Ritalin tablets at the following rates:
- Ritalin doses for adults
Tablets should be taken in divided doses 2-3 times daily, preferably 30 to 45 minutes before meals. Average doses are in the range of 20 mg to 30 mg daily. But some patients may require 40 to 60 mg a day. In others, however, a dosage of 10 mg to 15 mg daily will be adequate.
Ritalin SR (sustained release tablets) have a duration of action of approximately 8 hours. Therefore, Ritalin-SR tablets may be used in place of Ritalin tablets when the 8 hour dosage of Ritalin-SR corresponds to the titrated 8-hour dosage of Ritalin.
- Ritalin doses for children (6+ years)
Ritalin should be initiated in small doses, with gradual weekly increments. Tablet doses should start at 5 mg twice daily (before breakfast and lunch) with gradual increments of 5 to 10 mg weekly. Daily dosage above 60 mg is not recommended.
If improvement is not observed after appropriate dosage adjustment over a 1 month period, Ritalin should be discontinued.
Reference Sources: MedlinePlus: Methylphenidate
Photo credit: Colin Kinner