Friday March 6th 2015

How to stop taking Ritalin

How to stop taking Ritalin

Are you interested in quitting Ritalin (methylphenidate)?

You may not be able to simply stop taking Ritalin cold turkey. Because it’s not simply a matter of how long Ritalin lasts, but how Ritalin builds up on your system over time. Long-term use or abuse of Ritalin can cause a dependence on Ritalin, which will make it very difficult to stop taking without side effects. Learn more about Ritalin dependence, addiction, and how to stop taking Ritalin below. Plus, ask your questions about Ritalin at the end.

Can I just stop taking Ritalin?

You could try to just stop taking your Ritalin, but it isn’t likely to be very successful and can cause serious adverse side effects. Instead, you should always consult with your prescribing doctor before you stop taking Ritalin.


Because the main ingredient in Ritalin, methylphenidate, is a highly addictive drug which causes physical dependence after long-term use. Quitting suddenly will cause withdrawal symptoms – and if you’re addicted to Ritalin, just stopping the medication doesn’t address the underlying emotional and psychological issues that cause you to use Ritalin compulisvely. Either way, you may end up taking Ritalin again out of desperation. Luckily, there are a few ways to wean yourself off the medication.

What happens when you stop taking Ritalin?

Ritalin stay in system how long? Immediate or controlled release Ritalin is out of your system within a few days. But your body becomes used to having methylphenidate over time. In fact, your brain compensates for the prescence of methylphenidate (which is a stimulant) by “slowing down” some processes. So when you stop taking Ritalin, you need time to adjust to living without it. This period of adjustment is called “withdrawal”. Once you go through Ritalin withdrawal, you will start feeling normal again. Unfortunately, that period of adjustment usually includes uncomfortable side effects. In fact, Ritalin withdrawal can affect your cardiovasular system, mood, and energy levels.

Side effects stop taking Ritalin

Since Ritalin is normally prescribed throughout the day, it may only take a few weeks to develop a physical dependence to methylphenidate. Stopping Ritalin can cause a number of severe withdrawal effects. If you’ve taken Ritalin long-term, withdrawal effects may be even worse. Some side effects that can occur when you stop taking Ritalin include:

1. feelings of extreme fatigue
2. depression and other mood changes
3. changes in heart rhythm

Stop taking Ritalin suddenly

Ritalin is easier to quit if you don’t stop taking it suddenly. Quitting suddenly increases the chance of nasty withdrawal symptoms, which can drive you to return to taking the drug. The best way to quit Ritalin is to gradually reduce your dose rather than stopping all at once.

Stop taking Ritalin cold turkey

Stopping Ritalin cold turkey isn’t the best option for most people. But if you cannot slowly reduce your dose of methylphenidate due to addiction issues, or if you have medical problems with make it necessary to stop taking Ritalin right away, it can be done. If you decide to quit Ritalin cold turkey, you should consult a doctor on what to expect and how to do so safely. You might also want to speak to a therapist or counseler specializing in drug addiction, if you struggle with strong cravings and compulsions to take Ritalin.

How do I stop taking Ritalin?

The best way to stop taking Ritalin is to gradually reduce your daily dose over the course of several weeks. Your doctor can develop a dosing schedule for you to use, if you believe you’ll be able to stick to it.

How to stop taking Ritalin safetly

Following a doctor’s directions is the safest way to quit taking Ritalin. Though the side effects may be difficult to deal with, they’re unlikely to be dangerous. If you have any concerns about withdrawal effects or the safety of quitting Ritalin, consult a doctor.

Stop taking Ritalin questions

Please leave us your questions about Ritalin in the comments section below. We welcome all legitimate queries about Ritalin and its use. We will try our best to respond to your questions with a personal and prompt reply.


Reference Sources: DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications – Methylphenidate and Ampetamines
PubMed:Recreational Use of Ritalin on College Campuses
PubMed: Methylpenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side Effects

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41 Responses to “How to stop taking Ritalin
11:13 am June 20th, 2012

5 year old boy drinking Ritilin for 4 weeks half of 10 mg at 7:00 in the morning and about a week or 10 days ago he starting behave badly and the school called his mother and the they did not know about the Ritilin on advice of the doctor. He is more busy, shouting, attack other children, run and climb dangerously, attack his brother, try to drown his little brother in the bathwater, throws things to his mother, suffers in the night breathing, eats not good, speaks about death, he is very angry and aggressive . What must we do because his doctor is overseas ? Do you think it is the Ritilin? Can we stop it and if so what is the best way? Can we give him half of the dose he drinks now, for a week or more and try to stop it Thank you and kind regards. Linda

7:24 pm June 20th, 2012

Hi Linda. I’d suggest that you seek a second opinion from ANOTHER doctor ASAP. I’m not sure if these aggressive and violent acts are the result of too much Ritalin (amphetamines), but it is possible. You need medical help and you need it now!

I. Shapiro
10:12 pm September 12th, 2012

Hi there. Are there any dangerous physical withdrawal symptoms from high doses provided there are no pre-existing medical conditions? (160-180 mgs taken orally a day.) I understand the psychological effects of going cold turkey, but I lack the discipline to taper the dose. I’m also experiencing very unpleasant side effects and would like to quit immediately.
Thanks for any advice you may have,

1:41 pm September 16th, 2012

Hello I. Shapiro. Thanks for your questions. You might expect a case of severe depression upon withdrawal from Ritalin. Other side effects can include: fatigue, increased appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, vivid unpleasant dreams, as well as psychomotor retardation or agitation. But check in with your prescribing doctor before you stop…perhaps there are other considerations to account for.

10:38 pm November 14th, 2012

Hello, I was given Adderall to replace Ritalin 10mg bid to Adderall 10mg bid however I have been extremely lethargic more so than normal as I have Chronic fatigue syndrome. I have even tried to take more Adderall with the same complaint. Could I be having Ritalin withdrawal while taking Adderal? Thank you for your time. PS I was on Ritalan for three years at same dose.

11:35 am November 15th, 2012

Hi Sue. That’s a great question. I’d suggest that you call up your pharmacy and ask a pharmacist. While methylphenidate and amphetamines are related, I’m not sure whether or not you would go through Ritalin (methylphenidate) withdrawal while on Adderall. Please let us know!

8:26 pm January 21st, 2013


i am taking 20*10mg a day by sniffing for 3 years,some how maybe 30 *10mg……..but it is various.depending my feeling.
i had tries 100 times to go off my self but no benefit.
the last experience the honor one was suddenly stop it.gently symptems face musscles spacm and lead to back muscles too.i could not speak …………………
please,please help my i need hewlp to build up my life.i am 30years o;ld i want to marry…..

2:47 pm January 23rd, 2013

Hi Kaveh. I’d suggest that you consult with your prescribing doctor. Often, a family doctor is connected within the medical community and can refer you to services that can help. If you’re ready to stop with help…it’s out there!

8:40 am February 10th, 2013

Hey… My friend took Ritalin for 3 weeks and now he’s insane. He’s NOT prescribed to it. But now he has gone cold turkey. He has no physical affects but hes gone completely insane in the head… Any advice?

12:29 pm February 11th, 2013

Hi Josh. The best thing would be to take your friend to a psychiatrist, a medical doctor who deals with drugs and the mind. Perhaps there’s a tapering regimen that can work. Or maybe your friend needs other treatment. If you can get him treatment, you’re showing compassion and true friendship.

6:38 pm February 12th, 2013

I am a 61 year old female who stopped ritalin and antidepressants cold turkey after approx 15 years of daily use (prescribed). It’s been about 6 months and I have restarted antiepressants (3 months ago), still struggling with depression, tho feeling a bit better lately. Can stopping the ritalin suddenly be contributing to the depressive sxs?

2:26 pm February 13th, 2013

Hi Maureen. Yes, depression can be attributed to protracted withdrawal symptoms provoked by long term use of methylphenidate. Have you discussed your symptoms with your doctors?

12:39 am May 1st, 2013

I have been abusing Ritalin for almost 5 years. It does not make me feel good but it makes me get stuff. done Some days I take 100mg of it. Now I have not taken it in two day and I am not doing well. I am going to rehab in a few days but I need help on if I should not take it or ween off it. Someone is holding my medication with the concern I will abuse it. So I need help on how I should deal with this. Please anyone help.

1:21 pm May 2nd, 2013

Hello Olivia. Tapering is preferred over cold turkey withdrawal from Ritalin. Continue dosing at prescribed amounts until you get to detox, when you will evaluated and then put on a tapering plan.

6:23 pm May 2nd, 2013

I only took Ritalin once which was yesterI think I might of overdose took 3 not sure on the doses of each, I didn’t sleep at all last night which I new that would prob happen but will the side effects go away when it’s all out of my system I have a higher heartrate and I was sweating under my arms when I wasn’t doin anything active, and it was alitle hard to breath for awhile but that’s a lot better now. I know I’m dumb but will I be ok I’m young and healthy only 16 so will they go away or do I have to see a doc :(

3:33 pm June 18th, 2013

I was diagnosed with adult ADD and had used a SR formulation for over 20 years under a Psychologist’s care. I retired and moved and am currently under a GP’s care. Since I was having trouble sleeping, I was prescribed trazadone which helped the sleeping problem. At the same time, I went off ritalin almost cold turkey. It’s been a bugger with emotional lows, organizational problems. My patience is reduced and am more irritable. My brain “feels” like I’m using another part of it. I’m taking the same antidepressant which seems more needed than ever. I wasn’t warned that I might have these problems – but my MD did warn that this area wasn’t one that he had experience. To compensate for dysorganizational concerns, I keep a notebook with daily projects and status — which helps. This has been much harder than I expected. Some old demons have returned from my pre-ADD Dx of 40 years.

morice jabak
11:22 pm July 17th, 2013

my son is addictied to ritalin, he is been taking 20 mg daily for about 9 months now. He started having insomnia lately and has decided to quit. H stopped taking the drug for 10 days now and is suffering from withdrawel effetcs. Is 10 days enough for detox. He didnot see his doctor yet.
Thank you

12:25 pm July 19th, 2013

Hello Morice. Withdrawal can last longer for some individuals than others. Have you consulted with his prescribing doctor to supervise the withdrawal?

4:49 pm September 6th, 2013

I gave up 50 pills aday

4:52 pm September 6th, 2013

Perhaps you dont beleave but I could give up ritalin with ultra high doeses two month.
I used th a t shitt fot four years and sfter two month just sleeping problems.i found an extra wsy to givving it up

10:34 am October 2nd, 2013

I took ritalin (60 mg/day) but had sleeping problems for years. So I decided to stop it. The last weeks I only took it only Mondays and Tuesdays, then at 9th of September I stopped completely.

Now I feel very bad. I can’t sleep at night. The biggest problem is to fall asleep but if I do, I wake up again and again. At the morning I feel tired and have some panic attacks over the day. How much time does it take until that is over?

1:08 pm October 2nd, 2013

Hello Rick. Insomnia can be caused by a number of different psycho-emotional issues. Have you sought help through talk therapy or via meditation to learn to calm the mind?

Brenda Sims
7:54 pm November 4th, 2013

I am writing a neglect report on an individual who is prescibed Ritalin. He has Severe Mental Retardation and Autism. He has been taking 2, 40 mg tablets every day for a long period of time. He ran out of medication and on the 7th day he had some behaviors which were out of the ordinary for him. Could the sudden stop of the Ritalin have been a factor?

2:26 pm November 6th, 2013

Hello Brenda. You’ll need an expert opinion from a pharmacist or a psychiatrist in order to know if methylphenidate withdrawal causes the behavior, or not.

9:15 pm January 26th, 2014

My doctor says that it is fine to just go off it, but I’d like to taper down instead. I’m taking 40 now. I thought I could do a couple days of 30 and a couple of 20 and a couple of 10. Do you think this will help reduce possible side-effects? And how long do the side-effects typically last for people?

12:09 pm January 27th, 2014

Hello Sophia. To recommend a cold turkey withdrawal seems a little careless, to be honest. I’d suggest that you seek a second opinion and ask for an individualized tapering plan from another doctor, or check in with your pharmacist for some basic guidelines. Either way, you’ll need professional medical assistance to come up with a specific plan made just for you.

3:14 am January 30th, 2014

What affect does snorting ritalin have on the body versus taking orally.
My son was taking it for ADHD then I think has been snorting it. He is extremely tired .
How can they be tired whe taking a stimulant.

2:36 pm May 7th, 2014

Hi, I have a question to anyone out there who can be of help. I live ina third world country where Ritalin is available over the counter. Someone introduced me to it, and I began self-prescribing it to “get things done”. I know this was stupid. My use crept up, until I was taking 4-6 10mg pills daily. I would then use valium or alchohol to come down. This has been a pattern for about 18 months. I finally realized the insanity and have stopped cold turkey. Apart from blurry eyes and a bit of depression and brain fog, I feel ok. It has been 3 days. I do have a little anxiety, however. I have read it can cause permanent damage to the vessels of the heart and lungs. Am I going to be ok? Is 18 months of (not constant but pretty steady) use enough to have damaged me? Please someone out there reassure me as I dont have support where I am and its scary.

2:20 pm May 9th, 2014

Hi Blog
I listen to your advise by consulting a doctor .and at last finally I coul give up ULTRA HIGH DOSES SNIFIING RITALIN 300mg aday.
now it is 6 mounth I am clean.the withdrawal symptoms last 2 mounth for me but I coul give up after 11years on Ritalin

8:41 am June 6th, 2014

I have a 6 six year old boy who has ADHD .he has been taking Ritalin 15mg since he was 4 plus.but I have stop his medication completely for 1 week because I see he is a lot better and manageable without Ritalin.i just want to know weather it will do harm to his brain as I wan to stop the medication completely without reducing far I see he is very okay since I stop Ritalin for this past week.TIA

1:07 pm June 10th, 2014

Well, i’m taking 300-400 in a 24 hour non sleeping day (i stay awake 24-36hs, then i sleep for 5hs and back to the game) Anyway, i either find a way of solving this or i won’t have to worry about it anymore shortly. I’m NOT suicidal, i just can’t stop taking them.
Your post was helpful but… not quite. Thanks for trying tho, in the country i’m currently located are quite unaware of this kind of things so they’re not the solution.
We’ll see.

8:56 pm July 25th, 2014

I was prescribed Ritalin 20mg SR about 45 days ago. I’d like to stop using it as I don’t feel like myself when I am on it. Do I need to wean off it slowly since it’s been such a short amount of time?

6:42 pm August 3rd, 2014

I have been on Ritalin for 5 months. Average dose only 3.75mg. (In 5mg. quarters).
The first three months were pretty good regarding focus and less fatigue. However,
the last several months have taken quite a turn in regards to Mood Swings and Depression.
Efforts to reduce Ritalin have only led to feeling catatonic particularly 2 to 3 days of trying to
cut off Completely. Never thought it would be this bad on this dose. Trying to keep the dose
at 2.5 mg/day now.
Is there a clinic or doctor near Camarillo, CA that deals with Ritalin Withdrawl and can
an SNRI like Wellbutrin be useful in the Dopamine crash and withdrawl from Ritalin?

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
10:38 am August 4th, 2014

Hi Gary. I would suggest seeing a doctor and working out a taper down on the Ritalin with a careful introduction and increase of Wellbutrin. For finding the right treatment near you you can use: or,

2:29 am August 22nd, 2014

Hi, I have been using Ritalin for the past 14 years. Started as a teenager after being diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t take it daily. I only take it when I need to study/focus/read, write academic materials, etc. So, I am not sure if I am an addict. I can go on without it for months if I don’t need to produce; and sometimes I take twice daily. But, now I am in a situation where I can’t work/produce without it. My cognitive efficiency and ability increase significantly when I take it. My wife hates the fact that I am on a dangerous drug. Plus, I experience almost all the side effects when I use it. I want to stop using it but I am worried that my career will be significantly hampered if I don’t take it. Do you have any suggestions for me about how stop this?

10:51 am November 7th, 2014

I stopped taking immediate release Ritalin cold turkey (after 3 years of heavy use, 200-350 mg daily) and I don’t recommend that to anyone. The withdrawal symptoms are very very nasty. Severe depression (suicidal thoughts) and fatigue will be immediate after and will last weeks.

11:17 am November 11th, 2014

My son is taking 10mg of Ritalin twice a day. His prescribing Dr. is no where to be found and my son is running out of his Ritalin Rx. We scheduled an appointment with a new Dr., but he is not going to have the Rx for about 2 weeks. I am very nervous and am wondering if he will have serious side effects from suddenly stopping the Rx. I am cutting him back to 10mg once a day until the Rx runs out.

3:52 am November 21st, 2014

Enough already, I’m thru! After months of trial & error with multiple types & doses of ADHD medications, the sedition the headaches sadness hopeless & still depressed I have had all I can take!
Ups & mostly downs hoping endlessly to get it right , the time & energy (wasted) on waiting & worrying trying & praying .
I can take no more ! Exhausted I give up. No longer worth it.
No answers or real knowledge from Dr I’m throwing in the towel & giving up Ritalin &/or any others !
My supportive husband will be here by my side, I have a new RX of Lorazapam for the anxiety , wellbutron -depression- my norco for any headaches or such that become to much to bare !
Please tell me will I see the end of this emotional roller coaster soon? And, after all that then what???
Still ADHD!!

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
12:56 pm November 26th, 2014

Hi Cindee. That is horrible what you and your son have to face! If your son runs out of his medication, he’ll probably feel withdrawal symptoms after his first missed dose. While withdrawing from Ritalin is an uncomfortable experience, it is not life threatening. Talk to the doctor about how you can treat your son’s withdrawal symptoms until he gets another prescription. I hope it all goes well!

4:04 pm January 11th, 2015

I have been taking Ritalin for 5 yrs now, 60 mg pr day, problem being that I am sniffing a too big part of it and its making my nerves crack down and wanna stop sniffing it and just continue to take it orally as I need it for work and life in general. Life with ADD and a very proud spirit combined with being mixed nationality (not B/W but still problematic enough) and never feeling at ease necessitates R, or at least thats my excuse. Needed Xanax to cool down on but not easily available where I live, so fighting with the CNS tremor caused by sniffing…and need to get out, first day in a new attempt to stop sniffing is actually today!!! Wish me luck…!

10:12 pm January 31st, 2015

I live in Korea. I had a scrip for Adderall at home and when I came here (4 years ago) I built a deal with a guy, and he sent me the rits and said they are almost the same. Then he fell down and didn’t send me the 10mg everyday that I took so I could dance and hold the edges in. And now I am here and falling down myself. It hurts.

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