Does Ritalin show up on a drug test?

YES and NO. Ritalin cannot be detected in a standard 5 panel drug screen. But Ritalin shows up on drug tests for amphetamines. More on Ritalin detection here.

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Yes. And no.

Use or abuse of this Schedule II drug, classified as methylphenidate, cannot be detected in a standard 5 panel drug screen. However, Ritalin in your system can be detected and will show a positive drug screen for amphetamines. More on Ritalin detection and drug tests for Ritalin here.

Ritalin abuse

Ritalin, a mild central nervous system stimulant is used in the treatment of attention deficit disorders in children and adults. However, Ritalin can also be used without a prescription to achieve stimulant effects, for weight loss and even to get high. Can Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall get you high? Yes.

As a Schedule II drug, Ritalin’s high potential for abuse has been recognized. Laws limit the availability of Ritalin to a degree (you must have a new written prescription with each refill, for example). However, the abundance of prescriptions that are written for children for the drug has made it available to family members and the public.

Ritalin can be chewed, crushed and snorted or dissolved in water and injected by some abusers. Complications from this method of abuse can arise because insoluble fillers in the tablets can block small blood vessels. As a stimulant drug (like amphetamine), Ritalin abuse can be recognized symptoms such as:

  • aggressiveness
  • delirium
  • erratic and impulsive behavior
  • hallucinations
  • irritability
  • loss of coordination
  • panic
  • paranoia
  • severe weight loss due to decreased appetite
  • tremors

Why order a drug test for Ritalin?

Drug tests are technical analysis of a biological specimen and are used to determine the presence or absence of specified drug or their metabolites.

Ritalin abuse puts people in danger. Random drug screens, workplace drug screens and clinical drug screen are necessary if any of the above behaviors or signs of Ritalin abuse are exhibited.

Ritalin detection

How does long Ritalin stay in your system so that it can be detected by drug screens?  About the same as other stimulants used to treat ADHD and how long amphetamines stay in your system: around 2 days.  In urine tests for methylphenidate, a 1-2 day detection period can indicate use. The detection cutoff is 25 ng/mL. Again, a false positive for amphetamine may occur, and confirmation would require a more complex assay.

More specific drug testing for Ritalin

In order for a test to be confirmed for Ritalin, the GC/MS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) is the criterion standard. This type of drug test is the most accurate, sensitive and reliable method of testing, however, the test is time consuming, requires expertise to perform and is costly. But it can be used to confirm the Ritalin vs. amphetamine if necessary.

Ritalin use vs. abuse

There is definitely a division between use and abuse. The line of abuse is crossed when ADHD medications like Ritalin are used by individuals not suffering from ADHD. The increased dopamine levels give a “high”. The euphoric effects of stimulants usually occur when crushed, snorted or injected.

Do children become addicted to Ritalin?

In the field of child psychiatry a controversy exists as to whether the use of stimulant medications to treat ADHD increases the risk of substance abuse in adulthood. Research thus far suggests individuals with ADHD, when using the medication in the form and dosage prescribed, do not become addicted to the medication. Several studies report that stimulant use in childhood does not increase the risk for subsequent drug or alcohol abuse as an adult.

How do you become addicted to Ritalin?

If stimulants are used chronically, withdrawal symptoms (including fatigue, disturbed sleep, and depression) can occur when the drug is discontinued. However, withdrawal indicates physical dependence, not necessarily addiction to a drug. Addiction to Ritalin occurs when you use the medication to avoid psychological or emotional pain. Since addiction rarely occurs with individuals with ADHD using the drug as prescribed, those who use Ritalin for medical reasons do not usually become addicted.

Help for Ritalin problems

Are you struggling with Ritalin (methylphenidate) addiction? You can give an end to your addiction problem…learn more about what happens when you seek help in this Methylphenidate Addiction Treatment Program and Help GUIDE…and get rid of Ritalin once and for all.

You should always stop taking Ritalin under medical supervision, but your doctor can also refer you to psychological and addiction help.

Just remember that you are not alone. And please leave us your questions about Ritalin use or abuse here. We will be happy to respond to you in a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources:  NIDA information on Stimulant ADHD Medications – Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.
Prescription Drug Abuse Chart
Urine Drug Screening: Practical Guide for Clinicians. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, January 2008 vol.83 no.1 66-76.
Mannuza, S. Klien RG, Troug, Nt., et al. Age of methylphenidate treatment in children with ADHD and later substance abuse: prospective follow-up into adulthood. Am J Psychiarty 165(5): 604-605, 2008
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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