How is Ritalin prescribed?

Ritalin is prescribed is doses from 10-60 mg a day to help with ADHD. More on Ritalin dosage, cost, and prescriptions here.

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Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, and Ritalin duration of action is relatively short, so this ADHD medication requires prescriptions for medical use. Here, we describe how Ritalin is prescribed and invite your questions about Ritalin or Ritalin prescriptions at the end.

What do doctors prescribe Ritalin for?

Ritalin is a prescription drug that’s used to treat ADD or ADHD. While in most people, Ritalin stimulates the central nervous system, in people with ADHD, methylphenidate has a paradoxical effect and helps ADHD focus and remain calm. Ritalin is no longer prescribed for the stimulant effects it produces, including appetite suppression, wakefulness, and increased focus and attentiveness.  However, Ritalin and euphoria are also possible, so prescriptions are required for this medicine.

Ritalin prescription dosage

Depending on your age, weight, and other factors, you might be prescribed anywhere from 10-60 mg of Ritalin every day. Immediate release versions of Ritalin will usually be split into 2-3 doses to be taken throughout the day. Ritalin SR (slow release) tablets have a duration of action of approximately 8 hours while Ritalin LA (long acting) extended-release capsules are for oral administration once daily in the morning.  Once prescribed, you may also ask yourself, “Can I just stop taking Ritalin?”

Ritalin prescription cost

As with any prescription drug, the cost of Ritalin will depend on your personal health insurance coverage. Ritalin may cost about $100 for a month’s supply without insurance, but generic versions of methylphenidate can be cheaper. Some have reported that the generic is only about $50 a month, and works just as well as the name brand. Some pharmacies have programs in place to provide low-cost generic versions of common medications, so it may be helpful to shop around.

Can you get Ritalin over the counter?

No. Ritalin is available by prescription only. Why? Because the methylphenidate contained in Ritalin is addictive, so it’s only prescribed to people who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Signs of Ritalin prescription drug abuse

Ritalin is often abused as a stimulant for performance enhancement or increased focus and energy. However, someone who abuses Ritalin regularly can easily become addicted. So how can you know if Ritalin prescription drug abuse is occuring?

People who take Ritalin for ADHD may have difficulty functioning without Ritalin, but this is different from an addiction. A Ritalin addiction involves loss of control when taking Ritalin accompanied by a psychological compulsion to seek out the drug, even when it has negative effects on the addict’s personal or professional life.

Ritalin prescription questions

Do you still have questions about Ritalin prescriptions? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: FDA Medication Guide: Ritalin SR
Daily Med: Ritalin
Daily Med: Ritalin LA
ToxNet: Methylphenidate
DEA: Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
PubMed Health: Methylphenidate 

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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  1. Hi, I took my son to a Psychiatrist in Cape Town, South Africa and he has prescribed up to 120mg in the mornings for my son. He is almost 15 but weights 94kg’s. With a “top up” if necessary to fo homework. Is this not dangerous even though he has ADHD?

    1. Hi Brian. Ritalin is usually prescribed is doses from 10-60 mg a day. I suggest you ask for a second opinion form another doctor.


  3. Not an addiction question. I’m on 30mg twice a day. I take them about 6 hours apart. I’ve benn on this dose for a long time. It’s not working through out the whole day. I don’t want to become addicted or abuse my medication. Should I ask my psych Doctor who’ve I’ve been seeing over 8 years and super trust if I should start taking it 3 times a day or increase the dose perhaps? My insurance won’t cover extended release or that other one. I am 59 years old. Thank you.

  4. a 6 year old is subscribed Ritalin . Is it ok to give dose just on school days? Is this a drug that does not have to be given on a daily basis? If this is not the case, is it harming the child more?

  5. Im 25 year old and have ways had a an attention deficit and it’s only really starting to affect my life as my job is been affected due ti not been able ti finish any cases and very unorganised.
    im going ti the doctors for help as even my parents are convinced I have adhd. ritalin sounds promosing so how would I convince my doctor ti prescribe me it if it is know for potential abuse?
    I live in uk a d have no history of drug abuse

  6. Hello Natasha.

    1. A visit to a family doctor or general physician should generally secure you a prescription for methlyphenidate, provided that you can either show your German prescription for methylphenidate or show medical need for the ADD/ADHD medication. Medical visits can cost around $100 if you are paying out-of-pocket, but some doctors will offer a “sliding scale” fee and charge much less if you pay in cash. Check with a colleague for a reference to a local physician who can help.

    2. Go for the generic version of methylphenidate and ask a local pharmacist about the cost of either IR or ER versions.

  7. Hi,

    1.) how easy is it to get a prescription for Methylphenidate as a foreigner in the US? I’m from Germany and have a prescription here, but my US health insurance won’t cover it (I’ll stay in the US for almost a year as an exchange student and assistant teacher).

    2.) Does extended release Methylphenidate cost more than the IR version? How much do you estimate its cost without health insurance?

    Thank you very much in advance!

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