How long does Ritalin withdrawal last?

Ritalin withdrawal lasts from a few days to a few months after your last Ritalin dose. In fact, protracted Ritalin withdrawal can take weeks to months to resolve. More on how long Ritalin withdrawal lasts here.

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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.
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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