How much Ritalin is too much?

Can you take too much Ritalin to accidentally overdose? It is recommended that the daily Ritalin dose should not exceed 60 mg. More on Ritalin dosage and safety, here.

4
minute read

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 strengths

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.

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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.

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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:

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  • agitation
  • cardiac arrhythmias
  • confusion
  • convulsions (may be followed by coma)
  • delirium
  • dryness of mucous membranes
  • euphoria
  • flushing
  • hallucinations
  • headache
  • hyperpyrexia
  • hyperreflexia
  • hypertension
  • muscle twitching
  • mydriasis
  • palpitations
  • sweating
  • tachycardia
  • tremors
  • vomiting

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.

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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.

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If improvement is not observed after appropriate dosage adjustment over a 1 month period, Ritalin should be discontinued.

Reference Sources: MedlinePlus: Methylphenidate
DailyMed: Ritalin
NCBI: Methylphenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side Effects
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. I’m reading a lot of comments that patients are being prescribed over 60mg of Ritalin/Methylphenidate per day. For over 14 years I was prescribed 40 mg in morning and 40 mg at noon with a 20 mg prn in afternoon. I moved out of state and new pcp cut in half. Meds affect all systems in the body…I became very sick…my body was accustomed to operating on that amount of methylphenidate for over 14 years. I began to bloat, couldnt go to the bathroom, could not burp. pass gas, ended up in ER severat times, nearly had to have gall bladder out but my gall bladder test was fine. I moved back to NH where my original Rx were prescribed, new Drs and was told the the FDA changed the limits regardless of my long term history and success with methylphenidate. My heart has been tested…I’m fine. I have low normal blood pressure. I am overweight. Since October, I’ve been seeing a psychiatric specialist, he had metabolic profile done on me…I metabolize some meds too fast and others too slow. I cannot take extended release anything. Although he agrees with the success of my original doses of 40 mg in am and 40 mg at noon, and the 20mg prn of mehtylphenidate dose works well for ME. Unfortunately, it is over the FDA limits of 60mg per day and he cannot prescribe my original amount. Since October I have had go on trial and errors of all the add/adhd meds without success. He told me last month that there are only 2 other meds that I can try…so even though I have a long history of successful use of methylphenidate…I cannot get my original prescription because alleged FDA lowered its limits to max of 60mg per day. My health is still suffering from lack of cognition, memory, motivation, and bathroom issues even though for 2.5 years had to take a regiment of colace each morning and 3 pills at bedtime of 5mg bisacodyl. How are you people getting an override to have your prescriptions over the FDA limit of 60mg per day/adult? I have made pleas to my doctor for special circumstances…but he says his hands are tied and cannot prescribe me my 100mg per day that I was on for 14+years. I look forward to answers. May 6, 2019

  2. I have a 14 year old male student in a SpecialEd class that takes 80-100mg ritalin and 2-4mg of Intuniv per day,
    I am concerned that this is having an adverse effect on his nervous system (among other things) as is evident in his movements, especially towards the end of the day. Any suggestions or thoughts.
    regards Grant

    1. Hi Grant S. I suggest you talk to his parents about your concerns. Ritalin should always be taken exactly as prescribed by a doctor. Doses should never be above daily recommendations.

  3. I Find it quite hard to believe that you can really overdose on Ritalin becauseI take two 36 concerta xl a day so altogether 72mg a day and I always crush them and chew them I know that you’re not meant to do that and today I decided that I wanted to take more then that just to see how it would affect me and whether i could get higher from taking more more than that was recommended so I decided to take instead of just two tables I took over 7 tables over a period of 6 hours witch is same as taking 252mg off concerta within 6 hours
    my friend found out that I took that much and she insisted that I want to A&E to got checked over even though I wasn’t showing any signs of overdosing so when I went to A&E and they did my blood tests heart monitoring & bold pressure all off it came back as normal and I was discharged a few hours later I know what I did was stupid and I shouldn’t have taken as much as I did but it just shows you can take a large amount and still be ok and (btw I’m 25 female being on concerta for about 6 months I do have ADHD and I weigh 11st 5 pounds and my height is 5ft.3)

    1. You can od but you’re taking extended or slow release so and if you Haven’t taken in it for a long time you have a high tolerance so yeah I can see how you were just fine and there are a lot of people that need a lot more than others So they can tolerate a lot more than others also meaning it would take a lot more for them to OD

  4. I take methylphenidate for chronic fatigue, one of the best effects is being able to concentrate.
    Before My dr tried this I could nt get any task done.
    Second best effect is it rids my body of the horrible stinging burning of my skin. I could not even go in the sun for five minutes. Third, my muscles, tendons, all soft tissue felt as tho something had super constricted inside and movement was really uncomfortable,( painful). You ve heard that your mayofascia should be light, flexible, soft, mine feels like crackling aged shrunken, like beef jerky really. Fourth, Ritalin kinda like gave me a little energy to get up and go.Theres nothing like being in your 60’s ( now) and seeing your life wasted. When I say wasted , if u Don t get up and do, your just slowly dying. I had so much energy, purpose, determination. I love life I have more list of things to do than any thing else in my office. Well the dust is pretty thick )My dr doesn’t think I should change product or raise the dose! I have now been on methylphenidate, generic, for about 12 yrs.ritalin brand name first five years of this diagnosis. The brand Ritalin was so superior to the generics. Ins won’t pay for brand name of course.
    tithe four generics I have used for five years. I take 3/20s, er. Now I am pretty much bed bound and
    a hermit.
    What should I do. Lord knows my body needs something different. I don’t want pain meds! I just want to feel like I did five ten yrs ago when I took pills I needed and lived my life with my family and friends!
    Any advise????

    1. Hi Gail. I suggest that you listen to your doctor because she/he knows your medical history, and speak with him/her to adjust your dosage.

  5. @Joe – true. It’s too much without a doubt. Unfortunately the system here in Denmark is kind of rigid when it comes to prescribing anything but metylphenidate. I’ve asked the doctors about getting Elvanse (dexamphetamine) instead but had no such luck. It’s a matter of cool cash. Dexamphetamine is too expensive and is only prescribed as a last result.

  6. My new Insurance would not Fill my Script for Ritalin 20mg. QID #120.
    They would only allow up to 90 20mg. Ritalin pills in a month.
    My Doctor wrote a new script for #90, 30mg. Ritalin this month.
    NOT Ritalin ER, LA or SR etc. I searched the Internet but can not find
    Ritalin 30mg.
    Do they make it?

  7. @Susie your taking an incredible amount of this stuff. I actually find it hard to believe. You should really seek out a second opinion because everything I’ve ever read and heard from my own Dr. tells me that lower doses are actually more effective at fighting the symptoms of ADHD. You are damaging your heart with this garbage — and also coming onto a blog and acting like your ridiculous amount of the drug is safe for the average person to take. So in response to you saying not to scare people, I’d say to you not to misinform people. Really there is no need to take 100’s of mgs of this stuff in a day.

  8. 20-30 mg a day? I’m prescribed 160 mg a day. 100 mg Ritalin SR and 60 mg fast release. And another 60 mg SR as PN for crappy days. I’m really small. 159 cm and 56 kg. Don’t scare people. You can’t OD unless you want to and stuff a whole package down your throat.

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