• For 24/7 Treatment Help Call

    (800) 526-5053

  • Ritalin (the brand name for methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a prescription stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. 

    It works by stimulating your central nervous system, increasing the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. It’s similar to other ADHD medications like Adderall and Concerta.

    Ritalin is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the FDA and DEA. This means it has an approved medical use but also has a high potential for abuse. 

    Drug tests are administered for a variety of reasons including pre-employment checks, joining a sports team or organization, or for legal or medical reasons.

    Drug Testing

    There are multiple drug tests that can be used to detect Ritalin in the body. Some are used more often than others and include:

    • urine test: you give a sample of urine in a collection cup which is then tested for the presence of Ritalin and ritalinic acid, it’s metabolite or what it’s metabolized into in the liver
    • blood test: a small amount of blood is taken from a vein and then used for drug testing
    • saliva test: saliva is swabbed from your mouth and then tested for signs of Ritalin
    • hair test: a strand of hair with the follicle is taken and tested for signs of drug use

    Ritalin Detection Times

    These different drug tests have different detection windows with some being longer than others. While one test can only detect it for a couple of hours, others can detect it for days after last use:

    • urine test: can detect Ritalin 1-2 days after last use 
    • blood test: can detect Ritalin 12-24 hours after last use
    • saliva test: can detect the drug 24 hours after last use
    • hair follicle test: can detect Ritalin 90 days after last use

    How Long Does Ritalin Last?

    How long the drug lasts in your system depends on the half-life of Ritalin as well as a number of other factors. The average half-life of Ritalin is 1-5 hours with an average of 3.5 hours in adults. 

    This is considered a relatively short half-life and means that most of the drug will be out of your body within 2-10 hours. 

    This timeline can range depending on a number of factors including whether you take the immediate-release or extended-release formulations. Sometimes, it will take up to two days for the drug to fully leave your system

    Factors That Affect Ritalin Detection Times

    There are quite a few factors that affect how long Ritalin stays in your system as well as how long it can be detected in the body. The times we provided above are averages. 

    Factors that affect whether Ritalin is detected in your body for a shorter or longer period of time include:

    • rate of metabolism
    • age: older people eliminate the drug slower than younger people
    • weight/body mass: those who are heavier eliminate the drug more quickly
    • how physically active you are
    • how often you take the substance
    • how hydrated you are
    • the dose you use: a high dose will last longer in the system than a small dose
    • how you use or abuse the drug
    • how long you’ve used it  
    • organ function
    • use of other drugs and/or alcohol: when taken with alcohol, Ritalin will likely be eliminated slower than usual

    If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to Ritalin, now’s the time to seek help. Call our helpline today and discover the addiction treatment option that’s right for you.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration - Ritalin and Ritalin SR
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Drug Testing
    National Library of Medicine - Methylphenidate
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Methylphenidate
    SAMHSA - Drug Testing

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 26, 2022
    Questions About Treatment?

    Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Achieve long-term recovery.

    100% confidential. We respect your privacy.
    Prefer Texting?

    Our friendly support team is here to chat 24/7. Opt out any time.


    Our Facilities

    Premier Drug Rehab & Mental Health Care Facilities In Massachusetts & Ohio

    Bedrock Recovery

    Canton, MA

    • Medical detox
    • Inpatient & Residential Treatment
    • Primary Mental Health Care
    • Movie Theater & Fitness Center

    Learn More

    Northeast Addictions

    Quincy, MA

    • Day treatment program
    • Intensive Outpatient Program
    • Full-Day Group Therapy
    • Easy Access to Public Transit

    Learn More

    Spring Hill Recovery Center

    Ashby, MA

    • Residential Treatment
    • Gender-Specific Residencies
    • Outdoor Recreation
    • Expansive 70-Acre Campus

    Learn More

    Ohio Recovery Center

    Van Wert, OH

    • Medical Detox
    • Residential Treatment
    • Primary Mental Health Care
    • 55-Acre Campus

    Learn More

    For Immediate Treatment Help Call 800-526-5053