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  • Ritalin (the brand name for methylphenidate) is a prescription central nervous system stimulant medication often used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy in adults and children. 

    It works by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain.

    When Ritalin is abused or taken for long periods of time, Ritalin withdrawal can occur once you stop use. This withdrawal period tends to follow a timeline but how long withdrawal symptoms last depends on a variety of factors. 

    Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms

    Ritalin withdrawal comes with a variety of adverse symptoms that can be difficult to deal with alone. Some of the most common Ritalin withdrawal symptoms include:

    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • slower heart rate
    • hyperactivity
    • depression
    • loss of focus
    • fatigue
    • mood swings
    • changes in blood pressure
    • chills
    • paranoia
    • insomnia
    • strong cravings
    • weight loss

    Ritalin Withdrawal Timeline

    Ritalin withdrawal tends to follow a specific timeline of when symptoms show up and when they start to subside, but how long withdrawal lasts depends on a number of personal factors. 

    72 hours

    72 hours after your last dose of Ritalin, your first symptoms of withdrawal will likely show up. Although, if you used a high dose for a long time, symptoms might show up in the first 24 hours. Symptoms may include sleep issues, cravings, anxiety, nausea, and irritability. 

    One Week

    After a week, symptoms of withdrawal may increase in intensity and will likely peak within the first seven days. The peak symptoms are likely to be the most unpleasant and include depression, insomnia, nausea, increased appetite, and fatigue. 

    Two Weeks

    Two weeks after your last dose symptoms may begin to subside, but the psychological symptoms tend to last longer than the physical ones. Anxiety and depression may continue as will the cravings for more Ritalin.

    One Month

    One month after your last dose, most of the physical symptoms will likely have subsided

    Factors Affecting Ritalin Withdrawal

    The factors that can affect the length and severity of Ritalin withdrawal symptoms include:

    • how long Ritalin was used
    • the usual dosage of Ritalin
    • how frequently Ritalin was used
    • overall health 
    • tolerance for Ritalin
    • age

    Ritalin Detox

    Detoxing from Ritalin can take place at your home if you’re quitting cold turkey or going to an outpatient or inpatient treatment center. However, quitting cold turkey is not recommended because of how intense and severe the side effects of withdrawal can be.

    What will work for you depends on the severity of addiction, abuse, and dependence. Those with more severe addictions may need medical supervision at a detox center to ensure they get the recovery help they need. 

    Medical detox programs offer medications and treat complications so withdrawal goes as smoothly as possible. 

    If you or a loved one lives with Ritalin addiction, call our helpline today. We can help you find the best addiction treatment option 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 & Drug Administration (FDA) - Ritalin
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription Stimulants
    National Library of Medicine - Methylphenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side Effects
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Methylphenidate

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 26, 2022
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