ADHD Home > How Long Does Ritalin Stay in Your System?

How long does Ritalin stay in your system? Although it depends on how well your liver and kidneys are functioning, the half-life is between two to four hours, meaning it will be out of your system in less than a day. Certain long-acting forms of Ritalin have the same half-life, but stay in your system longer because it takes longer for them to be absorbed into the body.

How Long Does Ritalin Stay in Your System? -- An Overview

Ritalin® (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a prescription medication approved for treating ADHD and narcolepsy. However, it is also a commonly abused medication that can be detected by drug tests. For this reason, many people wonder how long Ritalin stays in your system.

Understanding the Half-Life of Ritalin

The half-life of a medication is the time it takes for half of the drug to be cleared from your system. After two half-lives, 75 percent of the medication will be cleared from your system. After three half-lives, 87.5 percent of the medication is out of your system. After five half-lives, only about 3 percent of the medication remains in your body.
The half-life for Ritalin in children is about 2.5 hours on average. In adults, the half-life is about 3 to 3.5 hours on average. Keep in mind that these numbers are averages. If your liver or kidneys are not functioning normally, you may clear Ritalin from your system faster or slower than normal. Even among healthy people, there is a wide range of half-lives for Ritalin (1.3 to 7.7 hours in adults). Ritalinic acid (a by-product of Ritalin) has a half-life of about 3 to 4 hours.
It is important to note that long-acting, slow-release forms of Ritalin (Ritalin SR® and Ritalin LA®) will stay in your system longer. The half-lives for these medications are the same, but they will stay in your system longer because they take longer to be absorbed into your body.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation

Topics & Medications


Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2020 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.