ADHD Home > Ritalin: A Controlled Substance

There are many strict rules for prescribing a controlled substance such as Ritalin. A controlled substance is classified into one of five groups; Ritalin is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a legitimate medical purpose, but is also very likely to be abused. Because of this, prescriptions for Ritalin must be written in "hard copy" and cannot be refilled.

Ritalin: A Controlled Substance

Ritalin® (methylphenidate hydrochloride) is a prescription medication that is classified as a controlled substance. Longer-acting forms of the drug (Ritalin SR® and Ritalin LA®) are also available (and are also controlled substances). Controlled substances are medications or drugs that are habit-forming and, therefore, likely to be abused. Certain prescription medications and most illegal street drugs are controlled substances. There are special rules for medications that are controlled substances. Also, there are five different groups (or "schedules") of controlled substances, each with its own specific rules.
Ritalin, along with most other stimulants, is a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that the drug has a legitimate medical purpose, but is likely to be abused (see Ritalin Abuse). Because it is a Schedule II controlled substance, there are special rules for prescribing Ritalin. Prescriptions must be in the written "hard copy" form (they cannot be phoned or faxed to a pharmacy). Also, Ritalin prescriptions cannot have any refills (you must get a new prescription each month).
All the special rules and "red tape" surrounding the use of Ritalin may seem inconvenient, but they were put in place to prevent abuse. There may be other rules that your healthcare provider must follow for Ritalin, depending on the laws of your particular state.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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