Ritalin addiction is a serious concern for many. It is most often prescribed for young people and adults to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), and narcolepsy. However, when Ritalin is ingested in larger doses, it can cause euphoric feelings, which increases the addictive potential.

Ritalin is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system, helping to calm the nerves and improve impulse control.

People who’ve taken it have found it helps them to pay attention, improve their focus, enhance performance, and even manage impulsive behaviors. However, what is challenging about Ritalin is that it is a high-risk addictive drug because people can come to rely on it for energy, focus, and euphoric feelings.

What Are Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Whether it’s the athlete who has become addicted to Ritalin for extra energy or the student who abuses it to stay awake to focus on cramming for exams, stopping Ritalin can present uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, the severity of symptoms will depend largely on how long someone has been taking the drug as well as the dosage.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Feeling irritated or frustrated
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Thinking that feels “foggy” or slow
  • Heartbeat changes
  • A feeling of nausea or upset stomach
  • Hard to focus and concentrate
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden cravings for foods
  • Feeling tired during the day
  • Lack of motivation
  • Re-emergence of ADHD without medication

What Are the Stages of the Ritalin Withdrawal Timeline?

One thing that’s comforting is that you don’t usually face withdrawal symptoms all at once. When withdrawal symptoms begin, they usually come on mildly, then intensify for several days, and then begin to wane. Detoxing may be uncomfortable, but getting through the detox is your ticket to freedom from the addiction. Keep in mind that withdrawal is your body’s way of returning to its natural state.

Various factors will affect how long withdrawal symptoms persist as well as the intensity.  Some people may have a tough time detoxing from the drug, while others find that it’s not that challenging.  Factors influencing withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Health condition
  • Dosage
  • Length of time using Ritalin
  • Social support
  • Environment
  • Level of tolerance
  • Frequency of use
  • Dietary habits
  • Polysubstance use
  • How fast one tapers off the drug

Ritalin Withdrawal Timeline

DAY 1-3

In the first 72 hours, you are likely to feel some sadness and anxiety. You may also feel tired, as your body is used to having a stimulant. Other withdrawal symptoms may include cravings for the drug, sleep disruption, heartbeat irregularity, nausea, and irritability.

DAYS 4-7

Some withdrawal symptoms may intensify during days four through seven, and some may decrease. Common symptoms during this stage include depression, exhaustion, anxiety, increased appetite, and mood swings. Of course, the level of intensity will depend on some of the factors mentioned above.


The physical withdrawal symptoms will decrease in intensity during weeks three and four. Some will be completely gone. By week three, the cravings normally ease up entirely. Some people continue to struggle with sleep difficulties at this stage. Not sleeping well can be quite frustrating, and it may affect how you feel emotionally. Do keep in mind you are removing a powerful stimulant from your body that has changed your brain’s chemistry. Your body is now reacting by trying to now re-regulate your sleep without the Ritalin, but it takes time. By the end of week three or four, you should be feeling back to normal.

Also, bear in mind that the time frame for withdrawing from Ritalin can vary for each person depending on various factors unique to the individual. However, it is essential to go through the detox stage to overcome addiction. In the grand scheme of life, a short period of detox is well worth the freedom one gains for the future.

Why Should I Detox?

Detoxing from Ritalin will surely boost your overall mental and physical health. Quitting Ritalin cold turkey is not recommended, as the severity of withdrawal symptoms may present challenges.

Instead, a gradual taper with medical monitoring is recommended.  When your withdrawal symptoms are managed, and you receive support from addiction specialists, the likelihood of relapse decreases greatly.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Once the initial detox phase has been completed, a comprehensive treatment program is recommended. It’s not enough just to detox from a drug. There are usually some underlying issues to contend with, as well as the need to learn valuable life and relapse prevention skills. At the same time, if disorders like ADHD are present, reviewing alternative treatment options can be helpful.

This is where addiction treatment centers come into play. At an inpatient treatment center, substance abuse professionals will be there for you around the clock to ensure that you have continued recovery success.  Oftentimes, there are underlying psychological issues that need to be addressed when it comes to addiction. At a treatment facility, you’ll have trained counselors at your fingertips to help you sort out any issues you may be having, as well as help you to create a relapse prevention plan.

If you cannot leave your home to attend an inpatient center, there are outpatient centers where you can attend a certain number of sessions per week. This works well for those who are employed and cannot get away from work or have children to care for.

Regardless of whether you attend an inpatient or outpatient center, you’ll be gaining valuable tools for recovery.  You’ll be able to meet with a therapist, work on any emotional or behavioral issues you may be having, connect with peers at support groups, and learn a lot about yourself. It can truly be a time of personal growth that can change the course of your life journey.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

Today you have the opportunity to make new choices. If you’re ready to address an addiction to Ritalin, then let today be the day you reach out for help. You do not have to face Ritalin withdrawal symptoms alone. Know that you’re not alone.

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