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How Long Does Methylphenidate Stay In Your System?

Methylphenidate is a prescription stimulant that’s sold under brand names like Ritalin and Concerta. It was first licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1955, during which it was used mostly to treat hyperactivity, which is now known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).   

Over the decades, it’s been prescribed to people with ADHD ages 6 and older as a part of more comprehensive treatment for the disorder. While generally safe, it’s important to be aware of methylphenidate's side effects and reactions. In light of this, today we’re going to dissect the question: how long does methylphenidate stay in your system? 

How Long Does Methylphenidate Last In Your System? 

When methylphenidate is taken orally, side effects peak around 2 to 4 hours after use for immediate-release versions of the drug. These formulations are designed to work quickly and last for about 6 hours.  

With sustained-release formulations of methylphenidate, such as Ritalin SR, side effects last for about 3 to 8 hours, while extended-release versions like Concerta have effects that last 8 to 12 hours. 

The half-life of methylphenidate is anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of the drug’s active ingredients to be reduced by half in the body. The half-life of Ritalin (methylphenidate) depends on how the body processes and gets rid of the drug.  

In other words, if a drug has a half-life of 6 hours, the amount of the drug will be reduced by half in your body 6 hours after you take it. Then, six hours later, it’ll be reduced by another half, so a quarter of it will remain in your system. 

Half-lives can vary from a few hours to a few days, or sometimes weeks. But how long does methylphenidate stay in your system, then? Well, according to its half-life (which is fairly short compared to other drugs), methylphenidate can stay in your system anywhere from 1 to 2 days, depending on the individual.  

Factors That Influence How Long Ritalin Is in Your System  

Certain factors can affect how long methylphenidate lasts in your body. This is the case with any drug. Body mass, weight, age, and liver and kidney function can all affect how quickly a drug leaves a person’s system. For instance, a heavier person may eliminate drugs more quickly than a lighter person.  

Younger, healthier individuals also tend to excrete drugs more quickly than older people, those with kidney problems, and people with underlying health issues. A person’s metabolism can also impact how long methylphenidate will stay in their system, as well as their level of physical activity and hydration. 

How Long Does Methylphenidate Stay In Urine, Hair, and Blood for Drug Tests?  

Many people also wonder whether methylphenidate shows up on a drug test. While there is no specific methylphenidate drug test, it might show up on a screen paneling for amphetamines.  

Methylphenidate is not likely to show up on a standard 5-panel drug screen, however. With that said, how long methylphenidate lasts in blood, urine, hair, and saliva varies.  

  • Blood: Methylphenidate can be detected in blood for up to 10 to 14 hours, depending on its formulation (immediate versus extended-release.)  

  • Urine: Methylphenidate can stay in urine for up to 4 days, depending on the person’s hydration levels and how much water they drink. 

  • Saliva: Methylphenidate can also be detected in saliva for up to 24 to 48 hours, which is a shorter detection window than blood and urine tests. For this reason, saliva drug tests are rare.  

  • Hair: As with other drugs, methylphenidate can be detected in hair for up to 90 days. 

If you or a loved one is addicted to ADHD medications like methylphenidate, call Faith in Recovery at 888-280-4763. Our Christian residential drug rehab offers various forms of substance-specific treatment to provide clients with individualized care for their physical and psychological recovery from addiction.  

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about our Christ-based recovery programs and how they can help. 


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