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How Long Does Ritalin Last?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Ritalin, known generically as methylphenidate, falls under the category of central nervous system stimulants. Classified as a psychostimulant, it is primarily prescribed to address Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

Ritalin’s therapeutic effects stem from its influence on neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine. By blocking their reuptake in the brain, Ritalin increases the levels of these neurotransmitters, leading to improved focus, attention, and impulse control.

How Long Does Ritalin Last?

The duration of Ritalin’s effects can vary based on factors such as the specific formulation (immediate-release or extended-release), individual response, and dosage. Here is a general guideline:

Immediate-Release (IR) Ritalin:

  • Typically lasts for around 3 to 4 hours.
  • Onset of action is relatively quick, usually within 30 minutes to an hour after administration.

Extended-Release (ER) Ritalin:

  • Lasts for a more extended period, often around 6 to 8 hours.
  • Designed to provide a sustained release of the medication, allowing for a more consistent effect over a more extended period.

Factors Influencing Ritalin's Duration

Metabolism and Genetics:

The rate at which an individual metabolises Ritalin can vary, impacting how quickly the drug is processed and eliminated from the body. Genetic factors also play a role in these variations, influencing how the body responds to the medication.

Age and Weight:

Age and weight can affect the distribution and elimination of Ritalin. Children and adults may experience different metabolic rates, potentially influencing the duration of the medication’s effects.

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