How Long Does Focalin Stay In One’s System?

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Focalin is a central nervous stimulant, which has a high potential for abuse. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Hence Focalin drug test is commonly requested for employment. How long Focalin will stay in the system for a drug test may be affected by several factors like dosage, type of sample, the sensitivity of the test used, and individual metabolism.

How Long Does Focalin Stay in The System?

  • Blood Test: Focalin generic and other brands, both the immediate and extended release versions, have a very short mean plasma elimination half-life. It would only show up in a blood test a few hours after intake.
  • Urine Test: Focalin urine drug test is relatively common because it is easy and non-invasive. Dexmethylphenidate is metabolized primarily into ritalinic acid by de-esterification. This primary urinary metabolite is accountable for nearly 80% of the dose. A Focalin urine test may stay still test positive within 1-3 days after the last dose.
  • Saliva Test: Dexmethylphenidate drug test using saliva is one of the cheapest techniques that does not require any specific laboratory equipment. Testing is done by swabbing a Q-tip over the inner cheek or tongue. It may help screen patients within 1-3 days after the last dose.
  • Hair Test: Although not commonly used, this is perhaps the most reliable test to determine Focalin overdose or addiction. Dexmethylphenidate’s metabolites will accumulate in the hair follicles long after drug exposure. This technique can be used to test a person for up to 90 days after drug ingestion. One disadvantage of using a hair test is that drugs do not show up in the follicles for one week or more. Also, they are more expensive.

Half-Life of Focalin

Focalin half-life may vary depending on the type used. For most people, the immediate release version has a mean plasma elimination half-life of approximately 2.2 hours. The half-life of Focalin XR, on the other hand, is a little longer, ranging between 5-7 hours.

Dexmethylphenidate And A Standard Pre-Employment Drug Test

On the other hand, does dexmethylphenidate show up on a drug test commonly used by employers, which is a five panel? This is less likely because the standard 5-panel test only checks for THC, PCP, Opiates, Cocaine, and Amphetamines. This also explains the difference in drug test results between dexmethylphenidate vs Adderall. The latter contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts.

False Positive Test Possible with Focalin

Drugs that are used to treat ADHD, fatigue, and narcolepsy are a prescription version of amphetamines. Focalin can get a false positive for amphetamines during the screening test. Hence it is crucial to share drug prescription with the person in charge before having any laboratory tests.

drug test in lab

Testing Positive for Dexmethylphenidate: Legal Implications

As a Schedule II controlled substance, Focalin is widely accepted for medical use in the US despite having a high potential for dependence and abuse because of its stimulating effects and the affordability of Focalin street price. This requires a prescription, though. Otherwise, there can be severe legal sanctions, which may include imprisonment and fine.

Factors That Affect Dexmethylphenidate in System

While studies can estimate how long dexmethylphenidate stays in the system, individual factors play a role:

  • Age: Aging is accompanied by progressive impairments in the functions of multiple organs. These affect drug metabolism and excretion.
  • Chronic Health Conditions: Any damage to liver and kidney functions can affect the clearance of Dexmethylphenidate.
  • Body Mass: Increased body mass can affect distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs from the system. Drugs stay in the system much longer as they tend to accumulate in fat tissues.
  • Tolerance: Dexmethylphenidate is metabolized more quickly once tolerance has developed.
  • Frequency and Dose: How long Focalin stays in the system is greatly affected by the dosage and frequency of use. Heavy or long-term use causes high concentrations in the system, which can be detected for an extended period.
  • Food: A high-fat breakfast can increase the concentration of Dexmethylphenidate in the system by delaying metabolism and excretion.

How to Remove Dexmethylphenidate From the System Faster

People who take the right dose of Dexmethylphenidate are not likely to suffer from Focalin emotional side effects and addiction, hence should not be concerned about removing Dexmethylphenidate faster from the system.

But be careful of dexmethylphenidate withdrawal. Do not just suddenly stop.

  • Though Dexmethylphenidate can be taken with or without food, it is highly recommended to avoid fatty meals to prevent a delay in metabolism.
  • Do not drink alcohol as it may cause higher concentrations of Dexmethylphenidate in the body. Alcohol releases the drug into the system all at once, thus greatly affecting Focalin XR half-life.
  • Do not increase the recommended dose and speed up dosage intervals, especially for patients who are on stimulants other than Focalin.
  • If adverse reactions do not subside, the dosage must be reduced, or, when needed, the drug must be discontinued.

People abusing this medication may require specific measures to flush the drug from the body. One of the safest options is detoxification procedure in the substance addiction recovery center. The qualified medical specialists will work out the treatment plan for drug abuse that will meet all the individual requirements of each patient.

Page Sources

  1. Feng Liu, Haruka Minami, Raul R Silva, Dexmethylphenidate hydrochloride in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
  2. Kennerly S. Patrick, Arthur B. Straughn, Absorption Differences between Immediate-Release Dexmethylphenidate and dl-Methylphenidate,

Published on: June 12th, 2019

Updated on: June 3rd, 2020

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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