Following on the heels of recent questions "Why restrict medicine on Shabbos?" & "Is clinical depression medication allowed on Shabbos?"

  • Is it permitted to take ADHD medicine such as Adderall/ Ritalin on Shabbos?

  • Is ADHD considered a sufficient enough illness to warrant taking medicine on Shabbos?

  • 6
    I think leaving some info in about the short and long term consequences of skipping this medication would be helpful. (I'm not knowledgeable enough to edit that in)
    – Double AA
    Jun 19, 2019 at 1:03
  • 1
    Rav Ovadia Yosef also permits "pep" pills on shabbat. Ritalin is definitionally a pep pill, aimed at waking one up and enabling them to concentrate. He does add that it should be for the sake of enabling learning on Shabbat. I will try to find the reference when I get a chance.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 19 at 14:47
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    Medically speaking, some doctors would say it's fine to take a drug holiday... but others say if you take it daily, you shouldn't stop.
    – A P
    Jul 21 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


R David Sperling (here) writes it seems to him that taking these medicines is permitted because

  • Firstly, someone who has started on a course of pills before Shabbat may continue to take them even on Shabbat (see Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah, 34, 17).

  • Secondly, it is not clear that someone with ADHD is considered at all "sick" or "under the weather". See for example Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah (ibid 19) that birth control pills are not forbidden, and the footnote there (in the Hebrew edition) explains that only cases where someone is in physical pain or weakness is forbidden to take medicines. It could be that they have the law of a healthy person, in which case the taking of medicines is the subject of debate (see the Shulchan Aruch ibid, 37, and the Mishna Brurah 120). Even those generally strict on this question (ie. the Ashkenazim) could take the lenient opinion as an extra reason for leniency, together with the other reasons I cite.

  • Thirdly, the medicines for ADHD that exist today do not cure the condition - they merely treat the symptoms of hyperactivity and lack of ability to concentrate. It would seem that the Rabbis only forbade medicines that bring about a cure. (See Yalkut Yosef 328,52). Lastly, there is much discussion about the extent to which this rabbinic decree is still in force today when the underlying reasoning for it (ie that one may be led to grind the plants to make the medicine) does not seem to apply any more. (See the Tzitz Eliezer, volume 8, 15, 15 for a lengthy discussion of this issue). Even though all the modern day poskim hold that we do apply this decree, there is room to take the lenient rulings together with long-term medications such as in the case of ADHD.

As a followup, I have now explicitly seen in R Avrohom Yaged's guide to refuah on Shabbos that he writes (p. 62 and also p. 84)

A person who has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD may take medicine for it, even though he is not actually sick. Because he cannot function normally without his medicine, he is considered a choleh in this regard.

As @Shokhet mentioned in comments, it's very important idea to ask a knowledgeable rabbi for guidance in real cases. Individual circumstances differ greatly, and (especially with regard to psychiatric medication) what is optional for one person may be life-or-death for another (with obvious implications for issues surrounding Shabbos).


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