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What is Ritalin Addiction?
Ritalin is the brand name of methylphenidate and one of the most well-known prescription stimulants used to treat ADHD. Other brand names of this drug include Concerta, QuilliChew, and Metadate. Ritalin is a highly effective oral treatment when used and regulated for ADHD. If you or your child has been prescribed Ritalin by a doctor, following their prescription is generally safe.
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But when Ritalin is misused – either by people who have not been prescribed the drug, or by using it at a higher dosage than recommended – dependence, and addiction can occur. People who abuse Ritalin will sniff or inject the drug to experience a high, as it behaves like cocaine in those forms. In 2017, over 16 million Americans were prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin. Of those users, over 5 million admitted to misusing their prescription.
What are the Risks of Ritalin Addiction?
Ritalin is extremely dangerous to misuse since it can mimic the effects of cocaine. Even one large dose of the drug can cause a heart attack or stroke to occur, making every use risky. Abusing Ritalin by injection can also lead to psychosis, and can cause aggressive, violent outbursts that are risky for the user and those around them.
Studies have also shown that childhood use of Ritalin can be tied to cocaine use in adulthood. This usage is due to ADHD patients having lower levels of dopamine, which makes them more vulnerable to addiction. If you are concerned about a Ritalin prescription, it is best to talk to your doctor.
What are the Side Effects of Ritalin Addiction?
Ritalin has long been a popular drug of abuse, and most individuals understand that it can cause severe addiction with long-term use. Unfortunately, though, many people still take the drug to experience its desirable effects or to exploit these, and tolerance, dependence, and addiction set in quickly.
The abuse of Ritalin causes a number of intense, short-term side effects:
- Exhilaration and excitement
- A headache
- Muscle twitches
- Dilated pupils
- Dry mouth
- Increased heart rate and body temperature
- Teeth grinding
Sniffing Ritalin is the most common form of abuse, and carries its own additional set of side effects:
- Suicidal Thoughts
Oral abuse of Ritalin can also cause the following side effects:
Signs of Ritalin Addiction
People often experience irritability, paranoia, and anxiety quickly after the desired effects start to wear off. In addition, depression and extreme fatigue can occur after the individual crashes from the drug. People who are consistently abusing Ritalin will not sleep often, unless they are in a crash period, and may become malnourished from their severe lack of appetite.
The following changes in behavior may indicate someone is abusing Ritalin:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Excessive grooming
- Repetitive sorting or organizing
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Increased aggression
What to do if Someone You Love is Abusing Ritalin
In many cases, those who abuse Ritalin and other stimulant drugs will become hostile when this use is called into question. They may also begin to make excuses for themselves to be able to use more of the drug and ignore their responsibilities in favor of continued abuse.
Withdrawal from Ritalin can be dangerous, as the brain will need to rebalance its levels of dopamine. This is incredibly risky for people suffering from depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, therefore it is highly recommended you get your loved one into an inpatient treatment facility as soon as possible.
If someone is in denial about their addiction or dependence, you can speak to a doctor and set up an intervention to help them get the treatment they need.
Which Treatment Options are Available for Ritalin Addiction?
Withdrawal symptoms can last for several months and can be quite severe on the psychological side of things (mental health issues). For this reason, inpatient treatment programs for Ritalin addiction should taper off the drug, and treat behavioral issues with onsite therapy.
If you or a loved one is suffering from Ritalin Addiction, it is essential to find a treatment center that offers assistance for co-occurring disorders; as most users will be battling addiction alongside other mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and OCD.
Behavioral therapies are the most beneficial treatment methods available for this issue. Behavioral therapies can help to change the way a person thinks and feels about their substance abuse as well as teach them better life skills for the future that can minimize their chance of relapse. Any co-occurring mental disorders must also be assessed and treated along with one’s addiction, as leaving them untreated could derail one’s progress.
If you have been abusing Ritalin, it is time to seek help. The drug can be very beneficial when taken as prescribed, but unfortunately, continued abuse will only lead to more and more dangerous outcomes.