Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant drug that is often prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It may also be used for narcolepsy, a condition that causes sudden attacks of uncontrollable sleepiness.
When used as directed, it can help people with ADHD stay organized and focused on necessary tasks. But it can be abused, and those who abuse it can become addicted to it.
Ritalin (Methylphenidate) Addiction Signs And Symptoms
Ritalin works by stimulating the central nervous system and brain activity. As a result, an individual taking it experiences an increase in energy and focus. If someone exhibits an unusual amount of energy and focus, it is possible they are abusing the drug.
The symptoms of abuse can be both physical and mental, and may include:
- chest pain
- nausea and vomiting
Many people who abuse stimulants do not suffer from ADHD or narcolepsy but take the drug to help them perform well at work or school.
They may feel a strong sense of being in control of everything in life while using Ritalin. They may also feel more socially likable and able to focus more intensely on tasks and projects.
It can be difficult to recognize these things as warning signs as the person may seem happy and satisfied with life. Underneath it all, the person may be overwhelmed and may suffer from anxiety, paranoia, and high blood pressure.
If someone has become addicted to Ritalin (methylphenidate), they are likely to show signs of addiction, such as:
- loss of control over drug use
- seeming to accomplish more than should be possible
- exhaustion from taking on too many obligations
- “doctor shopping,” or obtaining multiple prescriptions
- obtaining the drugs from friends or online
Long-Term Effects Of Ritalin
Ritalin abuse can lead to long-term effects on an individual’s physical and mental health.
Circulation issues can cause numbness and nerve pain in the hands and feet. Heart problems may result from high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and rapid heartbeat that often accompany Ritalin use.
A common long-term effect of stimulant abuse is formication, or the sensation of bugs crawling beneath the skin. This is a hallucination that may be caused in part by dry skin and dehydration that often results from stimulant abuse.
In severe cases, long-term Ritalin abuse may result in psychosis. A person suffering from stimulant psychosis will be unable to tell what is real and what is imaginary. This can lead to extreme paranoia as well as suicidal or homicidal thoughts or actions.
How Common Is Ritalin Abuse?
In a recent study, the University of Southern California found that as many as 17 percent of college students may be misusing Ritalin (methylphenidate) or a similar prescription stimulant like Adderall (amphetamine).
Additionally, Ritalin and its kin are commonly used stimulants among those who are trying to work long hours and stay focused on highly demanding jobs. Since 2006, the prescription stimulant industry has expanded by 53 percent.
How Is Ritalin Abused?
When prescribed, Ritalin is generally taken as a pill by mouth once daily. Some people who abuse this medication take it orally multiple times a day, while others take it only before an event that requires extreme focus or energy.
Over time, the brain gets used to Ritalin’s assistance, and the person taking it relies more and more on the boost it gives them. They may begin to take it before any project, big or small, which causes more brain changes and fuels the cycle of addiction.
People who abuse Ritalin often develop a tolerance quickly. This means they need more of it to feel the same results. They may begin crushing the pills and snorting the powder or dissolving it with water to be injected into a vein. These methods take the drug into the bloodstream faster and may cause it to have a more intense effect.
Ritalin Street Names
Ritalin (methylphenidate) goes by many names. Some are slang terms while others are unrelated brand names that allow open discussion of the drug in public or around unsuspecting loved ones.
Street names for Ritalin include:
- Vitamin R
- Diet Coke
- Kibbles & Bits
These lighthearted nicknames present a disturbing and dangerous misconception about Ritalin. Many people believe that because it is prescribed by a doctor, it can’t be that bad. But Ritalin addiction can be deadly.
Ritalin Overdose Risk
Addiction to Ritalin usually leads someone to take high doses with increasing frequency. Taking too much of it at once or over time can cause an overdose. The risk of overdose is higher when the drug is combined with other stimulants, such as Adderall or cocaine.
Ritalin overdose may have many symptoms resulting from high blood pressure, raised body temperature, and increased brain activity. Some of these symptoms include:
- muscle twitching
- rapid heart rate
- enlarged pupils
- vomiting or nausea
- fever or sweating
- loss of consciousness
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Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms
A person who abruptly stops using Ritalin (methylphenidate) may experience psychological withdrawal symptoms. Some of these are the opposite of Ritalin’s effects, such as difficulty thinking, concentrating, and processing information.
Ritalin withdrawal can also cause depression, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Because of this, many people are unsuccessful detoxing without support. They may take more Ritalin to relieve the frightening and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which keeps them addicted to it.
Treatment For Ritalin (Methylphenidate) Addiction
Many people suffering from Ritalin addiction benefit by leaving their home environment and being immersed in an inpatient rehab program. At The Bluffs, we offer personalized treatment in a safe, therapeutic community.
Evidence-based practices for stimulant addiction treatment include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps a person dealing with Ritalin addiction to assess their destructive thought patterns and develop a positive way of thinking, which leads to healthier behavior.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) supports emotional regulation and expression and teaches individuals to control their reactions to stressful situations.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment addresses addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders at the same time, giving someone a better chance at lasting recovery.
The Bluffs also offers non-traditional therapies such as music, art, yoga, and adventure. Our holistic philosophy encourages recovering individuals to spend time hiking, swimming, and connecting with nature for the healing of the mind, body, and spirit.