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Ritalin (Methylphenidate) abuse and addiction

Methylphenidate is sold under a few different brand names, including the brand Ritalin. As a central nervous system stimulant, it is used as a treatment method for ADHD and narcolepsy.

Methylphenidate affects specific chemicals and nerves in the brain that are associated with hyperactivity and impulse control. Methylphenidate is approved by the FDA for treatment of ADHD. Medical use of methylphenidate began in the 1960's. It wasn't until the 1990's that there was an increase in prescriptions due to the diagnosis of ADHD as a true disorder.

It's an extremely useful drug when Ritalin dosage is followed and not abused. Methylphenidate should be part of larger treatment plan which can include cognitive behavioral therapy.

In 2013, there was an increase of over 60% of methylphenidate consumption. There are 2.4 billion doses of the drug being used worldwide. The U.S. accounts for 80% of the global consumption.

Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin abuse is common with teens and young adults using it to the point they become addicted. Ritalin is a type of amphetamine drug and is related to the highly addictive crystal meth. What is making Ritalin such a problem is its availability. Young people can find it in school, in their homes, and it can also be bought online illegally. Ritalin is also addictive for those who already suffer from stimulant addictions like cocaine or meth. It's cheaper than these illicit drugs and easier to obtain much of the time.

When someone is given a prescription, Ritalin dosage is suggested and it should be adhered to. When users just take Ritalin for the high, they can create a tolerance that gets out of control. There's little monitoring of the means and amount that Ritalin is being used when it's taken without a prescription. It is within the misuse of Ritalin that people are becoming addicted.

Research has found that addiction to Ritalin doesn't occur as much when it's supervised properly. When it's crushed, snorted, or injected, the amphetamine chemicals rush through the body. This creates a sensation much different than when used properly. When someone abuses Ritalin, it can cause a psychological or physical dependence. The Ritalin dosage can increase due to tolerance and cravings may ensue. If you notice that someone you care about is abusing Ritalin, there are professional services to help with prescription drug addiction.

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The Ritalin High

Ritalin is often abused for the euphoric feeling a user gets along with the stimulant effects. To obtain a greater high, users will often snort Ritalin which causes irregular heartrate, hallucinations, and seizures. Methylphenidate is similar to amphetamine drugs which helps a person with ADHD to concentrate.

When taken by people abusing the drug for a high, it can cause agitation and restlessness.

Ritalin and its euphoric effects are attributed to the fact it increases dopamine in the brain. This is why people enjoy the high which makes them feel happy and gives them a sense of well-being. If you notice someone using Ritalin as a party drug or consistently using it to get high, they may need help to stop using Ritalin.

Ritalin Abuse

The Drug Enforcement Administration put Ritalin in the schedule II drug classification due to its high risk of being abused. Ritalin abuse and addiction will usually happen when it's taken for non-medical reasons or when used in higher doses than prescribed. Ritalin abuse includes using it to lose weight, to stay awake/alert, or to get high.

Ritalin has a reputation in colleges as being a “smart drug” and will be abused to help improve performance. There are college students abusing Ritalin that they were prescribed when they were younger.

It becomes useful in college but some will also mix it with alcohol and snort it for a greater high. Ritalin abuse for performance can easily become dependency and addiction as the student begins to believe that without the drug, they couldn't perform any longer.

Serious abusers of Ritalin will binge-crash. This is where they take high Ritalin dosages for a few days and not sleep. This results in a coma-like state once they stop taking Ritalin. They may sleep heavily for long periods of time after a binge session. It mimics cocaine abuse and builds up a tolerance for Ritalin. Within this binge frame, they are more likely to snort Ritalin to get a greater high and feeling of euphoria. When taken by needle, it can cause a rapid spike of “good vibes” that can get users hooked. The severity of this kind of abuse can lead to coma, heart problems, and death. If someone you know is abusing Ritalin, it may be time to get them some professional addiction treatment.

Ritalin Side Effects

When someone abuses Ritalin, it increases the side effects that come with the drug. Some side effects are quite serious and should be monitored by a doctor. Ritalin can change how the heart beats and interfere with breathing. The active drug in Ritalin, methylphenidate, can affect growth in children. Some of the common side effects of Ritalin include;

  • A pain in the chest.
  • A fast, pounding heartbeat that can be irregular.
  • Changes in mood such as agitation, excitement, or depression.
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions may occur.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Potential seizures.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Headaches.

Serious allergic side effects that indicate you should call your doctor immediately;

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen lips, tongue, or throat.

Complications when taking Ritalin can occur. If someone is experiencing any of the following symptoms, they need to stop taking the medication and seek medical help;

  • They have a pain in their chest and are having trouble breathing.
  • They're seeing things that aren't there.
  • Behavior problems that weren't there before including hostility or paranoia.
  • Convulsions.
  • Unexplained wounds
  • A change in skin color in fingers or toes.
  • Muscles twitches.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Flu symptoms like muscle pain or tender skin.

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What to Expect During Ritalin Withdrawal

Withdrawal from Ritalin can cause drastic changes in how someone acts. It can be extremely challenging to withdraw from without professional help. Ritalin withdrawal symptoms are psychologically dominated. If someone attempts to stop abruptly on their own, it can result in aggression, panic, fatigue, and depression. The extreme low an individual goes through can result in suicidal tendencies also. The dependency on Ritalin is complex and the behavior that occurs with withdrawal can be life-threatening for the user. What you should do when you are worried about someone using Ritalin is get them to seek professional addiction help.

Abuse of Ritalin by Combining Other Substances

Mixing substances with Ritalin can be extremely harmful. For example, alcohol can cause the methylphenidate to quickly release in the bloodstream. If someone is using other medications, there may be adverse effects when mixed together. Ritalin shouldn't be taken if an MAO inhibitor has been taken in the past two weeks. Examples includes; methylene blue injection, phenelzine, or rasagiline.

Substances that don't mix well with Ritalin include:

  • Medications for depression or mood disorders.
  • Medication for blood pressure.
  • Blood thinners.
  • Narcotic opioid medication or heroin.
  • Cold or allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.
  • Seizure medication.
  • There are also vitamins and herbal products that can interact badly with Ritalin.

Various Names of Ritalin

The generic name of Ritalin is methylphenidate. Brand names include;

  • Aptensio XR
  • Concerta
  • Metadate CD
  • Metadate ER
  • Methylin
  • Quillivant XR
  • Ritalin LA
  • Ritalin-SR

Differences of Ritalin vs. Adderall

When comparing Ritalin vs. Adderall, there are some differences although they are both psychostimulant drug treatments for ADHD and narcolepsy. They're both central nervous system stimulants and increase the brain's neurotransmitters, speeding up the activity in your brain. When it comes to addiction with Ritalin vs. Adderall, studies have shown that Adderall is a lot more addictive. Ritalin however, tends to have more negative side effects, especially related to long-term use.

Adderall stays active for a longer period of time and contains Dextroamphetamine and Levoamphetamine which are amphetamine salts. Ritalin contains Methylphenidate and reaches its peak faster than Adderall. Adderall works for 4-6 hours while Ritalin works for 2-3 hours. When people are choosing Ritalin vs. Adderall, they may choose the shorter-acting drug so they can control when they experience side effects.

Signs that a Friend or Family Member is Abusing or Addicted to Ritalin

Addiction often comes with its own set of symptoms with each type of substance addiction inhibiting their own select signs. If you think someone you know is experiencing a problem with Ritalin abuse or addiction, here are some signs and symptoms to look for;

  • Weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Change in behavior that may include depression, agitation, insomnia, or fatigue.
  • Pupil dilation.
  • They may complain of stomach pain, headaches and the inability to see properly.
  • Repetitive actions as though they have OCD.
  • Hallucinations and paranoia.
  • Violent tendencies.

If someone you know is showing some of the signs and symptoms above, it may be time to seek professional detox help. Ritalin is one of the drugs that you should seek professional help detoxing from as it can cause psychological behaviors that can cause harm to the person.

Ritalin abuse and addiction are serious and vary with each individual. It may be challenging for you to talk with the person you suspect is abusing Ritalin.

The fact is, it's necessary. Ritalin addiction treatment programs can help detox the individual and rehabilitate them through holistic means. Ritalin Addiction and Abuse Resources for Families/Friendsinclude 12-step programs, SMART Recovery, and Inpatient/Outpatient treatment.

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