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Ritalin, Adderall & Concerta: Which ADHD Drug Is Most Addictive?

Hands of a person struggling with ADHD drug addiction

Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta are effective prescription medications used for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, each of these stimulant drugs also brings along a serious risk of abuse. Most people hear the term “prescription drug abuse” and think of opioid painkillers such as Vicodin or OxyContin. But what is often overlooked is that prescription stimulants are also popular drugs of abuse, especially among college students.

Call 888.341.3607 to speak with someone from the knowledgeable team at Ashwood Recovery about ADHD drug addiction and our prescription drug addiction treatment options.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD, once known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. To qualify for an ADHD diagnosis, four factors must be present:

  • Several symptoms must manifest before the age of 12
  • The symptoms must be present in multiple settings
  • The symptoms must interfere with normal everyday functioning
  • The symptoms cannot be explained by some other condition

ADHD is a childhood-onset disorder, and those who continue to exhibit ADHD symptoms into adulthood frequently experience difficulties in several areas of life. Because of these difficulties, most adults with ADHD struggle with a co-occurring psychiatric disorder such as anxiety or depression.

ADHD is treated with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. However, many people don’t know much about these medications. For example: What is Ritalin vs. Adderall? When would the use of Adderall vs. Ritalin be appropriate?

Prescription Stimulants as ADHD Medication

Stimulants are fast-acting and very effective drugs that are amphetamine-based, and they work by increasing the activity of several neurotransmitters and hormones within the brain. These medications include the following:

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine
  • Serotonin’
  • Histamine

Studies show that when a person struggling with ADHD takes their prescription stimulants properly, not only do they exhibit fewer symptoms, but they also decrease the likelihood of a co-occurring substance use disorder.

About Adderall

Adderall has become the go-to solution for adult ADHD. Adderall is pure amphetamine. As a drug of abuse, Adderall is popular non-medically because of its side effects. Adderall is:

  • A euphoriant
  • An aphrodisiac
  • A physical performance enhancer
  • A cognition enhancer

Rather than simply using Adderall recreationally, it is also used as a study aid. However, any supposed benefits are negligible. Because of its addictive potential, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance. At high recreational doses, drug dependence and addiction are more than just the risk—they are a virtual certainty. Among high-dose users, almost 90% experience withdrawal symptoms that present within 24 hours after the last use.

About Ritalin

Ritalin (methylphenidate) works by slowing down the transmission of dopamine away from the parts of the brain that regulate attention. In other words, it helps the person focus on the task at hand. Like Adderall, Ritalin is often used for its euphoric effects.

One dangerous trend among teenage and young adult abusers is taking Ritalin and alcohol together. This greatly increases the risk of alcohol poisoning. It’s called “the smart drug,” R-ball, or Vitamin K. Like Adderall, low doses of methylphenidate taken by people without ADHD may slightly increase their concentration and improve their academic performance. But studies show that illicit use of Ritalin triggers changes within the brain’s chemistry, resulting in:

  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Unhealthy weight loss
  • Disruption in the user’s sleep/wake cycle

Ritalin carries risks of dependence and addiction similar to amphetamines. Because of these risks, methylphenidate medications are also classified as Schedule II controlled substances.

What Are Some of the Risks of ADHD Medication Abuse?

Mild enjoyment while studying and nominal academic improvement seems a high price to pay for the risks accompanying ADHD stimulant misuse:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vision changes
  • Blisters on the skin
  • Digestive concerns
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Heightened risk of abusing other substances
  • Dependency
  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death

For students, there is a risk of expulsion due to schools’ “zero-tolerance” policies. For everyone, there is a risk of arrest and imprisonment, because feigning ADHD symptoms to obtain a prescription fraudulently is a felony.

Find Addiction Treatment in Idaho at Ashwood Recovery

If you or someone you care about is misusing ADHD medication, then specialized professional help is needed—no matter which medication is involved. Contact Ashwood Recovery today at 888.341.3607 to learn more.