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Ritalin Dependence – Signs of Ritalin Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Ritalin is the trade name for methylphenidate, a stimulant that is most commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults and chronic sleep disorder. It is listed as a controlled substance in the United States and is comparable to the drug amphetamine. Abuse of Ritalin produces effects similar to cocaine.

When used exactly as prescribed, Ritalin is considered safe, which is why it is so frequently prescribed for children. Although Ritalin increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, like other stimulants, the controlled dosage prevents the chemical changes from inducing the euphoric effects of illegal stimulants. Abuse by Ritalin users with a legal prescription is not common; however, abuse by people who obtain the drug illegally for its ability to mimic the effects of cocaine at high doses is very common. The most common abusers of Ritalin are teenagers and young adults who use the drug for its euphoric effects, to stay awake, and to increase concentration. Other abuses of the drug include taking it to lose weight or enhance performance.

Is Ritalin Addictive?

Studies indicate that Ritalin is not addictive when taken orally and used exactly as prescribed; however, it is addictive when abused. How addictive is Ritalin? It is highly addictive when misused and can result in severe psychological dependence. Basically, Ritalin abusers seek to turn the drug into a substitute for cocaine and experience the same addictive dangers.

In addition to taking Ritalin in excessive dosages, Ritalin abusers often crush the pills and snort the powder or mix the powder with water and inject it. This type of abuse produces results that are almost exactly the same as cocaine use. Abusers who use Ritalin to stay awake typically take the drug orally, while abusers who are interested in getting “high” snort or inject it.

Understanding Ritalin Dependency and Tolerance

A person who abuses Ritalin can develop a psychological dependence on the drug. Likewise, the person can develop a physical tolerance to the drug that requires an increased dosage to attain the same results. Ritalin dependence can lead to drug cravings and panic attacks if the drug is not available. These panic attacks can cause psychotic episodes and heart problems.

It is important to distinguish between abusers who are misusing Ritalin for performance purposes, which may cause them to stray into dependency and addiction, and those who are specifically seeking a cocaine-like high. Some hardcore abusers engage in “binge-crash” behavior, where continual use over the course of days without sleep results in a lapse into a coma-like state of heavy sleeping. If this sounds very much like cocaine abuse, it is because the tolerance and dependency dangers are almost identical.

Effects/Side Effects

Short-Term Effects of Ritalin

Ritalin abuse produces a stimulant-like effect. The Ritalin high induces euphoria, wakefulness, and increased focus and awareness. The intensity of the high depends on the delivery method. Taking the drug orally produces little euphoric effect, unless it is taken in larges dosages. Snorting or injecting the drug greatly heightens the experience.The side effects of abusing Ritalin can include an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Ritalin can also cause nervousness, dizziness, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, shortness of breath, chest pain, hallucinations, itching, rashes, fainting, and seizures. Coming down from Ritalin can induce withdrawal symptoms, especially if the person is psychologically dependent. These symptoms can include panic, depression, mood changes, and psychotic episodes.

Long-Term Effects of Ritalin

Long-term Ritalin use may cause heart disease or stroke. Ritalin can block small blood vessels over time in abusers who inject the drug. Ongoing intravenous use can also expose the abuser to various blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis B and C.

Withdrawal and Detoxification

People who abuse Ritalin can overdose on the drug. It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of an overdose in friends and loved ones so you can arrange immediate treatment. A Ritalin overdose can cause psychosis, agitation, lethargy, and seizures. If you suspect an overdose, contact a poison control center. A Ritalin overdose has the potential to cause an onset of sudden death, especially in people with underlying heart conditions, so immediate medical attention is advisable.

Withdrawal from Ritalin can result in a change in the person’s behavior that may be difficult for you to handle alone. Ritalin withdrawal symptoms are psychological, and suddenly stopping the drug can cause psychotic behavior, aggression, panic, extreme fatigue and depression, and even suicidal tendencies.

Treatment for Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin abuse treatment can be complicated by the severe psychological dependency that abusers experience, which can cause them to exhibit psychotic behavior when taken off the drug. This behavior can manifest in life-threatening ways that may be too complex for an untrained individual to handle alone. People who are interested in finding inpatient or outpatient services should consider calling 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? or filling out a quick contact form so they can find the support they need.