What is Ritalin?
Ritalin is a type of Methylphenidate that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy, excessive uncontrollable daytime sleepiness. Methylphenidates are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. A CNS stimulant increases attention, alertness, physical activity, and energy. Methylphenidate has similar effects and pharmacological use to amphetamines, such as Adderall, and cocaine.
Ritalin Facts: Understanding the Drug’s Effects
When individuals use Ritalin to treat ADHD, the drug produces a calming effect and helps them focus on tasks. Ritalin can be prescribed to both children and adults in the form of a tablet or capsule. It can come in the strength of 5, 10, or 20mg in sustained-release or extended-release compounds. This medication is most effective when individuals use it consistently. Also, it is best to avoid stopping Ritalin use abruptly due to possible withdrawal symptoms.
Some withdrawal symptoms associated with Ritalin include:
- Heavily sleeping
- Panic attacks
- Extreme hunger
It is important to note the difference between withdrawal symptoms and side effects of Ritalin. Side effects of Ritalin in adults include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Irregular heartbeat
- Behavior changes
- Vision changes
If an individual is experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Is Ritalin Addictive?
When taken as prescribed and what it is intended for, Ritalin is typically a safe drug to use. Unfortunately, it is usually abused in teens and adults seeking to experience a high feeling. Also, professionals, students, and/or athletes may misuse Ritalin in an attempt to increase productivity. Ritalin can fall into the hands of individuals with no medical necessity for the drug if individuals with a prescription for Ritalin give or sell the medication.
How Does Ritalin Work?
Again, Ritalin is used to treat individuals with ADHD. Individuals with a true diagnosis of ADHD have a higher level of dopamine transporters, which results in lower levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that naturally occurs in the brain. This neurotransmitter plays a role in how people experience pleasure; it is essential for the activation of the brain's reward system.
Dopamine influences decision-making, motor function, and even mood. When an individual associates a certain activity with pleasure, such as going to their favorite restaurant, they experience a higher level of dopamine in the brain. If that individual was unexpectedly unable to go to their favorite restaurant as planned, they will be disappointed. This situation may cause the level of dopamine to drop and in conjunction will dampen their mood. Ritalin helps increase the levels of dopamine in the brain for individuals with ADHD.
When someone without ADHD takes Ritalin, they experience a significantly increased energy level. This is caused because they already have a healthy level of dopamine being made in the brain but Ritalin increased that level causing increased alertness and focus. Some people also prefer Ritalin because its effects set in and peak quicker than other drugs, such as Adderall. After taking Ritalin repeatedly, the body gets used to the levels of dopamine being produced.
How Do Ritalin Dependence and Addiction Develop?
Ritalin dependence/addiction can happen to anyone on Ritalin. Dependence occurs by individuals developing a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance happens when increasing doses of a drug are needed to get the wanted high or to experience its other benefits. When the body gets used to drugs it will depend on those drugs to live.
One of the most common side effects of Ritalin abuse is developing Ritalin addictions. In order to get the drug absorbed faster, some individuals crush the pills and either snort or inject them. Similar to other drugs taken in this way, the high is inevitably followed by a “crash”. They experience symptoms of fatigue, depression, and decreased alertness. These symptoms do not sound enjoyable right? To combat these symptoms the drugs are used more frequently.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ritalin Abuse?
When an individual becomes dependent on Ritalin due to taking it for a prolonged time or using it for what is not intended for, they can develop some signs of abuse. Signs of abuse that can be seen are, taking more Ritalin than was initially planned or intended or feeling like one should cut down on Ritalin use but not being able to do so. When using the drug to experience a euphoric feeling, individuals experience urges or cravings to use Ritalin not as prescribed.
They are unable to fully or properly perform the needed tasks associated with school or work due to Ritalin use. This sign is the total opposite of what the drug was intended for, which is to help individuals with an ADHD diagnosis to focus on such tasks. This sign may be seen by individuals without an ADHD diagnosis or taking it for other purposes.
When individuals continue to take Ritalin even though it is causing problems in relationships, this is a sign of Ritalin addiction. They are willing to compromise important relationships in their life to experience a high with Ritalin. They also no longer engage in activities related to work, family, or their hobbies. Continuing to use Ritalin even when one uses this drug in dangerous situations is another sign of abuse. The feelings they experience are more important than their safety or their health.
Some individuals will continue to use Ritalin even though it may exacerbate an existing health problem or create new ones. Also as stated before, building a tolerance to the drug is a sign of abuse. Their body needs more of the drug to experience their familiar effects. In addition, an individual may experience withdrawal symptoms when they have stop Ritalin use or reduce their dosage.
What are the Effects of Ritalin Abuse?
When a person is abusing Ritalin, their close friends, family, coworkers, or even their physician may notice behavior changes in the individual who is abusing the drug. A physician can only prescribe so much of Ritalin on a monthly basis. Adults who are abusing the drug may visit different doctors in order to get a larger supply of the drug. They will then have their prescription filled by different physicians in different pharmacies around town and afar. Doing this will reflect an overlap in time between prescriptions which can result in negative consequences.
Teens or young adults may show different behavioral signs than adults. When they are abusing Ritalin they may be seen borrowing or even stealing Ritalin from friends and or family members. As mentioned above, some individuals snort or inject Ritalin for faster absorption. Individuals who are abusing Ritalin and taking the drug in that way will own certain objects, such as a hammer, to be able to crush the drug. Close family members may also spot powder residue on them or their room.
Other signs of behavioral changes that may occur when an individual is abusing Ritalin include:
- Sudden mood changes
- Extreme change in company/friends
- Change in appetite
- Poor self-grooming and hygiene habits
- Avoiding eye contact
- Manipulative behavior
- Deceitfulness or dishonesty about where their money is going
- Unusually low performance in important areas of life
Also, individuals who are abusing Ritalin may take out loans and are unable to pay them back. It is also important to be aware of signs of Ritalin overdose, which may include the following:
- Twitching or spasms
- Changes to personality
If these signs are seen, seek medical attention immediately.
Treatment Options Available at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center
If you or a loved one has a Ritalin addiction there are treatments available to get the help that you need. The first step to recovery is realizing that you have an addiction and asking for help. Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, located in West Virginia, is here for you when you have
decided to make that decision. Harmony Ridge provides addiction treatment that is both individualized and evidence-based in a comfortable and caring setting. Each patient will be treated with the utmost respect and dignity as they go through their journey to become sober.
Harmony Ridge Recovery Center has an experienced team of medical professionals, administrative staff, and management who are ready to serve individuals moving towards recovery. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, that may be used at other recovery centers to drug and alcohol addiction, at Harmony Ridge each individual is tailored to their own treatment plan for the best success. Patients also gain a better understanding of their addiction and the underlying factors that have fueled their disease. This will help people deal with triggers and avoid a relapse.
Different treatment options at Harmony Ridge Recovery center include but are not limited to, group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), adventure therapy, outdoor therapy, music therapy, art therapy, art therapy, yoga and medication, and family and relation counseling.
While at Harmony Ridge, you can also enjoy other amenities such as nutrition and wellness education, 24-hour medical supervision and care, medication management, case management service, legal assistance for probation and court-ordered treatment management, career and education assistance, job placement, and interview preparation, in-house gym time and sports activity. If you are ready to live a healthy life, contact Harmony Ridge Recovery Center for more information about our treatment services.