Ritalin is the brand name for a stimulant drug called methylphenidate, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is one of the most common choices for ADHD, and it’s considered a “first-line” medication. Ritalin works by influencing a chemical in the body called dopamine, which is tied to reward and motivation. However, Ritalin is also sometimes abused to achieve a euphoric high. ADHD medications may also be abused because athletes and students believe that they can increase energy levels and cognitive performance. However, Ritalin abuse can cause some unwanted side-effects, including anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
What Are the Signs of Ritalin Addiction?
Ritalin can cause addiction after a period of abuse. Addiction is defined as a severe substance use disorder, and it often manifests in compulsive drug use. You may be addicted to Ritalin if you continue to use the drug despite serious consequences to your health or other aspects of your life. Long-term Ritalin abuse can cause some significant problems.
Stimulants can have an impact on your physical and psychological health. Insomnia is a common symptom, and sleeplessness can lead to other problems like depression, anxiety, psychosis, and changes in weight. Stimulant psychosis may involve delusions, agitation, and hallucinations.
High doses of the drug can cause heart-related problems like arrhythmias, tachycardia, and hypertension.
Treating Ritalin addiction early can help you avoid some of the most dangerous consequences of addiction. Some of the signs and symptoms of Ritalin addiction may include:
- Strange sleep schedule
- Mood swings
- Needing Ritalin to feel normal
- Trying and failing to cut back
- Changes in heart rate
- Changes in vision
- Heart palpitations
- Weight loss
How Is Ritalin Addiction Treated?
Ritalin addiction treatment is a process that’s personalized to your individual needs. When you first enter addiction treatment, you’ll go through an assessment process to determine your medical and clinical needs. There are four main levels of care in addiction treatment, including medical detox, inpatient, intensive outpatient, and outpatient services. If you have high-level needs that require 24-hour care, you may go through detox or inpatient services. Detox is often necessary for people that may go through severe withdrawal symptoms. Stimulant withdrawal can be uncomfortable, but it’s usually not life-threatening unless you have other conditions. When you’re able to live independently, you may be able to attend outpatient services during the day.
How Dangerous is Ritalin?
Like many prescription drugs, Ritalin is well-tolerated when it’s taken as prescribed, but it can be dangerous when it’s abused. Stimulants can often cause hypertension and increased heart rates. In people that abuse it, it can lead to potentially dangerous complications like irregular heartbeats, arrhythmias, and heart failure. If you already have heart-related complications, Ritalin can increase your risk for a stroke or other complications.
High doses of Ritalin can also cause potentially dangerous overdose symptoms. Overdose symptoms can include confusion, hallucinations, tremors, seizures, headache, heart palpitations, and hyperthermia. In severe cases, it can cause rapid muscle breakdown, convulsions, and circulatory collapse.