Ritalin one of the brand names of methylphenidate, a stimulant drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) and narcolepsy. In some cases, Ritalin is prescribed for lethargy, obesity, and depression. The drug has structural similarities to methamphetamine and its effects are similar to cocaine without being as physically addictive.
Methylphenidate is a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse and its similar effects to cocaine and methamphetamine. Although Ritalin has a number of approved medical uses, the drug has increasingly been used illicitly. Ritalin addiction and Ritalin abuse have risen in recent years because the drug has become more easily obtained for abuse by adolescents and adults.
Ritalin abuse and addiction is common due to methylphenidate’s euphoric effects. In many other cases, the drug is used as a performance aid to help with tasks like staying awake or studying. Crushing and snorting Ritalin is a common way that adolescents and others take the drug for a faster effect rather than oral intake.
Ritalin abuse through snorting the drug or taking it intravenously produces more of an instant euphoric cocaine-like effect, whereas oral intake of the drug produces other effects such as improved alertness and concentration. Ritalin abuse may lead to adverse short term and long term psychological effects as well as Ritalin addiction. Ritalin addiction is a serious medical illness that requires professional intervention.
Ritalin Addiction Symptoms
Ritalin abuse and addiction is a common problem in both adults and adolescents. Ritalin addiction may develop in those who abuse the drug for recreational or performance enhancing purposes. Occasional Ritalin abuse may lead to addiction, and a recent government study found that a large percentage of university students reported using Ritalin for a reason other than a medical purpose.
Ritalin is potentially very dangerous at high doses and there are numerous psychological and physical side effects of Ritalin abuse and addiction. Physical symptoms of Ritalin abuse include abdominal pain, heart pain, loss of appetite, blood pressure changes, cardiac arrhythmia, sweating, drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, loss of balance, nausea, dry mouth, pupil dilation, and other Ritalin side effects.
Psychological side effects of Ritalin abuse may include euphoria, nervousness, increased focus, alertness, excitement, paranoia, and other effects. Higher doses may cause severe psychological and physical symptoms such as fevers, convulsions, hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, formication (the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin), and other psychological Ritalin side effects.
Ritalin may be obtained by addicts through a variety of methods. In some cases of Ritalin addiction, those who have medical prescriptions for Ritalin abuse the drug by taking more than their physician recommended dose. Ritalin addicts will often go to more than one doctor to obtain multiple prescriptions. Adolescents and students are more likely to obtain the drug from a friend who has a prescription for a medical purpose. Ritalin is often also sold by drug dealers illegally.
Ritalin addiction withdrawal may occur in mild to severe cases of Ritalin addiction and Ritalin abuse. Ritalin addiction withdrawal symptoms are a sign that a patient is addicted to the drug, and symptoms may onset within 6 hours of the last dose. Common symptoms of Ritalin addiction withdrawal include fatigue, depression, unpleasant dreams, motor dysfunction, insomnia, changes in heart rhythm, increased appetite, weight gain, and cravings.
Disturbing dreams can keep patients awake with insomnia, and these dreams may also lead to severe paranoia and anxiety attacks. Fatigue can also be severe and prevent patients from being able to take care of themselves. Although some of the less severe symptoms of Ritalin addiction withdrawal may not be life threatening, they may be uncomfortable enough to cause a relapse on the drug or the abuse of other drugs to control symptoms.
Some of the psychological withdrawal symptoms of Ritalin addiction may be severe such as suicidal ideations and severe depression. The danger of these symptoms requires professional medical intervention. The treatment of Ritalin addiction withdrawal is best at drug rehab centers that can monitor patients while treating physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Psychological Ritalin addiction withdrawal symptoms may last for several weeks and require long term support and therapy to completely subside.
Ritalin detoxification should not be performed without the assistance of drug rehab centers that have trained personnel to treat the more severe symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal. With potential effects such as suicidal ideations and the potential for relapse, a patient may be taking major risks by attempting detoxification alone. Drug rehab centers can prevent Ritalin addicts from relapsing on the drug by providing a secure environment in which an addict cannot retrieve the drug for abuse. They also help addicts overcome their Ritalin addiction using medications to treat any physical and psychological symptoms, counseling, and psychotherapy.
Patients experiencing severe psychological symptoms such as panic attacks and suicidal ideations are provided with emergency support and psychotherapy as well as protection from acting out on suicidal ideations. Medications are provided to treat anxiety, depression, and other symptoms. Patients are also provided with personal needs and high quality food and they do not have to worry about cooking and cleaning or handling other maintenance tasks that they would have to deal with at home. Patients can focus on overcoming their Ritalin addiction with the help of addiction professionals and medical doctors.
Physical symptoms of Ritalin addiction may subside within 3 days to a week if they are treated with a detoxification protocol. However, Ritalin addiction detoxification may take several weeks for psychological symptoms to subside, and these symptoms may also only subside if they are treated with therapy and medications.
Ritalin Addiction Treatment
Treatment of Ritalin addiction is unique depending on the individual, and different forms of treatment are available for adolescents and adults. Adolescent cases of Ritalin addiction may involve more family support and be tailored to the unique needs of adolescents while adult treatment programs are focused on the needs of adults. All of the needs of a patient are considered in a treatment program, and most drug rehab centers are familiar with the latest and most advanced Ritalin addiction treatments that are currently available.
A treatment program for Ritalin abuse and addiction will consist of a detoxification program that will help a patient recover from his or her addiction. There are a variety of medications that are used to treat physical symptoms of Ritalin addiction. Clonadine, a blood pressure medication, may be used to reduce cravings of the drug. Sleep aids are used to treat patients dealing with insomnia. Anxiety medications such as lorazepam may be used as well.
Psychotherapy teaches patients coping skills and psychological techniques for handling withdrawal symptoms and cravings. There are 12-step meetings and other outpatient forms of support and therapy used to treat patients after they have left their rehab program. Follow-up treatment is always implemented to ensure that patients do not relapse. The implementation of long term treatment plans that many drug rehab centers provide is shown to be effective in treating Ritalin addiction and other forms of addiction and preventing relapse.