Ritalin addiction, and addiction of any kind, can be hard to overcome on your own. Just know that you don’t need to fight this battle on your own, there are resources and people out there who are willing to help. Contact your local rehabilitation center/specialist and get the help you need. It’s okay to not be okay!
What is Ritalin?
Ritalin is a prescription medication that gained popularity in the 1990s due to the abuse surrounding it. It is a Schedule II drug because it has high potential for abuse. This drug is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is what’s known as methylphenidate, which is usually prescribed to people who have ADHD or narcolepsy. It has very similar effects and medical uses to amphetamines, which are usually prescribed to help treat ADD. This drug has legitimate medical uses, but it can easily be abused.
How does it Work?
As we mentioned, Ritalin is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. The drug’s medical purpose is to assist in calming the central nervous system for people suffering from ADD, ADHD, or narcolepsy. This way, a person can become more alert and focused during their everyday life. It has a sort of calming effect on individuals who use it, allowing them to focus without attention problems. This drug, if taken for intended use, can be extremely helpful for individuals struggling with these disorders. However, the focus that comes along with the drug has become desireable to people who do not have these disorders, resulting in widespread Ritalin abuse.
Amphetamines are stimulants and can result in a higher sense of alertness and focus. These are mainly used to treat people who have attention deficit problems, but the high sense of alertness and focus has become desireable to people who do not suffer from the disorders we’ve previously mentioned. In the 1990s, prescriptions for this medication rose and so did abuse rates. People who do not have ADHD, ADD, or narcolepsy have started to abuse the substance because of the effects and thus have developed tolerance with continual use. Someone who has developed a tolerance to this drug will notice when they start having to continually increase dosage the longer they use. When this happens, it should be clear that this is a path to addiction.
What is Ritalin Abuse?
When tolerance is built, that’s when abuse really starts to take form. The higher tolerance your body gets for a drug, the higher dose you’ll need to get the desired effects. The higher the dose, the more dependent a person becomes. Users can start to rely heavily on the mental alertness and focus that the drug gives them even if they don’t necessarily need it. Even at the slightest sign of decreased mental alertness, an abuser may be inclined to take more doses of Ritalin. When this happens, it is clear that a user has become addicted to Ritalin.
Is Ritalin Dangerous?
While Ritalin used in it’s intended form is not dangerous, the drug can quickly become harmful if used outside of its intended purposes. As we mentioned earlier, this drug is a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Other Schedule II drugs include morphine, opium, codeine, and hydrocodone which are also highly addictive substances. When it comes to prescribed stimulants like Ritalin, the abuse rates are extremely high, most likely due to the euphoric effects the drug has on users. If not used in prescribed doses, this drug can quickly become dangerous.
Should I Stop Taking It?
It’s hard for an addict to realize that they are developing a dependency on a substance. Since addiction affects the brain and manipulates it into thinking it needs the substance to function normally, it’s no surprise addicts do not see how self-destructive their habits are. For someone looking from the outside, here’s how you can tell if someone is addicted to Ritalin:
- Users’ prescriptions run out quicker than expected.
- The user experiences seemingly compulsive desires to use the drug.
- The user neglects their usual responsibilities and focuses on the desired drug.
- The user develops a higher tolerance to the drug.
A person who is actively abusing Ritalin may try to stop using the medication, but if they have developed a tolerance through abuse they will experience some withdrawal symptoms:
- Loss of focus
- Suppressed appetite
- Drastic changes in blood pressure
Who Abuses Ritalin?
Symptoms like the ones we’ve mentioned above are all too common for people who abuse Ritalin, but what kind of people abuse this substance that is mainly used for treating ADHD/ADD?
Students, Athletes, and Professionals
These three demographics are ones most closely associated with Ritalin abuse. Students have to go through long sessions of studying and writing, but that can be difficult if you are distracted. For people that are having trouble focusing, they may resort to using Ritalin to help them focus. The same goes for athletes and professionals. Athletes desire to beat their opponent and some will do whatever it takes to do so. Using Ritalin before a game increases the athlete’s focus and alertness in-game. For young professionals, this drug us often abused to increase focus at work in an effort to complete normal tasks at a much faster rate. Problems arise when people start using this substance outside of it’s intended use.
Quitting Is Possible
Addiction is not an easy thing to fight on your own, but you don’t need to be alone. There are people out there who understand what addiction to Ritalin is like, they know how to help you help yourself. No matter how far gone you think you are with your dependency on Ritalin, there is a way to get out. Addiction centers and rehabilitation specialists are equipped with the training they need to help you beat your addiction. Don’t be afraid to admit you need help, we all fall down sometimes, the important thing to know is when to ask for help.