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Ritalin Abuse Signs, Symptoms, and Addiction Treatment

What Is Ritalin Used For?

Ritalin is the trade name for methylphenidate, a stimulant of the central nervous system used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Is Ritalin Addictive?

Ritalin can be very addictive, especially when it is misused or taken via alternate methods, such as by injection or snorting the drug.

Effects of Ritalin Abuse

Woman experiencing depressionThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified Ritalin as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse.

Ritalin addiction typically occurs when users take it non-medically or in excess of prescribed parameters. Those who abuse Ritalin often take it to:

  • Lose weight.
  • Improve alertness/stay awake.
  • Get high.

Ritalin is often referred to as a “smart drug” or “study drug.” It is abused for its reputation of improving school performance, even though such use of methylphenidate remains a highly debated topic (Frati et al., 2015).

When users take Ritalin in ways other than those prescribed, they can experience a “high” that is not felt when the drug is taken as indicated. For example, when it is snorted, the effects of Ritalin can mimic those of cocaine, producing feelings of euphoria. In fact, the pattern of abuse for Ritalin addicts is often very similar to that of cocaine addicts. When Ritalin is taken intravenously, the effects of the drug intensify significantly, which can lead quickly to a pattern of dependency and addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Ritalin Abuse

When you suspect that you or someone you know may be suffering with Ritalin addiction, you need to understand the signs of abuse and watch out for them. Signs and symptoms of Ritalin abuse include the following:

  • Reduced appetite and weight loss.
  • Agitation.
  • Pupil dilation.
  • Dizziness/feeling faint.
  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Headaches.
  • Sweating.
  • Insomnia.
  • Impaired vision.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Stomach pain.

Long-Term Effects of Ritalin Use

Long-term users may experience side effects of Ritalin beyond those listed above. Frequent, sustained Ritalin use can lead to the following:

  • Grandiosity.
  • Repetitive actions (OCD-like behavior).
  • Paranoia.
  • Auditory hallucinations.
  • Tendency toward violence.

If you notice that someone is exhibiting these types of behaviors, they may be experiencing a Ritalin abuse problem. However, recovery is possible. To get information about treatment options for Ritalin addiction, call American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at .

Ritalin Abuse Treatment

Group therapyNo two Ritalin addicts are alike. Family situations, addiction severity, and psychiatric conditions will inform the best course of action for you. If you’re ready to find recovery and get your life back, you should look into the following options:

Ritalin addiction can throw your life off course, but recovery can get you back on track.

American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs. Call us free at to speak with someone who can explain the variety of treatment options for you or a loved one.

Key Ritalin Statistics

Ritalin addiction is an increasingly prevalent problem due to the fact that 1) ADHD and ADD diagnoses are more and more common each year and 2) the availability of Ritalin increases with the number of diagnoses. The following statistics help to show the extent of the problem:

  • Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 11% of children in the U.S. were diagnosed with ADHD in 2011.
  • The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) has found that 1.3 million teens reported misusing Ritalin or Adderall in the 30 days previous.
  • According to SAMHSA’s DAWN Report, the number of visits to emergency rooms due to complications from ADHD stimulant use shot up from 13,379 in 2005 to 31,244 in 2010.

Where do people get their prescription stimulants?

A lot of people in their 20s obtain prescription stimulant medications in spite of not having prescriptions. This is a major issue that may give way to rampant misuse. But where do these young people get their hands on the medications?

A 2016 Recovery Brands survey revealed that a surprising 63% of young individuals between 18 and 28 years old acquire prescription stimulants used to treat ADHD via companions. More than 20% get ahold of them through family members, almost 20% get them from other students, and less than 15% obtain them by means of dealers.

Individuals with doctor approval for these medications can help out by tracking their doctor-prescribed ADHD stimulants in order to protect susceptible college-age individuals from substance misuse and its consequences.

Teen Ritalin Abuse

It is often prescribed to young children and teens; however, when surveyed, young children often state that they believe Ritalin has no potential for abuse. For this reason, it’s extremely important to talk to your teen about the fact that Ritalin can be addictive and prescription drugs can be as dangerous as street drugs.

How to Find Help for Ritalin Misuse or Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with Ritalin misuse, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start anyone battling addiction on the path to a happier and healthier life. Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted facilities across the country. To learn more about rehab programs and treatment options with AAC, please contact one of our caring admissions navigators free at . You can also check your insurance coverage online now to determine whether your health insurance provider will cover treatment.

Additional Resources on Ritalin Addiction

See the following articles to find more information on the dangers of Ritalin addiction and the path to recovery:

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