What is Ritalin? Ritalin is the brand name for methylphenidate, a stimulant most often prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Though comprised of different active ingredients, Ritalin is quite similar to Adderall, another stimulant prescribed for the same conditions.
In addition to Ritalin, methylphenidate also goes by the brand names Attenta, Concerta, Daytrana, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, Penid, and Rubifen.
Ritalin works by increasing the availability of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. This speeds up your brain activity and boosts your sense of focus. If you have ADHD or narcolepsy and are prescribed Ritalin, it’ll help you maintain your energy and concentration levels throughout the day.
Because Ritalin enhances physical and psychological performance, it’s often misused by students and professionals who don’t have a medical need for the drug and solely want to improve their cognitive processes in order to study or complete work tasks. Ritalin also reduces your appetite, so some people struggling with eating disorders use it as a diet aid.
What Are the Side Effects of Ritalin Abuse?
If you routinely misuse Ritalin, it’s easy to develop a psychological dependence. Over time, your brain builds a tolerance to Ritalin, meaning you need more of it to achieve the same effect. If you’re using it for academic or athletic enhancement, you might eventually come to rely on it to continue performing at the same level.
This can lead to physical dependence, wherein you genuinely do need the drug to function normally. This is because your brain has become chemically reliant on it to maintain its dopamine and norepinephrine levels. If you think you or someone you know may be misusing Ritalin, you may notice some of the following side effects:
- increased irritability
- mood swings/rapid heart rate
- paranoia/anxiety or depression
- panic attacks
- decreased appetite
Because use often starts as seemingly inconsequential and ramps up more quickly than you may realise, it can be hard to tell when addiction is taking hold. If you’re concerned that your (or your loved one’s) Ritalin use is becoming a problem, ask yourself if you notice the following behaviour:
- Asking other people for their Ritalin pills
- Crushing and snorting Ritalin to feel the effects faster
- Lying or stealing from others to get more Ritalin
- Doctor shopping, i.e. try to obtain prescriptions from multiple medical professionals
- Neglecting other life responsibilities due to Ritalin use
- Obsessively fixating on how to get more Ritalin
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using
If one or more of the above sounds familiar to you, it may be time to make a change. Get in touch with our admissions team to see how they can help.
Can You Overdose on Ritalin?
Yes, you can overdose on Ritalin.
As a stimulant, Ritalin speeds up your body’s vital processes. It increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. As these systems increasingly go into overdrive, you become more at risk for cardiac arrest, stroke, and circulation failure. A severe enough Ritalin overdose can also cause seizures, coma, and even death. Signs of Ritalin overdose include:
- panic, confusion or delirium
- significantly elevated body temperature
- uncontrollable muscle twitching
- nausea and vomiting
- rapid breathing and heart rate
- agitation or aggression
The troubling hallucinations or heightened levels of aggression caused by taking too much Ritalin can also cause people to act out uncharacteristically and cause harm to themselves and others.
NOTE: Overdosing on Ritalin can be a medical emergency. If you think you or someone you know has overdosed on Ritalin, call 999 immediately.
Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms
Whether you’re misusing Ritalin by taking larger doses than you’re prescribed or taking it without a prescription, cutting down or stopping your use is likely to cause withdrawal symptoms. Your brain has become accustomed to Ritalin’s effects on its dopamine levels, and without the drug you’ll likely experience withdrawal systems related to your emotions and energy levels.
These symptoms can be both physical and psychological. Many signs of withdrawal are the opposite of the drug’s effect on your body and mind. For example, using Ritalin increases your energy and concentration. In withdrawal, therefore, you might feel foggy and fatigued. Other withdrawal symptoms include:
- vivid dreams/dizziness
- changes in heart rate
- changes in blood pressure
- increased appetite
- irritability/inability to feel pleasure
If you took Ritalin to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, it’s common to experience stimulant-induced sleep disorder. In this case, you may have difficulty concentrating or feel excessively sleepy because the Ritalin is no longer managing your energy levels. These withdrawal symptoms typically aren’t dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage on your own.
Treating Ritalin Addiction
Successfully treating Ritalin addiction is a comprehensive process that must address not only surface-level behaviours but also their underlying causes. Most people struggling with Ritalin addiction have underlying conditions that led them to start abusing the drug in the first place. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, or other mental health conditions.
Even if you weren’t struggling with mental health conditions previously, Ritalin eventually ‘rewires’ the pathways in your brain. It increases your levels of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ chemical that creates the positive feelings users seek. Over time, however, this causes your brain to produce less dopamine naturally, creating a dependency.
Once your brain is dependent on Ritalin to release dopamine, cutting down or stopping use can trigger depressive feelings. This is one reason medically assisted detox is highly encouraged for Ritalin addiction.
Ritalin Addiction Detox and Therapy
At Castle Craig, we provide comprehensive Ritalin addiction care through medically assisted detox and therapy. Our drug treatment programme is based on decades of professional and practical experience in treating addiction and helps patients from all backgrounds to heal and lead a rewarding life without drugs.
Our patients’ comfort and safety is our highest priority. In our specialised medical detox centre, you’ll first receive a thorough medical assessment to establish your detox plan. To keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum, patients dealing with Ritalin addiction are usually put on a tapering regime over the first few days. This keeps uncomfortable cravings and other withdrawal side effects at bay while reducing your body’s physical dependence.
Through intensive individual and group therapy at Castle Craig, you’ll learn tools to combat negative feelings and relapse prevention techniques. You’ll also strengthen your impulse control through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and have the opportunity to participate in complementary therapies to enrich your mental, physical and spiritual health.
Each patient at Castle Craig follows a personalised treatment plan fit to their needs. As part of your care, you’ll have access to a host of therapeutic modalities, including:
Effective Treatment for Ritalin Addiction
Treatment at Castle Craig gives you the chance to take your first steps towards recovery in a safe, supportive setting that offers a complete change of pace from your day-to-day life. Whether you’re taking Ritalin to perform better at work or school or to keep negative feelings at bay, it can be challenging to begin your healing journey in the same environment that triggered your addiction in the first place.
At Castle Craig, we handle each patient’s care with the utmost discretion and respect.
You’ll make new friends who share similar experiences and be surrounded by a strong support network of recovery peers and addiction care specialists.
In our residential treatment program, you’ll receive bespoke care in the beautiful, private woodlands of the Scottish Borders. Our expansive 50-acre property provides a tranquil environment perfect for healing from addiction. While here, you’ll have the time and space you need to build coping mechanisms to successfully manage triggers once you’ve completed residential treatment.
Our staff is available 24/7 to answer your questions and discuss treatment options. Call us today for help.