Ritalin Abuse Causes, Statistics, Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Ritalin?

Ritalin is a drug that is commonly used to treat ADHD. However, it is also a drug that is consistently abused to try to get high or focus on school work. The generic name for Ritalin is methylphenidate, and it is a potent psychostimulant. Ritalin improves the levels and efficacy of neurotransmitters in the brain. This is accomplished by reducing the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. It is pharmacologically and structurally similar to cocaine, but it is not as strong nor do the effects last as long. Ritalin is also used to increase or maintain attentiveness, treat Narcolepsy, fight exhaustion, treat depression, treat obesity and improve concentration.

Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed psychostimulant and also one of the most abused drugs in the US. It is normally not synthesized but stolen. In fact, Ritalin is one of the top 10 stolen prescription drugs in America. It comes in several different forms such as patches, tablets, liquid, and capsules. Its mode of ingestion includes oral, inhalation (snorting), and injection. The potential to develop a Ritalin addiction is increased when Ritalin is inhaled or injected. The effects are felt much quicker (within 5–10 minutes when inhaled and 10–15 seconds when injected) and greatly intensified. There are some symptoms experienced like abdominal pain, anxiety, headache, pupil dilation and psychosis.

Other names for Ritalin include Kiddie Coke, Skittles, Vitamin R, Smarties, Poor man’s cocaine, Diet Coke, Rids, Kiddie Cocaine and R-ball.

Ritalin Addiction Treatment

Gradual reduction of Ritalin is the most effective way to stop the addiction. Sometimes, an antidepressant can be used to help with the withdrawal symptoms. The first step to ending a Ritalin addiction is to admit there is a problem. The next step is to get loved ones involved and then seek help from a Ritalin addiction treatment center. This is the safest and most effective way to end the addiction. They will be able to assist you in reducing the intake of Ritalin. This will take an extend amount of time to complete, but it is much safer than abruptly stopping. There are a number of sources that can help with stopping a Ritalin addiction. The help is there. Take the first step and reach out to speak with either a loved one or a professional.

Statistics of Ritalin Abuse

Ritalin is a potent stimulant and many statistics address stimulants as a class and often do not address Ritalin individually. The first statistic is about stimulants and not specifically about Ritalin. Other statistical data follows:

  • An estimated 9.0 million people aged 12 or older (3.6 percent) were current users of illicit drugs other than marijuana in 2010. The majority of these users (7.0 million persons or 2.7 percent of the population) were non-medical users of psychotherapeutic drugs, including 5.1 million users of pain relievers, 2.2 million users of tranquilizers, 1.1 million users of stimulants, and 374,000 users of sedatives [1].
  • Today, between 1.6 percent and 3.4 percent of students in these grades have abused Ritalin in the prior 12 months, with gradual (no significant) declines continuing this year at grades 8 and 12 [2].
  • Hispanics do have the highest reported rates of use for some drugs in 12th grade—marijuana, inhalants, cocaine, crack, salvia, Ritalin, and crystal methamphetamine. In 8th grade, however, they tend to come out highest of the three racial/ethnic groups on nearly all classes of drugs [3].
  • In 2010, an estimated 3.0 million persons aged 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months. This averages to about 8,100 initiates per day and was similar to the estimate for 2009 (3.1 million). A majority of these past year illicit drug initiates reported that their first drug was marijuana (61.8 percent). About one quarter initiated with psychotherapeutics (26.2 percent, including 17.3 percent with pain relievers, 4.6 percent with tranquilizers, 2.5 percent with stimulants, and 1.9 percent with sedatives). A sizable proportion reported inhalants (9.0 percent) as their first illicit drug, and a small proportion used hallucinogens as their first drug (3.0 percent) [1].
  • Since it was first measured in 2001, Ritalin use has declined in use by about one half among 12th graders and by more in the lower grades [2].

Causes of Ritalin Addiction

There are a multitude of motives as to why a Ritalin addiction is developed. The reasons can range from trying to stay awake and study for a test to trying to numb the pain of some type of trauma. Ritalin is addictive and the effects closely resemble those of cocaine and amphetamines. Ritalin is often crushed and snorted or injected. This mode of intake helps increase the effects of Ritalin increases the potential of developing an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can quickly occur if the drug is abruptly ceased. A Ritalin addiction treatment program can assist in ending the dependency.

Signs of Ritalin Use, Addiction and Dependence

When someone is abusing Ritalin, they exhibit signs of being under the influence of the drug. There are several signals and indicators that can be seen to help evaluate if someone has a Ritalin dependency. These signs will be displayed both physically and psychologically. A few of the symptoms are below:

  • Increased aggression
  • Nausea
  • Hearing voices
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Urges to harm oneself
  • Euphoria
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Pupil dilation
  • Tachycardia (rapid resting heart rate)
  • Stunted growth

Ritalin Effects

Ritalin addiction has a wide array of negative effects. These effects touch all aspects of the person with the dependency. It negatively impacts their physical, psychological and personal lives. Some of these harmful impacts include:

Physical signs:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Alopecia (loss of hair)
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Nausea
  • Pupil dilation
  • Tachycardia (rapid resting heart rate)
  • Stunted growth
  • Diaphoresis (sweating)
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Libido increased or decreased

Psychological signs:

  • Hearing voices
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Depression
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Severe anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Urges to harm oneself
  • Increased aggression
  • Grandiosity
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Dysphoria

Personal signs:

  • Career is ruined
  • Loss of family
  • Important relationships are lost
  • Loss of money
  • Stops doing enjoyable activities
  • Spends more time alone

Ritalin Withdrawal

It is relatively easy to develop a Ritalin addiction, but ending one is much more difficult. If Ritalin is abruptly discontinued, the effects of withdrawal will occur. Some of these symptoms include extreme fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns, depression and irregular heart rhythms. Although Ritalin withdrawal is normally not life threatening, it can lead the user back to abusing the drug due to the intense discomfort. The severity of the withdrawal is connected to the length of time Ritalin was abused, the amount used, dosage strength, dosage frequency, previous use of cross-dependent or cross-tolerant drugs, and the manner in which the dosage is reduced.

Other Articles About Ritalin

  • When used exactly as prescribed, Ritalin is considered safe, which is why it is so frequently prescribed for children. Although Ritalin increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, like other stimulants, the controlled dosage prevents the chemical changes from inducing the euphoric effects of illegal stimulants.

References

[1]: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm

[2]: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/08drugpr_complete.pdf

[3]: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2012.pdf

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 13, 2013
Published on AddictionHope.com, Addiction & Abuses Resources

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