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What is Ritalin?

Ritalin, also known by its generic name methylphenidate, is a Schedule II medication commonly prescribed by a doctor to help treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Ritalin can also be prescribed to help treat narcolepsy which targets the central nervous system (CNS). Since Ritalin is a stimulant medication it stimulates the CNS by influencing brain neurotransmitters that block the natural dopamine and norepinephrine.

This can lead to mental and emotional changes in Ritalin users, as dopamine sends signals between nerve cells and is linked to mood control and sensations of pleasure. Norepinephrine includes dopamine in its chemical makeup, and is released from the adrenal glands during stressful situations. Triggering a “fight or flight” response, norepinephrine’s job is to prepare the organs for movement. In short, Ritalin use impacts natural states of pleasure and stress.

Someone who is diagnosed with ADHD is often prescribed Ritalin to help improve concentration, impulse control, and focus. However, Ritalin can and is often abused leading to addiction. Since Ritalin effects neurotransmitters, it can increase the feeling of euphoria that can lead to addiction. Ritalin can have other effects on the body such as decreased appetite, increased energy, and when taken in high doses, can have the same effect as cocaine.

Is Ritalin Addictive?

Ritalin is a stimulant that affects the CNS and intensifies brain chemicals that create stimulation. Whether an individual is taking this medication for medical reasons or recreational use, it blocks the natural dopamine from being absorbed into the brain. In a healthy brain, the brain will send off dopamine naturally when the person does something that makes them feel happy. As a brain becomes used to the extra dopamine levels from Ritalin, the brain then stops producing its own dopamine. As a result, the brain feels as if it must rely on this medication to absorb the right amount of dopamine which then results in drug abuse, then addiction.

Addiction to Ritalin typically does not occur if someone takes the medication as prescribed by a doctor. When someone becomes addicted to Ritalin, they may feel as if they are unable to function properly without it. Addiction can make the individual feel that they need to continue taking this medication to avoid any adverse side effects.

Ritalin Side Effects

Side effects of abusing Ritalin can be severe and should be monitored by a doctor. Ritalin can change a person’s heart rate and cause issues with their breathing. Common side effects of Ritalin include:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Mood changes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Possible seizures
  • Paranoia, delusions or hallucinations
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches

More severe side effects include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Hives
  • Swollen tongue, throat or lips

Ritalin is known to cause complications for some people, even those who have been taking it for a period of time by prescription or recreationally. If the following symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Chest pain accompanied with trouble breathing
  • Hallucination
  • Convulsions
  • Wounds that cannot be explained
  • Skin color changes
  • Muscle twitches
  • Blurred vision
  • Flu symptoms

Common Names for Ritalin

Ritalin can be referred to by its medical name or its street name. Medical brand names include:

  • Aptensio XR
  • Concerta
  • Metadate CD
  • Metadate ER
  • Methylin
  • Quillivant XR
  • Ritalin LA
  • Ritalin-SR

Street names include:

  • Kiddy coke or kiddy cocaine
  • Poor man’s cocaine
  • Speed
  • Uppers
  • Vitamin R
  • R-ball
  • Skippy
  • Smarties
  • Kibbles & Bits
  • Diet Coke
  • R Pop
  • Coke Junior
  • Jif
  • Study buddies

Long-Term Effects of Ritalin Use

When Ritalin is prescribed, some dangerous long-term effects can occur. A recent research study conducted states that, children who have been taking Ritalin long-term have had effects on their brain. Another study showed that taking Ritalin during the childhood stages decreased a person’s GABA levels during adulthood. Common long-term impact of Ritalin use includes:

  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Psychotic or manic symptoms
  • Dependence
  • Cardiac and organ damage

Treatment for Ritalin Addiction

In treatment facilities, professionals do not use medications to treat methylphenidate addiction. Addiction treatment programs typically combine therapy and education to help the addict understand their personal issues that lead to substance abuse.

The standard addition therapy option is behavioral therapy. This form of treatment is used to help individuals fight against methylphenidate addiction and recognize their adverse actions and behaviors in their life. Behavioral therapy can also be combined with support groups or counseling to allow emotional growth, and for the individual to develop healthy and positive relationships. Some other programs can include fitness and nutrition to help the individual learn how to live a healthier life. Since the goal of beating addiction is long-term recovery and sobriety, the treatment plans can differ depending on the individual’s unique needs.

If you or someone you know is battling Ritalin addiction or drug abuse, please contact one of our Admissions Coordinators today. Serenity Acres has a team of caring, compassionate professionals who can give confidential advice regarding treatment.