It is easy to get addicted to Ritalin (Methylphenidate) even when the drug is used as recommended by a doctor. Ritalin is a prescription stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When used for ADHD, it stimulates the brain to increase focus and alertness.
The Risk of Ritalin Addiction
The risk of Ritalin addition is higher in people who misuse or abuse the medication. Ritalin is a commonly misused by college students to improve academic performance or those wanting to increase job performance or work overtime. The drug is known to give a rush of energy that can keep users awake and functional for hours.
Ritalin also stimulates release of the hormone, dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria. This “feel good” sensation causes people to want the drug frequently and in higher doses. They can eventually end up becoming “hooked” on Ritalin.
Causes of Addiction
Ritalin is not as addictive as some other prescription drugs such as opioids. However, misuse, overuse, or abuse can cause a person to develop a high tolerance level. Increased tolerance can lead to addiction.
Misuse or Overuse: Using more Ritalin doses than prescribed is an easy way to get addicted especially if higher doses are taken frequently. Overuse also stems from taking Ritalin after the prescription period ends.
Abuse: Use of Ritalin by someone it was not prescribed to and using it for fun and euphoria are considered drug misuse. Those misusing the drug are likely to get it off the streets or illegally. Street names for Ritalin are Vitamin R, Kibbles and Bits, R-Ball, and Skippy
Symptoms of Ritalin Addiction
If you’ve been using Ritalin for any reason and suspect you developed an addiction, here is a symptom checker to help you find out:
• Strong cravings
• Taking higher doses than recommended
• Finding excuses to take Ritalin
• Crushing the tablet to snort or inject
• Lying, stealing, or making false prescription to get the drug
• Agitation, irritability, fatigued or depression
• Dilated pupil
• Weight loss
• Poor sleep patterns
• Continuing to use the drug despite knowing its harmful effects
In addition to the signs and effects of addiction, Ritalin abuse is also known to cause cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke.
Knowing the symptoms of addiction to Ritalin has helped many people seek inpatient or outpatient treatment at a rehab center. Your doctor or mental health professional can give you a referral to seek treatment. You can also call SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for treatment referral services.