Ritalin is a prescription stimulant prescribed for conditions such as ADHD, but it is abused by teens and adults seeking a high. Physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of Ritalin addiction include:
After recognizing signs of Ritalin abuse, a concerned parent or loved one may want to recommend treatment to the affected individual. Though Ritalin addiction can cause significant damage to a person’s life, most of its effects can be effectively reversed with comprehensive treatment.
Ritalin is a drug of abuse among some because they believe or have experienced that it:
Adderall and Ritalin both keep the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain longer. But Adderall, unlike Ritalin, causes the brain to release more dopamine and norepinephrine. From an abuse standpoint, Ritalin may be more desirable to some because its effects set in and peak sooner than those associated with Adderall.
Individuals who abuse Ritalin reportedly experience a high feeling, followed by a crash. During the crash, the person may feel mentally dull, depressed, and/or fatigued. These feelings may be observable as the person not being able to hold or follow a conversation, looking down, and/or complaining of tiredness. The most common side effects associated with Ritalin use may be more extreme when abuse occurs. The following is a partial list of some of the most common side effects:
Some of the more serious side effects associated with Ritalin abuse include but are not limited to:
Signs of a Ritalin overdose include but are not limited to:
Withdrawal symptoms associated with Ritalin abuse include but are not limited to:
One of the most common side effects of Ritalin abuse is developing a stimulant use disorder. No one is immune from developing a substance use disorder. Addictive drugs, such as Ritalin, are used therapeutically, but patients seldom develop a use disorder, provided they follow the doctor’s treatment plan. When individuals start to abuse Ritalin, they stray into dangerous and unfamiliar territory. As a result of tolerance, a natural process, a person will need to take increasing doses of Ritalin to get the wanted high. The problem is, as the dose increases, so too do the potential side effects and risk of harm. Although the body is engineered for survival, if it gets used to drugs, it will depend on those drugs to live, even if doing so entirely undermines wellbeing.
If a person takes a large dose of Ritalin, there is risk of death. Even in children who do not abuse Ritalin, this drug has caused fatal heart attacks. The overdose symptoms above can tip off a person to the need to get immediate help before an acute situation, like a seizure or convulsions, sets in.
As Ritalin is a prescription drug, a person may visit different doctors in order to get a large enough supply. These individuals will have to fill their prescriptions at pharmacies around town and beyond. Doing this can leave its mark; a person will typically collect numerous prescription bottles that show different doctors’ names and pharmacies and reflect an overlap in time between prescriptions. While adults may engage in this behavior, it is not likely teens will do so. Among teens and young adults, the more likely scenario is that that they borrow or even steal Ritalin from friends, family, and/or neighbors.According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Ritalin can be reformatted for abuse. One way is for a person to crush and snort the Ritalin. Individuals who abuse Ritalin this way will typically own a hammer-like device that can grind the Ritalin into a snortable powder. This may include the heel of a shoe, an espresso tamper, or a hammer. These individuals may also use a straight-edged object, such as a credit card, to make the powdered Ritalin into lines for snorting. A loved one may find such objects with powder residue on them.
Ritalin can also be crushed and liquefied for injection. A person who uses this method of administration is sure to have paraphernalia. Called a kit, a person who uses injectable drugs will, at a minimum, need a syringe, spoon (for cooking), lighter or candle, and a rope or belt (to tighten around a limb to make it easier to find a vein). If paraphernalia is found, and it shows residue (such as burn marks on a spoon) it is exceedingly likely that Ritalin abuse by injection is occurring. Of course, a person may not know that the injectable drug is Ritalin; there will need to be a tipoff, such as hearing slang for Ritalin (listed below) or finding Ritalin prescription bottles.
The following behavioral changes may emerge around Ritalin abuse:
There are a host of additional possible behavioral side effects, but one of the most telling signs is simply a change in a person. Most people do not suddenly experience a shift in personality out of the blue.