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Ritalin is a drug used to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults. It offers symptoms relief to those who suffer from hyperactivity. Ritalin abuse can result in addiction and syndromes of withdrawal when stopped.

Why Ritalin Can Be Addictive

Ritalin works by increasing the dopamine output in the brain, which helps to improve concentration. Dopamine is also the neurotransmitter very much associated with reward and pleasure in the brain, and for this reason when Ritalin is taken in higher than recommended amounts it can result in euphoria. Anything that causes a psychotropic reaction (a high) can result in a psychological addiction, and Ritalin is no different.

Patients with ADHD who require Ritalin therapy are given the medication in gradually increasing dosages to slowly and steadily build up base levels of dopamine in the brain, and when this process occurs over time and in a controlled manner, there is no intoxication, and there is no risk of addiction.

Addictive if Abused

When people take the medication for non clinical reasons, they tend to take a higher dosage, do get high, and with prolonged abuse do find themselves addicted. Adults and children taking the medication for a legitimate medical condition, and following a doctor's recommendations for dosage amounts and frequency, have little to worry about.

Adults prescribed Ritalin sometimes do experiment with higher doses, and there have been thousands of cases where parents may also take and abuse their children's medications. Although not as potent as a strict amphetamine, the abuse of Ritalin can be quite pleasurable, and is also associated positively with weight loss, and as such can be quite tempting.

Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms

Once a person becomes addicted to Ritalin, when they try to stop taking the drug, they will experience a syndrome of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Hunger
  • Cravings
  • Others

The withdrawal and detox off of Ritalin presents very similarly to other psycho stimulants like crystal meth and cocaine, and the symptoms are predominantly internal and psychological in nature. Detox can best be accomplished in a facility away from access to the drug, and with the prescription of appropriate psychiatric medications; medications that can take the edge off the depression and anxiety.

Ritalin Addiction Treatment

Following detox, most people who have abused and become addicted to Ritalin will require a period of therapy and education. They need to learn what in them cause's drug seeking behaviors, learn how they can avoid future temptations and cravings, and learn why they don’t need to get high to enjoy their lives and families.

A lot of people, especially parents who have abused the mediation, feel great shame for having done so, and these feelings of shame can stop them from getting the help they need to get better. It doesn't matter how you got addicted though, once you are you need to face up to your problem, get the help you deserve, and move on to a better life free from addiction and abuse.

You Can Get Better

Everyone in a drug treatment program has done things that they are ashamed of, and all of us just have to move past this if we want to get better and be better for our families.

If you need some help, have the courage to enter into treatment, have the courage to be a better parent and have the strength to move beyond the legacy of addiction. You can do it, you may need some help, but it's always worth it.

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Page last updated Sep 15, 2015

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