The risk of Ritalin abuse must be taken seriously because Ritalin can be habit forming when used for long periods of time or at higher than recommended doses.
What Is Ritalin?
Ritalin is a stimulant that is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, otherwise known as ADD or ADHD.
At levels prescribed by a doctor it is safe, but all stimulants cause a "high" at higher doses.
Signs of Ritalin intoxication include an irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperatures, and the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures.
Also, ingesting high doses of stimulants can lead to hostility or feelings of paranoia and hostility in some individuals.
According to a 1996 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) study, roughly 30-50% of adolescents in drug treatment centers reported "non-medical" use of Ritalin.
A 1998 Indiana University study of 44,232 students found that 6.8 percent of ninth-graders surveyed reported abusing Ritalin, either snorted or injected, at least once. Of those students, 2.5 percent reported abusing Ritalin monthly or more often. In addition, some adolescents abuse Ritalin for it's contribution toward weight loss.
The Pattern Of Abuse
Addiction is rarely intentional, rather it occurs when an individual begins to depend on the immediate and predictable high Ritalin provides.
Addiction is characterized by increasing dosages and frequent episodes of use, followed by an enormous “low” in the form of depression. Severe Ritalin side effects, including death, have been reported with Ritalin abuse and addiction.
Over time, drugs can derail motivation to perform everyday life demands. Activities or relationships that were previously enjoyable go largely ignored in favor of drug use and recovery time.
Ritalin tablets are either abused orally, or crushed and snorted. It can also be dissolved in water and injected, but this is more rare. A popular means of dispersal is adolescents giving or selling their Ritalin medication to their peers.
Crushing the tablets and snorting the powder like cocaine is popular. Another form of Ritalin abuse is through dissolving Ritalin in water and injecting the fluid.
Ritalin should not be mixed with other medications without the approval of a doctor, especially antidepressants or over-the-counter cold medicines.
Antidepressants may enhance the effects of Ritalin, and Ritalin in combination with decongestants may cause blood pressure to become dangerously high or lead to irregular heart rhythms.
Make sure Ritalin is only taken as directed, and inform children to never share pills with friends.
Avoid problems by dispensing all medication to your child yourself in order to make sure it is not abused. Keep all medications out of reach.
If medication is needed during the school day, it should be administered by the school nurse.
Report any side effects to the prescribing doctor, and seek emergency medical attention if you or your child experiences any severe or unusual reactions while taking Ritalin.
Treatment for Ritalin addiction or abuse, depending on the severity, often combines an initial detoxification and a course of behavioral therapy or some type of 12-step program.