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What Is Ritalin?

Ritalin is a brand name for methylphenidate, the drug that is used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and narcolepsy. It falls in the class of central nervous system stimulants.

Ritalin’s mechanism of action is that it affects the chemicals in the nerves and brain and manages impulse control and hyperactivity issues.

Formats of Ritalin medicine:

Instant release – 3 to 4 hours

Sustained-release (SR) – 6 to 8 hours

Extended-release (LA) – 8 hours

The first two forms of tablets can be taken prior to a meal, with a gap of at least 30 minutes. Ritalin tablets and Ritalin SR tablets, at least 30 to 45 minutes before a meal. Long-acting extended-release capsules should be swallowed as a whole or sprinkled on to a spoonful of food and taken at once.

Ritalin uses also includes relief from muscle pain and headaches. Surprisingly, it can also treat acute depression and chronic fatigue. Children with ADHD issues are prescribed Ritalin by their doctors. However, one should note that Ritalin is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance owing to its habit-forming nature. In simpler words, the drug carries a high risk of addiction.

Street names for Ritalin:

  • Poor man’s cocaine
  • Skittles
  • Study buddies
  • Smarties
  • Rids

How Is Ritalin Taken?

When you use Ritalin as per the proper prescription given by a medical professional who diagnosed your situation, the drug can help achieve a calming effect. It helps you focus on your tasks when consumed in the right amounts. There is a unanimous agreement for the fact that Ritalin is a comparatively safe drug.

But for individuals that are wondering, “Is Ritalin addictive?” the answer is yes. Given the effectiveness of Ritalin in the treatment and management of ADHD, it is safe to assume, albeit wrongly, that it cannot be addictive. However, the truth is contrary to this belief, as the drug comes with a high potential for addiction, and Ritalin abuse side effects can be seen in children, teenagers, and adults alike.

During the 1990s, Ritalin use and abuse grew proportional to the increasing number of prescriptions. Ritalin recreational abuse is especially dangerous because the users may take higher doses than what’s prescribed. In addition, the modes of administration of the drug are typically different than the normal oral route prescribed for legal medications. Users either snort, inject, or crush them to inhale, which makes the delivery mechanism of Ritalin much faster than the intended methods. Besides, the side effects of Ritalin abuse also will be far worse.

Ritalin Intoxication

Since Ritalin is a Schedule II narcotic, it has something in common with drugs such as cocaine and morphine: stimulant effects. Although Ritalin is a prescription drug, its generic counterpart is for purchase. Hence, there are a lot of teens who abuse the drug.

Even with proper medical dosage, the drug can show mild to severe side effects – both physical and psychological, including:

  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Heart problems
  • Rapid breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression


Furthermore, it is a drug of dependence, meaning, long-term use can cause Ritalin addiction.

Also, the drug should not be taken together with certain other medications. For instance, if you have Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, glaucoma, high blood pressure, and other problems, then you must inform your doctor before using Ritalin.

Besides, you should take the drug in the prescribed dosage, but never more. Otherwise, your body can go into a Ritalin overdose. Similar to other “uppers”, abusing Ritalin may cause abdominal cramps, tachycardia, tremors, fever, muscle twitching, and other symptoms. Overdose may sometimes lead to heart stroke, coma, and death.

Ritalin Addiction Symptoms In Students


While Ritalin is majorly used for kids; teens and adults abuse it to get high. Athletes, too, use it to enhance their alertness.

Because Ritalin helps enhance focus and concentration, students who may not have ADHD can also abuse the drug to improve their academic performance. Like amphetamines that are called “speed” or “uppers,” the reputation that Ritalin has earned is that it increases productivity. Since it is highly accessible, school and college students may use it to gain better grades, stay up late, or study more.

They may also take this Schedule II controlled substance to simply get high. In fact, the use of Ritalin and other methylphenidate consumption is markedly higher in the U.S. compared to any other country. Many students who have been diagnosed with ADHD and have access to prescription Ritalin may even sell their medications to other students who are in need of the drug so they can score better at their academic tests.

Ritalin abuse statistics show that a whopping 29% of students in a 2017 survey covering 9 colleges agreed to use prescription stimulant drugs like Ritalin to boost academic performance, and over 11% of them accepted using Ritalin for non-medical reasons. However, reports also suggest that there is no concrete evidence pointing towards enhanced academic benefit for those seeking Ritalin. Worse still, there may be severe side effects of Ritalin in children, when they take the drug unnecessarily.

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Ritalin Abuse Long Term Effects And Half-Life

The half-life of Ritalin can range between 2.5 and 7.7 hours, based on various factors like age, physique, metabolism, etc. When people without ADHD abuse the drug for a prolonged period, they may see increased energy levels. On average, for adults, the effects may last for 3.5 hours.

You can experience exacerbated side effects of Ritalin in long-term if you are addicted to the euphoria it generates. This high is typically not available with other drugs at most therapeutic doses. Also, the effects vary for ADHD patients and those that are not diagnosed with ADHD.

Most side effects of Ritalin and Adderall are almost similar, including:

  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Loss of appetite
  • Panic attacks

Taking Ritalin and alcohol together can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning. Ritalin improves alertness and keeps you awake for a longer time, while alcohol can throw you off-balance and impair your judgment. While Ritalin is a CNS stimulant, alcohol is a CNS depressant. However, the effects of each do not cancel those of the other. Hence, you may experience Ritalin withdrawal.

Ritalin Abuse Statistics


Many people believe that Ritalin and Adderall result in the same intense negative effects, especially when you abuse them for long periods. Both Adderall and Ritalin are stimulants and are highly addictive, but there are some differences in their constitution. Adderall contains two stimulants: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Ritalin is made of a stimulant known as methylphenidate.

If you have long participated in the debate of “Is Ritalin More Addictive Than Adderall?” the below statistics can give you some insights.

  • Per 2015 data, over 970,000 individuals over the age of 12 misused Ritalin and other methylphenidate formulations.
  • Over 16% of college students take it for recreational purposes.
  • The United States saw an increase of 500% in Ritalin sales from 1991 to 1999.
  • In the U.S., Ritalin consumed is about 85% of the total world’s supply.
  • There are more than 5.85 million children diagnosed with ADHD that receive Ritalin as their primary prescription medicine.

How To Spot The Signs Of Ritalin Addiction

As a stimulant, Ritalin heightens the dopamine levels in the brain’s neuron receptors. This naturally occurring chemical activates the brain reward system, which in turn, reinforces dopamine production. Some ADHD-diagnosed patients have numerous dopamine transporters, leading to low dopamine levels. Ritalin helps to block these transporters, keeps a check on healthy dopamine levels, and improves focus and impulse control.

However, when abused, Ritalin can influence too many receptors even in persons without ADHD. When users learn to take higher doses of Ritalin, they start to exhibit compulsions.

Here are some of the signs they show without being deliberate:

  • Ritalin abuse becomes a compulsion, regardless of consequences.
  • Users continue to take it even when they decide to quit.
  • They may relapse on their path of recovery.
  • People with Ritalin addiction may take larger amounts and for longer periods.
  • They start to strain their relationships, work, academics, etc.
  • They spend too much money on buying the drug or cannot manage their finances.
  • Due to their constant cravings, they even neglect their work-related duties or social responsibilities.
  • They show Ritalin withdrawal symptoms due to sudden quitting.
  • You can notice mood swings and behavioral changes in the users.

Lying, being isolated from family or friends, and being dishonest with their close ones are also some of the telltale signs of Ritalin addiction.

Getting Treatment for Ritalin Addiction


Ritalin is not an illegal drug but is a prescription stimulant, which makes it even more dangerous if you develop a physical dependence. Being commonly prescribed, this drug is available to people of all age groups and social standing. It is abused as a study aid, party pill, or for an energy boost. In any case, it can cause physical and psychological effects on your body.

However, quitting cold turkey is not an option, as you would have to face intense withdrawal syndrome. Find the right Ritalin addiction treatment today and start your recovery in a wholesome way. Call us or look through the AddictionAide website for a rehab near you.


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