Family history affects a person’s predisposition for addiction of any kind. This predisposition is increased if you or a loved one has a personal history of drug abuse. When used as prescribed by a physician, Ritalin is an important part of a treatment program for ADHD. For those who use Ritalin to control the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sharing your personal and family history of addiction with your doctor is important. Your doctor can learn valuable information about you and the potential for many diseases from your medical history.
Ritalin addiction happens when the body becomes dependent on the drug to function normally. Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that works by calming brain chemicals that may become unbalanced, especially in the area of hyperactivity and impulse control. Ritalin is highly habit forming and can lead to addiction when used inappropriately. Many children begin Ritalin use at an early age and continue into adulthood. This increases the risk for developing a tolerance and using the drug in ways other than directed. College students are especially at risk for selling their medications to others to make money or to help their friends focus for tests or large projects. If you or someone you love uses Ritalin for a medical condition and you think he or she is abusing the medication, look for the following symptoms:
- Needing more of the medication before the next dose is due
- Becoming preoccupied with getting and using the drug
- Needing a supply of the drug on hand at all times
- Going into debt to get and use the drug
- Engaging in illegal activities, like stealing, to get and use the drug
- “Doctor shopping” to get new prescriptions for the drug
- Getting more involved in the drug culture
Genetics and Addiction
Many medical conditions have a genetic component. Heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and certain types of cancers can have connections to an individual’s gene code. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies show that diseases of addiction have some genetic association. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have indentified subtle variations in the DNA sequence. These variations, called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, are places where individuals differ in just a single letter of the genetic code. If these differences appear more often in an individual with a disease it may suggest that the gene increases the susceptibility to that disease. In the area of addiction, GWAS have been done on patients who have lung cancer to see if there is an association with nicotine addiction. More studies are needed in this area, but experts agree that there is both a genetic component and an environmental one when it comes to addiction. Exposure to substance abuse and addiction, stress and other negative behaviors can alter both gene expressions and gene function, resulting in addiction to drugs like Ritalin.
Finding Help for Addiction
If you or a loved one struggles with Ritalin addiction, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about treatment options.