Ritalin, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), can damage the brain not only in high doses common to addiction, but also in standard therapeutic dosages. When Ritalin becomes an addiction for a user, good decision-making capabilities are threatened because of the damage being done to the brain. The longer abuse and addiction continues, the more likely it is that users will experience negative cognitive effects, such as poor decision-making.
The Effects of Ritalin on the Brain
Ritalin can alter the brain and affect decision-making abilities in the following ways:
- In 1986 researchers at Ohio State University studied 24 young adults who had been treated with stimulant medications like Ritalin for hyperactivity. Over half of the subjects were found to have loss of brain tissue.
- A 1994 study by Brookhaven National Laboratory determined that Ritalin decreased the amount of blood flowing to the brain. The frontal lobes (brain areas associated with planning, reasoning and judgment) saw a decrease of up to 30%.
- A 2004 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Harvard Medical School concluded that Ritalin might have long-term effects on brain functionality. Animals given Ritalin were later shown to have evidence of dysfunctional brain reward systems and depressive tendencies.
- In 2006, an FDA spokesperson told a committee that the agency had learned that a surprising number of children taking Ritalin were also suffering from hallucinations. This is indication that Ritalin may alter users’ sense of reality, potentially affecting their decision-making.
- In 2007 researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College found that Ritalin caused brain changes in a number of areas, including those related to social relationships, stress and higher executive functioning.
Making the Decision to Enter Ritalin Addiction Treatment
Unfortunately, cognitive effects of Ritalin abuse may make it harder for those addicted to make the rational decision to enter treatment. For this reason, family and friends may need to intervene, either on a casual basis or by staging a formal intervention. Often, patience and persistence are needed when helping addicted loved ones see their situation clearly. It can be very helpful to have a treatment program selected and arranged in advance, so that when addicted individuals make the decision to enter treatment, it can happen quickly before they lose focus or change their minds.
Let Us Help You
If you or a loved one struggles with Ritalin addiction, let us help you find the way out. We can answer your questions and help you understand your options. We can also check if your insurance will cover treatment costs, if you wish. The helpline is toll free and staffed 24 hours a day. Addiction is a serious but treatable disease – make the decision to call today.