Used by doctors to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Ritalin is a psycho-stimulant commonly prescribed to young people, but recent studies suggest an increase in use by older adults. In 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that illicit drug use for adults aged 50 to 59 increased 233% between 2002 and 2011. Likewise, another 2012 SAMHSA report estimated that the number of adults over 50 entering addiction treatment will double by 2020. The SAMHSA reports do not directly address senior citizens aged 65 and older, but the usage data showed an upward swing of drug use for those in higher age brackets.
Reasons for Ritalin Abuse among Senior Citizens
Senior citizens may take Ritalin for any of the following benefits:
- In 2012, the Neurology Today journal cited that Ritalin may help elderly patients with Alzheimer’s
- In 2008, The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that Ritalin use may reduce the risk for serious falls
- A 2003 article in The Wall Street Journal argued that Ritalin shows promise for treating lethargy and depression
Likewise the following reasons reveal potential motivations for illicit Ritalin abuse:
- Stay mentally sharp as cognitive function begins to slow down
- Exploit the euphoric effects to deal with physical or emotional pain
- Attempt to self-medicate a mental health issue or mood disorder
Regarding mental health issues, the government’s Administration of Aging website estimates that 7 million American seniors suffer from depression. Likewise, many seniors struggle with confusion, which can lead to improper dosage levels and unintended addiction.
Ritalin Addiction Signs
Ritalin abuse is associated with several side effects, including the following examples:
- Elevated blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and irritability
- Physical discomforts like nausea, heart palpitations and abdominal pain
- Sudden mood swings toward anxiety and aggressive behavior
- Increased risk of heart attacks, seizures, strokes and organ damage
These issues can be extremely dangerous for senior citizens, especially if they are not in the best health as it is. If an intervention is necessary to help a senior citizen quit abusing Ritalin, it should be handled delicately through a professional interventionist.
Addiction Treatment for Senior Citizens
When it comes to addiction treatment, senior citizens often have the following needs:
- Withdrawal symptoms may be more difficult for older patients to endure
- Seniors may have other physical ailments that require ongoing treatment
- The elderly may require a slower pace of treatment
Several treatment centers offer programs specifically for senior citizens, and they can offer the following services:
- Medically supervised detox that minimize withdrawal symptoms
- Integrated care and monitoring for any co-occurring physical and mental health issues
- Counseling to address substance abuse triggers and unresolved conflicts
- Behavioral therapies to improve mental and emotional processing
Rehab centers can also educate senior patients and their families on the proper use of other necessary prescription medications.
Ritalin Abuse Help
It is never too late to get help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to discuss warning signs, treatment methods and facility options for elderly Ritalin addicts. Our counselors can also recommend interventionists and check health insurance policies for rehab benefits. We are always available so please call now.