Ritalin is a brand-name formulation of methylphenidate. It enhances the effects of dopamine and provides feelings of pleasure when taken without a prescription or in greater quantities or frequencies than prescribed. Taking Ritalin to address symptoms of ADHD may lead to improved quality of life, but misuse and abuse can have serious consequences.
How Does Ritalin Work?
Stimulants like Ritalin disrupt communication systems in the brain. They increase the amount of dopamine in the brain by changing messages about the release and reuptake of this brain chemical, and these changes to dopamine levels affect the entire reward system. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shares that Ritalin and other stimulant abuse lead to, “changes in the structure and function of brain neurons…the changes may come from dopamine depletion, changes in neurotransmitter receptors or other structures, or changes in other brain messenger pathways” (“Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders”). Some of these changes may become permanent with chronic Ritalin abuse and lead to permanent damage to neurons.
Consequences of Ritalin Abuse
Any drug abuse comes with risks, but Ritalin abuse has unique risks. Frequent use can lead to anger, paranoia and psychosis. Large doses elevate body temperature and heart rate to dangerously high levels, and users may experience heart failure or seizure resulting from these effects. Regular abuse can impair cognitive function and reduce overall physical and psychological health. Abuse will also disrupt employment, relationships, and finances. Ending Ritalin abuse as soon as possible is imperative, as the effects of abuse may continue long after drug use has ended, and the longer the drug is abused the more likely these symptoms are to persist. Changes in the brain contribute to continued cravings for the drug, so participating in aftercare following Ritalin abuse treatment is an essential component of avoiding relapse.
Getting Help for Ritalin Abuse
We understand the unique challenges of Ritalin addiction and recovery, and we understand the importance of finding treatment resources that are experienced in and effective at addressing this form of substance abuse. If you are ready to end yours or a loved one’s stimulant use, call our toll-free helpline today. Our caring and knowledgeable admissions coordinators are here 24 hours a day to connect you to the intervention, treatment, and aftercare resources you need.