Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that treats the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in both children and adults. It works to calm chemicals in the brain that control impulses and hyperactivity, but it is a highly-addictive drug, so using it for longer or in higher doses than prescribed can lead to an addiction. Ritalin also boosts short-term memory both in children and adults, but other studies indicate that long-term use, especially when someone starts taking the drug at a young age, can lead to long-term memory problems.
How Ritalin Works
A recent Duke University study found that Ritalin and similar stimulants boost the level of dopamine and serotonin in the brains of laboratory mice. These two substances are neurotransmitters that are found in the brain, and they produce a sense of well-being. Scientists now believe that, if the link between serotonin and dopamine is off balance in the brain, it may contribute to hyperactivity. To combat this, Ritalin balances these chemicals, which calms hyperactivity and increases focus. This can improve memory function for any user. However, as children grow, they may need greater doses to control their symptoms, so they will need increasingly more of the drug. The problem is that, the longer a person uses the drug, the more the body becomes dependent on it to function normally.
How Ritalin Affects Memory
Because Ritalin helps balance chemicals in the brain, it can also help children who suffer from ADHD improve their memories. Teachers and parents often complain that one ADHD symptom is that children cannot remember to complete simple tasks and stay organized. This disorder also makes it difficult for children to remember small details, like when assignments are due or what supplies they need for each class. However, Ritalin can improve short-term memory in children with ADHD, making the school day run more smoothly.
On the other hand, the potential danger of long-term Ritalin use is disrupted brain-cell development, especially when people start taking the drug at an early age. The area of the brain that seems most affected is the hippocampus, the region of the brain critical to memory, spatial navigation and behavioral inhibition. This can lead to memory problems and depression in adults.
Ritalin Addiction Help
Ritalin can be a vital part of treatment for ADHD, but patients may also need psychotherapy, behavior management and counseling. However, long-term Ritalin use and abuse can lead to addiction. If you or a loved one uses Ritalin and struggles with addiction, we are here to help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to speak with a professional addiction counselor. They can answer your questions about addiction and help you find the right treatment program for your unique situation.