Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that controls brain chemicals that may become unbalanced. It works in the area of the brain that contributes to hyperactivity and impulse control. Ritalin is used to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is also used to treat a sleep condition called narcolepsy. If used appropriately, Ritalin can be an effective treatment for these conditions when combined with other types of therapies, such as counseling. Using Ritalin for long periods of time can result in dependence on the drug and, in some cases, addiction. Those who use Ritalin may become dependent because the drug begins to take over the brain’s natural responses to certain stimuli. People who use Ritalin for legitimate medical reasons do not always have complications or side effects when they stop taking the drug. However, Ritalin can cause severe withdrawal symptoms for those who are addicted. Understanding that the brain needs some time to adjust after an addiction can help a person cope when drug use is stopped.
Ritalin addiction occurs when the drug is used for longer periods of time or in larger amounts than prescribed by a doctor. When a person uses more Ritalin than prescribed, the body develops a tolerance for the drug and needs more of the drug to achieve the same results. Over time, dependence begins, and the brain can no longer function at normal levels without the drug. Using Ritalin for recreational purposes or as a way to focus while studying is dangerous and can lead to drug abuse. If you or a loved one uses Ritalin and you suspect there is a problem, look for these symptoms:
- Needing more of the drug to get the same level of relief
- Keeping a supply of the drug on-hand at all times
- Becoming preoccupied with getting and using the drug
- Engaging in dangerous or illegal behaviors, such as stealing, to get and use the drug
- Becoming more involved in the drug culture
- Experiencing changes in relationships with family members and friends
- Experiencing changes in physical appearance
If you notice any of these signs of drug addiction, it is time to get help.
The Brain after Ritalin Use
Ritalin works in the reward center of the brain, much like other drugs. It increases a person’s ability to concentrate while decreasing his or her ability to understand what is going on around him or her. This lessens the chances of distraction and improves focus and attention span. Ritalin reduces the brain’s ability to create new neuro pathways, which can impact the ability to make appropriate decisions over time. Once a person stops using Ritalin, the brain begins to function again although it may take some time. Each person is different, so the amount of time it takes for the brain to return to a pre-medicated state varies. Getting the proper help through addiction rehab, counseling and support groups can increase the chances of a successful recovery from Ritalin abuse.
Finding Help for Ritalin Addiction
Ritalin can be an important part of a treatment plan for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Those who misuse the drug are in danger of addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with Ritalin addiction, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free number to speak with a trained helpline counselor. We are available 24 hours a day and are ready to answer your questions about addiction and help you find an appropriate treatment program.