Ritalin Addiction, Abuse, Withdrawal & Treatment
Ritalin is stimulant psychoactive drug. Stimulant psychoactive drugs hasten brain and central nervous system activity; producing general effects of increased alertness, heightened senses, surges in energy etc. Ritalin is used to treat attention deficit disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder and narcolepsy (a strong desire to stay asleep which is not normal).
Other psychoactive drugs
Psychoactive drugs are those chemicals that interfere with the functioning of the CNS and the brain. Drugs that hasten the functioning of CNS and brain are called stimulants and these include drugs such as Ritalin, crack cocaine, amphetamine, and crystal meth among others. Drugs that slow the CNS and brain are called stimulants and in this group are opioids and opiates (Hydrocodone, buprenorphine, Opana, Demerol and Tramadol etc) and alcohol.
The mechanism that these drugs use in functioning with the body is attaching to the receptacles or inducing production of endorphins which attach to brain and CNS receptacles to alter or inhibit successful signal transmission from other body organs to the brain and vice versa. This slows the body, generally reducing heart rate and in essence blood pressure, respiration and breathing etc.
The other category of psychoactive drugs are the hallucinogens/ psychedelics which distort thinking completely, giving the person a false sense of pleasure, peace, or even threat etc., which is not the real situation that is happening. Under this category is marijuana, PCP and MDMA does exhibit some traits of this category such as hallucinations, mood swings etc.
Attention deficit disorder patients lack the swiftness of mind and body to act and respond to stimuli in time. They can be said to be slow and the presence of Ritalin boosts their energy, increases their sensory perception, self awareness and alertness, which make them normal-like. Narcolepsy on the other hand, being an unending sleepiness, is treated with Ritalin since in its working mechanism, the drug reduces this sleep tendency and may even cause insomnia – lack of sleep or sleep disturbances.
Ritalin is sometimes taken against prescription for leisure. People who seek leisure from Ritalin take more of it and in shorter frequencies to maximize its effects in the body and mind. They might also use the drug together with other drugs that stimulate the brain, or drugs that make the effects of Ritalin take longer to wear off. Abuse comprises not only the above, but also taking the drug when the body is already overactive, which makes the presence of the drug make automatic processes such as breathing, respiration, heart rate and blood pressure blow out of proportion.
Effects of Ritalin on the body and mind
- Increased alertness and ability to focus
- Energy surges
- Numbing of pain
- A boost in self awareness and self esteem
- Hastened automatic processes in the body, such as heart rate, breathing and respiration rates etc.
- Sweating induced by a rise in body temperature
- Grandiosity and invincibility
- Heightened senses
- Loss of appetite
- An unending craving for the drug
- Hypertension: due to increased heart rate
- Cardiac arrest
- Hyperthermia may destroy some body cells, reducing their effectiveness in normal functioning, which might induce organ failure
- Increased threat perception due to heightened senses
- Rapid breathing
- Extreme pupil narrowing which alters vision
- Intense headaches
- Anorexia – lack of appetite and poor eating habits
- Poor health due to poor eating habits
- Dryness of the skin, which might be marked by rashes and itching
- Sleep disturbances
- Extreme hallucinations and schizophrenia
- Mouth or nose bleeding due to cavity destruction by the drug’s powder and smoke Involuntary twitching of muscles
Use of Ritalin to treat narcolepsy or ADD/ ADHD or the abuse of the drug for leisure does not exempt it from developing addiction. Prolonged use of the drug (meaning long durations of use and somewhat increased dosages taken) reduces the body and brain’s response to the drug, forcing more intake of the drug and in higher quantities to achieve the same effects that were achieved with lesser amounts. This is called increased tolerance for the drug. Abuse comprises taking the drug without any caution whatsoever, and this means that higher quantities and shorter durations, as well as faster means of administration are employed to intensify the effects of Ritalin.
This develops tolerance very fast. Tolerance is succeeded by physical dependence, which means the body is now used to the drug for its regular functioning. Addiction is an amplified version of physical dependence and is a perpetual physical and psychological compulsion for the presence of the drug in the body and mind and it goes beyond the will or conscious desires of the individual. Any absence of the drug, whether temporary or permanent, elicits withdrawal symptoms (most of which are fatal if not properly managed).
This is the process of quitting or redicung the intake of the drug. This is sometimes intentionally carried out for the many negative effects it has on the individual and on society.
Ritalin withdrawal symptoms
These may include slowed heart rate and reduced blood pressure, intense headaches, extreme hallucinations, paranoia, vomiting, abdominal pains, malfunctioning organs (liver, kidney etc.) and others.
A Ritalin overdose occurs when Ritalin levels in the blood reach lethal levels. It may be characterized by a ruptured heart or blood vessels, due to the very high heart beat, destruction of the kidneys, liver, lungs and other organs, bluish skin due to lack of circulation, slowed heart beat and weak pulse, an indication of a failing heart, falling into a coma, realistic hallucinations etc.
* In the event of an overdose, seek medical attention fast.
Drug abuse and addiction is a thorn in everybody’s side. As such, there are efforts to treat addicts and normalize their lives once more. This is done through a rehabilitation program that includes detoxification and therapy to help the addicts safely quit the drug. Detoxification involves stopping further intake of the drug and treating withdrawal symptoms with another drug, whereas counseling helps the addicts address social and psychological factors that predispose him/ her to the drug.