Ritalin Addiction and Abuse

In most cases, Ritalin is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy.  However, it is easy for a loved one to start abusing Ritalin.

Experts say that in many cases, Ritalin abuse is a habit that arrives at college after being developed in high school. The same “miracle” stimulant that helps young adults and teens stay focused in school produces a high that is nearly identical to cocaine. When used as intended, Ritalin can help increase the ability to pay attention, stay focused on an activity, and control behavior problems.

You know there is something wrong, but are you afraid of what will happen if you address it? What should you do? Ask one of our counselors for help. Our experienced staff would be more than happy to discuss with you how you can help your loved one work through their addiction, and live a drug-free lifestyle.

Ritalin Addiction and Abuse

How did your loved one develop an addiction to Ritalin? Quite easily, considering it is methylphenidate, which stimulates the central nervous system and creates feelings of alertness and concentration. Most of the time, teens and young adults use it to study better, harder, faster, and longer. Ritalin helps people come out of their shells and feel more comfortable in social situations.

The sad truth is that Ritalin is inexpensive and can be found almost anywhere. The sale price of Ritalin, referred to as “Poor Man’s Cocaine,” “Diet Coke,” “Smart Drug,” and Vitamin R,” is anywhere between $1 and $5 per pill in school up to $20 per pill on the black market.

Your loved one might be lying about their symptoms at the doctor’s office to obtain a Ritalin prescription, or buying it online. The addictive “up feeling” happens fast when the drug is crushed up the pill and snorted. This is followed by the inevitable crash resulting in fatigue, depression, and decreased alertness. Your loved one learns that feeling can be relieved by taking another pill to restart that process. Next might be larger doses, a bigger rush, and increased intolerance.

Your loved one might believe Ritalin is less serious than abusing street drugs, but that is not always the case. Breaking the tablet and ingesting higher doses than recommended increases the risk for neurological and heart-related symptoms when too much of the drug is released into the body at one time.

There were 271 Ritalin-related emergency room visits in 1990, and 1,478 visits in 2001, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, which tracks drug abuse data for federal health authorities.

It is important for you to help your loved one as soon as possible. Using Ritalin improperly can cause death or serious side effects. Treatment for your loved one is available and the process does not have to be hard.

Ritalin Abuse Signs

Your loved one might need Ritalin to manage a diagnosed illness or disorder, but abusing it can be risky. There are telltale signs that Ritalin is causing your loved one emotional and physical pain. If your loved one exhibits more than one of these signs and symptoms, it is time to seek out professional help.

Some of the signs are:

  • Fast talking
  • Strung out look
  • Lack of focus
  • Low appetite
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

If your loved one is abusing Ritalin, he or she might be crushing up and snorting the drug, or injecting it to produce a dopamine high responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being.

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Side Effects of Ritalin

  • Feeling nervous or irritable
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Erratic or violent behavior
  • Dilation of pupils
  • High blood pressure

Overdose Symptoms of Ritalin

  • Chest pain, trouble breathing, feeling like you might pass out
  • Hallucinations resulting in aggression, hostility, and paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Muscle twitches or tics
  • Changes in your vision
  • Numbness, pain, cold feeling, or skin color changes in your fingers or toes
  • Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness
  • Respiratory problems or destruction of tissues if Ritalin is snorted or smoked
  • Malnutrition, weight loss

Ritalin Withdrawal and Detox

The first step in treating a Ritalin addiction might be to slowly decrease the drug’s dose and manage withdrawal symptoms in a specialized treatment center. The severity of withdrawal will depend upon how long your loved one has been addicted to Ritalin and how much of the drug is consumed regularly. When you talk with your loved one about the withdrawal experience, reinforce that a medical professional will be present during the drug detoxification process. We have provided a few examples of withdrawal symptoms to help your loved one prepare.

  • Tiredness
  • Panic attacks
  • Crankiness
  • Extreme hunger
  • Depression
  • Nightmares

Detoxification will be a challenging time for your loved one, but it is necessary for an effective recovery process. Make sure your loved one understands that medical professionals will be there every step of the way to ensure safety and comfort. Oftentimes, another medication is administered to help offset withdrawal effects. Keep in mind that the presence of methylphenidate in the brain slows down some processes, so when your loved one stops taking Ritalin, he or she will need time to adjust to living without it. Your loved one will start feeling normal again once he or she completes this phase of treatment.

Ritalin Treatment and Rehab

Detoxification followed by rehabilitation is the best option for your loved one’s successful recovery. Each young person is unique.  Our rehab centers offer different inpatient programs such as:

  • Peer group treatment – People in group therapy sessions replace negative peer pressure with the positive support of others experiencing similar problems. Here they can form friendships and find healthy acceptance.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – A type of psychotherapy that focuses on making connections between thoughts, feelings, and actions, based on the belief that when negative thought patterns are identified, positive changes in feelings and behavior can take place.
  • Motivational interviewing – A directive, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients explore and resolve uncertainty and doubt.
  • Contingency management – treatments are based upon a simple behavioral principle: if a behavior is reinforced or rewarded it is more likely to occur in the future.
  • Family-based therapy – This type of active therapy uses the family’s strengths to help them handle their problems. The family and the therapist set mutual goals and complete assignments together.

Are you addicted to Ritalin? Our Sunshine Behavioral Health counselors are here to support your drug recovery and answer any questions you have about Ritalin rehabilitation. The information you need to determine your individual treatment program is at your fingertips. Pick up the phone and call us so you can help you feel optimistic about recovery and enthusiastic about life again.

Rehab Process

  • Intake: You will be assessed by professionals at the facility and be asked questions about you and your drug use. It’s important to be honest about your drug use because this will determine how they treat you through detox and the rest of your stay.
  • Detox: You will be carefully monitored as your body withdrawals and recovers from the effects of your opiate abuse.
  • Rehab: This is where your treatment plan comes into action. You will learn the tools needed to stay clean in the outside world when leaving rehab.
  • Aftercare: After you have completed your rehab process, there is an option for outpatient therapy. This option is usually close to home local, allows you to be slowly introduced back to your life and responsibilities.

Addressing Ritalin Addiction

Be proud of yourself for recognizing that your loved one has a Ritalin addiction. You witnessed changes in behavior, frequent physical health issues, and unexplained money issues. When your loved one is ready, you will be well-equipped to guide and support him or her based on the information you gathered while talking to one of our counselors.

Coming to terms with your Ritalin addiction

What is your loved one’s justification for abusing Ritalin? Is it because everyone is using it? Did they tell you they use it only to study? Maybe they steal it from a sibling who takes it for a learning disorder. How many times have you heard “It cannot be that bad,” “It is not that addicting,” “I can control it and I do not have to use it again if I do not want to.” When you hear these excuses, do not give up. Your first attempt to help your loved one might not work out the way you plan. If you are not sure how to proceed, call one of our counselors to discuss a different approach.

Helping a Loved One Address their Addiction

If you are wondering how this happened and whether it is your fault, do not do blame yourself. Loved ones start abusing prescription drugs for reasons beyond your control most of the time. What you can control is how you help your loved one. It starts with reaching out to him or her by way of intervention. We have provided a few tips to help you with that process.

  • Trust your gut. You know your loved one is addicted to Ritalin
  • Timing is important. Find the right time and a safe place where you and your loved one can talk with no distractions
  • Discuss what you have observed
  • Prepare what you want to say; write it down. Do not be afraid to be open-minded and honest
  • Talk to your loved one about how you feel, but try not to be judgmental or angry to avoid a defensive reaction
  • Decide on specific consequences

Call to speak with one of our counselors that will guide your family through the steps to conduct the intervention.


  • Remain calm, and listen to what he or she is saying
  • Let them know that you care about them, love them, and forgive them.
  • Tell them that there is hope.
  • Bring up the conversation when he or she is in a good place mentally


  • Raise your voice and make them feel bad about their addiction
  • Confront him or her while they are under the influence.
  • Let them convince you they do not need treatment.
  • Give them reasons to leave

The Bottom Line: You Can Beat Ritalin Addiction

If you’ve reached this point it is hard to deny the fact that you’re serious about beating your Ritalin addiction, and that is something to have pride in. Your life matters and there is no reason why you should allow a pill to dictate the rest of your life when help is available. Remember, choosing to go into a rehab treatment center for Ritalin abuse will help you rid yourself of the horrible side effects you’ve had to endure, extend your life span, and most importantly place you on track towards regaining your own life. So don’t fight addiction alone. Instead, allow us to help you live the life you deserve to have.

Payment Options for Ritalin Abuse Treatment

Drug rehabilitation for your loved one is a big investment. Insurance is one of the most common methods of payment for treatment, but each insurance plan is different. Figuring out how to pay for recovery is nerve-wracking and not something you should have to stress out about.

We will gather your insurance information and assess your needs to begin the process of recommending the best treatment possible, based on your specific coverage options.  We will be helping you all the way and give you a free quote.  Start the road towards recovery today!

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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