Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant that is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Available in five milligram, 10 milligram and 20 milligram tablets, the pills are legal by prescription, but Ritalin is still classified as a Schedule II drug, which means that the medication is illegal if used without a prescription.

Though the problem of Ritalin abuse has been an issue more often seen among teens prescribed the drug, this and other stimulant prescription medications prescribed for the same purpose are increasingly being used among older age groups. Though many people abuse drugs like Ritalin to augment their other recreational activities or to increase their ability to be successful in their academic or work careers, the end result is often addiction and a complete destruction of everything in their lives, including their career, health and family relationships.

If your loved one is abusing Ritalin or has become dependent upon the stimulant drug for any reason, you can take action today. Help them to make positive change in their lives now by exploring their options in treatment. At Black Bear Lodge, we’re here to assist you. Call now.

What Is Ritalin Abuse?

When Ritalin is used correctly, it is taken according to a doctor’s prescription exactly at the dose prescribed. The abuse of Ritalin encompasses every use of the pills outside that definition, including:

  • Taking Ritalin without a prescription
  • Crushing the pills before either snorting them, swallowing them or dissolving them in water and injecting them
  • Taking Ritalin with other substances of abuse, including alcohol, other stimulants, marijuana and other drugs
  • Taking more Ritalin than prescribed
  • Selling one’s prescription to others

Abuse is harmful in and of itself. It can create personality changes in the user while they are under the influence and after the drug wears off. Regular abuse can mean that these changes are long lasting; it can also mean the development of an addiction, which can only be overcome with medical and psychotherapeutic treatment.

Priapism Among Methylphenidate Users

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in December of 2013 reporting that rare cases of priapism, or prolonged painful erections, have been noted among those who take methylphenidate. They point out that males of any age may suffer from the issue and that it can cause damage to the penis if left untreated. Priapism is a risk whether or not the patient has a prescription for the drug or not.

Street Names for Ritalin

Though most often abused by those who have a prescription or people who have regular access to that prescription (e.g., family members of people who have a prescription, healthcare providers, etc.), Ritalin is also a common drug of abuse on the street.

As is often the case with illicit substances, there is a number of slang terms commonly used to refer to the drug covertly.

The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) reports that the following terms are often used to refer to Ritalin by those who want to discreetly discuss the buying, selling or using of the pills:
  • West Coast
  • Pineapple
  • Smarties
  • Kiddy cocaine
  • Vitamin R
  • Kibbles and bits
  • Skippy

Often, overhearing a loved one use this terminology in conversation or seeing them in texts can help to uncover a drug abuse problem that requires treatment.

Why Do People Abuse Ritalin?

Ritalin can allow users to focus on tasks and get more done. Some abuse it for this purpose, with the hope of accomplishing more on their to-do list. Others abuse it to:

  • Avoid sleep
  • Suppress appetite
  • Get high
  • Amplify the effects of other illicit substances

Ritalin and Weight Management

Too often, people attempt to use stimulant drugs like Ritalin in an effort to reach or maintain their weight loss goals. Because these drugs suppress appetite and boost metabolism, users often see quick changes that encourage their abuse of the substance. Due to the euphoria that often accompanies use of these drugs in the early stages of abuse, they also don’t feel the usual low energy or irritability that comes with extreme dieting. Many feel that it is a miracle drug and continue to take it even after these initial effects fade.

Unfortunately, though weight loss is a common side effect of Ritalin abuse, malnutrition that results can cause a host of issues as well. Many users develop:

  • Stringy hair
  • Acne and poor skin tone
  • Broken nails

While they may lose weight, their appearance still belies their drug addiction. They don’t look healthy, and with prolonged use, their physical and mental health can deteriorate as well.

Who Abuses Ritalin?

  • Teens who have a prescription but find that taking the drug in larger or more frequent doses gives them a high
  • The people that these teens give or sell their prescription too (often other teenagers)
  • Parents or family members of kids who have a prescription
  • College students and young professionals hoping to increase their ability to stay up late and focus or complete multiple projects on tight deadlines
  • Those who purchase the pills on the street for recreational use
  • Adults and teens striving for rapid weight loss

Young Professionals and Ritalin Abuse

Because many young people diagnosed with ADHD carry over their childhood Ritalin prescription into their college years and beyond, the issue of Ritalin abuse is very often turning into a lifelong addiction. In many cases, the need for these medications passes with age, but teens who develop a dependence upon the increased ability to focus and concentrate may continue to take the drugs anyway.

In the same way, those without an ADHD diagnosis who took the pills occasionally during high school and college to help them on a test, may present to a doctor with false ADHD symptoms in order to get a regular prescription legally and foster ongoing Ritalin abuse.

As in other cases, abuse of Ritalin may initially help the user to achieve their goal of doing well at work, but it can soon become hazardous. Many users report mental health symptoms like paranoia and agitation as well as an inability to sleep – all of which inhibit the initial goal of thriving in the workplace.

Moms and Ritalin Abuse

In homes where a child is prescribed Ritalin, it is often the mom who manages the medications. Tasked with managing the schedules of all in the house, the behaviors of at least one high energy child, the care of herself, and often a job as well, more and more mothers are dipping into their child’s prescription to help them get everything done that they need to accomplish.

Though abuse of the stimulant drug (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall, etc.) can start small with a finite goal (e.g., getting through the cookie season for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, finishing a Halloween costume, getting all the Christmas presents wrapped and sent out in time, etc.), it may also be abused with the goal of weight loss or just generally to more efficiently navigate a busy schedule.

Unfortunately, lack of sleep, malnutrition, and the increased anxiety, irritability, and other mental health symptoms can stack up and become overwhelming. Even the most careful abusers of Ritalin can fall victim to addiction and find themselves in need of treatment.

Ritalin Abuse and Addiction Treatment

Though abuse of Ritalin has only recently become a well-known issue, the treatment of stimulant abuse and addiction is a long-studied and well-researched area of substance abuse treatment. Patients and their families who seek help will quickly find that professional treatment centers like Black Bear Lodge that fill their therapeutic program with evidence-based therapeutic options are well prepared to help the addicted person overcome their dependence upon prescription stimulants like Ritalin.

One unique aspect of stimulant addiction and treatment is the craving cycle. Many patients find that rather than experiencing unexpected cravings in the first months after cessation of use, between six months and a year after treatment, the desire to use stimulant drugs seems to come out of nowhere. Due to this fact, it is often recommended that those dependent upon stimulants take the following precautions:

  • Stay enrolled in residential treatment for as long as possible
  • Remain actively engaged in treatment for the first two years of recovery
  • Identify triggers for wanting to use stimulants early on
  • Create multiple, actionable plans to follow in the event that cravings arise at any point in recovery

Effective Treatment Methods for Stimulant Addiction

Some treatment methods that can be especially beneficial to those who utilize Ritalin for the purpose of achievement of goals in their lives include:

  • Personal therapy. Sometimes underlying stressors in life (e.g., difficulties at work or in relationships at home) can cause people to feel the need to overachieve. The ability to discuss these issues can be helpful in diminishing cravings. Additionally, personal therapy is a good place to plan the overall course of treatment, assess progress, and alter the therapeutic plan as necessary.
  • Group therapy. Finding out that you’re not alone can be of huge benefit to addicts of Ritalin. Many patients feel that they are uniquely required to achieve certain things in their life and feel ill-equipped to do so without the assistance of Ritalin. Support of others in the same situation can help them get an objective view into their own lives.
  • Holistic treatment. Lowering stress and achieving balance spiritually and emotionally can also help patients to feel less inclined to abuse Ritalin. Not only does drug abuse throw these pursuits off track, but immersion in meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and other holistic options can help the patient to redefine success and happiness.
  • Family therapy. Working on relationships to improve expectations at home and get the support necessary to stay on track can help the patient get reinforcement for their positive new goals.
  • Aftercare treatment. Long-term continuation of holistic and therapeutic interventions that are working but still in progress when the initial rehab phase is over can improve the patient’s ability to remain drug-free for years to come.

Helping Your Loved One Accept the Offer of Treatment

If your family member is addicted to Ritalin or abuses the drug regularly, the first step to helping them change their lives is to find an effective treatment program to assist them in moving forward. You can take the first step toward that goal when you contact us at Black Bear Lodge today. Learn more about our personalized addiction treatment program and rehabilitation center now.