Ritalin Addiction is as Serious as Cocaine Addiction
Jun 6th, 2010 by Patrick

Ritalin addiction occurs when high doses of this drug are taken to lose weight by decreasing one’s appetite, improve concentration for schoolwork, or experience feelings of getting “high”. Also called methylphenidate, this drug is first prescribed in small doses that are gradually increased over time to slowly increase dopamine levels in the brain for specific health reasons. Dependency of this drug is similar to an addiction to cocaine and amphetamines.

The drug Ritalin is available in 5, 10, and 20 mg tablets or 10, 20, 30, or 40 mg capsules. It is used to treat a variety of illnesses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also known as ADHD or ADD. This disorder affects a person’s ability to solve problems, plan, understand, focus, and act on impulse. Those who experience dizziness and increased heart rate after sitting up from lying down on their back are also prescribed this medication. Those who suffer from narcolepsy also benefit from this drug. It keeps them awake and alert instead of feeling so extremely tired that they fall asleep at various times during their usual waking hours. It is also used to combat depression, obesity, and obsessive compulsive disorder also known as OCD.

This medication increases the amount of dopamine to the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects brain activities such as movement, emotions, joy, and pain. Increased levels of dopamine improve focus, attention, concentration, and alertness. Many students use it to excess to stay awake and improve their concentration in order to do better academically.

It is just as easy to become addicted to this drug as cocaine and amphetamines and actually causes the same effects if snorted, injected, or taken in large doses. Side effects include nervousness, sweating, dizziness, and headaches. Loss of appetite, stomach pain, and nausea can result in weight loss. Some patients also experience insomnia, loss of hair, skin rashes or dry skin, dilated pupils, and dry mouth. Some users even suffer heart problems such as angina, arrhythmia, and changes in their blood pressure and heart rate. Symptoms of withdrawal are generally the same as the side effects but felt at a higher level. Addicts also experience confusion, aggression, and changes in their mood and behavior. Other signs include becoming feverish and delirious, uncontrollable twitching and other involuntary movements, and a craving for another dose.

Professional treatment to overcome this addiction may be required if the addict cannot manage to break the habit on his or her own. This treatment includes detoxification in a facility to monitor the patient’s health during the process. Counseling through individual and group therapy discovers the reason for the addiction, provides other methods of coping with the dependency, and alternatives to living without this medication. 

Addiction to this drug affects family and friends just like other addictions. Upon discovery of a family member’s addiction, surprised family members feel disappointment, fear, and panic. Parents and siblings experience anxiety from not knowing what to do to help and can only stand by helplessly if their loved one does not seek professional help. Arguments and disagreements arise from resentful family members feeling neglected due to the additional attention showered on the addicted family member. Once close relationships between the addicted person and other family members or friends become strained or deteriorate.

It is vital that those who become addicted to Ritalin realize that they have an addiction and take the necessary steps to regain control of their life. Failure to do so could result in major health concerns as well as death. There are many resources available such as hospital and rehabilitation programs, private and public counseling, and support groups to help those who are in need.

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