Ritalin withdrawal is physical and psychological symptoms that individuals experience after abrupt cessation of use of the drug Ritalin. Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is used to treat children that have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also known as "ADHD". It is also used to treat individuals suffering from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes excessive sleepiness and frequent daytime sleep attacks. The stimulant effects of the drug works by increasing the activity of the central nervous system, and by doing so it produces increased alertness, combats fatigue, and improves attention. Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed psycho-stimulant drug on the market.
Ritalin withdrawal can occur if the individual taking the drug, whether legitimately or illicitly becomes physically and/or psychologically dependent to it. Being a psycho-stimulant, the abuse pattern of Ritalin is very similar to heroin and amphetamines. Illicit use of the drug is common, and individuals who are inclined to seek out and illicitly abuse stimulant drugs are also extremely likely to abuse Ritalin. Tolerance and dependence develops to the drug over time. Because of this tolerance and dependence, if the chronic user doesn't satisfy their physical and psychological need for the Ritalin they will begin to experience Ritalin withdrawal symptoms. Ritalin withdrawal may cause so much distress and discomfort, that the individual will most likely begin using the drug again in order to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.
Ritalin withdrawal can occur with chronic, legitimate use of the drug and in the case of chronic illicit abuse. The withdrawal symptoms of Ritalin can be quite severe and include psychosis, depression, irritability and a temporary worsening of the original ADHD symptoms if it was prescribed legitimately. The return of ADHD in children after having ceased using the drug is called a "rebound effect", which points to the fact that the underlying reasons the child had an attention deficit was never addressed in the first place, and was just covered up with a psycho-stimulant drug. Up to a third of children with ADHD experience a rebound effect when Ritalin wears off.
As mentioned earlier, Ritalin has a high potential for abuse and addiction due to its similarity to other stimulant drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines. Ritalin is actually more potent than cocaine in its effect on the areas of the brain which produce dopamine, the "reward" chemical that the brain produces. Studies have shown that the two drugs, Ritalin and cocaine, are nearly indistinguishable when administered intravenously to cocaine addicts. Like other stimulants, Ritalin increases dopamine levels in the brain and in large doses can produce the euphoria or "high" one would typically experience with other stimulant drugs. The abuse potential is increased when Ritalin is crushed and snorted, or when it is injected, which produces effects almost identical to cocaine.
Abuse of Ritalin is so common, that it is one of the top ten stolen prescription drugs in the USA. On the illicit drug market, it is known as "kiddie coke", "Vitamin R" and "The R Ball". Individuals who have been prescribed Ritalin have been known to sell their tablets to others who wish to take the drug recreationally as a stimulant. Illicit Ritalin users may crush the tablets and either snort the powder, or dissolve the powder in water, filter it through cotton wool into a syringe to remove the inactive ingredients and other particles and inject the drug intravenously. Both of these methods produce a much more rapid onset of effects than when taken orally. The rate of abuse of prescription stimulants such as Ritalin is highest amongst college students, who use it either as a study aid or to stay awake longer.
Aside from the obvious risks that go along with Ritalin withdrawal and abuse, the side effects of the drug are also a cause for concern. The most common side effects of Ritalin are nervousness, insomnia, hypersensitivity, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, headache, dyskinesia, drowsiness, blood pressure and pulse changes, tachycardia, angina, cardiac arrhythmia, abdominal pain, and weight loss when taken for prolonged periods of time.
Anyone that is using Ritalin both legitimately and illicitly abusing the drug and wants to stop should contact a professional drug treatment counselor at an in-patient drug treatment facility. Here, individuals can go through a proper detox which will ease Ritalin withdrawal symptoms and also allow for any necessary counseling and therapy to address addiction and dependence issues. Contact a drug treatment counselor today and get the help you need through Ritalin withdrawal.