Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant drug that works on the central nervous system. It affects the brain’s nerves and chemicals that are in charge of impulse control and hyperactivity, so the drug is most commonly prescribed to treat illnesses like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The drug can be taken orally, snorted, or melted down and injected. More people are using Ritalin for other reasons than to treat hyperactivity; they are consuming the drug to get “high.”
Although Ritalin is known to help individuals by allowing them to focus, there are many addictive qualities that can make the drug dangerous to consumers. According to an article from ABC News, “There were 271 Ritalin-related emergency room visits in 1990 and 1,478 visits in 2001.” This increase in the number of Ritalin-misusers are putting up red flags for parents. So, what should you know about teen Ritalin abuse in order to protect your kids?
1) Kids may fake ADHD symptoms in order to get Ritalin — Ritalin is commonly prescribed for ADHD, a disorder that inhibits concentration and attention. Common symptoms of ADHD are lack of focus, impulsivity, and disorganization. Some people may fake these symptoms in order to get the drug, as described by this Boston University student: “I just read a little bit about the symptoms of ADHD, and walked in, and pretended I had ADHD — just acted like a scatter-brain,” he said. “Look around, wouldn’t pay attention, stuff like that. And, you know, the doctor bought it.” If your child thinks they have ADHD, don’t be overly suspicious and paranoid; they may actually have the disorder. Just be aware that this situation exists.
2) Grade school students to college students are the key range of Ritalin abusers — ADHD is commonly diagnosed when individuals are young students, so that is a common time for the drug to be prescribed. Kids may share pills with each other, and the selling and buying of Ritalin are becoming increasingly common in high schools. Students feel like Ritalin isn’t a real drug; it’s just something to give them a high.
3) Ritalin effects on the brain — Since Ritalin works to stimulate the central nervous system in the brain, there are many effects that the individual may experience mentally. The side effects of Ritalin may include hallucinations, changes in sleeping patterns, loss of appetite, elevated heart rate, nausea and vomiting, hypertension, or psychotic episodes. There are also many long term effects of Ritalin abuse, which may include stunting the child’s growth, increased risk of heart attack and stroke due to damaged blood vessels, damage to some of the major organs (lungs, liver, or kidneys), weakened immune system, breathing problems, or depression.
4) Ritalin abuse is similar to cocaine abuse — Since crack cocaine and Ritalin are both classified as stimulant drugs, they both work to increase energy, alertness, and attentiveness. So, since kids and teens may opt for Ritalin since they don’t think it’s a serious “drug,” it’s actually more similar to cocaine than they realize. Individuals may form a dependence to crack cocaine or Ritalin, which means that over time, their body will not be able to function properly and experience withdrawal symptoms in absence of the drug. When individuals find that they have developed a dependence to crack cocaine or Ritalin, their chances of forming an addiction increase, which consists of neglecting personal obligations, having family and relationship problems, or breaking the law in order to get access to the drug. Addiction is a serious issue that requires help from medical professionals to solve.
5) It can happen to anyone — It is important to realize that nobody is “safe” from becoming addicted to drugs. Students may try their friend’s Ritalin at school and become hooked on its effects. Somebody prescribed Ritalin may use it more often than originally prescribed. Teach your children the importance of abstaining from drugs so that Ritalin addiction does not affect them.
If you are concerned about your teen’s Ritalin addiction or suspect that they are forming an addiction to Ritalin, call 4 Rehabilitation at 1-866-233-0599. At 4 Rehabilitation, you will learn about the various treatment options available for the individual’s needs.