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Ritalin Addiction: the Effects on Teens & Students

Ritalin addiction is usually defined by those individuals who use more than is prescribed on a regular basis, or any amount and frequency that is purchased on the street. Ritalin addicts develop a pathological attachment to the drug because it heightens concentration, productivity and mood rapidly and last for a few hours. The Ritalin (methylphenidate) addiction cycle marches onward in a number of stages.

We begin with the crash.

The Crash

Ritalin withdrawal runs through several stages. Hours after using Ritalin, the user undergoes a “crash,” which begins with a rapid in concentration, mood, fatigue, and intense craving for Ritalin.

This craving usually subsides within a few hours, followed by increased fatigue and need for sleep. At this point, some people who are not in treatment often use alcohol, anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, opiates, or marijuana—just to get some sleep. In treatment, these symptoms can be managed with electro-chemically balanced nutrition, certain natural supplements, exercise, and the occasional use of nonaddicting, mildly sedating medications, such as sedating mood-stabilizing antidepressants.

After the Crash

Once the Ritalin abuser gets past the acute fatigue and need for sleep, most of the “crash” symptoms disappear. Some people experience side effects severe enough to require a trip to a hospital’s emergency room. The reasons given for these hospital visits include “my heart was racing,” and “I thought I was going to die.” A pronounced mental problem in Ritalin withdrawal is anhedonia—an inability to feel pleasure or enjoyment.

Ritalin experts say that the most common complaint of chronic Ritalin users is boredom, because they don’t know the word anhedonia. This state can be described as an empty subjective existence, and during anhedonia the Ritalin user may feel the pull toward Ritalin-induced euphoria most strongly.

But during treatment, with abstinence and with medical and psychological support, the anhedonia disappears—usually within two to ten weeks. Quality treatment programs also have the great advantage of protecting the Ritalin user against “cues” or reminders of past euphoria that make return to Ritalin so tempting during the period of boredom.

Even after the worst is over, there can be moments of intense Ritalin craving. Ritalin users seem to have remarkably poor memories of the bad effects of their habit—physical, emotional, and social—and remarkably strong memories of the “highs.” The bad memories, which make returning to Ritalin less appealing, do seem to return after the craving period is over. Part of the treatment is helping you learn to survive the craving and reinforce the reasons you needed to quit. Most importantly, the Ritalin abuser has entered the gates of recovery. And the truth about recovery is this: there are millions of people in the world who have been drug and alcohol dependent, who now live full and satisfying lives without wanting drugs or drink, without for one moment wishing they could go back to it, without for one moment feeling sorry for themselves because they’re “not like other people” when it comes to chemicals.

This includes a lot of people who had hit bottom so deeply that no one could imagine they could ever get up. It can include you. And this is the truth: it will take time-and work. There will be moments when it may not seem worth it. There will be pain. But there was much more pain when you were dependent, when even drugs or alcohol didn’t seem worth it, either—but at that time there wasn’t anything you could see that was better. And if you did glimpse it, you didn’t know how to get there. You can soon see that recovery is not just better, it’s living.

Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Because We Care.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” 

– Robert Collier

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