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How to Help Your Adult Child Ease Off of Prescription Ritalin

What is Ritalin?

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant medication that is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. While these two conditions may seem like opposites, they both stem from low levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Individuals with ADHD have difficulty with attention and motivation but may have excessive amounts of energy.  Individuals with narcolepsy can focus but cannot remain awake. Ritalin stimulates dopamine and norepinephrine production in both groups, allowing people with ADHD to focus and people with narcolepsy to stay awake.

Ritalin Use vs. Abuse

When used properly, Ritalin helps people with ADHD to focus, calming their minds enough to conduct their daily lives. For children, this typically means behaving appropriately at school and attending to their studies; for adults, it means a productive day at work. For children and adults alike, it means paying attention enough to interact with others. When people with ADHD are able to work in a focused manner, they are more successful at work or at school. At home, they are able to listen and attend to the needs of others, allowing for more successful family and personal relationships. Properly managed ADHD allows for improved self-esteem, thinking ability, and interpersonal relations.

Stimulants medications such as Ritalin can dramatically improve the lives of people with ADHD, but unfortunately, some people misuse and abuse Ritalin. Ritalin abuse includes:

  • Taking Ritalin without a prescription
  • Taking Ritalin in higher doses than prescribed
  • Taking Ritalin in a manner other than prescribed
  • Taking Ritalin for a purpose other than treating narcolepsy or ADHD

Some people purposefully misuse Ritalin for its side effects, which include wakefulness, appetite suppression, and increased attention and focus. Students may take it as a “study aid,” thinking that it will help with academic performance, but several studies have shown that while it will help you stay awake, Ritalin does not promote academic success. People may also abuse Ritalin hoping to lose weight. Others will use Ritalin recreationally to “get high” from the increased levels of dopamine in the brain. Recreational users will typically crush the pills and either snort them or mix them with water, then inject the solution, in order to produce a rapid high.

How Long Do Ritalin Side Effects Last?

Ritalin side effects include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Prolonged erections
  • Growth suppression in children
  • Changes in eyesight
  • Heart palpitations

Because Ritalin is short-acting, most of these side effects are short-lived, except for growth suppression. The body breaks down Ritalin in a matter of hours and it is not stored in the body long-term, so there are no long-term side effects when it is used as prescribed. However, people who abuse Ritalin can experience long-term effects, including:

  • Malnutrition
  • Hostility
  • Paranoia
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Stroke

People who crush, then inject, Ritalin pills are at risk of complications if a solid piece of pill becomes lodged in a blood vessel.

Ritalin Withdrawal

People who properly use Ritalin can stop taking it without any problems because of the fact that it is so short-acting. There is no buildup in the body and so there is no need for detox. However, if an individual has abused Ritalin, they may experience side effects of withdrawal when they stop taking it. Symptoms of withdrawal may include fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns.

It can be a challenge when stopping Ritalin use for those adults who have been abusing it. If your adult children struggle with Ritalin abuse, we can help. Our staff can assist you in finding the best treatment plan for your needs. Call us today.

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