Can Ritalin Affect My Memory?

Can Ritalin Affect My Memory?

Ritalin is a medication prescribed for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It stimulates the brain to increase concentration, impulse control and decision-making power. Many students abuse it to enhance academic performance. Others fake symptoms of ADHD and use the drug illegally in order to lose weight because it is an appetite suppressant.

Ritalin is a highly addictive substance. When crushed and snorted, it mimics the effects of cocaine. Recreational abuse typically follows a “binge and crash” cycle in which the euphoria created by the drug disappears before the substance leaves an individual’s system. To maintain the high, users may take more Ritalin, thereby creating a more extreme rollercoaster effect. Tolerance and dependence quickly develop. Signs of Ritalin addiction include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Flushing
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Ritalin addiction is a dangerous condition that is highly treatable with professional help. The earlier an addiction is identified, the easier it can be to break.

Ritalin and Memory Loss

Ritalin works by “fine tuning” the functioning of neurons in the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain involved in attention maintenance, decision-making processes and impulse control. Ritalin strengthens the relevant and central signals in the prefrontal cortex and weakens the lesser signals that create distractions.

When taken at safe doses, Ritalin improves memory. When taken at high doses, however, Ritalin causes insomnia that impairs memory. Individuals who abuse amphetamines often stay awake for days because their brains are too wired to sleep. Insomnia is also a result of withdrawal. Other sleep-disrupting side effects caused by amphetamines include the following:

  • Depression
  • Tension
  • Moodiness
  • Physical exhaustion

Short-term or “working memory” loss due to insomnia improves once the drug is eliminated from an individual’s system. Memory loss due to brain damage, however, is permanent. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to long-term damage, which does not become evident until adulthood even though exposure may have stopped years earlier.

Individuals who abuse stimulants such as Ritalin also have a greater chance of developing mental health issues that include the following:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Spontaneous hallucinations
  • Nervous hand wringing
  • Obsessive habits

In treatment, many individuals not only overcome Ritalin addiction, but also learn how to manage their lives effectively. One benefit of receiving professional services is a solid foundation upon which to build a recovery that lasts.

Help for Ritalin Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from Ritalin addiction, we can help. Recovery counselors are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness and affordable solutions. Please call today and take the first step toward a life free from addiction.