Has Ritalin Been Changed to Reduce Abuse?

Has Ritalin Been Changed to Reduce Abuse?

Ritalin is a brand name for methylphenidate, a stimulant that treats attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Its current use is different from that for which it was first made. The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) explains that, when the drug was first marketed in 1957, it was suggested as a treatment for “chronic pain, depression, psychosis associated with depression, narcolepsy, and to offset the sedating effects of other medications” (“Ritalin,” October 2013). However, now that more is known about the drug, it is no longer prescribed for many of these conditions, and it can make some of problems worse. For example, CESAR states that long-term abusers of the drug “may experience a toxic state resembling acute paranoid schizophrenia,” and short-term effects of high doses can include hallucinations or paranoia. Someone struggling with psychosis may have been prescribed Ritalin at one time, yet such an individual should not take this drug for fear of either worsening psychotic symptoms or of inducing schizophrenic ones.

By 1960, Ritalin was being used for treating ADHD symptoms, and, “between 1991 and 1999, Ritalin sales in the United States soared 500 percent” (CESAR). The US now consumes up to 85% of all formulations of this drug, and these high prescription rates coincide with high abuse rates. This drug prevents the body from reabsorbing dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. This neurotransmitter then stays active and triggers receptors. Ritalin stimulates the central nervous system and, in those who do not need the drug medically, produces feelings of focus, euphoria and energy.

The stimulant properties of Ritalin have made it a popular drug for parties, studying and recreation that college students commonly abuse. While prescription Ritalin typically reaches neurotransmitters over the course of an hour or more, some people crush the pills to snort or inject it for a stronger, more immediate high. However, this immediate high comes with a shorter lifespan, so people may abuse greater amounts of the drug to maintain the desired high. Ritalin is typically available in 5, 10 and 20 milligram tablets, but larger doses of Ritalin are also available. These larger doses tend to be made with a time-release formula that is intended to relieve problems immediately for up to 12 hours. These time-release formulas slow the speed at which the drug is processed, and they are intended to deter abuse by people seeking an immediate high.

However, Ritalin is a powerful stimulant with a high risk for addiction, so, if you suspect a loved one is misusing it, then take action and speak up. Call our toll-free helpline right now to identify drug abuse and addiction; you can even find resources for intervention and recovery. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, so please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call now.