Ritalin Abuse Rates in Australia

Ritalin Abuse Rates in Australia

Ritalin abuse has long been a serious problem internationally, but the usage rates of Ritalin in Australia are among the highest in the world. More than 264,000 prescriptions were issued to Australian patients for this psycho-stimulant in 2006, compared to 11,114 in 1992. College students, young professionals and even athletes have succumbed to this drug’s offer of lasting energy, increased focus and improved performance. It is casually referred to as “kiddie coke” due to its similar effects to cocaine. Many people mistakenly believe the drug is relatively safe since it is commonly prescribed to young people, but 13 times more Ritalin abusers were checked into emergency rooms for symptoms of overdose in 2004 than in 1990.

How Common Is Ritalin Abuse in Australia?

Ritalin is an amphetamine salt that can treat symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, exactly how it works is still a mystery both to the manufacturers and the doctors that prescribe it. What they do know is that when used by ADHD patients this stimulant can cause a calming effect. On the other hand, when people without ADHD take this drug, they feel extremely alert, accomplished and focused and can stay mentally sharp for long periods of time. According to The Partnership for a Drug Free World, as many as half a million Australians are currently addicted to prescription drugs like Ritalin, painkillers and sleeping pills.

How Ritalin Addiction Develops

Ritalin creates both physical and psychological dependencies in people who take it recreationally. Physically speaking it replaces natural chemicals in the brain that affect waking, sleeping and mental acuity. When a Ritalin abuser stops taking the drug, she will likely experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Persistent tiredness and the need for too much sleep
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Cardiovascular depression

Withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity depending on the amount of the drug that was used, how it was taken and the length of time the addict used it. However, the psychological need for the drug can be much more powerful than any physical need. Users fear getting clean and being unable to perform at the levels they feel they are required to, so psychological withdrawal symptoms and cravings can last for months or even years. Many graduate to harder stimulants such as methamphetamine.

Help Treating Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin addiction recovery requires therapy that addresses both the addiction and any co-occurring emotional conditions that drive it. Many Ritalin addicts suffer from at least one such underlying disorder, including the following examples:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive/compulsive disorder
  • Self-esteem deficiency
  • Process addictions

Quitting “cold turkey” is discouraged as some addicts who have done so experienced severe nervous system crashes, intense depression, suicidal thoughts, comas or even death.

If you have a Ritalin problem, know that we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline any time for confidential answers and immediate access to quality addiction treatment.