Ritalin Addiction

With all of the media focus on opioid addiction and prescription painkiller regulating, other drugs that are addicting get overlooked, like Ritalin.  Ritalin is often prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It helps with focus and attention.  Recently, Ritalin abuse has been seen on college campuses where students are taking the drug (and often becoming addicted to it’s effects) in order to study longer and more effectively or to test better due to improved focus.  However, many do not realize the addictive nature of Ritalin and the risks associated with taking it when it’s not necessary.

For instance, when individuals who have not been prescribed the drug continue to take Ritalin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, when they can’t meet their obligations without Ritalin use, and/or feel intense urges to take Ritalin they are definitely experiencing signs of addiction.  Further, if individuals find themselves increasing their Ritalin dose over time to maintain the same effect, take Ritalin in situations where it may not be safe to do so, or are spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Ritalin, those symptoms are also red flags of addiction as well.

Treatment for Ritalin addiction is similar to other drug addiction treatment.  Detox needs to occur in a safe medically monitored supervised setting.  Following up with therapy and counseling can then strengthen the individual against returning to Ritalin abuse and addiction.

Mother's abusing Ritalin to keep up.Moms taking their kid’s Ritalin to keep up

Most moms are overloaded with tasks, many work full or part time, some are still struggling to lose the weight they gained during pregnancies years ago, most are stressed out, tired, some are depressed…the list goes on and on. Some moms have much – maybe too much- on their plates and are turning to prescription drug to cope with the stress of their overburdened lives. In the 60’s and 70’s, drugs like valium became popular coping mechanisms for mom’s stress; in the 80’s and 90’s antidepressants like Prozac were often prescribed followed by a wide range of sleeping pills around the turn of the century. The new drug of choice (“mommy’s little helper”) by many of these overachieving, over stressed moms is Ritalin.

Ritalin is most commonly known for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. This disorder is characterized by a, “continual behavior pattern consisting of hyperactivity and/or inattention with episodes of impulsiveness” (emaxhealth.com). Stimulants treat ADHD well by increasing dopamine in the brain since those with ADHD are low in dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with attention, movement, and pleasure. Ritalin has a calming and focusing effect on those diagnosed with ADHD.

Interestingly, although Ritalin is prescribed for children with ADHD, emaxhealth reports that, “an inordinate number of female adults are increasingly receiving prescriptions for ADHD drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, over the past decade the number of prescriptions written each year for Adderall has surged among women over 26, rising from a total of roughly 800,000 in 2002 to some 5.4 million in 2010. A particularly significant increase has been for women aged 26-39, for whom prescriptions soared by 750%. One of the reasons for this surge is attributed to an increased use of Adderall as a popular drug that will not only help women cope with stress, feel energized and become more focused, but lose weight as well.”

People magazine recent published an article regarding moms taking Ritalin. The women they highlighted discussed how much they were able to accomplish and how well they performed tasks and stayed focused. They told People that they felt like Ritalin was a miracle drug. However, the women interviewed also discussed the addictive nature of Ritalin and how they had been hiding their consumption from spouses and visiting multiple doctors to get more Ritalin.

Physicians and psycho-behavioral experts agree that many moms are taking Ritalin in an effort to be overachievers and do it all. These moms may face competition in the workplace from their male counterparts, feel pressure to be thin because of social stigma society places on women, and feel pressure to be a supermom for their kids at home. Ritalin can provide relief from this pressure, help these moms focus and accomplish more than they ever could before, and help them lose weight at the same time.

Curious though, is where these moms are getting their Ritalin pills. Reports have surfaced that indicate that women are faking ADHD to get Ritalin prescriptions. And, even more worrisome, some mothers are tapping into their children’s supply or their friend’s children’s supplies of Ritalin. The National Institute of drug abuse reports that, “stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are among the top 10 prescription drugs stolen from pharmacies.”

Ritalin is safe to treat ADHD and while a doctor is supervising use of the drug, but abuse and addiction are high possibilities with Ritalin when not taken properly. Side effects of abusing stimulants such as Ritalin can include: hypertension, increased heart rate, anorexia, weight loss, headaches, and mood changes. More serious long term complications can include: Parkinson’s disease and damaged brain cells.

Ritalin may seem like a cure-all for those moms trying to balance so much in their over-stressed, busy lives. But they must know that taking Ritalin may rob them of all of the things they are working so hard to accomplish and achieve it they become addicted or abuse the drug.


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