Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

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ritalin withdrawal

Abuse of Ritalin can result in a substance use disorder. Learn what to expect during Ritalin detox and withdrawal.

Most people with school-aged kids have heard about the drug Ritalin. This drug is prescribed to children with ADHD, which affects 9.4% of the nation’s children. Ritalin is also diverted and abused by people using it for other reasons.

Someone who has acquired a problem with Ritalin will have withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop the drug. Before starting a Ritalin detox, read about the withdrawal symptoms and treatment options so you’ll know what to expect.

About Ritalin

Ritalin is the brand name of methylphenidate. As a central nervous system stimulant, it can help people who struggle with ADHD or narcolepsy. Ritalin is a Schedule II controlled substance, as the drug has been tagged as having a high risk for abuse. Note that both cocaine and meth also hold a Schedule II status.

Some may divert and sell the drug through illicit channels. People get ahold of the drug for recreational use, to aid with work or school, or for weight loss. Ritalin comes in instant release, sustained release, and long-acting release compounds.

Adderall is a similar drug and is also highly abused. While Ritalin and Adderall are both prescribed for ADHD, Ritalin is prescribed for children under age 17. Both drugs are prone to abuse.

Effects of Ritalin

While a child who has been put on Ritalin due to ADHD does not abuse the drug, there are plenty of people who do. This is due to its stimulant effects. For someone who does not have ADHD, taking Ritalin can result in a high that is similar to cocaine.

Some of the effects of Ritalin include:

  • Weight loss.
  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness and focus.
  • Need for less sleep.

To increase the effects of Ritalin, some will crush the pills and snort the drug. They may also turn the Ritalin into a liquid form and inject it. Using it in these ways only increases the risk of addiction.

Long-term abuse of Ritalin can cause adverse effects, including:

  • Auditory hallucinations.
  • Violent actions.
  • Anxiety
  • Mental confusion.
  • Paranoid thoughts.
  • Compulsive behaviors.
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Seizures

Ritalin Addiction

When someone uses Ritalin for illicit reasons they can become addicted to the drug over time. Their body begins to expect and rely on the daily dosing. Once addicted, the person will begin to have boomerang effects when it wears off. This means that instead of feeling alert, they will feel extreme fatigue. Instead of needing little sleep, they will begin to need more sleep.

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Signs and symptoms of a Ritalin addiction might include:

  • Cannot cut back on the drug even though they want to.
  • Mood swings.
  • The decline in work or school performance.
  • Neglects responsibilities.
  • Irritable
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Aggressive actions.
  • Keep taking the drug amid negative consequences.
  • Weight loss.
  • Doctor shopping to find new sources.
  • Buying the drug on the street or online.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.

When even some of these symptoms are present, it is good to seek out some expert help.

Ritalin Detox and Withdrawal

Someone who displays the signs of a Ritalin problem will need the guidance and support of a skilled detox team. It is never advised that someone who has become addicted to the drug just stop stopping ritalin cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms could be quite severe. This is because, over time, Ritalin will have caused changes in brain cell structure and function.

The detox process will unfold over a time frame of one to two weeks. A doctor will prepare a drug taper plan to slowly reduce the brain’s need for the drug. As the person steps down the dosing, the brain and central nervous system will slowly adjust. This will help to reduce the effects of withdrawal.

How severe the symptoms are will depend on how long the person was using the drug and daily dosing. Ritalin withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Intense drug cravings.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Trembling
  • Vivid dreams.
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Following the detox, the person will begin the process of recovery through a treatment program.

Treatment for Ritalin Addiction

Treatment for a stimulant use disorder will involve a multi-track approach. The therapies and other activities are designed to help someone slowly change the way they respond to a trigger. If, for instance, the trigger is fatigue, instead of reaching for a drug the person will go out for a run instead. It is all about changing the actions that would have, before going to rehab, followed the trigger.

Treatment will unfold over the time spent in rehab. It takes time and patience to learn new habits. Some of the treatment elements include:

  • One-on-one therapy. Talk therapy sessions allow the person to explore the core issues that may exist beneath the substance problem. Also, CBT is a useful type of therapy that can help people shift their thought patterns.
  • Group sessions. These small group sessions include peers that chat about issues related to recovery. The meetings offer a safe space where people can connect with each other and offer each other support.
  • 12-step groups. A.A.’s 12-step program is a staple at many rehabs. The meetings provide social support and fellowship.
  • Coping tools. The main goal of a rehab program is to equip the person with the tools they will need to stay sober. This can include learning how to better manage emotions and stress. Techniques that reduce stress, like yoga, mindfulness, or deep breathing, are introduced.
  • Follow up. Many programs offer alumni services where former clients can stay in touch with each other through alumni events and forums. Outpatient therapy is another helpful continuing care action.

With the support and new coping skills, someone with a Ritalin addiction can break the grip and move forward in life.

Bodhi Addiction Treatment and Wellness Provides Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorder

Bodhi Addiction Treatment and Wellness is here to help those who have found themselves with a Ritalin addiction. Our team is devoted to guiding you toward a life free from substances. Give us a call today at (877) 328-1968.