Ritalin Treatment and Rehab

Ritalin (the brand name for the stimulant methylphenidate) has been the most commonly-prescribed medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since the mid-1950s. While there is no doubt that Ritalin has helped thousands of ADHD patients manage their symptoms and live a normal life, the drug alters brain functions over time. This prescription medication has easy potential for abuse but many people assume it’s not dangerous because it’s legal.

How Ritalin Works

Ritalin primarily works by increasing dopamine in the brain (a neurotransmitter associated with movement, pleasure, and attention). Euphoria increases the chances of addiction in some people who already abuse Ritalin. Most individuals abusing Ritalin take the medication to accelerate physical response, speed up their mental process, and suppress appetite. This medication appeals to individuals suffering from food addiction, obesity, and/or eating disorders, as well as teenagers who want to improve academic performance.

In a paper published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers explained that Ritalin improves neural function in the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain associated with impulse control, decision making, and attention). When taken according to prescription, Ritalin primarily works on the PFC without altering functions in the other brain centres linked to addiction and over-arousal.

Legal uses of Ritalin

As well as being used as treatment for ADHD, Ritalin may be prescribed for the following conditions:

  • Narcolepsy. There are over three million people worldwide suffering from narcolepsy. This condition causes patients to fall asleep when they are in any a comfortable environment. They have an extreme tendency to sleep for long periods of time. In severe cases of narcolepsy, doctors prescribe Ritalin because it’s a CNS stimulant. Ritalin increases dopamine and norepinephrine levels and regulates the prefrontal cortex (an essential part of the brain for concentration).
  • Depression.Psychostimulants like Ritalin are effective in treating chronic depression, in cases where the patient doesn’t respond well to common antidepressants. It is also used to treat “medically fragile” patients.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).There are no medical reasons to explain why individuals with CFS feel extremely tired and suffer other symptoms such as loss of concentration, muscle pain, and headaches. However, researchers have found that Ritalin is more effective than a placebo in relieving symptoms such as concentration difficulty and fatigue. One in three patients treated with Ritalin showed a positive outcome. Hence, even without a medical reason for symptoms of CFS, patients benefit from it.
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Ritalin Abuse & Addiction Treatment

Methylphenidate is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, similar to cocaine, triggering D1 dopamine receptors in the brain to produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation. It is the most common drug for treating ADHD in children and adults. If you take Ritalin exactly how it was prescribed, it helps you feel focused and calm.

Individuals with substance use disorder abuse Ritalin because it provides similar effects to those of cocaine. They often crush the pill into a powder form to snort, inject, or smoke. Some users take Ritalin to feel a “high” effect, lose weight, and stay awake in high-pressure situations. Methylphenidate causes physical and psychological dependence when abused. The brain remembers the feeling of euphoria it has received and will crave repeat feelings of the pleasure induced by Ritalin. Over time, you’ll be unable to feel pleasure without Ritalin.

Taking the drug in any form not prescribed by your doctor increases the potential for addiction. You might develop a psychological and physical dependence on Ritalin if you abuse the drug. Dependence may lead to panic attacks, cravings, and other unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the drug is absent from your system.

Addiction treatment starts with detoxification to remove toxic substances from your body. After detox, you’ll transition to rehab where psychotherapists will help you understand why you started abusing Ritalin and equip you with the coping strategies needed to live a drug-free life.

What is Ritalin Addiction?

There are three groups of individuals who tend to abuse Ritalin. The first group is those who take Ritalin as a performance-enhancing drug, the second group takes Ritalin to feel a “high” and the third group are ADHD patients who accidentally abuse Ritalin. Routes of Ritalin abuse include:

  • High dosing. More often than not, abuse entails taking large doses of Ritalin. It then stops working as a therapeutic agent and becomes an addictive substance. Larger doses of Ritalin prevent the medication from treating symptoms and alters normal behaviour and brain functions.
  • Snorting Ritalin. When Ritalin is prescribed by your doctor, it is taken orally. Alternate routes include snorting to activate the cocaine-like effects. This triggers a quick release of synaptic dopamine and an instant “high” accompanied by euphoria.
  • Non-medical use of Ritalin. Taking Ritalin without a doctor’s prescription is illegal. Do not give away, sell or use Ritalin without a legal prescription. Abusing Ritalin leads to cardiovascular complications, repeated binge use, psychosis, and addiction.
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Warning Signs of Ritalin Abuse and Addiction

In the UK, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that only children showing severe symptoms of ADHD should be given Ritalin as the first line of treatment. Stimulants should be used in less-severe situations when children don’t respond to psychotherapeutic approaches. Some of the indicators of Ritalin abuse include:

  • Weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Impaired vision
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme sweating
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration
  • Panic attacks
  • Doctor shopping to obtain more medication
  • Stomach pain

Effects: Short and Long Term

The initial effects of Ritalin include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Talkativeness
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Increased alertness

Long-term effects of Ritalin abuse include:

  • Sleep disturbance.Ritalin is prescribed for children and adults who suffer from narcolepsy because it produces the same effect as amphetamine. When you abuse Ritalin, it can cause a long-term sleep disorder. Your regular sleep schedule is distorted to the point that insomnia develops.
  • Behavioural changes.Common changes include; agitation, nervousness, depression, irritability, and restlessness. These symptoms are the negative feelings associated with long-term abuse of Ritalin.
  • Medical conditions.Cardiovascular issues are a lesser-known problem associated with Ritalin abuse. Medical conditions include high blood pressure, heart palpitations, myocardial infarctions as well as liver failure and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Addiction.A 2001 study showed that the physiological effects of methylphenidate and cocaine mirror each other. Like cocaine, long-term Ritalin abuse leads to substance dependence and addiction.

Why you Should Seek Rehab for Ritalin Abuse and Addiction

Ritalin alters the physical structure of your brain to the point that you need to take the drug at short intervals just to feel normal. Addiction may begin with casual use to improve academic performance or experience the “high” effect Ritalin provides. Once addiction has a firm grasp, it’s difficult for you to fight the abuse on your own. You’ll need comprehensive Ritalin addiction treatment designed for your unique addiction needs.

Most rehabilitation centres provide in-house detox facilities to –

  • Monitor the detox process and prevent fatal overdose
  • Help you understand the underlying reason why you started abusing Ritalin
  • Treat co-occurring disorders diagnosed at intake
  • Learn coping techniques with the goal of living a drug-free life after rehab

Addiction specialists understand that Ritalin addiction is a multidimensional problem encompassing environmental, familial, physical, and social factors. All treatment plans are customised for you via research-backed techniques. You need professional treatment if:

  • You have medical conditions caused by Ritalin abuse
  • You have driven a car while under the influence of Ritalin
  • Your friends and family have expressed concern over your drug use
  • You go through withdrawal when you stop using the drug
  • You’ve lost your job, home, or finances because of Ritalin abuse
  • You’ve tried to quit on your own but failed
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What is Ritalin Rehab Like?

When you arrive at a rehab centre, a drug counsellor welcomes you before starting the intake process. During this stage, the drug counsellor asks questions to determine the right treatment for you, duration of treatment and aftercare support.

After intake, your doctor will guide you through the detoxification process. You might be prescribed medication for specific withdrawal symptoms such as sleeping aids, anti-anxiety medication and replacement ADHD medication. Once you’re physically stabilised, you’ll move to the rehab centre where you’ll work with a team of psychotherapists to understand your addiction and learn skills to cope with cravings, prevent relapse, and manage stressful situations.

Aftercare is the most important part of treatment because it helps to maintain abstinence. Your aftercare programme includes continued therapy sessions to work on relapse prevention and cravings, as well as to discuss progress and adjust your aftercare programme when necessary.

Treatment & Therapy Options

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a therapy approach that emphasizes how your thoughts contribute to behaviour. What were you thinking when you started abusing Ritalin? What positive or negative things happened whilst you were under the influence of Ritalin? You will think about triggers that fueled your Ritalin abuse to help you work towards combating those triggers. During the sessions, you’ll work with your therapist to develop coping skills to deal with triggers and stressors in a healthy way.

The Matrix Model

Stimulant addiction destroys lives and affects families and society as a whole. The Matrix Model is an effective therapeutic approach for treating Ritalin addiction. The goals of this therapy model include;

  • Helping you to quit Ritalin abuse
  • Understanding the dangers of relapse and the importance of following your relapse prevention plan
  • Motivating you to complete treatment

The Matrix Model incorporates substance abuse education, relapse prevention, family therapy, group counselling, and individual therapy. Your therapists help to strengthen your dignity, self-esteem and self-worth. There will be random drug testing to ensure compliance and you’ll be introduced to self-help programmes to improve treatment outcome.

Types of Ritalin Addiction Treatment

Inpatient Ritalin Treatment

Inpatient rehabilitation is a structured, live-in programme. The rehab centre provides round the clock care and a therapeutic environment to help you quit drug use and learn how to live a healthy, drug-free life. Options include:

  • Short-term stays. These are short-rehab stays, recommended if you have a mild addiction to Ritalin.
  • Long-term rehab stays. The ideal length of Ritalin rehab is three to six months. Long-term stays allow you to develop communication skills and build support networks and stronger relationships with therapists and other recovering addicts.
  • Luxury/executive rehab programs. These treatment centres provide comfort and luxury for business executives and affluent individuals accustomed to the VIP treatment. In an executive program, you have access to a workstation, meeting rooms, and internet access so you can conduct your usual business and receive treatment co-currently.

Outpatient Ritalin Treatment

This rehab programme is designed to allow you to receive treatment at a rehab centre while working or going to school. If you have home/work responsibilities that prevent you from enrolling as an inpatient, this program is ideal (especially if you’re a high functioning addict).

When to Choose Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Choose inpatient treatment if:

  • You’re a long-term drug addict
  • You have a history of combining Ritalin with other substances such as alcohol
  • You have received a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental health disorder during the intake
  • You have medical health conditions that require treatment alongside addiction.

Choose outpatient treatment if:

  • You have work or family responsibilities that you can’t postpone
  • You’re a high-functioning addict
  • You have a strong support network of family and friends
  • You’re personally motivated to live a drug-free life
  • You can’t afford inpatient treatment.

Choosing the Best Ritalin Rehab centre

A few tips to guide your choice of a rehab centre include:

  • Look into their accreditation. Ensure that the rehab centre is duly licensed, certified and accredited.
  • Location of the facility. If you have a strong support system, you’ll benefit more from staying close to home. However, if you feel that travelling will help to optimise your treatment outcome, you should consider isolated locations in tranquil settings that improve outcome.
  • How many therapies are used during treatment? The best addiction treatment centres use multiple treatments aside from traditional approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Contingency Management and Motivational Interviewing.
  • License and expertise of staff. Ideally, you want the best staff who have been working with rehab centres for a few years to treat you. Ensure that all professionals working at the rehab centre are trained and licensed to treat your specific addiction.
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Specialised Treatment & Therapy Options

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you are diagnosed with, or suffer from, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, you’ll need specialised dual diagnosis treatment to address all facets of co-occurring disorders and Ritalin addiction.

Dialectical Behavioural Treatment (DBT)

DBT is an offshoot of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The goal is to help teenagers and adults battling ADHD to learn new ways to manage their symptoms without abusing prescription medication. The goal is accomplished in individual and group therapy sessions where output can be measured. The core focus of DBT includes:

  • Emotional regulation where you willfully and consciously control your emotions instead of letting them lead.
  • Developing non-judgmental awareness to emotional responses.
  • Improving communication skills, empathy skills and boundary enforcement skills.
  • Learning to recognise triggers without following destructive and reflexive habits.

Family Therapy

Having a child with mental health issues is difficult for some families to manage. A family therapist helps members of the family to sort through all the related emotions and concerns about a family member’s drug use and their underlying mental health disorder. Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is suitable for treating adolescents who are recovering from Ritalin addiction. During sessions, family members will work to improve problem-solving, communication and decision-making skills.

Withdrawal from Ritalin

Long-term abuse of Ritalin leads to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. You can reduce the risk of addiction by following your doctor’s orders when taking Ritalin. However, even patients who follow their prescription might experience withdrawal effects when they quit. Ritalin addiction treatment begins with detoxification. During this process, doctors use the tapering technique to gradually wean you off the drug until all addictive toxins have left your system. Symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Hypersomnia
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Cravings
  • Hunger

Ritalin withdrawal lasts between seven days to four weeks.

  • Early withdrawal symptoms. Early indicators of withdrawal include agitation, mood swings, intense fatigue, cravings, nausea and irregular heartbeat. Initial symptoms of withdrawal may manifest within 24 hours after your last Ritalin use up to the third day.
  • Acute withdrawal symptoms. This is the stage in which most of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms manifest. Symptoms include exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, increased appetite, and nervousness. Symptoms appear around the fourth day and fade away from the seventh day.
  • Late withdrawal symptoms. At this stage, you’re physically stabilised for Ritalin rehab but some psychological symptoms might still linger. They include cravings, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Symptoms might extend up to four weeks in some patients.

The length of withdrawal is determined by several factors such as:

  • General body condition and physical health
  • The total duration of Ritalin use
  • The existence of co-occurring disorders and polydrug use disorders

Doctors will prescribe medications, such as antidepressants, to treat specific symptoms.

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Continuing Care: What Comes Next

Addiction is a frustrating, complex, and demanding condition but effective treatment at a licensed rehab centre could improve your life if you’re struggling. A good rehab programme must include aftercare support to ensure that you do not deviate from your recovery journey once you’ve completed treatment. The goals of after programmes include:

  • Preventing relapse
  • Maintaining recovery from Ritalin addiction
  • Living a long-term, drug-free life, filled with a sense of purpose and rewarding relationships.

The best aftercare programs offer services that address your vocation, education, transportation, child care, mental health, medical status, housing, as well as legal and financial situation. Types of aftercare programs include:

  • Sober living homes.If you have a risky home situation, your doctor might recommend a sober living facility. These are therapeutic communities that are less structured than rehab but provide supervised housing and programmes to maximise recovery goals.
  • Support groups. Support groups provide a safe space where individuals who are struggling with addiction can learn from the experiences of each other and enjoy a shared connection.

Relapse Prevention

Ritalin addiction is hard to overcome. Some recovering addicts attend rehab several times but still struggle with Ritalin addiction. One of the most effective ways to handle addiction is to create a Relapse Prevention Plan (RPP) that will help you maintain a drug-free life after rehab. Your RPP should incorporate your likely triggers discovered in rehab while remaining realistic.

A relapse prevention plan includes the following:

  • Assessment of drug abuse patterns and triggers. This is a comprehensive analysis of beliefs, thoughts, emotions and behaviours that led to Ritalin abuse.
  • Education that normalises relapse. 80% of recovering addicts relapse, it is a part of your recovery journey.
  • Motivational phrases that help you remain balanced when faced with a trigger.
  • If you’re not ready to immediately transition into society, enter a sober living home.
  • Stay away from old friends who encouraged drug use or negative patterns.
  • Learn techniques that help you manage cravings such as: urge surfing, cognitive reframing and thought-stopping.
  • Stay away from high-risk situations.
  • Practise relaxation techniques such as yoga, mindful meditation, massage therapy and acupuncture.
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Live a Drug-Free Life Again

A large, single dose of Ritalin can cause a fatal heart attack. Ritalin is a powerful stimulant that affects the body and mind. It increases the risk of experiencing seizures, blocks reabsorption of norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain, slows growth in children, and causes irregular breathing problems.

You need addiction treatment to reverse all the physical and psychological effects of addiction. Addiction experts in rehab centres have a wealth of experience treating all types of addiction in patients, monitoring withdrawal, and providing psychological tools to help you overpower cravings and stay on track.

Stimulant addiction is not a mental disorder you can deal with on your own. Register at a rehab centre that offers aftercare programmes and detox facilities to ensure comprehensive treatment. It’s never too late to get back everything you lost whilst under the influence of Ritalin.


Are Ritalin Rehabs Private and Confidential?

All accredited rehabs in the UK are confidential and private, protecting the data and personal details of all clients. The staff in all rehab clinics sign a legally-binding document that prevents them from sharing your details with non-authorised personnel.

Is Ritalin Addictive?

Scientific studies have shown that Ritalin is not addictive when used as prescribed. The potential for addiction increases when the drug is abused.

Why is Ritalin a Problem?

The problems and side effects of Ritalin develop in individuals who take large amounts of the drug. As a stimulant, it carries serious side effects such as: prolonged erections, stomach upset, breathing problems, delusion, increased heart rate, lower threshold for seizures, slowed growth, hostile behaviour and increased blood pressure.

What Types of Ritalin Addiction Treatment Programs Are Available?

Treatment options for Ritalin addiction include: 12-step programs, medical detox, sober homes, peer counselling, SMART Recovery, inpatient rehab, and outpatient rehab.

Is There an Ideal Length of Rehab?

The ideal duration for Ritalin rehab ranges from three months to six months to ensure you receive comprehensive addiction treatment.

What does Treatment Include?

After the intake process, you’ll undergo detoxification to remove Ritalin and other toxic stimulants from your body. The process last three to seven days. After detox comes rehab, where you’ll learn about the underlying reasons for your addiction, address all psychological issues that might trigger a relapse and work with your therapist to develop coping skills for staying abstinent after rehab. Treatment also includes aftercare programmes such as: continued therapy, maintenance medication, and attending support group meetings.

What Other Factors should You Look for in a Rehab Program?

The first feature to look for in a rehab centre is its ability to cater to your addiction needs by providing an in-house detox clinic and innovative therapy techniques that improve chances of positive outcome. Other factors to consider include: accreditation of the rehab centre, the number of therapy techniques, staff to patient ratio, the cost of rehab, and location of rehab.

Are There Treatment Programs for Teens?

Children and teenagers are prescribed ADHD medications to help improve focus and retention. However, some adolescents abuse Ritalin by taking higher quantities to experience the “high” associated with the drug or to help them study better. Teenagers who are suffering from Ritalin addiction benefit from specialised teen programmes. In teen rehabs, they work with child psychologists and pediatric professionals who are licensed to treat substance abuse in teenagers.

How do You Know if you are Addicted to Ritalin?

Signs of Ritalin abuse include: dilated pupils, loss of appetite, violent behaviour, irregular sleep patterns, increased blood pressure, and body temperature, as well as seizures, paranoia and involuntary movements.

Why Should I Seek Ritalin Addiction Treatment?

Addiction is an isolating disease that destroys everything you’ve worked your entire life to build in basically no time. You might experience physical and mental health issues such as cardiovascular problems, respiratory depression, anxiety, psychotic episodes, and insomnia. Treatment is the only way to reverse the damage caused by addiction and get your life back on track.

What is Ritalin Rehab Like?

Rehab is structured, and every activity from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep at night is pre-planned. You eat your meals at the same time, participate in group sessions, attend therapy, keep appointments with your prescribing doctor, and improve communication skills by talking to doctors, nurses, and patients at the rehab centre. You’re monitored round the clock to ensure you remain safe during detox and rehabilitation.

Do I Need a Residential Rehab Facility?

You need inpatient treatment if you have a long-term history of substance abuse, dual diagnosis, polydrug use disorder, or medical conditions that might complicate treatment. Inpatient treatment centres are equipped with the most experienced addiction specialists who provide the highest level of care to ensure a positive outcome from treatment.

Should I Travel or Stay Near Home?

If your family is in the same locality where you live, you’ll benefit more from staying home. Your family will visit, attend family therapy sessions, and provide motivational support that aids in recovery. However, if you feel that you’ll benefit from receiving treatment in a more distant location, there are luxury rehabs in isolated places to eliminate all distractions.

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