Ritalin Withdrawal and Detox

Ritalin is a drug that is mostly used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as it acts as a stimulant for the nervous system. In people who need the medication, ritalin increases focus, planning ability, and enhances overall cognitive skill and function. This is because it increases dopamine and norepinephrine activity in the brain. People with ADHD have insufficient activity levels of these neurotransmitters and require Ritalin to be able to function well in the modern world. Failing to use medication, these people can’t function optimally in the academic or business fields, as they can’t concentrate for extended periods of time.

However, Ritalin addiction and abuse are real problems. Most people that stick to the medically recommended doses will not get addicted. Using it solely to get high or going above the recommended doses, on the other hand, can lead to addiction.

Ritalin Withdrawal – What Is It?

Ritalin withdrawal is what happens when your brain attempts to realign itself in the absence of the drug, after the initial changes that have occurred as a result of the constant use of the drug. As you continue to use Ritalin, your brain will become less sensitive to dopamine and norepinephrine, if you already produce these neurotransmitters naturally enough. This is how you end up building a tolerance to the drug. When you are at this stage, you will need to keep increasing the dose you take to be able to achieve the same effects. This leads to doubling down on the overall reaction that occurs in your brain.

When your brain has been altered too much, stopping your intake of Ritalin, or reducing the dose to below the normal levels you take, will trigger a wide range of unpleasant symptoms. These are withdrawal symptoms and will remain until the brain starts functioning normally again. The return to normal functionality can either be achieved by taking Ritalin again to maintain the brain’s most recent configuration, or to cope with the withdrawal symptoms (in a professional setting) until your brain relearns to function without Ritalin.

Causes of Ritalin Withdrawal

Ritalin withdrawal happens when you get addicted to the drug. People that use it for legitimate medical conditions and stick to the dose recommended by medical professionals are very unlikely to become addicted and experience withdrawal symptoms. However, recreational use, or any other type of personal use, can lead to abuse and thus increases the chances of withdrawal symptoms.

In the last few years, Ritalin has become a popular drug for people looking for extra energy and focus to accomplish more tasks. This is especially true for young professionals and students. Increasing workloads for these demographics and the pressure to remain at the top of their commitments has led to a rise in the abuse of drugs such as Ritalin. Taking the drug will provide anyone with the focus and energy to stay up all night to read, write, or work on a project.

However, the problem with this is that as soon as the drug wears off, often after an excessively high dose, a crash can follow which will lead to the manifestation of all the typical withdrawal symptoms. You will feel symptoms like sluggishness and difficulty in concentration. leading to the urge to take the drug again.

Ritalin Withdrawal Timeline

Ritalin is a substance with a short half-life. This means that it will be almost completely out of your system 24 hours from when you took the last dose. It is at this point that the withdrawal symptoms will kick in. The overall length of withdrawal is longer than those seen in similar acting drugs. However, the general withdrawal window is between 7-10 days. The timeline you should expect can be broken down as follows.

Days 1-2: This is when withdrawal symptoms generally start before escalating fast. The first symptoms you can expect to see at this stage include headaches, fatigue, increased appetite, difficulty in concentration, and emotional turbulence. Most people experiencing this stage of symptoms find it hard to do anything other than eat and sleep.

Days 2-7: It is in this period that withdrawal symptoms peak. Intense symptoms can be felt for a couple of days. Some of the symptoms you may experience at this stage include headaches, irritability, and anger. Anxiety may also be present, in which case you may start experiencing panic attacks. It is at this stage that professionals watch out for psychosis and suicidal behaviour.

Days 7-10: At this stage, withdrawal symptoms tend to start fading until they are gone. If you have made it to this stage, some of the symptoms like nausea, palpitations, and headaches will disappear but the emotional symptoms may remain for longer periods.

Days 10-14: Some of the symptoms that remain at this stage are those related to cognition and emotions. They should have cleared by this point but they can stay for longer. Brain fog, anxiety, depression, and motivational issues are some of these symptoms.

It is important to note that the withdrawal timeline is not set in stone. The experience will vary from one person to another.

Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms and Effects

Ritalin withdrawal symptoms are diverse. The dangerous ones like psychosis and suicidal ideation can mostly be seen if you have used the drug for a long period of time. However, even the less dangerous symptoms can still be very disorienting and generally unpleasant. It is perhaps as a result of these symptoms that you have joined thousands of other people to continue postponing treatment in favour of your Ritalin addiction. Understanding the symptoms you should expect can help you to better prepare for withdrawal and detox.

You also need to keep in mind the fact that the professional handling of withdrawal is the best way to ensure that these symptoms are not quite as uncomfortable.

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Symptoms of Ritalin Withdrawal

Some of the more general symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Hypertension
  • Increased heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat

There are also other physical and psychological symptoms to watch out for.

Physical Symptoms of Ritalin Withdrawal

Some of the main physical symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal include:

  • Uncontrolled muscle movements
  • Sudden, uncontrolled verbal outbursts
  • Vision problems
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Numbness
  • Sweating
  • Tingling
  • Rash
  • Nausea or vomiting

Psychological Symptoms of Ritalin Withdrawal

The psychological symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal include:

  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Aggression

The symptoms you will experience during Ritalin withdrawal will vary. It is rare to experience all of the symptoms mentioned above at once, but you can expect to experience at least a few of them.

Effects of Ritalin Withdrawal

Perhaps one of the most common effects of Ritalin withdrawal is the onset of depression. This happens because of the way Ritalin interacts with dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the compound responsible for the regulation of pleasurable sensations in the brain. When you take Ritalin, the quantity of dopamine in the brain is ramped up, but when you stop taking Ritalin, depression invariably follows.

Additional withdrawal symptoms include a distorted sleeping pattern and general fatigue. The amount of time you have spent taking Ritalin and the quantity of Ritalin consumed in each dose is what specifically determines the symptoms and effects you will experience and how long they will last.

Ritalin Detoxification

If you have been using Ritalin and want to get rid of it from your body, you need detoxification. It can be done anywhere but the best results can be seen when you undergo the detox process in a professional environment. During detox, the emphasis will be on helping you get through the withdrawal symptoms and to get clean without any complications. On successful detox, you will then need to proceed to the later stages of treatment.

Ritalin Abuse Detox Process

Ritalin is a stimulant, this means that your body ends up needing it to function optimally. When you detox from it, you will feel completely different; you will suddenly feel lethargic, unmotivated and depressed because the Ritalin was keeping you active. Suddenly quitting it is bound to trigger the chemicals in your brain that are responsible for reward and pleasure. This is when a wide range of withdrawal symptoms will kick in and when detox management becomes vital.

The professional detox process for Ritalin abuse usually involves round the clock medical supervision, including the use of medications to relieve symptoms. If the professionals handling the process believe that an inpatient detox is best for you, you will be given a room with a bed to stay in for the duration of the detox. While in this room, your vitals will be checked regularly to ensure that you are safe and to prevent your withdrawal symptoms from getting out of hand. You will also be able to communicate regularly with the doctors to ensure that your symptoms are treated properly.

In many centres, you will find detox therapists on hand to offer you emotional support and to handle any underlying psychological issues that might have triggered your Ritalin abuse in the first place. Psychosis is one of the things that they will watch for. You will be thoroughly examined to ensure you are not delusional or suffering from any hallucinations. If any of these are present, they will be treated. During this process, you will also be checked for ADHD. If you have this condition, a treatment plan that doesn’t involve the use of narcotics will be created for you.

During detox, you will be exposed to comfort medication that is aimed at handling the myriad of symptoms you will experience. You may still feel depressed but the presence of medical professionals and other people in your shoes means you will have all the support you need to pull through.

During the detox process, you will also be put through a wide range of therapies. Different rehabs have different therapy options but the end goal is the same. The focus is to make sure you remain comfortable enough to complete the detox process and to ensure that you can complete rehab and avoid relapse in future.

Some of the therapies you can expect to do include general education on Ritalin and other stimulants, group-based therapies where the focus will be on harnessing the energy of past and present patients experiencing the same as you, and individualised therapy sessions. During each session, the focus will not only be on countering the withdrawal symptoms you are feeling but, also, on addressing the cravings.

The end of the detox programme is the beginning of other rehabilitation programmes that will ensure you properly recover from your Ritalin addiction with no danger of relapse.

Ritalin Detoxification Timeline

Ritalin half-life is shorter than what is seen with other drugs in its class. This means that it will leave the body quickly. Generally, Ritalin will leave your body after 24 hours. However, even though Ritalin leaves your body very quickly, the withdrawal and detox process is not always so fast. It can take weeks or months to complete.

Typically, detox will last for 3-10 days. In the early days, you will be provided with treatment in a controlled environment to ensure that all the symptoms pass without any incidents. After the worst period of symptoms have passed, you may still feel the symptoms once in a while depending on your Ritalin usage history.

Other factors that can influence the timeline of Ritalin detox are your age, weight, height, and metabolism. The faster your metabolism, the shorter the detox timeline. This is because the symptoms will then pass by faster.

You will be required to continue seeing a doctor even after detox and for the rest of your rehabilitation period.

Most people complete detox within a couple of weeks and continue with rehab for another 30-60 days before they are truly classed as having completed treatment for their addiction.

Treatment Methods and Options

There are different treatment methods and options when it comes to the handling of Ritalin addiction.

Inpatient treatment programs: During inpatient treatment, medical detox, group therapy, individual counselling, and other support programs can be combined. You will be required to remain in a 24/7 treatment facility for a specific period of time. Usually, this will be around a month but, depending on the seriousness of the condition, it can take up to 90 days. Severe cases can last as long as 6 months.

Outpatient Treatment Programmes: Outpatient treatment programmes are similar to those provided at inpatient facilities. However, you will not be required to stay at the centre. You can stay at home and visit the rehab facility based on appointment. This is the best fit for people with less severe Ritalin addiction and those who simply can’t afford to be away for an extended period of time.

12-step Programmes: There are different types of 12-Step programmes. Your rehab centre will show you the right ones to join for your Ritalin addiction. The focus is a step-by-step process towards recovery in the midst of other people with the same or similar addiction. Some of these programmes have a religious undertone and thus may not be the best for everyone. Your addiction specialist will guide you appropriately.

Dual Diagnosis: Dual diagnosis programs focus on treating the addiction, as well as any other underlying medical condition that may be fuelling the addiction. Since Ritalin is mainly prescribed for ADHD, most centres run a diagnosis for the condition and then provide coaching and therapy that will help you cope with it, without the use of Ritalin.

 Finding the Right Treatment

After you have completed withdrawal and detox, the next stage for you is to focus on the longer-term elements of addiction treatment and recovery. After your detox, you still need to learn how to live without Ritalin.  The right treatment teaches this and also finds solutions for treating any underlying conditions that are responsible for your abuse of the drug.

The best treatment should also include individual and group counselling. The counselling sessions are vital for discovering the causes of drug abuse or addiction. Depending on your situation, you will most likely require treatment that incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy. This type of therapy is one where you will learn coping mechanisms that will ensure you do not yield to the temptation of using Ritalin after your detox and treatment are over. A relapse may occur if the treatment doesn’t address this important element.

Detox from Ritalin can be challenging. This is why you need to find treatment where licensed, trained medical professionals can help you to detox safely and comfortably. Can’t find a treatment centre? You can contact a recovery support specialist or talk to your doctor.

Find the Best Residential Ritalin Recovery Centre

When searching for a recovery centre for your Ritalin withdrawal and detox, you need to keep in mind the fact that the best centres offer personalised service. Find a treatment centre that has a history of working with recovering Ritalin addicts. You also need to confirm that the level of care and comfort provided appeals to you. If you are not comfortable with the general service on offer, you may find it hard to remain committed to the treatment programme. It doesn’t matter if you are considering inpatient or outpatient detox, comfort is vital to the success of the programme. How equipped is the centre? Are they able to handle someone from your demographic? Are the rooms for inpatient rehab comfortable? Can they match your desired level of privacy?

If you can’t choose a centre on your own, seek professional help. When a detox centre has been chosen for you, you can focus on judiciously sticking to their recommended programmes.

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Home Detox for Ritalin Abusers- How Safe?

Since most of the withdrawal symptoms of Ritalin are psychological, it may be possible for you to detox from Ritalin at home. This is especially true if your addiction is not severe. Home detox, however, will fail with a severe addiction and the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous.

This is because with drugs like Ritalin, it is easy for psychosis to develop during withdrawal. When this happens, you may begin to experience delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre behaviour. When this combines with other symptoms such as anger and agitation, the results can be very concerning. You may end up putting everyone around you at risk as you attempt your detox.

Professionally-guided detox is recommended because you will always be examined physically and psychologically to ensure you are in good health. The experts know exactly how to guide you through the post-acute withdrawal stage (PAWS) without putting you at risk.

Self-Detoxification from Ritalin

Self-detoxification is similar to home detox because it involves going through detox on your own without professional help. However, people that go this route may not detox at home. Some simply get enough information to guide them on the detox and then go to secluded locations to do it. As is the case with home detox, however, there is always the danger of being overwhelmed by withdrawal. This is especially true for moderate to severe cases of Ritalin addiction.

Facts about Ritalin Detox – Real Life Experiences

  • Here are some facts and real life experiences related to Ritalin use and detox.
  • 67% of young adults who have misused a prescription stimulant are current or former college students.
  • 20% of college students abuse prescription stimulants like Ritalin, according to a 2014 Partnership for Drug-Free Kids survey.
  • 57% of Ritalin users are female, according to a CVS study.
  • Lee Millar is an exhaustingly energetic boy. He runs into people, is constantly on the go, sleeps little and always wants to play.

But when his mother, Donna, sought medical help the doctor didn’t just shrug his shoulders and suggest that boys will be boys. At the age of five, Lee became part of what many doctors insist is a massive public health scandal, set to blight a generation, and already provoking a barrage of lawsuits.

He was diagnosed as having ADHD – attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder – and put on the psychoactive drug Ritalin. This is chemically similar to cocaine and speed and, like them, has been classified as a class A drug. It is so dangerous pharmacists have to keep it locked up. In Sweden it was banned after an explosion in use among drug addicts.

Ritalin had a powerful effect on Lee. ‘He was like something out of The Exorcist, or Damian in The Omen. He stabbed his brother in the foot with scissors. I was frightened to go to sleep sometimes,’ recalled his mother. ‘He used to demand the pills and was definitely addicted. I find it incredible they’re giving a class A drug to a five-year-old.’ In desperation, Millar took Lee off Ritalin and he suffered severe withdrawal symptoms before settling down. Read More

Among the children who took Ritalin, about 526 in every 1,000 experienced unpleasant side effects, compared with 408 per 1,000 in the control group given a dummy pill or no medication. That’s a 30% increased risk of side effects for the children taking Ritalin. The difficulty is that doctors can’t predict who will suffer the side effects.

“Despite more than 50 years of research, we have no knowledge on how to identify patients that may obtain more benefits than harm,” said the researchers.

Dr Morris Zwi, consultant child & adolescent psychiatrist, added: “Our expectations of this treatment are ­probably greater than they should be, and while our review shows some evidence of benefit, this finding was based on very low-quality evidence.

“What we still need are large, well-conducted trials in order to clarify the risks versus the benefits for this widely used treatment.”

Dr Daniel Hawcutt, of the British Pharmacological Society, advised parents with concerns to consult their doctor.

Dr Tony Lloyd, from the charity ADHD Foundation, said drug treatment should be used only in addition to behavioural therapies, as recommended by NHS guidelines.

“The fact of the matter is that in the UK, medication is the first line of treatment and pretty much the only line of treatment,” he said. “That needs to change.” Read More

A new study conducted on rats by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School suggests that the misdiagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), combined with prescription drug use in children may lead to a higher risk of developing depressive symptoms in adulthood.

This work, released at the annual American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) conference in Puerto Rico, is among the first to examine the effects of early Ritalin exposure in rats on behavior and brain function during the later periods of life.

“Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be a serious medical problem for children and their parents,” says lead researcher William Carlezon, Ph.D., director of McLean Hospital’s Behavioral Genetics Laboratory and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “While Ritalin is an effective medication that improves the quality of life for many children with ADHD, accurately diagnosing and identifying the correct treatment regimen for the disorder is essential, especially when considering health effects that can last through adulthood.” Read More

Ben Napier wasn’t your typical ADHD child, more of a daydreamer than a misbehaver, remembers his mother, Pauline. “He’d forget to hand in his homework, even though it was in his bag and have trouble understanding instructions or copying anything down off the board,” she says. “He was struggling at school and I knew something was wrong.” When Ben was 12, his teacher recommended Pauline take him to see a doctor.

After a two-year process of assessment, Ben was finally diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Though Ben was relieved, “I know I’m not stupid now,” his mother, on the other hand, was heartbroken. “I felt powerless,” says Pauline. By way of help, the only option offered to Ben was the medication methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin, which works by stimulating a part of the brain that modifies mental and behavioural reactions. “There was no offer of behavioural or parenting support, nothing,” says Pauline. “I felt it was my only option. It’s a terrible decision to have to make; to medicate your child.”

“These professionals are opting for what’s easy to give – a prescription that clearly does work to improve a child’s attention – but this shouldn’t be the first port of call,” says Professor Tim Kendall, consultant psychiatrist and director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who helped draft the NICE guidelines for the treatment of ADHD. For example, he says, parent training programmes are shown to also work in the treatment of ADHD. “But, they’re simply not being offered.”

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How Long Do Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms Take?

Ritalin withdrawal symptoms generally begin 24 hours after the last dose and can last for up to 10 days. The seriousness of the symptoms you feel will also be dependent on the seriousness of your addiction.

What Recovery Program is Right for Me?

The only way to know which recovery program right for you, is to talk to a professional in an evaluation. The evaluation meeting will help establish the true extent of your addiction and also rule out the presence or absence of co-occurring disorders. The presence of a co-occurring disorder can significantly alter the course of recovery.

Do Symptoms And Their Duration Vary From Person To Person?

Yes, the symptoms will vary from one person to another. The main factor that determines what symptoms you will feel is the depth of the addiction. Stronger cases of Ritalin addiction are harder to recover from. Additionally, your metabolism can also play a role in the symptoms you feel and how long they last.

How Long Does Ritalin Withdrawal Last?

Ritalin withdrawal can last for as long as 2-10 days.

Can I Get Help For Ritalin Addiction?

Yes, there are many Ritalin detox centres all across the UK. Getting help is as simple as finding the one that appeals to you the most.

Are There Any Home Remedies For Getting Clean Safely?

There are no scientifically proven remedies for detoxing from Ritalin. The best option remains a medically supervised detox.

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Ritalin?

It takes around a week to detox from Ritalin in many cases. However, detox can last for as long as a month depending on addiction severity and the detox option used.

What Happens During Stimulant Detox?

During detox, emphasis is placed on helping the brain rediscover how to function without the stimulant. Different treatment and therapy options are used to counter the withdrawal symptoms that are bound to occur and also deal with any cravings.

Why Should I Enter A Stimulant Detox Programme?

Failing to enter a stimulant detox programme could mean exposing yourself to the dangers that come with prolonged stimulant use. Apart from being unable to function properly without the stimulant, there is also the danger of overdose as you continue to chase a new level of high. Stimulant overdose can prove fatal.

What Is Ritalin Withdrawal?

Ritalin withdrawal is what happens when your brain attempts to function in the absence of Ritalin in the body.

What Are The Types Of Ritalin Withdrawal?

There are two types of Ritalin withdrawal. They are tapered withdrawal and cold turkey withdrawal. The former is what most professionals will advise. Cold turkey withdrawal involves abruptly quitting the drug. The withdrawal symptoms can be very difficult to cope with.

When Will I Stop Craving Ritalin?

You will stop craving Ritalin months or even years after completing detox and treatment for Ritalin addiction. In the periods immediately following treatment, the cravings may continue. However, with proper follow up care, you will be able to stave off the cravings and avoid a relapse.

Can Anyone Tell I’m Using Ritalin?

Anyone experienced in the stimulant addiction field can see that you are using a stimulant. They may not be able to pinpoint that you are abusing Ritalin specifically, but the signs of drug abuse will be visible. This is especially true for when withdrawal symptoms occur in their presence.

Can You Die From Ritalin Withdrawal?

No, you cannot die from Ritalin withdrawal. However, some of the symptoms of withdrawal like depression and suicidal thoughts can lead to death if left unchecked.

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