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Methylphenidate, more commonly known by the brand name Ritalin, is a stimulant drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD. Ritalin is effective in treating ADHD because it changes the amount of certain natural chemicals in the brain resulting in the user with ADHD being able to focus better.
Ritalin has several effects on a user. Most people recognize Ritalin for its ability to help people focus. Still, it also helps users stay focused on the task at hand, helps to control behavioral issues like impulsivity, and helps to promote better organization and attentiveness.
Ritalin is a prescription medication that is highly regulated due to the high risk of misuse, abuse, and addiction. It comes as a pill and is usually prescribed to take a few times throughout the day as it is not an extended-release medication. Taking Ritalin too late in the day can cause sleeplessness or insomnia because it is a stimulant.
Because of its powerful ability to help users focus and remain on task, Ritalin has become a popular drug among students. Many students will buy Ritalin from other people or fake symptoms to get a Ritalin prescription.
Ritalin is very effective at increasing focus and remaining organized, so students abusing Ritalin typically do so for its positive effects on their studying habits and grades. However, there is a huge risk with taking Ritalin when it is not prescribed. As stated earlier, Ritalin has a high risk of causing addiction and being abused.
Ritalin use can easily fly off the handle and become an overwhelming addiction. Therefore, it is important to understand how and why misusing Ritalin for studying is dangerous to avoid addictions. On the other hand, if you or a loved one is suffering from a Ritalin addiction, please continue reading to understand how best to help them.
Why Some People Use Ritalin for Studying: What Ritalin Does to the Body
To begin, we must first understand why people use Ritalin for studying and the effects that Ritalin has on the body. People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have low dopamine levels in their brains.
Dopamine is essential for various brain functions, such as attention, motivation, reward, movement, and more. Therefore, low dopamine levels can harm several aspects of an individual’s behavior, cognitive process, and life. People with ADHD have low levels of dopamine because there is a type of molecule that essentially suck up the dopamine before it has a chance to take effect on the brain, and people with ADHD have too many of these molecules.
Ritalin is an effective treatment for ADHD because it slows down the molecules that take up the dopamine too quickly, so the dopamine can do its job.
However, if too much Ritalin is taken or a person who does not have ADHD is misusing Ritalin, the effects are different. Instead of how it works on people with ADHD, like being able to focus and give attention like a normal person, the effects are amplified, and the person using Ritalin will experience a more intense reaction.
Therefore, people who do not have diagnosed ADHD or a prescription for Ritalin find themselves able to focus better than they have ever been able to. It is like their brain has been given super-power juice, and they can suddenly fulfill all kinds of tasks quicker than ever.
So, using Ritalin to help increase an individual’s ability to study is very common. This is exacerbated by our society and the institutions that children, teenagers, and young adults face.
As a society, we are incredibly focused on success. We push children from a very young age to find validation for academic success to achieve success in their careers later on down the line. Many children think they must be academically successful to be a good person with a good life.
Society and many families put a huge strain on students to be good students. More than ever, the stresses and expectations for students are extremely high and intense. This pushes many teenagers and college-age students to find methods to help them become their best academic selves.
Many students will take study drugs such as Ritalin and tell themselves it is just a one-time thing to finish an assignment or a project. But then, when they realize how much they can accomplish with this drug, they often keep taking it. As a result, they often see their grades improve because of their increased studying and focus, but their lives may begin to go downhill in other ways.
Addiction is the most obvious issue with using Ritalin as a study drug without a prescription. Other drugs that activate or increase dopamine levels in the brain, such as cocaine, are highly addictive. While Ritalin is not in the same class of drugs as cocaine, many scientists fear that the effects of Ritalin addiction are extremely similar to the effects of addiction to cocaine.
So, while Ritalin is not considered an extremely addictive drug, it has the same functions as drugs that are extremely addictive, like cocaine. Ritalin and other similar drugs often have withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping usage. This is because Ritalin is a stimulant, so the body and brain, as well as the receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain, can become reliant on the drug. Therefore, when Ritalin is taken away, the body goes into withdrawal.
Many people feel pushed or drawn to using study drugs such as Ritalin because of society or family members’ inescapable expectations. In addition, pressure to succeed academically is one of the driving forces which make students turn to the use of “study drugs.”
Dangers & Side Effects of Using Ritalin for Studying: Risks of Ritalin Abuse
There are a handful of dangers and side effects that can come from using Ritalin for studying without a prescription. Ritalin abuse is very common among students, and many times they do not think about the dangers or the side effects of abusing this type of drug. Generally, people who are abusing Ritalin are not doing so to use a drug, but are using the drug to achieve academic validation.
Ritalin can be addictive and cause serious side effects, such as:
- Heart strain
- Nervous system strain/damage
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Lowered immune system defense
- Lowered inhibitions
The biggest risk and the most common issue people experience while abusing Ritalin is heart strain or heart problems. Stimulants increase a person’s heart rate and increase your blood pressure. For people who have pre-existing heart conditions, this can be incredibly dangerous. Occasionally, it can even be fatal.
Most of the side effects of Ritalin usage are negative ones. However, because there is not as much information about Ritalin and study drug abuse, many people abusing these substances do not know about them. Hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth have PSAs telling people to avoid these drugs. Ritalin does not have the same reputation or amount of information given to the public, so many students do not know that there are any risks associated with Ritalin use.
Ritalin can decrease appetite in some people, causing extreme weight loss. Ritalin is also dangerous when mixed with other drugs and substances, so any interactions between other prescription drugs or illegal drugs could be fatal or dangerous.
Ritalin is dangerous when mixed with alcohol because it increases the speed at which the alcohol is metabolized by the body, resulting in a person becoming much drunker much quicker, frequently causing alcohol poisoning.
Addicted to Using Ritalin for Studying? Here’s How to Get Help
If you or a loved one suffers from a Ritalin addiction, there is a way to get help. The first step is acknowledging that you have an addiction to Ritalin. This can be scary and feel shameful or embarrassing, but it is important to identify this issue to take the next steps to help yourself.
Tell close friends or family members about your struggle and addiction to Ritalin so that they can help support you through your recovery. It is always difficult to tell friends or family that you are struggling with an addiction, but it is one of the most important things you can do. A strong support group of people you trust and love can help prevent people from relapsing and give you peace of mind throughout recovery.
Lastly, you can attend a premier rehab facility that ensures you get the help you need and deserve to live your life free from Ritalin addiction. So reach out today to get started on your journey to recovery.
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1. Caporuscio J. Ritalin (methylphenidate): Side effects and when to see a doctor. Published May 30, 2019. Accessed July 27, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325333