Ritalin Withdrawal

Ritalin is a prescription medication used to treat people diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy. While it can be highly effective in helping individuals manage the symptoms of these disorders, the drug also has a high potential for abuse. Ritalin, like its cousin Adderall, is a stimulant, and both of these drugs have been significantly misused over the past decade or so.

Ritalin abuse often impacts the college age demographic. The prescription stimulants have become popularized as “study drugs” for their capacity to keep students alert and productive well into the wee hours. Unfortunately, attempting to stop taking Ritalin after an extended period of abusing the drug will result in Ritalin withdrawal symptoms. Ritalin withdrawal is highly uncomfortable, as the rebound effects—the very symptoms the student was hoping to avoid—begin to emerge.

It is possible to safely manage Ritalin detox and withdrawal in a medically supervised environment. Detox experts will slowly taper the individual off of the drug, which allows for a safer detox process. After the detox and withdrawal phase is completed, the individual can transition, if needed, to an addiction recovery program. Rehabs for Ritalin addiction are available in either an outpatient or residential setting, and will equip individuals with the new coping skills needed to break free from the drug.

What is Ritalin?

Ritalin is the brand name of methylphenidate, a prescription central nervous system stimulant produced by Novartis. It works by affecting the areas of the brain and central nervous system that regulate impulsivity and hyperactivity. Other brand names for the drug include Concerta, Metadate, and Methylin.

Ritalin is a Schedule II controlled substance, as the drug has been identified as having a high potential for abuse. It is important to note that both cocaine and methamphetamine also hold a Schedule II classification. Ritalin can be diverted and sold through illicit channels for recreational use or for weight loss purposes. Ritalin comes in instant release, sustained release, and long-acting release formulations.

While Ritalin and Adderall are prescribed for the same medical conditions, Ritalin is more commonly issued to children ages 6-17. Approximately 6.1 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD according to the CDC.

Ritalin Addiction and Abuse

Even though it is a stimulant, for individuals diagnosed with ADHD Ritalin works to help slow down their hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. However, in those with no such condition, Ritalin has a true stimulant effect that causes it to be a popular drug of abuse. Some of the reasons why Ritalin is misused include:

  • Sharpens cognitive abilities
  • Increases concentration
  • Reduces the need for sleep
  • Decreases appetite that results in weight loss
  • Improves ability to take on heavy workload
  • Has stimulant effects that produce a high
  • Is used recreationally along with alcohol

Ritalin can be taken orally in tablet form, or it can be crushed and liquefied for injection. Slang terms for Ritalin include vitamin R, R-ball, rids, kiddie cocaine, diet coke, and skittles.

People who somehow gain access to the drug without a legitimate prescription and begin to abuse the Ritalin will quickly develop a drug tolerance. This means that it takes more of the drug to experience the desired effects. With extended Ritalin abuse the brain becomes dependent on the substance. Ritalin has the potential to cause both a physical and psychological addiction.

What are the Signs of Ritalin Addiction?

As with other stimulant use disorders, the signs of addiction to Ritalin involve behavioral, psychological, and physical symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms of Ritalin addiction include:

  • Unable to curtail Ritalin use even when desired to cut back
  • Doctor shopping to find new sources for the drug
  • Purchasing the Ritalin online or on the street
  • Continuing to use Ritalin even with increasing negative consequences
  • No longer spending time with friends and family
  • Moodiness
  • Decline in school or work performance
  • Neglect responsibilities

Psychological symptoms of Ritalin addiction include:

  • Agitation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability, agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Ritalin cravings
  • Paranoia
  • Depression

Physical symptoms of Ritalin addiction include:

  • Weight loss
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms

Adverse Ritalin Effects Caused by Addiction

When someone continues to abuse Ritalin they will be more susceptible to more serious health effects from the drug. These are indicative of a significant drug addiction:

  • Anxiety
  • Mania
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid pulse (tachycardia)
  • Stroke
  • Mental confusion
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Overdose

What to Expect During Ritalin Withdrawal

Treatment for Ritalin addiction is likely to start with the detox and withdrawal process. Ritalin withdrawal symptoms will begin to surface when the individual stops taking the drug. The ideal method of detoxing from Ritalin is within a medically monitored environment where there is careful observation of withdrawal symptoms. A supervised detox can help prevent a possible relapse when the withdrawal symptoms peak, as the appropriate medical interventions will be provided to help minimize discomfort.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms and length of the detox will depend on the severity of the stimulant use disorder. The timeline ranges from a few days to several weeks, and withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe. In some cases, a gradual tapering schedule will be assigned to individuals with a more serious Ritalin dependency to help modulate the withdrawal symptoms.

Ritalin withdrawal symptoms usually emerge mildly within 12 hours of the last dose. The symptoms intensify on days 2-4, and then begin to wane over the next days and weeks.

Withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Cravings
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Suicidal thoughts

During the medical detox the goal is to safely guide the individual through the withdrawal symptoms to completion of the detox process. Key to this success is providing the medical and psychological support that will help reduce physical and emotional discomfort. In some cases, antidepressants are prescribed to assist with some of the symptoms. Also, modafinil and benzodiazepines may offer some relief as well.

Because individuals who complete the detox may continue to experience cravings and psychological symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, it is always recommended that he or she follow up the detox with an outpatient or residential rehab program.

Getting Help for Ritalin Addiction

Following a successful Ritalin withdrawal, the individual will begin the process of recovery. This step involves a multifold approach to overcome the ingrained addictive behaviors. Therapy helps individuals learn to change the disordered thoughts and behavior patterns that lead to stimulant abuse, and an assortment of other treatment elements further support these new recovery strategies.

Treatment for Ritalin addiction or dependence includes:

  • Individual therapy. These one-on-one psychotherapy sessions allow the individual to explore the underlying reasons for succumbing to Ritalin addiction with a licensed therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular type of psychotherapy used for addiction recovery. Using CBT the therapist guides the person toward identifying thought distortions that had resulted in Ritalin misuse, such as “No way can I keep up with all this work without the Ritalin.” The therapist helps the individual foster more positive self-talk and constructive actions.
  • Group sessions. These small group therapy sessions include participants and a therapist who will lead the group in discussion. Group therapy offers a safe space where people can connect with each other and offer support. The sessions allow participants to share their struggles with Ritalin while encouraging each other along in recovery.
  • 12-step groups. A.A.’s 12-step programming is a staple at many rehabs. The recovery meetings provide a supportive setting where individuals in recovery can enjoy fellowship. A structured, incremental program of the 12 steps guides this program. Some rehabs offer alternative recovery programs to A.A., so it just comes down to personal preference as to which type of program resonates.
  • Recovery tools. The main goal of a rehab program is to equip the person with the tools they will need to sustain their recovery. This can include learning how to better manage emotions, time management skills, and how to manage stress more effectively through the use of relaxation techniques. These techniques, such as practicing mindfulness, taking yoga classes, learning deep breathing techniques, or using guided meditation apps, can be extremely useful in recovery.
  • Relapse prevention plan. The reality of addiction recovery is that certain triggers can lead to a relapse back into Ritalin misuse. Making a detailed list of the potential triggers, and then identifying proactive steps to take when encountering triggers, can improve recovery success.
  • Follow up. Many rehabs offer alumni services where former clients can stay in touch with each other in recovery through alumni events and forums. Outpatient therapy is another helpful continuing care strategy for reinforcing sobriety from Ritalin, as these sessions with the therapist can help individuals maneuver obstacles that might threaten recovery.

While going through the discomfort of Ritalin withdrawal is certainly nothing to look forward to, it is the first important step toward reclaiming your freedom from the grip of addiction…and so worth it.

Ken Seeley Communities Can Help You with Ritalin Withdrawal

Ken Seeley Communities is a recovery complex located in Palm Springs, CA. Both Ritalin and Adderall addiction is widespread, and the team of addiction recovery experts at Ken Seeley Communities is trained to help individuals who have developed a problem with prescription stimulants. Ken Seeley Communities offers all levels of the treatment on the recovery continuum, including medical detox, outpatient and residential treatment, and sober living housing. Reach out to us today if you or a loved one is concerned about Ritalin withdrawal so the team can answer your questions. Call (877) 744-0502.


adderall overdose symptoms

Adderall is a prescription stimulant originally designed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, but is also recreationally used as “the study drug.” Adderall is known to stave off sleep and increase energy levels and the ability to focus in healthy individuals, explaining why young people misuse the medication as a tool to keep up with their classwork.

A report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shed light on the misuse of Adderall among young adults, citing that 60% of all Adderall consumption was by 18-25 year olds. In fact, the article states that emergency room visits among young adults for Adderall-related visits had increased 156% from 2006-2011. Adderall overdose psychosis, seizures, and coma are included in those statistics.

Because of the highly addictive properties of Adderall, serious serious long-term health conditions, both psychological and physical pose a real threat to young adults in particular. The risk of Adderall overdose psychosis is one of the more serious adverse effects of this drug. Young people need to understand that a prescription stimulant can be just as dangerous as methamphetamine or cocaine and should not be misused.

About Adderall

Adderall is a stimulant composed of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, and available in doses ranging from 5-30mg. When someone of any age begins abusing Adderall in hopes of experiencing a boost in energy and mood, or desired weight loss, they are often unaware of the long-term effects that will occur with consistent abuse of this powerful stimulant.  After experiencing the initial euphoric effects, the brain’s reward system records it as pleasurable event and a pathway is mapped causing the individual to seek the high over and over again.

The stimulant works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the central nervous system. Increased dopamine leads to the “feel good” effect, which is recorded in the brain’s reward system. Also, increased norepinephrine affects the speed that the brain responds to stimuli, resulting in the ability to manage large amounts of data or information. Over time the brain becomes dependent on the drug to re-experience these positive responses.

Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance with highly addictive properties. The staggering increase in Adderall prescriptions is testament to its popularity among students in particular, who may obtain the drug by feigning ADHD symptoms. According to the New York Times article Generation Adderall, October 12, 2016, prescriptions for the drug have spiked since its introduction in 1996. In 2000 there were 5 million prescriptions written for Adderall. This increased to 9 million in 2005 and to 16 million by 2012. In fact, 42% of individuals aged 12 and older surveyed in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health in 2015 admitted using prescription stimulants without a prescription.

How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted to Adderall?

Because Adderall is a prescription medication many young people mistakenly consider it to be safe. In reality, Adderall has the same DEA drug classification as cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine, all substances with a high potential for abuse. Tolerance to Adderall ramps up quickly, and within a short time an addiction can develop. In a similar manner as cocaine or methamphetamine, it can take as little as two weeks to become addicted to Adderall. The addiction will quickly sneak up on the recreational user as the brain develops tolerance, and the negative effects will soon follow.

During this early phase, the drug continuously increases dopamine production levels in the brain, triggering the “feel good” sensation, or rewarding effect, and causing the individual to desire repeating the sensation again and again. As tolerance increases, more of the drug is required to continue to achieve the desired effects, quickly leading to Adderall dependence.

Symptoms of Adderall Addiction

Adderall causes both psychological and physiological dependence over time. Individuals may come to believe they cannot function without the drug, which is a sign of psychological dependence, or addiction. When someone is abusing Adderall there are clear signs and symptoms that begin to emerge. These might include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Severe mood swings
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss or malnutrition
  • Irritability
  • Hoarse voice
  • Agitation
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Erratic behavior
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Sexual problems
  • Rapid heart rate

Adderall-induced psychosis can occur as a result of long-term abuse of the drug, or as one of the more serious symptoms in the event of an overdose.

Adderall Overdose

As Adderall abuse increases, including snorting high doses of the drug, the risk of overdose is possible. Adderall overdose psychosis and other dangerous symptoms can occur, which constitutes a medical emergency. Signs of Adderall overdose may include:

  • Psychosis (hallucinations and delusions)
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Break down of muscles
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Delirium
  • Hyperventilation
  • Severe tremors
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Adderall overdose is treated by attempts to eliminate as much of the drug from the system as possible. Activated charcoal can help absorb excess Adderall in the gut, and sometimes the emergency measures will include stomach pumping or gastric lavage. Intravenous fluids may be administered to replenish nutrients and prevent dehydration.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone attempts to stop using the Adderall they may experience highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which is a symptom of physiological dependence. The longer the history of Adderall abuse, the more difficult the withdrawal process will be. When someone who has become addicted to Adderall attempts to stop using the drug they will experience severe rebound effects and highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.  The common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Irritability
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Agitation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Concentration problems
  • Anxiety
  • Vivid or disturbing dreams
  • Increased appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts

Because of the intensity of Adderall withdrawal symptoms, attempts to stop the drug should be carried out in a medically monitored detox environment, followed by an inpatient treatment program.

Treatment for Adderall Addiction

Treatment for Adderall addiction will likely involve a residential rehab for a minimum of one month. The first important step is the medically supervised detox and withdrawal phase of treatment. With Adderall it is recommended that the individual be placed on a tapering schedule to gradually ease the withdrawal symptoms. The medical detox professionals can help manage the symptoms of depression and fatigue that began when the drug is discontinued, as well as other withdrawal symptoms that emerge.

Once the detox process has been completed the individual will begin an intensive addiction treatment program to help break the addiction cycle. This is accomplished through various evidence-based therapies and complementary activities, under the supervision of a clinical staff. These treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy. Integral to Adderall addiction treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT helps guide the individual toward adopting more positive responses to triggers, and to be able to recognize dysfunctional thought patterns that had led to Adderall abuse.
  • Group therapy. Groups participate in conversations about struggling with Adderall addiction and providing encouragement and support to each other.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment. If there is a co-occurring mental wellness condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, psychiatric support is provided alongside the addiction treatment.
  • Psychoeducation. Classes teach coping skills, emotion regulation, stress reduction, and organization skills.
  • Recovery meetings. Many rehabs integrate a 12-step or similar programming into the rehabilitation plan, which involves attending recovery meetings.
  • Aftercare. After rehab is completed, the individual engages in aftercare strategies, including outpatient therapy, life skills classes, and ongoing recovery meetings.

Healthy Ways to Manage Academic or Work Stress Without Adderall

Learning healthy stress management skills is essential to remaining Adderall-free. There are some helpful lifestyle changes that will help students better cope with their academic coursework or executives better managing their workload—all while keeping stress under control. These include:

  • Regular exercise. Adding a regular fitness routine into your week, even if it is simply a daily run or bike rid, can help keep stress under control in addition to improving sleep quality and mental alertness.
  • Healthy diet. Nutrition plays a part in brain health and the ability to focus and concentrate. A diet that limits junk food and caffeine and focuses on healthy foods will help increase energy, helping you get through the days without stimulants.
  • Organizational skills. Learning how to manage work or school demands is key to avoiding stress overload. Use a daily to-do list to stay organized, which will reduce stress and improve time management. Use organizational phone apps to help keep track of projects, assignments and due dates.
  • Practice mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment, while paying attention to the breathing process, can help diffuse stress and anxiety. Using the simple practice of mindfulness helps keep your focus on the here and now instead of stressing out about all the work that lies ahead.

Recognizing the dangers of Adderall abuse and overdose is an important lesson for people of any age. Avoid the use of stimulants and instead rely on healthy methods of managing workloads and stress.

Ken Seeley Communities Treats Adderall Addiction in Palm Springs

Ken Seeley Communities is a full service addiction recovery program in Palm Springs, California. Covering all aspects of treatment for Adderall addiction or dependence, Ken Seeley offers a medically supervised detox program that will help manage the various stages of withdrawal prior to initiating treatment. We offer various options for treatment, including intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programming, and residential rehab. For individuals selecting an outpatient option or transitioning out of residential rehab, sober living housing is also provided at Ken Seeley Communities. For answers about Adderall overdose psychosis or details about our program, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.