Even with all the information readily available regarding the dangers of Adderall and Ritalin abuse, young adults continue to lean on these drugs. Nicknamed the “Study drugs,” these stimulants are commonly misused to help students manage ever increasing academic workloads. The stimulant action in the drugs initially gives the individual a boost of energy, heightened concentration, and can help them work straight through the night.
Adderall and Ritalin abuse involves the misuse of these two drugs that are typically prescribed for legitimate clinical reasons, such as ADHD or narcolepsy. For someone with these conditions, drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta can help them focus and concentrate better in school.
But these drugs also find themselves in the hands of those who recreationally abuse them, having obtained them through illicit means. Additionally, sometimes both drugs are being abused together. Abuse is widespread with one in five Ivy League students reportedly abusing these stimulants to improve their academic performance, according to research reported at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in 2014.
Understanding the long-term effects of these stimulants should serve as a serious warning to students tempted to abuse them. The drugs act on the central nervous system and brain’s neurotransmitters much the way methamphetamine or cocaine does. This means that they are highly addictive and can have devastating health consequences for those who decide to partake in Adderall and Ritalin abuse. In fact, the U.S. government has designated these prescription stimulants with the same drug classification as meth and cocaine.
About Adderall and Ritalin
Adderall is the brand name of dextroamphetamine. 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. Increased norepinephrine affects the speed that the brain responds to stimuli. Over time the brain becomes dependent on the drug for these responses.
Ritalin is the brand name of methylphenidate, also a central nervous system stimulant. However Ritalin works in a different manner on the brain, acting to block the re-uptake of dopamine at the synapses, also referred to as a re-uptake inhibitor. Over time, Ritalin can cause changes in brain cell structure and function.
Both of these drugs produce feelings of euphoria, exhilaration, increased energy, and enhanced ability to focus. These pleasurable effects are the reason the brain begins to map the drugs as something to repeat, leading to psychological and then physical dependence. The drugs can be abused through high dosing, snorting it, or by injecting it.
Signs of Adderall and Ritalin Abuse
There are distinct signs of Ritalin and Adderall abuse. These result when the body becomes tolerant to the drug, instigating higher or more frequent doses. Over time, symptoms of abuse begin to be evident, such as:
- Weight loss
- Dilated pupils
- Aggressive behavior
- Irritability, agitation
- Incomplete thoughts
Both drugs can cause serious health consequences eventually. These might include:
- Chest pain
- Cardiac arrest
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mental confusion
- Elevated blood pressure
Adderall is often abused along with alcohol, only enhancing the health risks. In fact, nearly one in five emergency room visits related to these study drugs also involved alcohol use.
Treatment for Adderall and Ritalin Abuse
Treatment for prescription stimulant addiction is likely to start with the detoxification process. The ideal method of detoxing from Adderall or Ritalin is within a medically monitored environment where there is careful observation and treatment of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms might include:
- Intense drug cravings
- Panic attacks
- Increased appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
Following a successful detox, the individual will begin the process of recovery. This involves a multifold effort to overcome the ingrained addictive behaviors and learn to change the thoughts and behavior patterns that lead to stimulant use. Psychotherapy is provided in both individual and group formats, and will equip the newly recovering individual with helpful recovery skills and tools. Other treatment elements may include treatment of a co-occurring mental health disorder, 12-step programs, recreation and fitness, nutritional counseling, and relaxation techniques.
Healthy Ways to Manage Academic Stress
Once rehab is completed, learning how to manage the stress associated with college and academic demands is paramount to remaining drug-free. There are some helpful practices to incorporate into the college routine that will help students better cope with the academic workload and avoid feeling overwhelmed. These include:
- Learn how to prioritize. This means planning your calendar to allow for ample time to complete projects or papers without being in panic mode. Use a daily to-do list to keep yourself organized, which reduces stress and helps with time management. Use organizational phone apps to help keep track of all assignments.
- Get regular exercise. Add a regular fitness routine into your week, even if it is simply a walk around the campus. Working out keeps stress at bay, improves sleep quality, and sharpens concentration.
- Avoid junk food. Nutrition plays a part in brain health and the ability to focus and concentrate. Healthy foods will also help increase energy, helping you get through the days without stimulants.
- Learn mindfulness. Using the simple practice of mindfulness helps keep your focus on the now instead of galloping ahead and stressing out about all the work that lies ahead. Focusing on the present moment, while paying attention to the breathing process, can help diffuse stress and anxiety.
Solutions 4 Recovery Leading Rehab and Dual Diagnosis Center in Orange County
Solutions 4 Recovery is an addiction treatment program located in South Orange County, CA. The increase in prescription stimulant abuse is becoming so widespread that our program is treating increasing numbers of young adults for the problem. Solutions 4 Recovery treats Adderall and Ritalin abuse through an integrated plan of evidence-based therapies and adjunctive activities. Many times, the individual will need to complete a medical detoxification prior to beginning treatment. Our treatment center is a comfortable, welcoming place where each client is treated with the respect they deserve. Allow Solutions 4 Recovery to guide you or a loved one through the steps that will lead to a full recovery. For more information, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.