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Ritalin is a popular brand name of the drug Methylphenidate; a medication regularly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sometimes, medical care providers also prescribe Ritalin for conditions that cause sleepiness, lethargy, or chronic low energy in patients, including narcolepsy, stroke, and other neurological disorders.

While Ritalin is a popular medication and treatment that medical providers regularly prescribe, it is also classified as a controlled substance1 by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration because it has the potential to be abused. A drug is considered “abused” if someone takes a medication when it does not need to be taken, or they take more than needs to be taken. Sometimes, people who abuse drugs like Ritalin may build up a tolerance to the drug or become physically dependent on the drug, so much so that they become sick when they do not take it.

Drug addiction is all over the news nowadays, thanks to headlines such as the opioid crisis that has ripped through the country. However, there are other prescription medications beyond opioid painkillers that can be abused or cause dependence addiction, and Ritalin is one of these drugs. If someone is prescribed Ritalin, their body may become physically dependent on it, and it would be dangerous for them to quit the drug cold turkey. These people are considered to be dependent on the drug, although most medical providers would not call them “addicted” to Ritalin. For someone to be considered addicted to a drug, medical professionals must believe that someone is taking the medication when they don’t need to be taking it, or they feel that someone has lost control over the use of the drug, or the drug has caused many negative ramifications in someone’s life.

If you are someone who takes Ritalin, you may have found yourself asking from time to time: Am I addicted to Ritalin? If you have wondered if your relationship with Ritalin is problematic, it may help you to learn more about what Ritalin addiction is, what its major symptoms and effects are. There is also a four-question test you can take to gauge whether your addiction to Ritalin (whether prescribed or not) is abuse or addiction or whether there’s nothing for you to worry about when it comes to the drug.

What is Ritalin Addiction?

Many people who have a basic understanding of addiction may picture a person who uses illegal drugs or consumes too much alcohol and cannot stop, or who smokes multiple packs of cigarettes a day. In reality, however, there are many ways that addiction can appear, and it can refer to both a psychological dependence on a substance or a physical dependence on a substance. Those whose bodies depend on a substance to function are often called addicts. People whose bodies can function properly without a substance but struggle psychologically with a drug are described as suffering from substance abuse. Sometimes, if an individual’s psychological battle with a drug is so intense that they need treatment, professionals may describe them as having a “substance use disorder.”

Ritalin is a drug2 that some people can become dependent on psychologically or physically. Even though Ritalin is a prescription drug a doctor or pharmacy might administer for legitimate reasons, people can still develop unhealthy addictions or feelings of dependence, no matter if they have simply taken the pills they’ve been prescribed or obtain the drug without a prescription. Ritalin addiction can look different in different people, from taking too many pills to using them for purposes other than what they’re prescribed for to taking them in a way they are not supposed to consume. The drive to misuse Ritalin3 can come from a wide variety of sources in individuals.

Symptoms of Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin addiction can take on a wide variety of forms. Therefore, it has a considerable number of signs and symptoms. Whether you are looking for a Ritalin addiction in a loved one or wondering: Am I addicted to Ritalin? It can help to understand the following behaviors or choices as signs of addiction:

  • Using Ritalin to perk up your mood.
  • Using Ritalin stay awake instead of sleeping.
  • Taking more of the drug than prescribed.
  • Getting multiple Ritalin prescriptions from multiple doctors.
  • Regularly running out of Ritalin before it is time to get your next prescription filled.
  • Wanting an increase in dosage, repeatedly asking for an increase in dosage.
  • Using Ritalin in any way that is different from the instructions on the prescription.
  • Ingesting the pills by grinding them up and snorting them or by injecting them.
  • Craving the drug regularly.
  • Building up a tolerance to Ritalin, so you have to take more to get the same effect.
  • Feeling bad without Ritalin (i.e., agitated, unmotivated, unhappy, bored, anxious, jittery, depressed, etc.).
  • Trying to stop taking Ritalin but not being able to do so.
  • Intending to take Ritalin for a specific period but not stopping when that period is over.
  • Experiencing problems in life due to Ritalin, but continuing to take the drug anyway.

Take this Test to Take to Gauge Whether You Have a Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin is a tricky drug because it can feel hard to function without it, and you may need to get a higher dose of it from your doctor over time as your body adjusts to it. Also, you may notice that you perform better in some ways while taking Ritalin, and you may greatly enjoy those benefits. If you feel like you may have a complicated relationship with Ritalin, or you have more than one symptom of addiction, it can help to take a simple screening test that professionals use to determine whether someone has an addiction to a substance or not. The test is often used to gauge someone’s alcoholism, but it can be applied to any substance that has the potential to interfere with someone’s life. This test is called the CAGE Questionnaire, and it’s used as a screening tool, not as a diagnostic tool. This means it gives a professional some initial helpful information about the problem you might be struggling with and can help direct your treatment path if you end up needing treatment.

If you have been wondering: am I addicted to Ritalin? Then start by taking this CAGE Questionaire for Ritalin Addiction.

Question 1: (C) Cutting Down

Have you ever tried to cut down on your Ritalin usage?

Sometimes, people worry about their relationship with Ritalin. So, they try to cut down their usage to prove that they have control over their use. Sometimes this behavior is okay. Other times, it may signify that you are feeling out of control and trying to regain some control by reducing the amount you take. Either way, trying to cut back to see if you can, or to see if it helps calm you, may mean that you are starting to lose control over your Ritalin usage.

Question 2: (A) Getting Angry

Have you gotten angry when someone mentions your Ritalin usage or asks you about it, and do you get particularly angry when they mention that it seems problematic?

One further sign that there may be something off with your Ritalin usage is if you get angry when people ask you about it. You may have loved ones ask if you are taking or using it healthily, or you may hear comments from people who think your relationship with Ritalin is dysfunctional. If your reaction to these things is to feel angry, it may signify that they are right. Usually, we only feel angry when accused of something if we feel that the accuser is right. So if someone mentions the idea that you may be struggling with Ritalin and you find yourself angry, you may want to look at why that makes you so mad. It may be that you feel like your relationship with Ritalin is being threatened or that a secret has been found out. It may also be a wake-up call that what you think you have under control is clearly not under your control any longer.

Question 3: (G) Feeling Guilty

Have you ever felt guilty about the way that you use Ritalin?

People feel guilty when they do something they’re not “supposed to”, such as take a medication in a different way, do something that might endanger themselves or someone else, or use a substance that interferes with their ability to function or work. If you’ve ever felt guilty about the way you use Ritalin, this may be a sign that you’re not using it the way you’re supposed to, or you’re using it for something it’s not intended to be used. Experiencing negative feelings about Ritalin most likely means that your relationship with it is not wholly positive, and it may be an indicator that your usage of it is abnormal or unhealthy.

Question 4: (E) Necessary for Eye-Opening

Do you need Ritalin as an eye-opener? Do you feel like you can start your day without it?

You may have been prescribed Ritalin to help you focus while you work, or it may have been given to you by your doctor to help with alertness for a neurological condition. Yet, no matter what, you should be able to function without it, even if you’re not as alert as usual. If you generally cannot start your day without Ritalin and need it to function, then your body has developed a genuine dependence on it. Physical dependence is one of the hallmarks of addiction, and not being able to wake up or get out of bed without Ritalin may mean that your body really is dependent. Physiological dependence may need more serious treatment than psychological addiction. If you believe you may be physically addicted to Ritalin and need it to function, consult with a trusted physician or mental healthcare provider may help get you back on the path to health and vitality.

Have You Taken the CAGE Test? Learn More About Seeking Treatment for Ritalin Addiction

If you or your loved one are suffering from a Ritalin addiction4, the first step is to reach out for help. So many people have overcome an addiction to stimulants, but it is challenging to do it on your own. People who have a physical and psychological dependence on Ritalin can benefit from medical assistance and counseling from professionals trained in addiction recovery. With a team of professionals on your side, you can start to take back control of your life.

At Windward Way Recovery, we have an inpatient treatment center that offers 24/7 care during your stay. Our staff is knowledgeable and compassionate and can help you get started on your path to sobriety. We help by providing holistic care that addresses both the physical and psychological dependencies, offering counseling and support during your stay, and help to map out an individualized recovery plan that works for you.

Contact us today to learn more about our treatment center options for your recovery.

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