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Ritalin Abuse in Teens


Ritalin pills

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a nervous system stimulant that is commonly prescribed by a medical professional in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Ritalin works by increasing one’s dopamine levels and norepinephrine in one’s brain. This in turn results in an increase in one’s blood pressure and heart rate, which constricts one’s blood vessels and opens up one’s respiratory system’s pathways. Due to the fact that ADHD is typically diagnosed during one’s adolescence, prescription stimulant drugs, such as Ritalin, have become increasingly available and easily accessible to the youth in America. Many teens have an erroneous notion that prescription medications are safer to abuse than other drugs, but in reality, they can have equally damaging effects. 

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

Abuse occurs when a young person uses Ritalin more frequently than prescribed, uses an increased (prescribed) dose of Ritalin, uses Ritalin when it was not prescribed at all, mixes Ritalin with other substances, or ingests Ritalin in a way other than the way it was prescribed (i.e. crushes and snorts a pill, instead of swallowing it). There are many signs and symptoms that a teenager abusing Ritalin may exhibit. Some common examples could include any combination of the following, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Poor decision-making
  • Stealing
  • Excessive mood swings
  • Appearing to be high
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Sleep irregularities
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor
  • Forging or selling prescriptions
  • Appearing sedated

Some young people will experience many of the above symptoms, and some will only experience few. Habitual abuse of Ritalin can lead to extremely high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, and/ or seizures. 


There are many treatment options for young people struggling with Ritalin abuse. The first step a teen must go through when treating Ritalin abuse is to undergo detox. Detox is a process that rids one’s body of any abused substance or substances. This is essential in treating Ritalin abuse, because an adolescent’s body has become accustomed to functioning with the presence of Ritalin. Ritalin can affect the way a young person’s brain works and removing the substance from a teen’s body can result in unpleasant side effects. These are known as withdrawal symptoms. Their occurrence is a normal byproduct of detox and should be expected. Every teen is different and each teenager’s withdrawal symptoms will vary. Teens that have built up a high tolerance for Ritalin will typically experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. The duration of one’s withdrawal symptoms will also vary. Some teenagers may experience the majority of their withdrawal symptoms within five days, and for some they may last three weeks, or longer. After detox, it is recommended that teenagers continue with their recovery process by attending some form of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. Attending a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program can help a young person recover from Ritalin abuse and learn the tools needed to go on to live a sober and satisfying life. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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