Ritalin abuse in South Africa
Ritalin is a medication used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) defines ADHD as a chronic condition of a combination of problems including the difficulty to sustain attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour. The main medications used in South Africa to treat ADHD are Ritalin and Concerta. They have the same chemical structures (methylphenidate hydrochloride) and are similar in chemical makeup to stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. Ritalin can be just as addictive. Street names for Ritalin include diet coke, kiddie cocaine, kiddie coke, poor man’s cocaine, R-ball, rids, skittles, Smarties and vitamin R .
Ritalin is primarily used as a stimulant medication to increase attention span and decrease hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour. The medication seems to have a positive impact on the treatment of ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD but at the same time has opened up a panacea for potential abuse and there is a lot of controversy around the use of medication to treat the diagnosis of ADD and ADHD. In fact, there is huge controversy about the very existence of the above mentioned disorders, with the scientific experts suggesting a clear neurological basis for the disorders and some other more holistic proponents saying they are not diseases in the chemical sense at all but rather behaviourally based maladaptions. The jury is still out.
The dosage prescribed is based on the severity of the condition and the response to treatment. The drug slowly raises the users dopamine levels in the brain, achieving a therapeutic effect for those with proper ADHD (and similar) diagnoses. However, if individuals who do not have ADHD take these medications, the result will be hyperactivity and overstimulation. Though it helps many people, this medication can be addictive. The risk may be higher if you have a related substance use disorder (such as overuse of or an addiction to alcohol). If you suddenly stop using this medication, you may have withdrawal symptoms such as :
- visual hallucinations,
- suicidal thoughts
- psychotic behaviour
- aggression or violent behaviour
- depression or other mood changes
Withdrawal symptoms are more likely if you have used methylphenidate for a long time or in high doses.
Signs of Ritalin addiction include:
- Needing higher doses to feel the drug’s effects (tolerance)
- Experiencing strong urges to use Ritalin
- Finding new ways to obtain the drug—legally or illegally—in order to abuse it
- Using Ritalin even if it’s causing issues with loved ones or responsibilities.
Those struggling with an addiction to Ritalin are advised not to quit taking the drug without medical supervision. At Crossroads we consult with our specialist medical provider as to the best method for detoxification for the individual. Some people use the drug recreationally—without a prescription—and those who take more than their prescribed dosage are at risk for developing an addiction to Ritalin. It is common for adolescents who are prescribed these types of medications to trade their drugs to other kids who are not in need of them and hence are using these substances illegally. This leads to very severe consequences in terms behaviour as adolescents and eventual addiction to the medication. When abused by older teens or adults – especially if it’s crushed or snorted or injected – the drug is more like other forms of amphetamine, including methamphetamine, that have damaging and addictive psychological and physical effects.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with Ritalin abuse in South Africa – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best possible care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s only a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.
Stories of Recovery
- The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.Oliver VGRead more
- On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.Johan BRead more
- I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!Carla SRead more
- "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."Angelique JRead more