Because Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant, most of the withdrawal symptoms mimic those of amphetamines or cocaine. Withdrawal occurs for anyone who has become physically dependent on Ritalin through heavy or prolonged use. By itself, withdrawal isn’t diagnostic of addiction, but it is one key indicator.
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Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms
Within a few hours to a day after stopping use, someone dependent on Ritalin will experience symptoms of withdrawal. This is the body’s reaction as blood levels of the drug begin to fall.
- Sometimes severe. Crashing is the phenomenon of extended sleep after binging on amphetamines.
- Disturbing dreams
- These can be vivid and sometimes keeps sleep from being as effective as normal. Dreams sometimes involve using drugs or getting caught using. After some time in withdrawal, dreams may have a craving or searching element.
- Both insomnia
- A lack of sleep, and hypersomnia – excessive sleep can occur, depending on which dominates: the body’s need to recover, or the anxiety that prevents healthy sleep.
- Increased appetite
- This happens as the body responds to the need to repair the physical damage caused by stimulant use. Normal resources have been depleted, as well as reserves – hunger which has been suppressed, emerges.
- Weight gain
- From an improved appetite and sometimes a reaction to depressed mood.
- Confusion and uncoordinated behavior
- Depending on how much Ritalin has changed the brain, both the slowing of thoughts and movements can occur, as well as the opposite – unexpected agitation and restlessness.
- Although most symptoms of withdrawal are not life-threatening, severe depression can lead to thoughts of suicide and even attempts. Most who undergo withdrawal will have to deal with depression to some extent.
- The irrational and uncontrollable urge to use Ritalin is partly a response to withdrawal because another dose will make the symptoms go away. It is also part of the addiction process, where stress (and depression) are triggers for drug use. For many addicts, the fear that cravings will never ease becomes one of the hardest parts of withdrawal. They are forced to confront just how deeply dependent on Ritalin they have become and worry that they will feel this way for the rest of their lives. This, probably more than anything else, leads to relapse during withdrawal.