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Article Summary

Ritalin Withdrawal

Ritalin is a drug prescribed for the treatment of ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ritalin is the brand name for the generic medicine methylphenidate hydrochloride and is also licensed to treat narcolepsy. The drug acts as a stimulant and so can provide the same effects of taking other types of stimulants like amphetamine or cocaine. However, this does not mean that Ritalin withdrawal symptoms would also follow the same pattern of other stimulant drugs.

Ritalin withdrawal symptoms:

Withdrawal symptoms are most likely to occur when an individual takes large doses of Ritalin. Taking low to moderate doses of the medication do not probably create any withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly. Slowly tapering off Ritalin over time can minimize the symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms of Ritalin withdrawal includes

a. Depression:

Ritalin is known to increase the dopamine levels in the body. Dopamine is a brain chemical that is responsible for regulating pleasure, movement and attention. Patients, who abuse Ritalin, take high doses of the medication that leads to increased dopamine levels in the body causing severe consequences. As a result depression can occur. Severe bouts of depression should be carefully monitored, because they might bring suicidal thoughts or action.

b. Fatigue:

According to the National Institute of Drug abuse, fatigue is one of the possible effects following Ritalin withdrawal. The drug is mainly prescribed for attention deficit disorder, and probably should increase attention, focus, and wakefulness. This allows Ritalin abusers to stay for hours, if not for days. Upon discontinuation of the medication, the drug wears off from their body resulting in "crash" or shut down. They may experience resulting in moderate to severe fatigue and the sufferer will sleep all day and still not feeling rested.

c. Lack of focus:

Ritalin works by altering the brain chemistry. But, when it is taken in large doses, it can have a damaging effect on the brain resulting in a state of confusion during withdrawal process.

d. Disruption in the sleep pattern:

According to Medline Plus, disturbed sleep patterns are one of the possible effects of Ritalin withdrawal. Ritalin, in medical doses regulates sleep patterns. It is also used in patients who sleep abnormally for a long periods of time, to control their sleep disturbances. Sudden drug withdrawal or drug cessation can either increase it to abnormal levels or exacerbate this decrease in sleep.

f. Malnutrition:

According to national Institute of Drug Abuse, Ritalin withdrawal can cause malnutrition. When an individual is on Ritalin, the desire to eat food decreases considerably. Ritalin decreases appetite which leads to malnutrition and underdevelopment. When used in high doses, and upon discontinuation of the medication, severe nutritional imbalances can occur leading to serious health complications.

g. Cardiovascular health:

According to Medline Plus, cardiovascular complications are a possible withdrawal effects of Ritalin. It increases blood pressure and heart rate. When abused or stopped abruptly, Ritalin may cause cardiovascular complications and eventually lead to stroke and even death.

h. Drug cravings:

Drug cravings, are the cravings to continue using Ritalin and is the heart of all withdrawal symptoms. It occurs as an early withdrawal symptom, and becomes so intense and severe as the withdrawal effect progresses. When Ritalin is discontinued, the body tends to get readjusted and the rationalization begins. Abusers may feel that taking the drug may ease out their symptoms. If left untreated, drug cravings might lead the addict right back to the abusive cycle.

Ritalin withdrawal symptoms are often harmless. They can be quite unpleasant or uncomfortable to the abuser, but do not create any life threatening consequences.

When a pregnant woman abuses Ritalin and stops abruptly, the baby may also have withdrawal symptoms after it is born.


Ritalin is a legitimate drug when used for medical purposes. In such cases, the patient need not worried about Ritalin withdrawal symptoms, as the health care provider may wean off the drug slowly from the system resulting in minimal withdrawal effects. When large doses of the medication are used, slowly stopping the drug by minimizing the doses slowly can help prevent withdrawal symptoms. The doctor may also help in this regard by recommending prescription medications to help with the withdrawal symptoms. Usually, antidepressants are prescribed by health care providers to deal with withdrawal symptoms of Ritalin.

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