Recreational use of Ritalin may prompt people to snort or smoke the medication, which presents other possible hazards. It cannot ever be safely snorted or smoked.
Why People Abuse Ritalin
University and high school students often have a lot on their plates. Between academic obligations, family events, extracurriculars, and the demands of daily life, they may choose to do whatever they can to get ahead of the game.
So-called “smart drugs” such as Ritalin have become popular among students of various persuasions. Methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, is designed to help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Ritalin is known to change the balance of the brain to improve a person’s alertness, helping them focus better and pay attention at school or work.
Those who use Ritalin but do not have ADHD put themselves at risk of experiencing problems with sleep or engaging in risky behavior, according to the Research Institute on Addictions at the University of Buffalo.
Also, studies have shown that people who abuse Ritalin don’t experience the same effects as those who legitimately need the medication. In fact, students who abuse study drugs have been shown to have lower GPAs than those who don’t abuse these drugs.
Taking any drug for recreation poses risks, and snorting it is never safe.
In 2017, a product called Coko Loko, made of chocolate and other “energizing” ingredients made waves in the United States. It was advertised as an energizing powder that could be snorted. Doctors immediately decried the use of this chocolate powder, as reported by TIME Magazine in July 2017.
Stimulants are often abused via insufflation. Ritalin is often crushed until it becomes a fine powder and then snorted to intensify its high.
Snorting drugs is meant to speed up their effects. Snorting ground-up prescription medication of any kind is dangerous for the following reasons:
- It is usually not how the drug was intended to be used in the first place.
- Snorting encourages abuse and addiction, as it causes a person to feel the drug’s effects faster.
Snorting drugs is harmful to the nasal membrane. It is delicate and prone to injury.
Because of snorting, the speed at which a drug enters the bloodstream can also cause uncomfortable side effects.
- Faster heart rate
Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice mentions that some people misuse Ritalin as a cheaper substitute for cocaine. The following are some extreme side effects of regularly snorting Ritalin:
- Aggressive behavior
- Toxicity (toxic shock)
Misusing Ritalin in this manner is also known to cause dependence. This means withdrawal will happen when use is stopped.
This process can be stressful and may cause a person to continue seeking Ritalin to get rid of these negative feelings. Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Psychotic behavior
- Difficulty sleeping
Smoking Ritalin is uncommon but not impossible.
Ritalin is said to not have much effect on a person who decides to smoke it because many of the chemicals it would typically release to make a person feel high are usually wasted when they combust. Users who have smoked Ritalin also explain that its taste is not pleasurable.
A person who successfully smokes Ritalin may become dependent on it much faster because smoking a drug usually speeds up its effects. This also makes the crash from the drug much more intense.
Other Ways Ritalin is Misused
Though more statistics need to be collected on the subject, other common ways to misuse Ritalin include:
- Injection. This could be deadly because the various ingredients in Ritalin could cause health issues once they reach the bloodstream. It is also difficult for an inexperienced person to inject themselves correctly.
- Administering Ritalin through the rectum. This is said to be efficient, but not as powerful or fast as snorting the drug.
Damage to the Brain and Body
People with ADHD who use Ritalin as indicated tend to have few problems. Ritalin works to increase a chemical in the brain called dopamine.
Misusing Ritalin amplifies its impact and causes people to feel extreme happiness or euphoria.
Ritalin is also known to control a person’s appetite. It may attract people who are trying to lose weight or who have an undiagnosed eating disorder.
Dealing with additional mental or physical issues can make a person more vulnerable to addiction.
The Research Institute on Addictions States that Ritalin Misuse is Known to Change The Brain’s Chemistry in Ways That:
- Change the parts of the brain that control motor functions
- Cause disruptions in the brain’s reward system
- Affect a person’s weight
If a Person Misuses Ritalin in the Long Term, they May Also Develop the Following Problems:
- Changes in appetite
- Rise in blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
If a person has been snorting or smoking Ritalin, it’s a clear sign that treatment is needed.