Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

ADHD and Prescription Drug Abuse

ADHD and Prescription Drug AbuseAttention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is a controversial problem: there are no clear criteria for diagnosing it, so people almost invariably base this issue on observed behavior, which often means the inability to sit still. Some critics maintain that ADHD is not a legitimate diagnosis, but rather a label for children who may be difficult to control. Treatment for ADHD is even more controversial, as it often involves Ritalin, a stimulant that helps people focus on their tasks. Critics point to the fact that Ritalin has not been adequately tested on children, and long-term effects are unknown.

How ADHD Affects the Risk for Drug Abuse

Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD show a high incidence of drug abuse and addiction. However, because there is no causal relationship between ADHD and addiction, it is possible that the relationship is coincidental, meaning that whatever factors cause ADHD behaviors also contribute to drug use.

Ritalin is a potent psycho-stimulant similar to cocaine, amphetamines (speed) and methamphetamines (crank and crystal meth). Those who oppose Ritalin therapy often claim that using this drug during childhood increases the risk of developing addiction later in life. Some deny this claim due to a lack of hard evidence, but there is undeniable evidence that students abuse Ritalin in public schools.

How Ritalin Affects Other Prescription Drugs

Ritalin may disrupt the effects of other prescription drugs. A common problem involves administering Ritalin in conjunction with certain anti-depressants such as Lexapro or Zoloft. These drugs are not considered drugs of abuse, but taking them with Ritalin may cause hypertension, hypothermia or convulsions.

Tramadol hydrochloride is a synthetic opioid painkiller that when abused may blend poorly with Ritalin. It has a unique pharmacology and a different mechanism of action than other opioids. Withdrawal symptoms of tramadol include seizures, which are atypical of opioid withdrawal. It is contraindicated for concomitant use with any substance, including Ritalin, which lowers the seizure threshold. A child who takes Ritalin may experience dangerous seizures if he takes tramadol, either medically or recreationally. While medical use may be dangerous, doctors are aware of the potential problems and should not prescribe tramadol to a child taking Ritalin. However, a child who abuses tramadol is likely to be ignorant of the danger. Furthermore, abuse often involves large doses of drugs, which will then greatly increase the chance of a dangerous interaction.

Treatment for Abusing ADHD Medication

Treatment for addiction can help anyone who has become addicted to a drug through legitimate medical or recreational use. If you would like assistance finding treatment for addiction, or if you have any questions about addiction and treatment, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now for instant support.

banner ad