Ritalin abuse takes many forms. Some people abuse Ritalin by taking it orally (the way it was designed to be taken). Others may inject, smoke, or snort Ritalin (see Snorting Ritalin).
Because Ritalin is so commonly prescribed, it is usually not difficult to find ways to obtain the drug illegally. People often use the Internet to get Ritalin illegally (see Buy Ritalin Without a Prescription).
Historically, stimulants were used to treat asthma and other breathing problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. As their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the use of stimulants began to decrease. Now, stimulants are prescribed for treating only a few health conditions, including narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression that has not responded to other treatments. Stimulants may also be used for short-term treatment of obesity and for patients with asthma.
Stimulants such as Ritalin have an effect on key brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and dopamine (see Methylphenidate and D2 Receptors). Stimulants increase the levels of these chemicals in the brain and body. This, in turn, increases blood pressure and heart rate, constricts blood vessels, increases blood sugar levels, and opens up the pathways of the respiratory system. In addition, the increase in dopamine is associated with a sense of euphoria that can accompany the use of stimulants.
Research indicates that people with ADHD do not become addicted to stimulant medications such as Ritalin when they are taken in the form and dosage prescribed. However, as mentioned, stimulants can be addictive when misused.