Can You Smoke Ritalin (Methylphenidate)?
Many prescription medications are tampered with in order to increase their euphoric effects, despite the warnings, hazards, and side effects that surround this high-risk method of drug abuse.
Ritalin (methylphenidate), a brand-name medication prescribed to treat narcolepsy and symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults, is one such tampering-prone medication.
However, while Ritalin can be crushed and snorted or injected to intensify its effects, Ritalin is not suitable for smoking unless it is first freebased, as heat will burn away and destroy most of the drug before it can reach the bloodstream.
Smoking Stimulant Drugs
While Ritalin and Concerta (an extended-release methylphenidate medication) are rarely smoked, a variety of other more or less potent psychostimulants can be used in this way:
- crack (freebase) cocaine
- crystal methamphetamine
- Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
In each case, the stimulant drug must be heated to release smoke or vapor that is then inhaled into the lungs. From there, it passes into the bloodstream, triggering an increase in dopamine levels and overall central nervous system (CNS) activity, including heart rate, blood pressure, energy, and wakefulness.
Common methods for smoking different stimulant drugs include:
- using rolled paper cigarettes
- using small glass tubes (crack pipes)
- using glass bongs
- using a metal spoon
- using tinfoil (chasing the dragon)
- using an e-cigarette or vape
Ritalin Tampering & Abuse
While Ritalin is not commonly smoked, it is often abused in other ways for different reasons.
Some, especially students, adolescents, and young adults, take Ritalin or other ADHD medications in order to increase their wakefulness, alertness, energy, and concentration. The goal is likely to boost academic or athletic performance, or to suppress appetite and lose weight.
However, this self-medication can act as a gateway or introduction to recreational drug use and exposes many to a wide variety of risks and side effects including physical dependence.
Recreational drug use involves people taking Ritalin in high doses and/or tampering with the medication to increase its effect and trigger a euphoric stimulant high, similar to methamphetamine.
However, taking Ritalin in high doses or through unusual means greatly increases a person’s risk of Ritalin addiction, overdose, and other short- and long-term physical and mental harm.
A person may abuse Ritalin by taking a higher dose than they were prescribed (if they have a prescription at all) or by taking it more often, increasing their dose and the drug’s overall effect on their body.
Others have been known to crush or chew on Ritalin tablets or capsules, especially Ritalin LA extended-release formulations.
Crushing or chewing Ritalin can increase the drug’s rate of absorption, converting an extended-release medication into a dangerously potent immediate-release medication and increasing any euphoric effects.
Insufflation (snorting) is the act of breathing drugs, including finely crushed Ritalin tablets or capsules, into the nose and sinus cavities, where they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream through mucous membranes.
Snoring delivers drugs into the body very quickly, though it is somewhat slower than smoking or injection.
Stimulant medications may also be crushed into a fine powder, mixed with water, and injected into a vein through a filtering medium. This will likely generate almost instantaneous and highly-pleasurable results, potentially including a short-lived euphoric rush.
Dangers Of Ritalin Abuse
At therapeutic doses, prescribed under a physician’s guidance, stimulant treatment with methylphenidate is considered to be safe and effective, and can help manage unwanted symptoms of ADHD.
But when it is abused, either in low or high doses, the effects of methylphenidate can be more severe, and may cause short- or long-term dangers like:
- increased risk of drug cravings and addiction
- physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms
- injury to internal organs, especially the heart, lungs, and brain
- high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death
- sleep disorders
- anorexia and weight loss
- psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
- anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders
- scarring, abscesses, and skin or heart infections if injected
- nasal tissue injury and deterioration if snorted
- increased risk of drug overdose
Ritalin overdose can be fatal, especially for those with heart conditions, mental disorders, or those who take Ritalin with other drugs, including alcohol.
The longer stimulant substance abuse goes on, the greater the risk that you or your loved one will experience serious physical or mental harm.
To learn about our addiction treatment options, please contact us today.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.