The dangers of Ritalin if you don’t have ADHD

Campus life can be crazy and rewarding all at once. Hopping between classes, social events, new relationships and extracurricular activities can take its toll by the time exams roll around.

You’re stretched thin, and the pressure to perform can be unbearable youtube download 다운로드. This can be dangerous territory if you start scouting around for illicit substances to give your performance a boost.

The dark side of study drugs

So-called “study drugs” are common at universities, with students misguidedly assuming they’re the best options for mental focus during crunch time.  Ritalin is one such culprit. This medication is normally prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) patients. So, when you take it without having this condition, you run the risk of harming your health!

“Ritalin helps me study much longer and take in more information,” says a Capetonian student, currently using Ritalin for what he calls “a heightened sense of alertness.”

Dr Shabeer Jeeva, who runs an ADHD clinic in Johannesburg, says it’s a growing concern. “It’s typically abused by matric students around exam times. But the problem is globally underdiagnosed and undertreated,” agrees Cape Town psychiatrist, Dr. Pieter Cilliers.

Ritalin, coffee in excessive amounts, caffeine-based pills and other uppers aren’t new on campuses. And taking the drug without a prescription has almost been normalised over the years.

“I started out using a source who had a prescription and later obtained prescriptions myself. It’s very easily accessible to students. Many of my friends use this as well and there’s always someone willing to sell the drug if you ask around,” says the same Capetonian student.

Ritalin is not your study buddy

This growing epidemic has given Ritalin a bad name, explains Dr Jeeva.

The main purpose of these stimulants is to increase attention and focus in Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and ADHD patients. Ritalin works by improving concentration of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which are responsible for cognitive functions like reasoning, problem-solving, controlling attention span, impulse control, self-discipline, and hyperactivity (in the case of ADHD).

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Ritalin’s active ingredients, methylphenidate, increases dopamine production in the brain, while norepinephrine controls impulsivity and movement overactivity to create a feeling of calmness. But, when taken by someone without ADHD the drug can cause feelings of euphoria and restlessness as that person already has an adequate supply of dopamine.

Risks of Ritalin for non-ADHD people

Using Ritalin without a prescription can cause physical and psychological dependence and side-effects, especially if taken over an extended period. The risks and severity vary from person to person.

These include:

  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Feeling restless
  • Paranoia
  • Headaches
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Feeling nervous and anxious
  • Depression with weak concentration
  • Insomnia
  • A suppressed appetite
  • A higher blood pressure
  • Sexual dysfunction that include impotence or changes in sex drive

Cope without the drugs

  • Take care of yourself. Sleep enough, drink lots of water, avoid stimulants like chocolate and coffee, cigarettes and energy drinks. Make it a priority to exercise at least every other day. A short walk, a bike ride, or a yoga session are all good ideas for relaxing.
  • Get organised. Explore study techniques like mind maps. Figure out what works best for you, and make sure you have a study environment where you’re comfortable and won’t be disturbed.
  • Techniques for better focus. Ritalin doesn’t make you smarter, it merely enhances focus. Rather improve your focus by working in manageable blocks of time. Don’t try to take it all in at once by multitasking. Assign time slots to specific sections of your work. And take a 15-minute break after each block.
  • Rely on your support structure. Get a study buddy. Stay connected to your support network who might be able to guide you along the way if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group often hosts live Facebook chats where you can interact and ask for tips on how to cope with stress.

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