Can You Overdose On Ritalin? | Symptoms & Treatment

It is possible to overdose on the stimulant Ritalin if a person takes Ritalin in large doses or combines with other substances. Those who suffer a Ritalin overdose may require addiction treatment.

Methylphenidate (brand name Ritalin) is a stimulant drug and Schedule II controlled substance with habit-forming potential, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

The prescription drug is used to help treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and can be used to assist those with sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy.

An overdose can occur if a person partakes in Ritalin abuse. 

Consuming the immediate-release or extended-release tablets in large doses, combining the prescription stimulant with other legal or illicit drugs, or abusing Ritalin by smoking, snorting, or injecting the drug can lead to a life-threatening overdose.

Symptoms Of A Ritalin Overdose

Ritalin has high potential for psychological and physical dependence. It is a central nervous system stimulant (CNS) that affects the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine.

Those with drug addiction may consume a high dose of Ritalin, potentially leading to overdose symptoms. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), symptoms of a Ritalin overdose may include:

  • convulsions
  • heart attack
  • chest pain
  • agitation
  • confusion
  • sweating
  • muscle twitching
  • irregular heartbeat
  • agitation
  • psychosis
  • dilated pupils
  • coma
  • sudden death

While these symptoms of a Ritalin overdose can be life-threatening, those suffering may also experience more pronounced common side effects of Ritalin.

Heightened Side Effects

During a Ritalin overdose, a person may also find an increase in the intensity of common side effects, which may include:

  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dry mouth
  • mood swings
  • sleeping problems
  • blurred vision
  • headache

Ritalin Overdose Risk Factors

Those with certain health conditions may be more likely to not only experience adverse effects from Ritalin, but also suffer from an overdose. 

For instance, if you have a history of cardiovascular issues, including high blood pressure or heart problems, Ritalin abuse can lead to fluctuations in heart rate and a possible heart attack.

Additionally, if you have a history of bipolar disorder or other mental illness in your family, speak with your prescribing doctor before taking Ritalin, as serious mental health problems can occur such as psychotic symptoms, hallucinations,  or suicidal thoughts.

Route Of Administration

Those who engage in stimulant use, whether abusing Ritalin or similar medications such as Adderall or Concerta, may turn to other routes of administration to achieve the desired effects. For instance, a person may smoke, snort, or inject Ritalin.

Partaking in this type of drug use can create faster overdose effects. This is because, when not taken orally, the drug enters the bloodstream much more quickly.

Ritalin Overdose Treatment

If you suffer a Ritalin overdose, seek urgent medical attention.

Once at the hospital, healthcare professionals will monitor you carefully. Let your doctors know if you have more than just Ritalin in your system. For instance, if certain drugs such as opioids are in your system, doctors may administer naloxone (Narcan).

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, consider finding a healthcare provider that offers addiction treatment options. 

Addiction Treatment

Those wishing to receive additional treatment options for a substance use disorder or Ritalin addiction may require detox. Detoxification may lead to withdrawal symptoms which your team of healthcare workers can monitor.

You can also consider a treatment center for further recovery. To learn about our inpatient addiction treatment programs, please contact us today.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration — Methylphenidate https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/methylphenidate.pdf
  2. Food and Drug Administration — Ritalin https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/010187s077lbl.pdf
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Stimulant ADHD Medications https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts_stimulantadhd_1.pdf
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Methylphenidate https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682188.html
  5. National Library of Medicine: StatPearls — Methylphenidate https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482451/

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 16, 2023

© 2023 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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