Focalin addiction

Focalin (a common brand name for Dexmethylphenidate) is a prescription medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. When taken as prescribed by a doctor, Focalin is usually relatively safe but when it is abused or taken without a prescription (and sometimes even when taken according to prescription) it can be dangerous and addictive. When a Focalin addiction develops, it can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life and requires comprehensive treatment to overcome.

Here, we will explain how Focalin works and why it is potentially addictive, the effects of Focalin addiction and how to get the support you need to overcome your dependency.

How does Focalin work?

Focalin is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and its main effect is to increase alertness, attention and energy levels. It does this by increasing the level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the brain’s reward system and is also involved in movement, motivation and reinforcement of behaviours.

Focalin is effective in treating ADHD and narcolepsy because it helps to increase focus and concentration. However, it is also these effects that make it attractive to people who abuse the drug recreationally because it can produce feelings of euphoria, increased confidence and well-being.

How is Focalin abused?

The way Focalin works means that it is often abused by people because when higher dosages are consumed, the effects become more pronounced and the user feels energised and mildly euphoric, as well as more confident and disinhibited.

Focalin abuse can take many forms but the most common is probably taking higher doses than prescribed or taking the medication more often than prescribed. This is often done by consuming the extended-release capsules which are designed to release the medication slowly over the course of the day so that it remains at a consistent level in the body. Focalin is available as an extended-release capsule but some people crush these capsules so that they can take all the medication at once, producing a more intense high.

Focalin is also sometimes snorted or (very occasionally) injected. Snorting Focalin produces effects similar to those of taking it orally but they are felt more quickly and intensely. Injecting Focalin is much less common because it cannot be dissolved easily for injection and also because the effects are felt very quickly and intensely which can be unpleasant and even dangerous.

Why is Focalin addictive?

There are two main ways in which people develop a Focalin addiction: either through prescribed use or recreational use:

Prescribed use…

People who are prescribed Focalin for ADHD or narcolepsy can develop a tolerance to the drug which means that you need to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect. This occurs because your body and brain become used to the presence of the drug and so adjust their chemistry accordingly. As tolerance develops, it can quickly lead to dependence where you need to take the drug just to feel normal and function properly on a day-to-day basis.

Recreational use…

People who abuse Focalin recreationally can also develop a tolerance and dependence as when you take Focalin, it increases the level of dopamine in the brain which leads to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. The brain then starts to associate these feelings with taking Focalin and so encourages you to take more of the drug to experience those good feelings again.

Some people begin their journey to Focalin addiction after being encouraged to take it by friends who use Focalin recreationally. This is particularly true of young people who are impressionable and may not be aware of the risks associated with taking the drug. Once they start to experience the effects of Focalin, they may quickly become addicted and find it very difficult to stop taking the drug.

A mixture of prescribed and recreational use…

It is important to note that people who take Focalin by prescription can also develop problems with abuse and addiction as the line between taking the medication as prescribed and misusing it recreationally can be very blurred.

For example, people who are prescribed Focalin for ADHD may start to take higher doses or take it more often in an attempt to self-medicate other problems such as anxiety or depression. Similarly, people with narcolepsy may start to abuse Focalin in order to stay awake for longer periods of time or because they enjoy the effects.


The negative effects of Focalin addiction

Focalin addiction can have a number of negative physical and mental health effects, both in the short-term and the long-term as well as in your life in general.

Short-term physical and mental health effects…

In the short-term, Focalin abuse can lead to a number of physical and mental health issues. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss due to suppressed appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Tics
  • Blurred vision
  • Tachycardia
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Chronic teeth grinding of teeth
  • Profuse sweating

Long-term health effects…

In the long-term, Focalin addiction can cause:

  • Negative gastrointestinal effects including pronounced weight loss
  • Damage to the heart
  • Hypersensitivity (including skin rash, urticaria and fever)
  • Priapism
  • Libido disorders
  • Disorientation and hallucinations

Focalin has also been associated with the emergence of new psychotic symptoms and is known to worsen existing psychosis in people already diagnosed with the condition. There have also been reports that the drug has caused suicidal ideation, particularly in people with bipolar disorder as Focalin use may induce mania.

The impact of Focalin addiction on your life…

Focalin addiction can have a number of negative impacts on your life. It can lead to problems at work or school, cause financial difficulties, ruin relationships and even result in homelessness and criminal activity. That is why it is so important that you get help if you think that you or someone you know may be addicted to Focalin.

Helping a loved one with Focalin addiction

The first and most important thing is that you don’t enable their Focalin addiction. This means not giving them money, wilfully denying there is an issue or covering up for them. It is also important to offer your support and encouragement and help them to find a Focalin addiction treatment programme that can help them turn their life around.

If you have a friend or family member suffering from Focalin addiction then get in touch with us today. We can help them get the treatment they need to overcome their Focalin addiction and have a brand new start.

Lies that Focalin addiction will tell you and those around you

Focalin addiction can be very conniving and will try to convince you and the people around you that you don’t need help. It can be like a voice in the head, lying to you about the reality of your situation. Here are some common lies Focalin addiction will try to tell you and how to see through the deception:

You can quit whenever you want to
The first step in overcoming any addiction is admitting that you have a problem and need help. Focalin addiction will try to convince you that you don’t have a problem or that you can quit whenever you want but if this were true, then why haven’t you stopped already?
You only use Focalin recreationally, it’s not a big deal
Recreational use of Focalin can quickly lead to tolerance and dependence. If you find that you are using the drug more and more often or in higher doses, then this is a sign that you may have a problem and need help. It is important to get this help before you start experiencing the serious negative effects of Focalin addiction.
Focalin is a prescription drug so it can’t be that bad for you
Just because a drug is prescribed by a doctor does not mean that it is safe. Focalin is a powerful substance and, when abused, it can be very dangerous. If you are misusing your prescription or taking Focalin without a prescription, you are at risk of developing dangerous health issues as well as addiction.
You’re not an addict, addicts are people who can’t function without drugs
This is one of the most dangerous lies that Focalin addiction will tell you. It is important to understand that addiction is a condition that can develop in anyone. Just because you have a job, a family, or any other responsibilities does not mean that you are immune to Focalin addiction. In fact, there are many people with addictions who are high-functioning and these can be some of the most difficult to spot because they seem to have everything together on the surface.

How to get help for Focalin addiction

It can be very difficult to overcome Focalin addiction by yourself because the physical cravings and the psychological aspects of addiction can be so strong. It is also easy to relapse if you are not in a structured environment with support from professionals and other people who are going through the same thing as you. The best way to overcome Focalin addiction is through a multi-stage approach comprising Focalin detox, therapy and aftercare at a Focalin rehab centre.

At Primrose Lodge, we provide all of these stages and have helped many people overcome their addictions to Focalin. We know how difficult it can be to break free from addiction but we also know that it is possible with the right help.

If you would like to find out more about the physical and emotional support we can offer you, get in touch with us today for honest and practical guidance.

Frequently asked questions

What if I need Focalin for ADHD but become addicted?
If you have developed an addiction to Focalin but need medication for ADHD, it is important that you speak to your doctor. They can help you find an alternative medication that you can take. Some common alternatives to Focalin for ADHD include Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta but it is important to note that these all have a risk of abuse and addiction too so you should only take them in consultation with your doctor and addiction treatment team.
Who is most at risk of becoming addicted to Focalin?
Anyone can develop an addiction to Focalin but there are certain groups of people who may be more at risk. These include people with a history of drug or alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, underlying trauma and those who start taking the drug at a young age. Focalin addiction is also more likely if you have easy access to the drug or if you are taking it for non-medical reasons or in larger doses/more frequently than prescribed.
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