Dexmethylphenidate – sold under the brand name Focalin among others – is a stimulant of the central nervous system (CNS) prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is a member of the phenethylamine and piperidine classes of medications and is a class B controlled substance in the UK, legally available only by prescription. However, due to its stimulant effects – including an energising and euphoric high – it is also used and abused recreationally and is widely available amongst younger people due to its increasing popularity as a prescription for ADHD. Unfortunately, it is also considered moderately to highly addictive, with a dependence liability similar to that of amphetamine.
The stimulant effects of dexmethylphenidate are sought-after in the treatment of ADHD as they produce increased clarity of thought and capacity for focus in the user; when higher dosages are consumed, the stimulant effect becomes more pronounced and the user feels energised and mildly euphoric, as well as more confident and disinhibited. Unfortunately, a number of unpleasant side-effects may manifest, including anxiety; nausea; abdominal pain; agitation; irritability; a loss of appetite; dry mouth; dizziness; tics; blurred vision; tachycardia; changes in blood pressure; grinding of teeth; and sweating.
The duration of Focalin effects depends upon the dosage consumed; typically, tablets come in either immediate-release or modified-release form, with effects lasting up to 4 hours and all day respectively. However, many people using the drug recreationally will take significantly above the recommended dose and may grind up the tablets for snorting, which both accelerates and intensifies the “high”.
It may not be easy to tell if someone is taking Focalin at low or moderate doses since the effects are not especially pronounced and may be easily concealed. At higher doses, or in the case of long-term abuse, any of the aforementioned side-effects may manifest regularly and some – in particular sweating, agitation, and the grinding of teeth, all of which are commonly associated with stimulant abuse – may betray an individual’s abuse of dexmethylphenidate.
Over the long term, abuse may have significant adverse effects, such as negative gastrointestinal effects including pronounced weight loss; damage to the heart; hypersensitivity (including skin rash, urticaria and fever); priapism; libido disorders; and the occurrence of disorientation and even hallucinations. Dexmethylphenidate has also been associated with the emergence of new psychotic symptoms in individuals and is known to worsen psychosis in patients already diagnosed with the condition. There have also been reports that the drug has caused suicidal ideation, and doctors urge extreme caution when dealing with patients with bipolar disorder as dexmethylphenidate may induce mania.
Alongside these health implications, as with any substance addiction to dexmethylphenidate can have extremely serious ramifications for a person’s financial well-being (especially if their drug abuse affects their professional life) and for their relationships with others, especially loved ones. Major depressive disorder can result from the impact of addiction upon a person’s outlook and life prospects.
Addiction can result in the manifestation of serious withdrawal symptoms if and when the addict ceases taking the drugs. The precise nature and severity of the symptoms will vary considerably from one user to another depending on various factors including the dosages consumed; the frequency of consumption; the length of the addiction; and the physiology of the addict, among others.
For many people going through withdrawal can be extremely distressing, even apparently unbearable, without support, and a tragically high number of people each year result to self-harm or even suicide in an attempt to cope with or escape – or put an end to – the unpleasant symptoms which may manifest. As a result, withdrawal is a perilous process and should never be attempted without the assistance of a medical professional various “at home detox” kits are available on the internet but doctors strongly advise against this method, for the aforementioned reason.
Many prescription drug addicts benefit from residential rehabilitation, in part because the first phase of rehab is a medically assisted detox, with doctors on hand to ensure the safety of the addict and to minimise where possible the worse effects of withdrawal symptoms.
A rough guide to what you may expect from withdrawal is as follows:
If symptoms – in particular depression – persist for longer than two weeks, you may be suffering from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which may last for months or even years and may require therapy to deal with the worst effects.
Your GP should always be your first port of call and you may wish to discuss with them options such as private addiction counselling, NHS services and support groups. However, the consensus amongst the medical community is that rehab is the most effective treatment option for prescription drugs for long-term recovery as only rehab provides a holistic combination of medically assisted detox, a variety of therapy models, dietary and fitness plans, peer group support and reliable confidentiality.
Rehab has proven extraordinarily successful in helping countless addicts to achieve long-term recovery. Some of the advantages of rehab include:
Addiction ruins lives and can prove fatal as depression leads to suicidal ideation, as the addict despairs at the damage their addiction has wrought upon their life. However, help is at hand: no matter how intense or protracted you may feel your addiction to be, and no matter how much damage you think it may already have done to your life prospects and relationships, as long as you are alive it is never too late to overcome your addiction and to get back onto a path towards happiness, success and fulfilment. The first step, as everyone knows, is always the hardest – but if you are ready to acknowledge your addiction and are determined to beat it, potentially life-saving assistance is only a phone call away.
Reach out today on 0203 553 9263 and take that first in living life addiction free!