Ritalin or Concerta are used as medication for those who suffer from ADD or ADHD disorders which disrupt the ability to concentrate on something for a reasonable amount of time. It must be prescribed by a doctor and the dosage varies depending on the severity of the individual’s case.
At university level, many students are using this drug as a study aid while others use it as a party drug. The stimulating effect of Ritalin allows individuals to stay awake longer, giving them energy to last a big night out.
In a third part installment of an investigation into the use and abuse of this drug at university, one student from Rhodes University who is currently in his third year of studying towards a BSc shared his experience if using Ritalin for both studying and partying:
What do you use Ritalin for?
I originally got prescribed Ritalin for academic purposes, so I normally use it for studying.
If so, which came first?
How often do you take Ritalin for recreational purposes and how do you take it?
I’ve been taking Ritalin for a while now and normally before I go out. If I’m feeling tired or I know that I have a long night ahead, or if I’m just looking to get a bit of a buzz, then I “shnaaf” a line before going out. I don’t do it every time I go out, maybe once or twice a fortnight. But if I use it for studying purposes then I’ll take it orally.
How long have you been using Ritalin as a recreational drug?
I think I first tried it when I was in first year. A couple of my friends were keen and were about to smash a line when they asked me if I was keen, so I tried it out.
Do you find that a lot of your peers use it for this purpose as well?
Yeah a lot of my friends and people I know use it quite frequently, whether itisfor studying purposes or for a buzz.
Have you taken it in isolation or with other drugs (alcohol included)?
Well if I take Ritalin for studying then I’ll obviously take it in isolation. But if I’m taking it to go out or for a bit of a buzz then it will normally get mixed with a bit of alcohol andcigarettes.
Why Ritalin and not just highly caffeinated drinks like Red Bull?
The thing with taking Ritalin is that it lasts for a longer period of time. I think it would be better on your heart and body to take 1 Ritalin over like 5 Red Bulls. Also, theRitwill increase your focus and uplift your moods whereas Red Bull and those other energy drinks just give you energy.
Do you see Ritalin as “as bad as” heavier and more illegal drugs such as marijuana, MDMA, Ecstasy or even Cocaine?
In my opinion I definitely think Ritalin can be just as bad or even worse.It’s a pharmaceutical depressant and definitely isn’t good to mess around with, particularly with its effects on your moods and energy levels. I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as cocaine though, butitseffects are quite similar.Your heart beats really fast, you get this energetic buzz and a sense of ecstasy and confidence sometimes.
Ritalin has been given the nickname “kiddie cocaine” in certain circles. Do you think that consuming prescription drugs like Ritalin constitutes as being illegal?
It’s a schedule 1 drug which has to be prescribed to you by a doctor. If a person uses it for any purpose without a medical prescription then it is illegal. I’m not too sure about restrictions concerning how it is taken onceit’sprescribed.
Are you aware that the side effects of Ritalin include insomnia, loss of appetite and depression? Does this worry you and why/why not?
Yeah I’ve experienced all of those side effects before. It’s a powerful drug that is used to control your emotions and behaviour, so some of the effects from using it too much can be quite hectic. It doesn’t really worry me, because I don’t need to use it and I don’t use it often enough for those side effects to have a proper influence on me.
Did you know that Ritalin can be extremely detrimental on the heart, causing heart palpitations and in worse cases, sudden cardiac arrest? How does that make you feel?
I know that it isn’t good for you, and that it can increase your heart rate a fair bit but I never saw it as that dangerous. I don’t ever take enough to make myself feel uncomfortable.
Based on how often you take it, do you ever think you might have a problem or are at risk of forming a problem? If so, how do you deal with these worries?
I don’t take it enough nor am I dependent on it so I’m not worried about ever getting hooked to it. I know I’m not going to be taking it for too much longer in my life so no, I’m not worried.
Unfortunately, stories such as this student’s are not a rarity, with many students finding Ritalin a cheap, easily accessible drug. The issues are far-reaching however, and the dangers are both physical and legal. The use and selling of prescription drugs such as Ritalin is in fact illegal while the side effects pose a risk to the lives of those abusing this substance.