Methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, is a stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ritalin increases the amount of dopamine released in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being. Ritalin is often crushed and snorted in an attempt to reach a dopamine high. Overdose or misuse of Ritalin can have serious health effects.
Crushing and snorting Ritalin increases potency of the drug. When taken orally, Ritalin takes about an hour to reach the brain and cause effects. Snorting Ritalin, however, allows the drug to reach the brain immediately. A person who snorts Ritalin may have increased feelings of euphoria and elation as large amounts of dopamine are released in the brain in response to the drug. Feelings of increased alertness, increased wakefulness and hyper-focus may also be achieved when Ritalin is snorted.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that repeated misuse of Ritalin may lead to addiction. Snorting Ritalin in high doses can lead to anxiety, irritability and aggression. A person may become agitated or confused. Hallucinations and paranoia may also occur in some people who snort crushed Ritalin. Chronic misuse of the drug may cause serious mental effects if there is a lapse in medication use or the medication is discontinued, including depression, anxiety and insomnia. Long-term Ritalin abusers may develop chronic anxiety, disruptive sleep patterns and paranoia-like symptoms.
Snorting Ritalin affects the cardiovascular system by increasing the stimulant effect of the drug on the heart. Pulse rate increases in response to Ritalin and may cause an irregular heartbeat in some people. Blood pressure may also increase. Ritalin that is snorted in high doses has the potential to cause stroke and sudden death.
Additional effects may be experienced when Ritalin is snorted. Some people experience weight loss or have an aversion to food while under the drug's effects. Chronic Ritalin abuse may lead to malnutrition. A person may also experience dry mouth, insomnia or trouble sleeping, sweating, nausea and headache after snorting Ritalin. The University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research advises that severity of effects and the effects experienced vary depending on the amount of Ritalin taken and the length of chronic abuse of the drug.