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Methylphenidate Treatment & Rehab

Written by Rob Alston

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Annie Tye, PhD

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Last Updated - 07/15/2020

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Updated 07/15/2020

Key Takeaways

  • Methylphenidate is a popular prescription stimulant that is used to treat ADHD.
  • Methylphenidate misuse and abuse are common in high school and college students as well as in adults.
  • Despite the misconception that methylphenidate is a panacea that will improve work, and school output, and social adeptness, it is often associated with dependence and addiction that can be debilitating.
  • Overcoming methylphenidate dependence can be challenging.
  • Professional rehab is an effective way to overcome early challenges associated with methylphenidate use disorders and maximize long-term success in recovery.

Methylphenidate is a common ADHD medication that can quickly cause dependence. Professional rehab may be the most effective way to quit methylphenidate use.

Methylphenidate is a commonly prescribed stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with over 15.5 million prescriptions being written in 2016.

Among the brand names that methylphenidate is sold under are Ritalin and Concerta. Methylphenidate is associated with a risk of abuse and dependence, so it is classified as a schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Regular methylphenidate use can rapidly lead to the development of tolerance, even when used as prescribed. Tolerance is characterized by a diminishing effect of the drug over time, which can prompt people to increase the dose or frequency that they take methylphenidate. Methylphenidate tolerance is associated with the development of physical dependence and the presence of withdrawal symptoms if its use is abruptly reduced or stopped altogether.

Methylphenidate addiction can develop if dependence is not appropriately managed. Drugs of addiction, including methylphenidate and other central nervous system stimulants, increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is a major event in the development of addiction. When drugs that artificially increase dopamine are regularly taken, activity in the brain’s “reward system” motivates additional use. Methylphenidate addiction is characterized by obsessive drug-seeking behavior even in the face of adverse health and social consequences.

Overcoming methylphenidate use disorders can be very challenging, especially if done without help. For many people, professional rehab programs that are designed to treat prescription stimulant use disorders may offer the most effective path to a successful recovery.

Methylphenidate Addiction Treatment Options

Recovering from a methylphenidate use disorder can be challenging. When you entrust your care to rehab professionals, you are able to focus on your own recovery while receiving the medical and psychological support that can contribute to early recovery and long-term success.

People who attempt to quit methylphenidate “cold turkey” are likely to experience profoundly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can quickly lead to relapse. Working with medical professionals provides you with access to experts who can design a tapering schedule that will minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Multidisciplinary rehab facilities are equipped to address physical and psychological aspects of methylphenidate use, disorders and recovery.  If appropriate, they can also provide pharmacological interventions that can ease the symptoms of detox and acute withdrawal. Participation in a quality rehab program can maximize your short- and long-term success in recovery.

Medical Detox

The first stage of recovery is the detox period, which is when methylphenidate is completely eliminated from your system. Detox is associated with uncomfortable symptoms associated with acute withdrawal, and people who detox at home may risk relapse. Choosing to detox under the care of medical professionals (medical detox) is a reliable way to successfully overcome these challenging first days.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

Inpatient or outpatient programs can be a starting point in recovery or can follow medical detox. The main difference between inpatient and outpatient rehab programs is whether the client lives on-site. Inpatient programs allow some autonomy during the day, and clients are able to participate in work and family activities. Both programs expect clients to participate in a certain number of hours of therapy per week. Inpatient and outpatient programs can be 30- 60- or 90-day programs that may be flexible, depending on your rate of recovery.

Residential Rehab

Residential rehab programs provide on-site accommodations for clients, and clients participate in several hours of therapy per day. Therapy may vary somewhat, but traditional therapy sessions, including individual and group therapy as well as more cutting-edge therapies like motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy, are likely to be components of the program. Recreational therapy (music, art, yoga) will also be provided.

Outpatient Rehab

There are several types of outpatient drug rehab programs, including intensive outpatient programs (IOP)  and less rigorous bi-weekly or weekly therapy sessions. IOPs provide a seamless transition from residential programs to less intense programs that still offer the support and management of a full-service program while allowing the client the flexibility to begin to make the transition back to their outside life.

Outpatient rehab also comes in less intensive formats as well. Clients who participate in the outpatient program at The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health do not live on site. However, they have full access to addiction experts and medical professionals if questions or concerns arise. Outpatient rehab programs require a high level of responsibility from clients; the first weeks of reintegration into their lives will likely be challenging and clients will be expected to maintain sobriety even in the face of triggers.

For people with mild methylphenidate dependence, starting with an IOP or outpatient program can help get them started on the path to recovery. However, it is important to be honest when clients are evaluating their level of dependence/addiction in order to maximize success in recovery. The first weeks of sobriety are often the most challenging and relapse is not uncommon if people are unprepared. If there is any concern of relapse, starting with a more intensive program may be the most appropriate course of action.

Dual Diagnosis

Many substance use disorders are a way for people to mask or artificially cope with a co-occurring mental health disorder. Methylphenidate can give people an artificial sense of social adeptness and productivity, masking insecurities that are associated with an anxiety disorder. In addition, methylphenidate is commonly used by people with eating disorders as a way to minimize appetite.At The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health, our substance use experts are equipped to evaluate whether a dual diagnosis is appropriate. In the case of a dual diagnosis, they can design a comprehensive rehab program that will address all aspects of recovery, including the methylphenidate use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorder. For people with an undiagnosed and untreated mental health disorder, a diagnosis and treatment plan can be a significantly positive step towards long-term physical and psychological health.

Aftercare & Sober Living

For most people in recovery, regular maintenance is an important part of their long-term success. Committing to sobriety is easier when a strong support network of mentors and friends is in place. Aftercare programs provide a valuable resource for people to expand and strengthen their network.Clients who complete rehab programs at The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can continue to work with case managers and mentors by participating in aftercare programs. In addition, individual and group therapy, relapse prevention and recreational therapy are offered through aftercare.Many people who have achieved consistent sobriety find that mentoring others is an incredibly rewarding component of aftercare; through supporting others they derive immense satisfaction and inspiration that is valuable in their own recovery journey.

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How Long Does Rehab Take?

Estimating how long it will take for any one person to complete methylphenidate rehab is difficult. Several factors contribute to the length of a rehab program, including:

  • Amount of time methylphenidate was used for
  • Methylphenidate dose and frequency of use
  • Individual factors (age, metabolism, genetics)
  • Whether other drugs or alcohol were co-used
  • The presence of an external support system

What Does Methylphenidate Rehab Cost?

The costs associated with methylphenidate rehab are difficult to estimate, and there are several factors that can influence the final cost, including:

Insurance Coverage: Many insurance plans cover rehab. Call us today or look at our insurance page to determine whether your insurance plan covers rehab with The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health.  Rehab without insurance is also possible. If you cannot afford to pay out of pocket, look for rehab centers that offer grants or scholarships. Many centers also use sliding fee scales to accommodate people from all income levels. The state of Florida also has resources that can help you find rehab.

Length of Treatment: The duration of a rehab program is a significant factor in the final expense. A 30-day outpatient program can range from free public rehab options to luxury rehab programs that can cost many thousands of dollars, while a 30-day residential program may range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Levels of Care: Increased quality of care and attention to physical and psychological needs will translate into increased cost.

Individual and Personal Considerations: Expensive luxury programs are often exclusive and take privacy concerns very seriously.

Choosing a Rehab Center for Methylphenidate Addiction

There are several options for drug rehab in Florida, but there are important differences that should be considered when you are evaluating the right program for you. Things to keep in mind include:

Location: While the closest facility may be the most convenient, it may not be the best one for you, especially if you are concerned about facing triggers that may potentiate relapse. Don’t be afraid to consider programs that are farther away from home.

Cost: Unfortunately, cost is a major factor for most people when they are looking for a program that can help them recover from a substance use disorder. Many rehab programs accept insurance plans (including Medicaid), and there are programs that can help you finance rehab. Creative financing has been done using crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. In addition, many rehab facilities offer grants, scholarships and sliding fee scales to keep out-of-pocket costs reasonable.

Treatment Options: Look for a comprehensive rehab center that is able to provide medically assisted detox, residential and outpatient programs, and aftercare. Programs that treat methylphenidate use disorders should be experienced in treating prescription stimulant use disorders.

Success Rates: Facilities that provide client endorsements and success rates can be informative as you make your evaluations. Be wary of programs touting 100% success rates.

Treatment Duration: Treatment duration should be flexible, based on your progress in recovery. Programs that institute a predetermined schedule will be unlikely to provide outstanding care.

Staff-to-Patient Ratio: A low staff-to-patient ratio ensures that clients will have sufficient access to staff members and medical professionals.

Accreditation: Accreditation by either The Joint Commission or CARF International guarantees a certain care standard.

Effectiveness of Methylphenidate Addiction Rehab

Overcoming addiction on your own can be difficult. By participating in a quality rehab program, you will have access to expert medical care and the opportunity to interact with other people who are going through similar experiences. Knowing you are not alone in recovery can be very comforting, and many people make lifelong friendships in rehab.

Rehab is a valuable way to develop realistic expectations for recovery and to identify short- and long-term goals while you learn new coping strategies and how to manage sobriety. In addition, people who receive a dual diagnosis can begin to treat what is often an underlying cause of substance use.

View Sources

ClinCalc.com. “Methylphenidate: Drug Usage Statistics, United States, 2006 – 2016.” Updated July 2018. Accessed September 20, 2019.

Heal, David J; et al. “Amphetamine, past and present–a pharmacological and clinical perspective.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, June 2013. Accessed September 20, 2019.

University of Colorado Boulder. “Neuroanatomy and Physiology of the “Brain Reward System” in Substance Abuse.” The Institute for Behavioral Genetics, Accessed September 20, 2019.