About Prescription Stimulants (Ritalin)

Select section:

How can you be safer when using prescription stimulants?

People use prescription stimulants for many reasons, and they can affect everyone differently. It is always a good idea to think about the ways you can be safer when using these drugs.

If your doctor has prescribed you prescription stimulants, it’s best to get their advice about how to take them and what to do if you experience unexpected or unpleasant effects.

Test your prescription stimulants, especially if they are bought illegally. Some people choose to take prescription stimulants that are not prescribed to them. If you are planning on taking prescription stimulants that you have purchased illegally, or been given, it is important not to assume you know what is in them. Some counterfeit prescription stimulants contain other psychoactive ingredients or fillers. You can take your prescription stimulants to a drug checking clinic that uses an FTIR spectrometer to make sure you know what you are taking.

Learn about what dose to take. Even if you know what prescription stimulant you have, remember that different types are dosed differently. The same amount of two different stimulants can be two very different doses. Conversion calculators online such as this one can help to compare different dosages for prescribed stimulants.

If you have a counterfeit prescription stimulant, it is a good idea to start with a lower dose and wait at least an hour before using more. Some of these counterfeit drugs can be much more potent than the ones prescribed by doctors.

Take care if you are snorting prescription stimulants. Snorting prescription stimulants delivers them faster to your blood stream, meaning the effects can be quicker but shorter-lasting. It is important to remember to take a smaller dose if you are snorting these drugs, as the effects come on quicker and you have a higher risk of overdosing. Snorting drugs can cause damage to your nasal passage too. Prescription stimulant pills have lots of binders and fillers in them that can be harmful to snort. Consider taking long breaks between snorting to decrease the risk of damaging your nose. You can also reduce the damage to your nose by doing a nasal saline wash after snorting. For a guide on how to do this, see our 'How to do a sinus flush' article. Make sure to use a clean snorting tool (like a paper straw) every time you use and don’t share these with others.

If you are swallowing, wait 1 hour before re—dosing. If you are swallowing a prescription stimulant it is good to remember that it will take longer to feel the effects. If you plan on using more, avoid redosing for at least an hour so you can feel the full effects. Redosing too early can result in more unpleasant effects and increase your risk of overdose.

Take care if you are injecting prescription stimulants. This delivers them directly to your blood stream, which means that the effects are felt right away but don’t last as long as other ways of taking them. It is important to remember to take a smaller dose if you are injecting these drugs, as the effects come on quicker and you have a higher risk of overdosing. Prescription stimulants have lots of binders and fillers in them that can block blood vessels when not filtered properly and cause permanent damage to your lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and brain. When preparing prescription stimulants for injecting it is important to use a wheel filter to remove the binders, fillers and any other particles. Wheel filters are available from needle exchange outlets.

For more information on how to filter drugs for injection, see the needle exchange's guide for filtering drugs.

If you are injecting, make sure to use clean equipment (including needles) every time and do not share with others. You can access clean injecting equipment from your local needle exchange. It is recommended that you avoid injecting in the same place every time as this can cause more damage and infection to the area.


For more information on how to be safer when using drugs and alcohol, see Safer using.  

To order self-help workbooks and other free resources for safer use, see Resources

Related stories

Calling an ambulance during lockdown - advice from a paramedic

Wondering what happens if you need an ambulance during lockdown? Blake Murray from St John answers your questions.

Popping the bubble: Quick tips if you're choosing to use drugs in Level 2

It can be a bit weird adjusting back to life outside your bubble, so we’ve pulled togther a few key tips to help you out if you choose to use drugs.

High-minded: how mental health can affect your high

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we talked to Phil Glaser, one of the team behind The Level, about how your state of mind has a bigger impact on your trip than you might think.

Find another drug