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Quillivant Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 18, 2019

Quillivant XR is a brand name of prescription methylphenidate typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Quillivant XR has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

What Is Quillivant?

Quillivant XR is a liquid, extended-release prescription methylphenidate. It is suggested that the medication is given in the morning, and thoroughly shaken to ensure the dosage is correct. After reconstitution, every 5 mL of the liquid contains 25 mg of methylphenidate.

Quillivant, like other methylphenidate medications (Ritalin, Concerta), is prescribed to individuals diagnosed with ADHD. As a liquid, it provides an alternative for people unable to swallow pills.

Quillivant is only recommended for individuals over six years of age, and the effects of long-term use of Quillivant are not currently known. This medication is not suggested for people with cardiovascular issues (including structural abnormalities), high blood pressure, psychosis, or active manic episodes.

Quillivant was first available in 2012, and is the only liquid medication used to treat ADHD.

How Does Quillivant Work?

Because Quillivant is extended release, it lasts twice as long as many ADHD medications. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and activates certain areas of the brain to increase attention, focus, and concentration skills. It also works to reduce hyperactivity, by increasing impulse control.

It is important to take Quillivant exactly as prescribed, to decrease the potential of abuse. Quillivant should be taken in the morning, due to its slow-release factors, otherwise it can result in insomnia.

Other common side effects of Quillivant are similar to other methylphenidate medications, and include decreased appetite, nausea, restlessness, mild anxiety, dry mouth, and weight loss.

When beginning Quillivant, it is important to maintain the supervision of the prescribing doctor. The recommended starting dose is 20 mg each day, in the morning. However, the lowest effective dose is different person to person, and doctors will adjust accordingly.

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Quillivant Abuse And Addiction

It is important to only take Quillivant as it is prescribed to you. Although Quillivant is constructed in a way that is intended to decrease potential for abuse, it is not completely exempt from the possibility. This is why it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, due to the high risk for abuse and dependence.

Taking Quillivant in any way that is not prescribed is considered abuse. This includes:

  • taking a higher dose of Quillivant than prescribed
  • not mixing/shaking thoroughly on purpose (more methylphenidate is in the dose)
  • manipulating Quillivant to break down the extended release restriction
  • lying about symptoms to obtain Quillivant prescription
  • taking Quillivant for reasons other than prescribed (weight loss)

When a person takes Quillivant without a prescription, it is also considered abuse. Some people choose to misuse Quillivant in an attempt to increase focus, study, or quickly complete a project. These individuals are at increased risk for developing dependence or addiction, as they do not have a medical reason to take the drug.

Quillivant Abuse Symptoms

When a person is abusing Quillivant, they may experience many of the following symptoms:

  • nervousness
  • jittery
  • flushed skin
  • restlessness
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • tremors
  • dry mouth
  • anxiety
  • irritability

Long-term Quillivant abuse can lead to significant health issues, such as stroke, high blood pressure, tachycardia, malnutrition, and new or worsening psychological distress (mania, psychosis, or behavioral issues).

Quillivant Addiction Signs

Over time, a person who is prescribed Quillivant may need a higher dose to feel the same effects as before (tolerance), or require Quillivant in order to feel normal (dependence). Tolerance and dependence can occur even when taking Quillivant as prescribed, but can occur more rapidly when a person is abusing Quillivant.

Dependence is not the same as addiction, however both can require detoxification when a person stops taking Quillivant. Some other indicators of addiction to Quillivant include:

  • using Quillivant to get high
  • only taking Quillivant to complete specific tasks or projects
  • doctor shopping to increase supply of Quillivant
  • recognizing negative risks associated with Quillivant and continuing use
  • taking other medications that contain methylphenidate when Quillivant is not available
  • stealing or asking others for Quillivant or other methylphenidate medications
  • withdrawal symptoms appear when Quillivant is not taken

Quillivant Overdose

Individuals who are abusing or addicted to Quillivant are also at increased risk for overdose. Quillivant stimulates the CNS, which increases activity in the body and brain. When the body has too much methylphenidate, it affects overall body function and can result in overdose.

Warning signs of Quillivant overdose are:

  • headache
  • increase body temperature
  • extreme thirst
  • muscle spasms
  • confusion
  • cramping
  • restlessness
  • hyperactive movement and reflexes
  • diarrhea
  • rapid heartbeat
  • quick breathing
  • tremors
  • confusion
  • hallucinations
  • delirium

Cardiovascular issues resulting from methylphenidate (like Quillivant) abuse and addiction can be fatal. Placing so much strain on the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system may result in heart attacks, stroke, seizure, coma, or even circulation failure.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical services immediately.

Quillivant Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms may occur when a person who is dependent or addicted to Quillivant makes an attempt to decrease or stop taking the drug. These symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, however, are not typically fatal.

A person who stops taking Quillivant may feel increased fatigue, hunger, depression, and cravings for Quillivant. Additionally, negative thoughts, inability to feel pleasure, panic attacks, and in some cases psychosis may occur.

Due to the range of withdrawal symptoms, it is encouraged that a person seeks a medically supervised detoxification when attempting to stop taking Quillivant. These services are available through a substance abuse program that offers detox options.

Quillivant Treatment Options

Addressing a Quillivant addiction can be complicated. When a person has prescribed a methylphenidate medication for ADHD, it is to help them manage their disorder. This means that the person may need to continue to take Quillivant or a similar medication, even though they are struggling with an addiction to these types of medication.

Inpatient rehab centers that are capable of treating co-occurring disorders can help with managing both addiction and the additional diagnosis of residents. Using additional intervention methods, they can help identify the nature of addiction and underlying causes, as well as create a treatment program that will help obtain and maintain sobriety.

Finding a substance abuse treatment facility that is equipped to manage an addiction as complicated as a Quillivant addiction is part of the journey toward being sober. Reach out to us today so we can help you locate a substance abuse rehab option for you or your loved one.

Tris Pharma - Quillivant XR & QuilliChew ER

Food and Drug Administration - Quillivant XR Prescribing Information

Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Scheduling

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