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Substance Use: Common Drugs

Talwin® and Ritalin® (T’s and R’s)

​​​​​​What is Talwin®

Talwin® is the brand name of a pain medicine called pentazocine.

What is Ritalin®?

Ritalin® is the brand name of a stimulant drug called methylphenidate. It is most often used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) in children.

The street names for the mixture of the prescription medicine Talwin® and Ritalin® are T’s and R’s,T’s and Rits, One and Ones, Crackers, and Set. When injected together, Talwin®, a painkiller, and Ritalin®, a stimulant, cause a "high" like heroin when it is mixed with cocaine. Because of the similar high and that they are low-cost when given as a prescription, Talwin® and Ritalin® have been called "poor man's heroin”.

Both Talwin® and Ritalin® are prescribed for medical purposes. To prevent these drugs from being abused, Alberta has a triplicate prescription program, making it hard to get these drugs fraudulently. As a result, Talwin® and Ritalin® are often stolen from pharmacies or brought from outside the province and sold on the street. Since the high doesn’t last long, a person may take them more often, which can make these drugs very expensive to use.

Are Talwin® and Ritalin® illegal?

Both drugs are legal if a doctor prescribes them. But if they are stolen or bought from someone, they are illegal. The Talwin® and Ritalin® sold on the street is usually stolen either from people who have a prescription from their doctor, or from a pharmacy.

Not a lot is known about the non-prescription use of Talwin® and Ritalin®, possibly because their use is limited to western Canada. Talwin® and Ritalin® are not as commonly abused as other drugs.

What happens when they're taken together?

Besides giving a very brief high, combining these two drugs has a lot of other effects like:
  • dizziness or confusion
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • shakiness
  • constipation
  • anorexia (no appetite/not able to eat)
  • poor sleep
  • paranoia (think everyone is out to get you)

The high is followed by a "low" where you feel depressed and very tired or sluggish. High doses can cause your blood pressure to go up. You may also have hallucinations. Taking very high doses can cause you to go into a coma and/or die.

Users who inject Talwin® and Ritalin® with a used or dirty needle can get infected veins, abscesses, or superficial skin ulcers. They also risk becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Users may also get infections of the lung, heart, bones, and liver.

What happens to people who use it for a long time?

Over time, users may have hallucinations, delusions, and confusion. Using syringes damages your veins and other tissue at injection sites. As well, the filler material in Talwin® and Ritalin® doesn't dissolve when the tablets are crushed for injecting. This means it can get into your lungs, causing breathing problems and lung disease.

Are Talwin® and Ritalin® addictive?

As your body gets used to Talwin® and Ritalin®, it needs more and more of them to get the same effect (tolerance). If you use them regularly, you may become dependent on them. Dependent users may have symptoms of withdrawal if they stop taking the drugs.

Withdrawal symptoms of Talwin® include:
  • feeling agitated or anxious
  • trouble sleeping
  • stomach cramps or nausea

Withdrawal symptoms of Ritalin® include feeling very depressed and very tired.

Withdrawal symptoms from long-term, heavy use of Talwin® and Ritalin® can be bad because you are withdrawing from two addictive drugs. People who abuse Talwin® and Ritalin® may also abuse other substances. This pattern of abuse can make withdrawal even more complicated.

For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Help Line.​

Current as of: April 1, 2017

Author: Poison & Drug Information Service, Alberta Health Services