Ritalin

Modified: 22nd Jul 2019

Last updated on July 22nd, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Currently, doctors prescribed over six million people Ritalin, with 75 percent of them being children.

Ritalin is often described as being less potent than amphetamines (known as “speed” or “uppers”) but more potent than caffeine. For years it’s been popularly prescribed to hyperactive children to distracted adults.

In this article, we’re diving deep into the effects of Ritalin and uncovering how it works and the effects it can have. You’ll understand the risk of overdose and what to look for when it comes to Ritalin abuse.

Let’s get started.

What Is Ritalin?

Since its release in the mid-50s, people have used and abused this famous stimulant for over 60 years. The DEA listed Ritalin as a Schedule II federally controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse.

Definition

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a central nervous system drug used to treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults.

How Is It Taken?

Ritalin comes in a variety of types and doses such as immediate-release tablets, sustained-release tablets, and extended-release capsules. You should take Ritalin orally 2-3 times a day, as directed by your doctor. It is often misused by crushing and snorting the pill. Some people will also dissolve the tablets in water and consume it intravenously, neither of which is as intended.

Depending on how you respond, your doctor may increase or decrease your dosage over time. Ritalin is best taken at the same time each day and 30-40 minutes before a meal.

You should never stop taking Ritalin without doctor approval first, as it may cause withdrawal symptoms.

Who Takes It?

According to the DEA, approximately 85 to 90 percent of all prescriptions for methylphenidate is for children and adolescents for the treatment of ADHD. Its also used to treat narcolepsy and barbiturate overdoses.

A recent study cited one in five college students abuse prescription stimulants. For years, everyone from students and party-goers, to athletes and professionals have abused the drug. They use it to increase their concentration and alertness and gain a competitive edge.

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A Brief History of Ritalin

Methylphenidate was originally synthesized in 1944 by chemist Leandro Panizzon. He named “Ritalin” after his wife Rita. The DEA classified Methylphenidate as a stimulant in 1954 and certified it for medical use in 1955.

It wasn’t until the ’90s where it gained its peak popularity when ADHD became more widely recognized and accepted. Throughout its long history its been used to aid in barbiturate overdoses, narcolepsy, depression, and memory deficits. It’s most popularly used in treating hyperactivity, specifically in children.

Consequences of Ritalin Misuse

Ritalin begins to increased concentration and alertness within 20-30 minutes of ingestion. When taking Ritalin, like any drug, you may experience side effects.

Effects on the Mind and Body

The most common side effects reported on Ritalin are:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • insomnia
  • decreased appetite
  • dry mouth
  • nervousness
  • trouble sleeping
  • weight loss
  • dizziness

There are severe side effects to look for, especially if you’re new to taking Ritalin. Report any severe side effects to your doctor and the FDA immediately. Possible severe side effects include (but aren’t limited to):

  • fast heartbeat
  • convulsions
  • joint pain
  • rash
  • fever
  • black stool
  • blood in urine
  • blurred vision
  • muscle cramps
  • vocal outbursts
  • unusual bruising
  • flaky skin

Now that we understand the side effects of methylphenidate, let’s go over both the short and long-term effects of Ritalin on the human body.

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Short-Term Health Effects

Low doses of methylphenidates may provide short-term effects such as loss of appetite, restlessness, increased alertness, euphoria, nausea, headaches, vomiting, increased or irregular heartbeats, and skin rashes.

High dose users of the drug may experience effects like agitation, twitching, pupil dilation, confusion and delirium, hallucinations, paranoia, fever, sweating, seizures, anxiety, and increased heart rate/blood pressure.

Long-Term Health Effects

The long-term effects of using Ritalin have shown that it can suppress the growth and weight in children and adults. It can even induce anxiety and sleeplessness overtime. Long-term, heavy dosage abusers of the drug may experience acute paranoid schizophrenia.

Using Ritalin With Other Drugs

If you are considering Ritalin, speak with your doctor first and obtain a prescription. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medical conditions and current medications. This includes prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products.

Do not take Ritalin if you are on an MAO inhibitor such as selegiline, isocarboxazid, procarbazine, linezolid, methylene blue, tranylcypromine, phenelzine, moclobemide, rasagiline, or safinamide as it can cause a potentially fatal drug interaction. Wait two weeks after coming off an MAO inhibitor before starting Ritalin.

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is very similar to dexmethylphenidate. Because of this, avoid using medications containing dexmethylphenidate while on Ritalin or other methylphenidates.

It’s possible that methylphenidates may interfere with the reaction of coumarin anticoagulants, certain anticonvulsants, and some certain antidepressants (especially tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs).

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Ritalin is not for people suffering from glaucoma, Tourette’s symptoms, a history of muscle tics, or anyone on an MAO inhibitor. You should also mention to your doctor about any heart/circulation problems, high blood pressure, seizures.

Increased anxiety is a side effect to Ritalin so patients that suffer from anxiety may find that Ritalin worsens that. Tell your doctor if you have a history of mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder.

If you have a history of substance use problems, please mention this to your doctor since Ritalin is often linked with addiction and dependency.

It is possible that Ritalin can affect certain medical or laboratory tests (such as a Parkinson’s disease brain scan), which may possibly cause false test results.

Treating Ritalin Addiction

Help is only one free phone call away. If you or someone you know is suffering from Ridilin dependency or any kind of addition, then pick up the phone and call (833) 369-6443 for a free, quick, and completely confidential assessment.

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Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.