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Ritalin (methylphenidate) is an amphetamine-like recommendation stimulant commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adults.
Many think Ritalin (methylphenidate) is safe, or mild, because so many children use it. However, the government classifies the psychoactive drug with cocaine and morphine because it is highly addictive.
Avoid Ritalin if:
Do not use Ritalin if you have high blood pressure or any form of heart disease, are very nervous or have severe insomnia, have a history of addiction to drugs or alcohol. Do not combine Ritalin with monoamine oxidize inhibitors.
Side Effects of Ritalin:
Nervousness including agitation, anxiety and irritability
Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Serious Side Effects Include
Slowing of growth (height and weight) in children
Seizures, mainly in patients with a history of seizures
Eyesight changes or blurred vision
Less Common Side Effects
High blood pressure
Rapid pulse rate (and other heart problems)
Tolerance (constant need to raise the dose)
Feelings of suspicion and paranoia
Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not there)
Over dose symptoms of Ritalin:
Ritalin has been extensively abused. Extreme psychosomatic dependence and severe public disability have resulted. Abuse of Ritalin may cause a sudden heart attack even in those with no signs of heart disease. Symptoms of overdose that require immediate medical assistance include:
Symptoms of depression
Seizures or abnormal EEGs
High blood pressure
Rapid heart beat
Swelling of hands/feet/ankles (for example, numbing of the fingertips)
Unexplained muscle pain
Lower abdominal pain
It is possible to build up a tolerance to Ritalin, which means the person using this medicine needs to take larger doses to achieve the same effect. Over time, the body might come to depend on Ritalin just to function normally. The person desires for the drug and their psychological dependence makes them dreaded if access is denied, even temporarily.
Withdrawal symptoms can include tiredness, panic attacks, peculiarity, extreme hunger, depression and nightmares. Some people experience a pattern of "binge crash" characterized by using continuously for several days without sleep, followed by a period of heavy sleeping.
Ritalin should not be used in children under six years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established. Sufficient data on safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin in children are not yet available. Although a causal relationship has not been established, suppression of growth (i.e., weight gain, and/or height) has been reported with the long-term use of stimulants in children. Therefore, patients requiring long-term therapy should be carefully monitored.
Nervousness and insomnia are the most common adverse reactions but are usually controlled by reducing dosage and omitting the drug in the afternoon or evening. Other reactions include hypersensitivity (including skin rash, hives, fever, intense burning or stabbing pain caused by irritation of or damage to a nerve, peeling skin, red blotches or blisters all over the skin.
Ritalin should be given cautiously to emotionally unstable patients, such as those with a history of drug dependence or alcoholism, because such patients may increase dosage on their own initiative. Constant abusive use can lead to marked tolerance and psychic dependence with varying degrees of abnormal behavior. Frank psychotic episodes can occur, especially with parental abuse. Careful supervision is required during drug withdrawal, since severe depression as well as the effects of chronic over activity can be unmasked. Long-term follow-up may be required because of the patient's basic personality disturbances.
Why is this drug prescribed?
Ritalin and other brands of methylphenidate are mild central nervous system stimulants used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.
When given for attention deficit disorder, this drug should be an essential part of a total treatment program that includes psychological, educational, and social measures. Symptoms of attention deficit disorder include continual problems with moderate to severe distractibility, short attention span, hyperactivity, emotional changeability, and impulsiveness.
Most important fact about this drug
Excessive doses of this drug over a long period of time can produce addiction. It is also possible to develop tolerance to the drug, so that larger doses are needed to produce the original effect. Because of these dangers, be sure to check with your doctor before making any change in dosage; and withdraw the drug only under your doctor's supervision.
How should you take this medication?
Follow your doctor's directions carefully. It is recommended that Ritalin be taken 30 to 45 minutes before meals. If the drug interferes with sleep, give the child the last dose before evening. The medicine should be swallowed whole, never crushed or chewed.
If you miss a dose:
Give it to the child as soon as you remember. Give the remaining doses for the day at regularly spaced intervals. Do not give 2 doses at once.
Special warnings about this medication:
Your doctor will do a complete history and evaluation before prescribing this drug. He or she will take into account the severity of the symptoms, as well as your child's age.
This drug should not be given to children under 6 years of age; safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been established.
There is no information regarding the safety and effectiveness of long-term treatment in children. However, suppression of growth has been seen with the long-term use of stimulants, so your doctor will watch your child carefully while he or she is taking this drug.
Blood pressure should be monitored in anyone taking this drug, especially those with high blood pressure.
Some people have had visual disturbances such as blurred vision while being treated with this drug.
The use of this drug by anyone with a seizure disorder is not recommended. Be sure your doctor is aware of any problem in this area. Caution is also advisable for anyone with a history of emotional instability or substance abuse, due to the danger of addiction.