Ritalin, chemically known as Methylphenidate, is gaining popularity these days among students to increase their attention span making them more alert. Not only this, it also avoids them falling asleep hence giving them more time to stay up late into the night and study.
Its non medical use among students is increasing as it enhances the attention span they could give to their studies, excelling in their academic performances. They call it as their “life saving drug”. But it should not be overlooked that the drug is adherent and the drug should not be used without a prescription. It can also cause sudden death in children & teenagers, especially those with heart problems.
Ritalin, being a CNS stimulant, is a drug of choice in Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It has been used for more than 60 years to treat ADH. It’s has also been used in the treatment of narcolepsy.
The drug acts on Central Nervous System increasing the dopamine levels at synaptic levels but the exact mechanism is still unknown.
A total of 239 drugs have shown to interact with Ritalin with MAO inhibitors, anticoagulants being few of them.
The drug is available in the oral form as tablets. But its intranasal and intravenous administration can induce euphoria which is similar to cocaine. Ritalin has proved to be adherent and addictive due to its pharmacological similarity to cocaine and amphetamines.
Side effects show a variable pattern among methylphenidate users, ranging from severe side effects in some to almost no side effects in others. Dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, stomach pain, insomnia and allergic reactions like rash are some of the common adverse effects which are usually controlled by reducing the drug dosage.
Other severe adverse effects include behaviour changes, vision problems, chest pain, arrhythmias, hallucinations, jaundice, seizures, tremors, and shortness of breath. In case of experiencing severe adverse effects, the usage of drug should be stopped and a doctor should be consulted.
A latest study showed that Ritalin intake decreases spermatogenesis and increases the chance of testicular cancer.
Ritalin has been reported to cause a decrease in height acceleration in Ritalin consumers according to a recent study. A possible explanation for the effect of methylphenidate is that it may be due to its impact on reducing appetite.
Methylphenidate is contraindicated in people:
- Who get tense, anxious or agitated.
- Who are suffering from glaucoma
- Have tics or Tourtte syndrome or this syndrome being familial.
- Having being reported to take anti-depressants like MAO within the past 14 days.
- Are allergic to any of the ingredients used in Ritalin.
- Children less than 6 years of age.
- Who are already taking medications for seizures, high blood pressure and anti-coagulant.
- Who are suffering from any of the heart diseases or have a family history of it as well.
- Have a high blood pressure.
- Have hereditary conditions such as fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption or sucrose-isomaltose insufficiency.
Methylphenidate has the same effect of increasing attention in both normal children and children with ADD.