Ritalin is the most frequently psychostimulant, increasing the activity of central nervous system. It contributes to the increase or maintenance of vigilance, reduces the fatigue and improves the attention. The advantages and efficiency of the short-term use of Methylphenidate are well known, but the effects of its long-term use of Ritalin are still unknown. The effect of long-term use of drug on the developing brain is also unknown. Ritalin is contraindicated to the children less than six years of age. Ritalin may also be used for off-label purposes in the therapeutic resistant cases of lethargy, bipolar disorder, severe depressive disorder and obesity.
Ritalin was approved by FDA of the USA as a drug for the treatment of attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. It has been proved that the additional behavioral modification therapy (for example, cognitive behavioral therapy) can have an additional positive impact on the result of treatment. Usually, people with ADHD, have increased risk of abusing psychoactive substances. The use of stimulant drugs reduces this risk.
Though the intake of Ritalin may cause the development of addiction, but it happens rarely. Ritalin has demonstrated certain advantages as a substitution therapy for the people suffering from methamphetamine addiction. Ritalin and amphetamine have been investigated as the chemical substitutes for the treatment of cocaine addiction in the same way as Methadone, used as a substitute of heroine. The drug efficiency in the treatment of cocaine or psychostimulant addiction had not yet been proven. It requires further researches.
The long-terms use of Ritalin can cause some side effects, but there is very few data on the consequences of the long-terms use of stimulants. The most common side effects of Ritalin are: nervousness, drowsiness and insomnia.
Other side effects include
- Akathisia (anxiety)
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Angina (chest pain)
- Loss of appetite
- Anxiety/ nervousness
- Changes in blood pressure and heart rate (both up and down)
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Excessive perspiration (sweating)
- Dyskinesia (uncontrolled tics)
- Euphoria or dysphoria
- Hypersensitivity (including skin itching, uticaria, fever, pains in joints, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme, necrotizing vasculitis, thrombopenic purpura)
- Increase or decrease of libido
- Mania or hypomania
- Heart rate
- Widening of the pupils
- Psychosis and mental diseases. The use of stimulants in the above recommended doses is related to the increased risk of developing psychoses, substance abuse problem and psychotic episodes.
- Short-term weight loss
- Suicidal thoughts
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate at rest)
- Xerostomia (dry mouth)