Ritalin

Know the facts about Ritalin and connect with help to keep your child safe.

What are some slang terms?
Kibbles and bits, Pineapple

What is it?
Ritalin, the trade name for methylphenidate, is a medication prescribed for children, teens and adults with an abnormally high level of activity or with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It stimulates the central nervous system, with effects similar to but less potent than amphetamines and more potent than caffeine.

Ritalin has a notably calming effect on hyperactive children and a “focusing” effect on those with ADHD. When taken as prescribed, Ritalin is a valuable medicine. Research has shown that people with ADHD do not get addicted to their stimulant medications at dosages prescribed to them by their doctor. Because of their stimulant properties, however, Ritalin and other stimulant medications are misused by some people for whom they are not prescribed.

What does it look like?
Ritalin comes in pill or tablet form.

How is it used?
Ritalin pills or tablets are taken orally. Some people who misuse Ritalin crush the drug and snort or inject it.

What do young people hear about it?
Some students hear that Ritalin can help them focus and perform academically, and think of it as a ‘study drug.’ Many teens and young adults are under the mistaken impression that because prescription stimulants such as Ritalin came from a doctor that they are safe or safer than ‘street drugs.’

What are the risks?
It is dangerous for anyone to take prescription stimulants not prescribed to them. Short-term effects can include nervousness and insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, changes in heart rate and blood pressure (usually elevation of both, but occasionally depression), skin rashes and itching, abdominal pain, weight loss, and digestive problems, psychotic episodes, drug dependence and severe depression upon withdrawal.

High doses of stimulants cause loss of appetite (which may cause serious malnutrition), tremors and muscle twitching, fevers, convulsions, headaches, irregular heartbeat and breathing (which can be life-threatening), anxiety, restlessness, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions, excessive repetition of movements and meaningless tasks, and the sensation of bugs or worms crawling under the skin.

What are signs of use?

  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes and itching
  • Weight loss
  • Digestive problems

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Next Steps

Look for Warning Signs

Do you think your child may be using drugs? If so, have you noticed any of these changes or warning signs?

Talk with Your Kids

Take action by having frequent conversations with the teens and young adults in your life about the dangers of medicine abuse. Learn how.

Get One-on-One Help

Trained counselors are available to listen, answer questions and help you create a plan to begin addressing your child's substance use.