Ritalin and Other Methylphenidates
What Kind of Drug Is It?
Ritalin and other methylphenidates belong to a class of drugs called stimulants, which typically excite or speed up the brain and body. Stimulants increase endurance, reduce hunger, make the user feel less tired, and produce feelings of well-being and happiness. Many substances, both legal and illegal, are considered stimulants. Caffeine is a mild stimulant found naturally in coffee, tea, and chocolate. Amphetamines (am-FETT-uh-meens) are powerful stimulant drugs available only by prescription. Methylphenidates are chemically related to amphetamines, but their effects are not as intense. They, too, are available only by prescription. Cocaine and crack are examples of illegal stimulants. (Entries on caffeine, amphetamines, and cocaine are also available in this encyclopedia.)
Methylphenidates, such as Ritalin, are primarily prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with ADHD usually have difficulty focusing and controlling their actions. For example, they might speak or act rashly before thinking about the consequences of such behavior. The main symptom of ADHD is hyperactivity, which means that an individual is noticeably more active than his or her peers. Children with ADHD often have trouble paying attention in school, sitting still, and waiting their turn. They may have difficulty concentrating or focusing on certain tasks, including tests and assignments. These difficulties sometimes interfere with social development and building lasting relationships.
ADHD is frequently diagnosed in childhood, but it can continue into adulthood. As such, it really affects individuals of all ages. Methylphenidate can help ADHD...
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...me people take Ritalin and other methylphenidates without a prescription for nonmedical purposes. High school and college students have been known to take the drug to stay awake and increase their attention span when studying. The drug is also used recreationally in combination with alcohol. "Recreational" refers to using drugs solely to get high, not to treat a medical condition. Alcohol is a depressant and drinking too much of it slows people down and makes them feel tired. So some people combine methylphenidate and alcohol because itPage 809 | Top of Article allows them to stay awake and interact with others while continuing to drink. Other abusers mix Ritalin with heroin, cocaine, or both for a stronger stimulating effect. The abuse of methylphenidate, with or without other substances in the mix, can cause serious psychological and physical harm to the user.
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