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 sufferers even though it is a stimulant. It does not produce a stimulant effect in people diagnosed with ADHD. Instead, it works by helping the user's brain filter out distractions, thus improving his or her ability to focus on a given task.
Official Drug Name: Methylphenidate (METH-uhl-FENN-ih-date), methylphenidate hydrochloride, Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Concerta, Metadate CD, Metadate ER, Methylin, Methylin ER; dexmethylphenidate (DEKS-meth-uhl-FENN-ih-date; Focalin)
Also Known As: Vitamin R, West Coast, R-ball
Drug Classifications: Schedule II, stimulant
Narcolepsy and Depression
Methylphenidate is also used to treat narcolepsy, a disorder that causes people to become sleepy during the daytime and experience uncontrollable episodes of sleep. In...