Ritalin and ADHD – What You Need to Know

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Ritalin works. ADHD symptoms may seem to disappear like a magical wave of a wand. To those with attention deficit, Ritalin (and others like tricyclic, antidepressants, and SSRIs) may seem like a miracle drug. But is it really? There are just a few things you need to know about this ADHD medication before coming to that conclusion.

The first is probably the most obvious. It’s not a solution to medicate children or even adults without also addressing problems in their home, school, or work environment. Other methods must be taken in order to control behavioral issues from ADHD. This is especially important because it’s not recommended that Ritalin is used for extended periods of time. Stimulant medications are effective for only short periods of time in the management of behavioral symptoms associated with ADHD, such as inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity.  They have no effect on long-term academic or social performance.

Despite the fact that Ritalin should not be used for long durations, the positive effects of Ritalin on learning and behavior is well established.  Research shows that between 60 and 70 percent of children with ADHD taking Ritalin showed significant improvement.  However, the positive effect stopped when medication was discontinued. Still, the conclusion is inescapable:  Ritalin works.

What the above suggests is that Ritalin is not a long term solution to ADHD. Long term solutions are still needed.  In other words, it might be best to look at Ritalin as a stop-gap, quick-fix solution only. Another thing that everyone should know is that the abuse of methylphenidate, the generic name of Ritalin, can lead to “tolerance and severe psychological development,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Ritalin also has quite a number of side effects:  insomnia, poor appetite, delayed growth, stomach ache, headache, tics, and ups and downs,

Here are some drug alternatives to Ritalin. When a child with ADHD displays disruptive behavior in school and his parents, teachers, and classmates react negatively to his behavior, calling him “dumb,” “immature,” and such, this causes the ADHD child to act out. Psychologists recommend gentle guidance instead of aggressive or punitive measures to help the ADHD child to learn to control himself. Another method, neurofeedback, can be used for both children and adults. It involves specialists using functional magnetic resonance imaging displays in real time or electroencephalography to help control central nervous system activity. Both have resulted in significant successes in recent years.