Focalin is a brand name drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The generic name is dexmethylphenidate. Focalin is a stimulant of the central nervous system that speeds up processes of the body, such as respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure. Focalin is intended to be used in conjunction with counseling or non-drug therapies to treat ADHD. Focalin is available as an immediate-release drug, and Focalin XR is an extended-release version. Focalin is usually taken twice a day, and the extended-release version is given once a day. In some cases, Focalin can be prescribed off-label to treat narcolepsy.
Focalin increases the level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and norepinephrine. The FDA approved the drug in 2005; however, Focalin does carry a black-box warning because of its potential for abuse. Someone with certain pre-existing health conditions might not be able to take Focalin. These can include a previous heart attack, a heart defect, high blood pressure, seizures, anxiety or agitation, or mental illness. Common side effects of Focalin can include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach pain, sleep disturbances, dry mouth, nervousness, and headache. Serious Focalin side effects that require immediate medical attention include a fast or pounding heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, slow speech or changes in vision.
The extended-release versions of Focalin come in capsules. There is a 5 mg Focalin XR that is a blue capsule and imprinted with “NVR” and “D5.” Focalin XR in 10 mg is a brown capsule and is imprinted with “NVR D10.” Focalin XR in 20 mg is a white capsule and is imprinted with “NVR D20.” A 15 mg extended-release dose is also available, which is a green capsule imprinted with “NVR D15.” Immediate-release capsules are shaped like a “D” and feature a “D” imprint. They are also imprinted with the dosage amount. The 2.5 mg dosage is blue, the 5 mg dosage is yellow, and the 10 mg dosage is white.
Focalin is addictive. Before someone is prescribed this drug, their doctor should go over any history they may have with substance abuse or addiction. Focalin also has a black-box warning about its addictiveness and its potential for dependence. Focalin interacts with brain neurotransmitters like dopamine. When someone uses this drug, especially at a high dose, they can feel effects like euphoria, a rush of energy, a sense of self-confidence or well-being, and increased focus or concentration. Whenever a drug affects reward pathways and creates euphoria, it can be addictive.
Focalin is classified as a Schedule II substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration due to its high potential for abuse. Abuse of Focalin, according to this scheduling, can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence. The risk of addiction is higher in people who use Focalin in ways other than as prescribed, such as using large doses or crushing up tablets and snorting them.
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