Ritalin is a prescription, brand name drug. The generic name for Ritalin is methylphenidate. As a central nervous system stimulant, Ritalin is primarily used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Other brand names of methylphenidate include Concerta and Biphentin. Drugs like Ritalin that are used to treat ADHD affect certain brain chemicals, including dopamine and norepinephrine. The effects of Ritalin on the brain occur primarily in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for functions like impulse control, problem-solving and planning. Ritalin is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, meaning it allows more dopamine to be available in the brain, as well as higher concentrations of norepinephrine.
Since Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant, it can help people feel more alert, less tired and more focused. Methylphenidate is approved for children who are aged six years and above. Some of the common symptoms associated with the use of Ritalin and generic variations of methylphenidate are similar to other stimulant ADHD medications. For example, symptoms may include appetite loss, dry mouth, anxiety, nausea and insomnia. It may seem counterintuitive that Ritalin can help treat hyperactivity since it’s a stimulant. However, when someone has ADHD and they use Ritalin, it calms them and allows them to focus and control impulsivity. When Ritalin is prescribed, it’s supposed to be done so in conjunction with monitoring and therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment program.
Abuse of central nervous system stimulants has become a large problem, particularly among teens and college students. When someone takes a high dose of Ritalin, it can create euphoria. That euphoria triggers a reward response in the brain that can lead to addiction. At a therapeutic dose, Ritalin is not thought to be addictive for most people. However, people often abuse Ritalin in order to achieve a high, to improve academic performance, to lose weight, and some people may use it to stay awake for long periods of time. Not only is Ritalin considered to be addictive, it can also lead to the abuse of other drugs. The addiction potential of Ritalin is seen as similar to that of amphetamine. Along with addiction, physical dependence can occur when Ritalin is abused -particularly when it is used in high doses.
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