Most people have already heard about Ritalin. For those who haven’t, here’s a recap from Wikipedia:
Methylphenidate (trade names Concerta, Methylin, Ritalin, Equasym XL, Quillivant XR) is a substituted phenethylamine and psychostimulant drug used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and narcolepsy. Methylphenidate has been studied and researched for over 50 years and has a very good efficacy and safety record for the treatment of ADHD. The original patent was owned by CIBA, now Novartis Corporation. It was first licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1955 for treating what was then known as hyperactivity. Prescribed to patients beginning in 1960, the drug became heavily prescribed in the 1990s, when the diagnosis of ADHD itself became more widely accepted.
The noise surrounding Ritalin, which has been around since the 1957, mostly pertains to the use of it as a sort of “magic-cure” for children who are diagnosed as being hyperactive. The effects are mostly undeniable and allow those kids to be able to sit down, experience better concentration and perform better socially and academically.
However, the possible side effects as well as behavioral changes detected in some of these kids worry many parents. The usage of a powerful psychiatric drug on undeveloped brains is sometimes worrisome.
Personally, as an adult who had experience in using this medicine for my own ADD (attention deficit disorder), I can say for myself that the benefits vastly outweigh the issues. Those mostly manifest themselves as side-effects – in my case dehydration, reduced appetite and sometimes headaches.
I only use the medicine selectively and when I feel it is needed – not too frequently. It may be that the daily usage with ADHD kids makes a significant difference that may do more harm than good.
However, for adults I believe that this is a powerful tool that should be used. I sometimes think back and wish I had the knowledge and access to it back in my school day. My life may have turned out quite differently.
What is your take on Ritalin? Do you support its use, or see it as the “Big Bad Wolf” in children medication?