Ritalin Dan­gers

US panel calls for research into effects of Ritalin”. This is the title of an arti­cle appear­ing in the Decem­ber 5th 1998 issue of the British Med­ical Jour­nal. The arti­cle goes on to say that the National Insti­tutes for Health con­sen­sus panel called for “urgent clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the diag­no­sis of atten­tion deficit hyper­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der, (ADHD) and research into the long term effects of treat­ment with Ritalin.” This arti­cle typ­i­fies a grow­ing trend of sci­en­tific and com­men­tary arti­cles reveal­ing the dan­gers of using Ritalin.

Pre­scrip­tions for Ritalin have increased six-​fold over the past ten years, rais­ing the ques­tion of over-​diagnosis and treat­ment. Peter R. Breg­gin, M.D., a psy­chi­a­trist and editor-​in-​Chief of a pro­fes­sional jour­nal enti­tled Eth­i­cal Human Sci­ences and Ser­vices, lists sev­eral dis­turb­ing facts about Ritalin and its dan­ger­ous effects.

  1. Decreased blood flow to the brain, an effect recently shown to be caused by cocaine where it is asso­ci­ated with impaired think­ing abil­ity and mem­ory loss.
  2. Dis­rup­tion of growth hor­mone, lead­ing to sup­pres­sion of growth in the body and brain of the child
  3. Per­ma­nent neu­ro­log­i­cal tics, includ­ing Tourette’s Syndrome
  4. Addic­tion and abuse, includ­ing with­drawal reac­tions on a daily basis
  5. Psy­chosis (mania), depres­sion, insom­nia, agi­ta­tion, and social withdrawal
  6. Pos­si­ble shrink­age (atro­phy) or other per­ma­nent phys­i­cal abnor­mal­i­ties in the brain
  7. Wors­en­ing of the very symp­toms the drug is sup­posed to improve includ­ing hyper­ac­tiv­ity and inattention
  8. Decreased abil­ity to learn

An orga­ni­za­tion of con­cerned par­ents has formed called PAR­ENTS AGAINST RITALIN (PAR). They have a web site, which can be found at: www​.​p​-​a​-​r​.org . This web site host valu­able infor­ma­tion on the sub­ject of Ritalin. The fol­low­ing excerpt was taken from their web site, “Accord­ing to the U.S. Drug Enforce­ment Agency, Ritalin is con­sid­ered a Class II Drug and a con­trolled sub­stance, a fact not widely known. Other drugs in this cat­e­gory are those such as cocaine, metham­phet­a­mine and methadone. A drug becomes a con­trolled sub­stance when it has the poten­tial for abuse and /​or addic­tion. It is not uncom­mon in many class­rooms today to find the per­cent­age of chil­dren on Ritalin to be 25% or greater and the num­bers are climbing.”

The fol­low­ing was excerpted are from the 42nd Edi­tion of the Physi­cians’ Desk Ref­er­ence*, on the drug Ritalin:


Ritalin should NOT be used in chil­dren under six years, since safety and effi­cacy in this age group have not been estab­lished. Suf­fi­cient data on safety and effi­cacy of long-​term use of Ritalin in chil­dren are not yet avail­able. Although a casual rela­tion­ship has not been estab­lished, sup­pres­sion of growth (i.e., weight gain, and/​or height) has been reported with the long-​term use of stim­u­lants in chil­dren. There­fore, patients requir­ing long-​term ther­apy should be care­fully monitored.


Ner­vous­ness and insom­nia are the most com­mon adverse reac­tions but are usu­ally con­trolled by reduc­ing dosage and omit­ting the drug in the after­noon or evening. Other reac­tions include hyper­sen­si­tiv­ity (includ­ing skin rash, urticaria, fever, arthral­gia, exfo­lia­tive der­mati­tis, ery­thema mul­ti­forme with histopatho­log­i­cal find­ings of necro­tiz­ing vas­culi­tis, and throm­bo­cy­topenic pur­pura); anorexia; nau­sea; dizzi­ness; pal­pi­ta­tions; headache; dysk­i­ne­sia; drowsi­ness; blood pres­sure and pulse changes, both up and down; tachy­car­dia; angina; car­diac arrhyth­mia; abdom­i­nal pain; weight loss dur­ing pro­longed ther­apy. There have been rare reports of Tourette’s syn­drome. Toxic psy­chosis has been reported. Although a def­i­nite casual rela­tion­ship has not been estab­lished, the fol­low­ing have been reported in patients tak­ing this drug: leukope­nia and/​or ane­mia; a few instances of scalp hair loss. In chil­dren, loss of appetite, abdom­i­nal pain, weight loss dur­ing pro­longed ther­apy, insom­nia, and tachy­car­dia may occur more fre­quently; how­ever, any of the other adverse reac­tions listed above may also occur.

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