Ritalin is the common name for methylphenidate, classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II narcotic—the same classification as cocaine, morphine and amphetamines.*
It is abused by teens for its stimulant effects.
Even when Ritalin is used as a prescription drug, it may have severe effects including nervousness, insomnia, anorexia, loss of appetite, pulse changes, heart problems and weight loss. The manufacturer says it is a drug of dependency.
In June 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a series of public health advisories warning that Ritalin and drugs like it may cause visual hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and psychotic behaviour, as well as aggression or violent behaviour.
One writer put it this way: “Parents are never told: ‘Oh, by the way, once in a while a child dies simply by taking their prescribed medication.’ Or ‘By the way, children on stimulant medications have twice the future rate of drug abuse.’ Or ‘By the way, one-third of all children on these medications develop symptoms of obsessive-compulsive behaviour within the first year.’”
* amphetamine: a powerful central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) stimulant, often called “speed.”