Ritalin (Methylphenidate) Side Effects, Drug Interactions, & Warnings

Ritalin is a prescription stimulant with side effects such as loss of appetite and dry mouth. The drug can also interact with other substances, leading to a risk of adverse reactions.

Ritalin (the brand name for methylphenidate) is a prescription stimulant medication used to help treat symptoms caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It may also be used to treat the sleeping disorder narcolepsy.

Ritalin is available in immediate-release or extended-release tablets that act as central nervous system stimulants (CNS), activating the chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and norepinephrine. 

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Ritalin has significant potential for abuse and is a Schedule II controlled substance.

Although prescribed for those with ADHD symptoms, some may abuse Ritalin to experience the desirable side effects associated with drug abuse.

Side Effects Of Ritalin

As a prescription drug, Ritalin can cause various side effects to occur. When abused, side effects can become more pronounced.

Some of the common side effects of Ritalin that may become enhanced when abused include:

Ritalin Drug Interactions

Drug interactions can take place when a person combines Ritalin with other prescription or illicit drugs. For instance, Ritalin should not be combined with antidepressants such as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Additionally, monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants should be avoided. These may include the medications tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil), and selegiline (Eldepryl).

According to MedlinePlus, the following should also be avoided while taking Ritalin:

  • other stimulant prescription drugs such as Concerta or Adderall
  • supplements
  • anticoagulants
  • opioids
  • decongestants
  • alcohol
  • heartburn medications

Ritalin Warnings

Speak with your prescribing doctor before taking Ritalin. Not only can adverse effects occur when specific substances are combined with Ritalin, but allergic reactions can take place, resulting in hives and trouble breathing, potentially requiring urgent medical attention.

Medical Conditions & Family History

Those with medical conditions like glaucoma should not be prescribed Ritalin due to the potential for circulation problems and blurred vision. Those diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome should avoid Ritalin as well due to motor tics and muscle twitching which can occur.

If you’re breastfeeding, speak with your doctor before taking Ritalin, as the drug may pass from the mother to child via breast milk, resulting in health problems for the child.

If you have a family history of mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, notify your doctor, as serious side effects of Ritalin can result in psychosis. Those with a family history of cardiovascular issues should also avoid Ritalin due to the risk of heart problems.

Since Ritalin can increase heart rate, those with high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat can suffer from a heart attack.

Ritalin Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who abruptly stop taking Ritalin “cold turkey” can suffer a wide range of withdrawal symptoms according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some withdrawal symptoms can be severe, including:

  • drowsiness
  • mental health problems such as depression or suicidal thoughts
  • cravings for the drug
  • weight gain
  • fatigue
  • restlessness
  • insomnia or interrupted sleep patterns

Ritalin Overdose

When Ritalin is taken in high doses or combined with other substances, an overdose may occur that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a Ritalin overdose may include:

  • sweating
  • muscle twitching
  • irregular heartbeat
  • confusion
  • chest pain
  • agitation
  • seizures
  • heart attack
  • dilated pupils
  • loss of consciousness
  • sudden death

If you or a loved one deal with prescription drug abuse and need help, please contact us today for information on our addiction treatment options.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/methylphenidate.pdf
  2. Food and Drug Administration https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/010187s077lbl.pdf
  3. National Drug Intelligence Center https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs6/6444/index.htm
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts_stimulantadhd_1.pdf
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682188.html

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 16, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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