Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant. Methylphenidate affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.
Ritalin is used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy.
Ritalin should be used as a part of a total treatment program for ADHD that may include counseling or other therapies.
Ritalin may be habit-forming. Tell your doctor if you have a history of drug or alcohol addiction. Keep the medication where others cannot get to it.
Misuse of Ritalin can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Tell your doctor if you have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
Stimulants have caused stroke, heart attack, and sudden death in people with high blood pressure, heart disease, or a heart defect.
Do not use Ritalin if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.
Ritalin may cause new or worsening psychosis (unusual thoughts or behavior), especially if you have a history of depression, mental illness, or bipolar disorder.
You may have blood circulation problems that can cause numbness, pain, or discoloration in your fingers or toes.
Call your doctor right away if you have: signs of heart problems – chest pain, feeling light-headed or short of breath; signs of psychosis – paranoia, aggression, new behavior problems, seeing or hearing things that are not real; signs of circulation problems – unexplained wounds on your fingers or toes.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use Ritalin if you are allergic to methylphenidate.
Stimulants have caused stroke, heart attack, and sudden death in certain people. Tell your doctor if you have:
- heart problems or a congenital heart defect;
- high blood pressure; or
- a family history of heart disease or sudden death.
Do not use Ritalin if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, and tranylcypromine.
Tell your doctor if you also use opioid medicine, herbal products, or medicine for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting. An interaction with methylphenidate could cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome.
Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has ever had:
- depression, mental illness, bipolar disorder, psychosis, or suicidal thoughts or actions;
- blood circulation problems in the hands or feet; or
- alcoholism or drug addiction.
To make sure Ritalin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- problems with the esophagus, stomach, or intestines;
- `motor tics (muscle twitches) or Tourette’s syndrome; or
- seizures, epilepsy, or an abnormal brain wave test (EEG).
Becoming dependent on this medicine during pregnancy can cause premature birth or low birth weight. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of methylphenidate on the baby.
Ask a doctor if it is safe to breastfeed while using Ritalin. If you are breastfeeding, tell your doctor if you notice symptoms in the baby such as agitation, sleep problems, feeding problems, or reduced weight gain.
Ritalin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 years old.
How should I take Ritalin?
Take Ritalin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose.
Methylphenidate may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Keep the medication where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away Ritalin is against the law.
Your dose needs may change if you switch to a different brand, strength, or form of this medicine. Avoid medication errors by using only the medicine your doctor prescribes.
Ritalin immediate release (IR) tablets are usually taken 2 to 3 times a day. Take Ritalin IR tablets 30 to 45 minutes before a meal.
Ritalin LA extended-release capsules are taken once daily in the morning.
You may take Ritalin LA capsules with or without food, but take them the same way each time.
Swallow the Ritalin LA extended-release capsule whole. If you cannot swallow the capsule whole, open it and mix the medicine with soft food such as applesauce, pudding, or yogurt. Swallow the mixture right away without chewing.
Tell your doctor if you have a planned surgery.
Your treatment may also include counseling or other treatments.
Your doctor will need to check your progress on a regular basis. From time to time, your doctor may stop Ritalin treatment for a while to check ADHD symptoms. Your heart and blood pressure may also need to be checked often.
Store tightly closed at room temperature, away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep your medicine in a place where no one can use it improperly.
Do not keep leftover medicine. Ask your pharmacist about a drug take-back program. You may also mix the leftover medicine with cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealed plastic bag and throw the bag in the trash.