Long-Term Effects of Ritalin: What to Expect

Medically Reviewed

The number of children that struggle with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder has fluctuated over the years. However, the American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a whopping five percent of children in the United States have the disorder.

Other studies, however, have shown a much higher rate in community samples.

As of 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD was consistent with previous estimates from the National Survey of Children’s Health.

In 2016, approximately 9.4 percent of children aged two through 17 (6.1 million) had been diagnosed with ADHD. Kids aged two through five accounted for 388,000 cases, aged six through 11 accounted for another 2.4 million, and adolescents 12 through 17 made up another 3.3 million cases.

Of three children tested positive for ADHD, two of them had another mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder that ran concurrent to their ADHD. Fifty percent of these children had a behavior or conduct problem, and one in three had anxiety.

It’s a common thought to wonder if disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder run rampant because of our use of medication, or if drugs such as Ritalin are the answer. Ritalin is a medication that has been used for many years to treat the symptoms of ADHD, and it has been proven effective at doing so. Fortunately, it has also been shown to be less addictive and dangerous than other drugs used to treat the disorder, such as Adderall. That does not mean it does not have its fair share of risks, though.

Except for anxiety, ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders, and Ritalin is one of the most common medications prescribed worldwide. Studies have shown that it is effective in decreasing the symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It wasn’t until now that we’ve learned about the adverse effects the drug can cause long-term.

What Is Ritalin?

According to the website Psycom.net, Ritalin is a stimulant used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and narcolepsy. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that affects the part of the brain and central nervous system that controls hyperactivity and impulse. Ritalin is also known as methylphenidate. Other names for the drug include Methylin, Concerta, and Metadate.

Ritalin was first approved in 1955 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating hyperactivity. Adderall and Ritalin share many similarities as they are both designed to treat ADHD.

Both medications have the potential to be habit-forming and are both classified as Schedule II controlled substances.

  • Decreased appetite
  • An increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Inability to sleep; disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations, irritability, hyperexcitability
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Seizures, convulsions, and overdose from high doses, which can lead to death

Those who abuse the drug are at higher risk of developing adverse short-term effects from Ritalin. Of stimulant medications, Ritalin has been proven to be the least addictive and least commonly used for abuse, but that does not mean it cannot be dangerous when abused.


The information pertaining to the long-term effects of Ritalin use has not been widely available until now. Since the drug is used mostly in children, extensive testing went in to find out what could occur as a result.

If you are concerned that a loved one has been abusing Ritalin and can sustain any of the problems we’ve listed above, it’s imperative that they speak with their primary care physician to find solutions to their problem. While they may need to use Ritalin to balance out a chemical problem in their brain, they must learn how to approach the disorder in a healthy manner. Long-term effects of Ritalin listed above are more likely to occur in those that abuse the medication.

If you are abusing Ritalin, we can help get you back on track.

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