Bad Things About Ritalin — ADD Tip o the day 347

What bad things have you read or heard about Ritalin (methylphenidate)?

Many of us with ADD or ADHD function much better with help from Ritalin.  It helps us focus, which is a primary issue.  It also helps with motivation and with getting started.  It doesn’t work for everyone.

The net is full of horror stories about Ritalin, but these are anecdotes and pronouncements, not good scientific studies. Ritalin is not really dangerous.  It should be used with some caution with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or substance abuse, but still can be tried. It is not addictive.  It can be abused, most often by young people, but the rate of abuse doesn’t seem high, and it is not often abused by those who actually have ADD or ADHD, although there is a problem with younger patients sharing or selling it.  However, and this just in, Anon informs me that Ritalin abuse is rampant on college campuses, and I have no reason to doubt that; it is concerning.

Ritalin, like all medications (and like water, for example) can have side effects.  These are not serious in the sense of harmful, and generally are managed by changing the form of the medicine, the timing of taking it, taking it with food, and/or  reducing the dose.  Some people however cannot tolerate it and then it needs to be discontinued (and the side effects will go away).

Probably some of the horror stories contain some element of truth; most any medication will cause some weird effect in someone, but it appears that often it was just  assumed that some problem was caused by  Ritalin when it is unlikely.

Ritalin does not turn people into ‘zombies’ nor stifle creativity – the opposite in fact. (One of the anti sites asks what would have happened to Einstein if he had been medicated? – I suspect he would have been even more productive, if in fact he had ADD or ADHD.)

As for children ( not my field), probably there are children placed on medication when it is not appropriate, and more who need it and are not getting it.

Do you know of other issues about Ritalin that I didn’t address here?


oh yes, and the brand name is obscenely expensive, but not the generic (methylphenidate).

clik  myths

clik   children

clik   myths re adhd

clik does ADD exist?  good discussion

About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at, or (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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12 Responses to Bad Things About Ritalin — ADD Tip o the day 347

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  7. Mark says:

    On the other hand, if Einstein had been medicated he might have stayed more focused upon the existing theories of Physics, he then might not been distracted by experimental inconsistencies, and therefore might never have gone down the road that led to The Theory of Relativity.


    • good point, we are blessed with extra creativity, but 1) often cant get it into gear to actually do anything with it, and b) i don’t think meds stifle the creativity.
      thank you for your creative thinking and for you comment


  8. ajwaugust says:

    Dear Doug,
    Do you find that people abuse Ritalin? Because that has always been a preconception of mine even as one who takes similar medications.


    • Anonymous says:

      i have not had any experience with anyone abusing ritalin. from what i read: there is a lot of abuse in college, and that in general it can be abused by crushing and snorting or injecting but that is not very common, and that most people (not college age) who actually have ADD or ADHD do not abuse it.
      thank you for your comment.


  9. Sadder -i wonder how a lower dose would work for you? i tried it too and it helped but not enough for the (mild) side effects, so I don’t either.
    thank you for commenting. best wishes. doug


  10. Ritalin does help some people. I was on it for awhile, and it was great for a time, then it just made my heart race more than it helped. I ended up going off of it. I had gone on it because I was losing my job and my health insurance, and couldn’t afford the Concerta I had been taking. I don’t take anything now, though I wish I was so I could feel like I have a brain most days. 😀


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