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Ritalin (Methylphenidate) in the Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Ritalin is a good medication with a bad reputation. Its name causes more fear in the hearts of parents than any other medication. It is the topic of radio talk shows, protests by the Church of Scientology, and negative newspaper articles. And yet, I wonder, if it is so very bad, why is it so “over-prescribed” as the critics claim? Let’s explore the issue further, and give some information to parents who might want to know more about the medication.


Tips to remember about Ritalin:


We have seen hundreds of kids benefit greatly from Ritalin. But doctors and parents must be observant and conservative. We have also seen some horror stories with Ritalin. Start slowly and cautiously. It is not a toy.


The short-acting pill is better than the timed-release pill. Also, the brand name “Ritalin” is much superior to the generic “Methylphenidate.” Always begin your “trial” of medication with the real stuff. If that works, then feel free to see if the generic will work as well as the “real stuff.”


Ritalin begins to work in about 15 or 20 minutes. It peaks in effectiveness at 1.5 to 2.5 hours, and lasts for about 3.5 to 4.0 hours.


Some kids have “withdrawals” or a “trough period” from coming off of the dose at about the 4 hour mark. They may become irritable, tearful, emotional, or bratty. This lasts for about 15 minutes, and tends to be worse with doses of 15 mg. or more. The best remedy for this that we’ve found is a 12 oz. Mountain Dew at about the 3.0 hour mark. The caffeine “deflects” or “flattens out” the angle of withdrawal. This trick works well.


Ritalin works somewhat differently in the brain than do the amphetamines like Dexedrine or ADDerall. Ritalin seems to primarily impact on longer term vesicular storage of Dopamine, while amphetamines impact primarily the pool of newly synthesized Dopamine. It also has a different effect on Norepinepherine.


From the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) 1997, page 867 we read, “Drug treatment should not and need not be indefinite and usually may be discontinued after puberty.””Start with 5 mg twice daily, before breakfast and lunch

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Written by admin

July 17th, 2011 at 9:18 am

Posted in Parenting

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