Is Ritalin Addictive? —by Elizabeth Hartney, PhD

«Question: Is Ritalin Addictive?

A typical question I might hear from a reader is: “My 8-year-old son has always been energetic, but recently his teacher suggested he is hyperactive. He’s now been diagnosed with ADHD, and prescribed Ritalin. We’re concerned that Ritalin is addictive, and that it could be harmful to our son. We also wonder why you would give a hyperactive child a stimulant, when stimulants cause hyperactivity. Are there are any ways of treating ADHD without drugs?” […]

[T]here are several unpleasant side effects that children may experience, as well potential longer-term medical effects. Side effects potentially include insomnia, nervousness, headache, decreased appetite, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms; cardiovascular side effects include tachycardia, palpitations and minor increases in blood pressure. Some critics of the medication’s approach to treating ADHD have argued that the risks of side effects are unacceptable, and that prescriptions of Ritalin, Adderall and other drugs are inappropriate for children—particularly in the widespread fashion in which they are prescribed in the USA—when the behavior being targeted may often simply reflect a lack of suitable outlets for childhood energy rather than pathology.»