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Article Summary

What Are The Side Effects For The Millions Of Children On Ritalin, Concerta And Adderall?

Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin are all popular as effective prescription medications in the treatment of ADHD (the common abbreviation for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). However, each of these drugs has also been linked to a serious risk of substance abuse and addiction in users. But what are the side effects for the millions of children on Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall?

Understanding Ritalin, Adderall, And Concerta

When most people hear about prescription medication abuse, they often think about opioid pain relief drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. Others might also consider the benzodiazepine class of medications, including Valium and Xanax.

Unfortunately, however, most of these people overlook prescription stimulants like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall. While trying to answer the "what are the side effects for the millions of children on Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall?" question. In particular, it is important that these drugs are also commonly abused - particularly by students in colleges and high schools around the country.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, occupies an unique and bizarre place in the culture of the United States as well as the medicine of the country. Unfortunately, many people sometimes find themselves faking this brain disorder.

While trying to answer the "what are the side effects for the millions of children on Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall?" question, it is important to understand that these drugs are designed in such a way that they can boost any user's focus and motivation. As a direct result, some Americans have been faking the symptoms of ADHD to get prescriptions for this medications. By so doing, they are able to boost their motivation and focus while studying for exams or filing tax returns. In the process, the drugs have been moving from their medical uses to being abused for purposes of enhancing performance in the form of brain steroids.

Today, the CDC (or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that ADHD is among the most commonly diagnosed of all childhood behavioral disorders. In particular, the disorder affects close to 11% of all American children aged between 4 and 17. This number encompasses close to 6.4 million children in the country.

Additionally, the rates of ADHD seem to be rising in the country. In 2003, for instance, only about 7.8% million of all children within the above-stated age group were diagnosed with it. Even so, ADHD seems to be more common among boys than among girls - with a rate of 13% against a paltry 5%.

The disease is also characterized by a variety of symptoms. These include but are not limited to impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention. For one to receive a diagnosis for the condition, they must display the following factors:

  • Several of the symptoms of the condition must manifest before the person is 12 years old
  • These symptoms must display themselves in a variety of settings - home, work, and school
  • The symptoms of ADHD must actively interfere with the patient's normal functioning on a daily basis
  • It is imperative that the symptoms are such that they cannot be explained by another condition, such as mood or anxiety disorders

As a childhood-onset disorder, ADHD is quite serious. This is despite the fact that anywhere between 1/3rd and 2/3rds of all those who are diagnosed with the condition will eventually outgrow it by the time they reach adulthood.

However, others will continue exhibiting the basic symptoms of the condition way into their adulthood. Among these people, most will end up experiencing problems in different aspects of their lives - relationships, finances, employment, academics, and with the law, among others.

ADHD Statistics

Due to the difficulties attached to the condition, more than80% of all adults who have been diagnosed with it also struggle with another co-occurring psychiatric condition like depression or anxiety.

According to NIMH (abbreviation for the National Institute of Mental Health) approximately 8 percent of all adults aged between 18 and 44 may experience the condition over their lifetimes. Additionally, about 41% of all these people are classified as having severe ADHD.

Today, the condition is treated using a combination of medications like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall and behavioral therapy. In particular, doctors typically use stimulants because they are the best-known medications that work against the adverse symptoms of ADHD. This is also on account of the fact that these drugs are effective and fast acting. In fact, close to 80% of all ADHD patients who receive prescription stimulants will exhibit fewer symptoms of the condition.

To this end, the number of prescriptions written out for stimulants like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall has been rising over the years. In 1990, for instance, the prescription was issued for about 600,000 American children. By 2013, this number went up to over 3.5 million. This is why it is important to ask "what are the side effects for the millions of children on Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall?"

Most of the stimulants issued to deal with ADHD are based on amphetamines. They are effective because of their ability to increase the activity of different hormones and neurotransmitters in the human brain - including but not limited to:

  • Dopamine: This neurotransmitter is responsible for motivation, reward, and attention
  • Epinephrine: On the other hand, epinephrine is responsible for long-term memory and stress adaptation
  • Histamine: Histamine works to lower blood pressure and decrease stress
  • Norepinephrine: Norepinephrine works to improve alertness, attention, and memory
  • Serotonin: Serotonin is responsible for the feelings of happiness and well-being in the brain

A report from 2011 also showed that people with ADHD who take their prescription stimulant medications properly end up exhibiting fewer symptoms. The drugs can also decrease their risk of developing co-occurring addiction and substance use disorders.

However, the side effects of Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall start cropping up when people take these drugs in any way that is inconsistent with the instructions that came with their doctor's prescription. In recent years, many people have been experiencing the negative effects of these medications because they take them without being diagnosed with ADHD.

In the following sections, you will understand the individual negative effects on the millions of children who are on Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall:

Adderall

Today, Adderall is being abused by both children and adults alike - including but not limited to those who have not been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In particular, the drug is commonly abused by students in high schools and colleges around the country. This is not surprising considered more than 16 million prescriptions for the medication were written in 2012.

As a pure amphetamine, Adderall contains 25 percent levoamphetamine and 75% dextroamphetamine. The drug is commonly abused for non-medical purposes because of its resultant side effects, which can include but are not always limited to:

  • Aphrodisiac effects, because Adderall can enhance sexual pleasure
  • Cognition enhancer effects: In low doses, this drug can improve memory and attention
  • Enhancement effects since the drug enhance physical performance, making it popular among athletes; in therapeutic doses, the drug has been shown to improve endurance and muscle strength
  • Euphoriant effects, meaning that the drug creates feelings of intense happiness and pleasure

There are other medications that are similar to Adderall and used for the treatment and management of ADHD. They include:

  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)
  • Dextrostat (dextroamphetamine)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)

Adderall Side Effects

But what are the side effects for the millions of children on Adderall? As we mentioned above, the drug is an amphetamine combining dextroamphetamine and amphetamine salts. It is used in the treatment of the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.

Even so, most of the people who use and abuse this drug are likely to experience a broad spectrum of side effects, including but not always limited to:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty in having and sustaining an orgasm
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Excitability
  • Fear
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Impotence
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Loss of apparent interest in sex
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems (or insomnia)
  • Stomach pain
  • Tremors
  • Unpleasant taste inside the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

In most cases, doctors will usually issue a daily dose of 2.5 to 6 milligrams of Adderall to be administered in anywhere from 1 to 3 doses every day. However, the drug has also been known to interact with:

  • Acetazolamide
  • Ammonium chloride
  • Antacids
  • Antidepressants
  • Ascorbic acid (or vitamin c)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Citric acid
  • Cold medicines and allergy drugs (antihistamines)
  • Diuretics (or water pills)
  • Ethosuximide
  • Haloperidol
  • Heart medications
  • Lithium
  • Meperidine
  • Methenamine
  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Potassium
  • Potassium citrate
  • Potassium phosphate
  • Reserpine
  • Sodium bicarbonate (or alka-seltzer)
  • Sodium citrate
  • Stomach acid reducers

To this end, it is important that you inform your doctor about all the supplements and medications that your child uses. Apart from the above drug interactions, Adderall can also prove to be habit forming. Therefore, if your child uses it chronically, they may develop a dependence on it.

In some instances, children can also experience an allergic reaction while using Adderall. In such a case, it is important that you get them to an emergency room immediately or call for emergency medical help through 911. When an allergic reaction to Adderall occurs, it is symptomatized by:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the throat, face, tongue, or lips

It is also important to ensure that your child stops using the drug if they experience any adverse side effects. When they display any of the following call and see your doctor immediately:

  • Anxiety
  • Burning or pain when they urinate
  • Buzzing in the ears
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Fast heartbeats
  • Feelings of extreme sadness or happiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Motor tics (or muscle twitches)
  • Pounding heartbeats
  • Seizure
  • A severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Talking more than they usually do
  • Tremors
  • Uneven heartbeats
  • Unusual behavior

Adderall can also cause other side effects, some of which are not quite as serious. These effects include but are not limited to:

  • A highly unpleasant taste in the mouth;
  • Agitation
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling restless
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sleep problems (or insomnia)
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Due to these adverse side effects for children, Adderall is now classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances. This is primarily because it is an amphetamine and the class of drugs it belongs to come with a high potential for abuse.

In many cases, abusing the drug can cause severe social disability and extreme psychological dependence. Some patients who increase their dose of the drug for a long time might also suffer Adderall withdrawal symptoms, including mental depression and fatigue.

Chronic intoxication or overdose on Adderall can also lead to:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Marked insomnia
  • Personality changes
  • Psychosis, which might be clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia
  • Severe dermatoses

Adderall for Studies

Among the side effects of Adderall use is cognitive enhancement. As a result of this effect, many children (including college students and older teens) have been abusing it. In particular, they do not just use the drug recreationally but instead prefer to use it as a study tool or aid.

Unfortunately, the supposedly beneficial effects of the drug as a study tool are negligible. This is primarily due to a variety of other factors. For instance, the students who abuse the drug might already be having low GPAs. Therefore, the improvement that they think came from using Adderall might simply be as a result of the fact that they studied and worked harder on their academics.

In the same way, those who abuse this drug also have higher than usual rates of using illicit drugs and drinking alcohol. Therefore, the gains they make might be lost as a result of the extraneous substance use.

Additionally, the students who abuse Adderall to aid in their studies may be trying to overcompensate because they sacrificed their academics. In particular, they may have had an active social life - leaving little to no time for them to study.

To this end, even though they may make modest gains in cognition, no scientific evidence has been advanced to show that Adderall is effective in the long term or in the real world.

Observed behavior now supports this assertion. For instance, studies have shown that the students who abuse prescription stimulants like Adderall end up skipping more than 16 percent of their classes in comparison to those who don't use these drugs skipping about 9 percent of their classes. Therefore, any of the positive focus that they might gain will not carry over in any way.

Last but not least, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reported in 2013 that most measures did not show that Adderall brought any cognitive improvement for users - even if the study participants who received the drug continued believing that it improve their performance.

Research now theorizes that this feeling of improved productivity is not linked to cognitive improvement. Instead, it is tied to the euphoric effects of the drug. This is because although the drug might not improve your knowledge or retention, it might make your study sessions a bit more enjoyable than they otherwise would have been.

Addictive Potential

Last but not least, millions of children on Adderall have developed a chemical dependence and addiction to the drug. As we mentioned earlier, the drug is classified as a Schedule II substance.

Therefore, taking therapeutic doses of it on a regular basis - particularly in the long term - it is highly unlikely that you will become dependent and addicted. However, those who abuse the drug by taking it recreationally in large doses end up with an addiction.

Among those who take high doses of Adderall, about 88% experience intense withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will appear within a day after your last use and may continue for about 4 weeks after.

Last but not least, abusing Adderall heavily for recreational purposes could build up your tolerance to the drug. This means that you will have to take it in higher doses and on a frequent basis. In the long run, this could potentially increase your risk of suffering an overdose.

Ritalin

Ritalin is another one of the drugs that are commonly prescribed for the treatment of ADHD. Also known by its chemical name (methylphenidate), Ritalin is a common drug today and has been in existence since about 1955. When the drug first came on the market, it was primarily prescribed for the treatment of hyperactivity - which is now a known component of ADHD.

Since then, prescriptions for the drug have been growing significantly. For instance, research studies showed that more than 2.4 billion Ritalin doses were consumed around the world in 2013. This was an increase of 66% from 2012. Additionally, they show that the United States has been using more than 80% of the global supply of the drug.

Ritalin is unlike Adderall in the sense that it is isn't classified as an amphetamine. However, this prescription medication is a stimulant. The drug works by effectively slowing down dopamine transmission away from the parts of the human brain that work to regulate attention. This means that the drug can help you focus on any task that you may be doing.

However, the drug is like Adderall in the sense that some children and adults abuse it for the euphoric effects attached to it. Young adult and teenage abusers, in particular, combine Ritalin with alcohol. When this happens, the drug abuser relies on Ritalin to counter and overcome the depressant effects of alcohol. This allows the user to stay out much longer and end up drinking more alcohol than they otherwise would have done. However, this only serves to increase their risk of suffering an overdose episode and experiencing alcohol poisoning.

The instant-release formulation of Ritalin comes with a peak effect of 2 to 4 hours while sustained-release formulas of the drug can maintain these effects for as many as 3 to 8 hours.

Ritalin Side Effects

Ritalin is also classified as a CNS (or central nervous system) stimulant. It is commonly prescribed for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy (a condition marked by uncontrollable sleepiness). The drug is also available as a generic medication.

Some of the common side effects that arise for people who take Ritalin include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Cold feeling in the feet and hands
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Numbness
  • Palpitations
  • Psychosis
  • Skin rash
  • Sleep problems (or insomnia)
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Tingling
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Due to these effects - among many other factors, it is recommended that you only get a dose of 10 to 60 milligrams of Ritalin. These doses should be administered in 2 (or 3) divided doses of the drug.

In terms of drug interactions, Ritalin has been known to interact with the following drugs and medications:

  • Antidepressants
  • Blood thinners
  • Citric acid
  • Clonidine
  • Cold and allergy medications that contain phenylephrine (which is classified as a decongestant)
  • Diet pills
  • Dobutamine
  • Epinephrine
  • Isoproterenol
  • Medications used in the treatment of low and high blood pressure
  • Potassium citrate
  • Seizure medicines
  • Sodium acetate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Sodium citrate
  • Stimulant medications

To this end, it is advisable that you inform your doctor about any supplements and medications that your children uses.

Apart from the above adverse effects, it is important that you seek emergency medical attention in case your child displays any of the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to Ritalin that are listed below:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, face, or lips

You might also want to stop taking this medication and call your doctor immediately your child experiences any of the following adverse side effects of Ritalin:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Buzzing in the ears
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Easy bruising
  • Fast heartbeats
  • Feeling like you are about to pass out
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Motor tics (or muscle twitches)
  • Pounding or uneven heartbeats
  • Purple spots on the skin
  • Red skin rash
  • Restlessness
  • Seizure
  • Severe blistering and peeling of the skin
  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Uneven heartbeats
  • Unusual behavior

Using Ritalin also comes with other less severe side effects. These include, but are not always limited to:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild headache
  • Mild skin rash
  • Nausea
  • Nervous feeling
  • Numbness, cold feeling, or tingling in the feet or hands
  • Sleep problems (or insomnia)
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

In particular, insomnia and nervous are among the most common reactions of Ritalin use. However, you can easily control these adverse effects by reducing the usual dose or by completely omitting the drug during the afternoon and evenings.

However, some children might experience other reactions, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anemia
  • Angina
  • Anorexia
  • Arthralgia
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cerebral arteritis
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dyskinesia
  • Erythema multiforme
  • Exfoliative dermatitis
  • Headache
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Insomnia
  • Leukopenia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Necrotizing vasculitis
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (or NMS)
  • Occlusion
  • Palpitations
  • Pulse changes (both upwards and downwards)
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Scalp hair loss
  • Serotonin syndrome (but in combination with other serotonergic drugs)
  • Severe hepatic injury
  • Skin rash
  • Tachycardia
  • Thrombocytopenic purpura
  • Tourette's syndrome
  • Toxic psychosis has been reported
  • Transaminase elevation
  • Transient depressed mood
  • Urticarial fever
  • Weight loss after prolonged therapy of Ritalin

Other methylphenidate stimulant medications commonly prescribed for the treatment of ADHD include:

  • Focalin (or dexmethylphenidate): The duration of this drug's peak effects last for 4 to 6 hours; however, the release formulation of the medication can last for about 12 hours
  • Daytrana: A MTS (methylphenidate transdermal system) or patch, Daytrana comes with effects that last for about 11 hours
  • Concerta: This is an extended-release formula of Ritalin and it comes with peak effects of about 8 to 12 hours

Ritalin for Performance Enhancement

At times, Ritalin is known as Vitamin K, R-ball, or THE smart drug. It is similar to Adderall in the sense that when people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD take it in low doses, they may be able to increase their concentration or even improve their performance. However, research studies consistently show that all improvements that you may experience will come with unwanted adverse side effects.

The Journal of Neural Transmission published a study in 2017 that showed using Ritalin illicitly can trigger intense changes in the chemical makeup of the brain. This could lead to adverse effects like:

  • Disruption in the sleep and wake cycle of the user
  • Risk-taking behavior
  • Unhealthy weight loss

In particular, the study showed that females tended to be more vulnerable to the adverse side effects of Ritalin in comparison to males.

Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin as well as other methylphenidate medications are stimulants. This means that they come with a high risk of causing dependence and - eventually - addiction much in the same way that amphetamines do. This is particularly true for people who use the drugs recreational and at high doses. Of special note is the fact that prolonged abuse of Ritalin and other stimulants can cause psychosis.

Due to these risks - among many others - the DEA now classifies methylphenidate medications as Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government.

Interestingly, however, methylphenidate drugs have shown great promise in MRT (or methamphetamine replacement therapy). In this case, they resemble the role played by methadone in the treatment of heroin addiction (or heroin replacement therapy).

Concerta

Concerta first received FDA approval in 2000. At the time, it was the first daily (used once a day) medication for the treatment of ADHD - a factor that quickly contributed to its popularity.

The drug is similar to Ritalin in the sense that it uses methylphenidate as its primary ingredient. However, it is also packaged in special controlled-release tablets that can provide children with the necessary medical benefits all through the day.

It is also easy for most children to make the switch from Ritalin to Concerta. All they need to do is to take the total dose of Ritalin they use in a day and change it to the tablet of Concerta that is closest in dosage. Therefore, children who take 5mg Ritalin 3 times a day (which adds up to 15 milligrams) can switch to an 18-milligram tablet of Concerta.

The drug is also available in 54 mg, 36 mg, and 27 mg tablets - meaning that it provides flexibility in dosing. Therefore, even though larger tablets are not available, some older teens may be able to get a prescription for two tablets of 36 milligrams of the medication - which adds up to 72 milligrams.

Even though most pediatricians will start their patients on low doses when they prescribe this stimulant, recent statistics show that 95 percent of the children who receive Concerta get tablets that are 36 or 54 milligrams strong. Therefore, you should not give up on the drug if a lower dose does not seem to work properly.

Concerta Side Effects

The product information packet that comes with Concerta shows that the drug has a wide variety of common side effects. These effects, in terms of percentage, include:

  • Abdominal pain (7%)
  • Dizziness (2%)
  • Headache (14%)
  • Increased cough (4%)
  • Insomnia (4%)
  • Loss of appetite (4%)
  • Pharyngitis (4%)
  • Sinusitis (3%)
  • Upper respiratory infection (8%)
  • Vomiting (4%)

In case a child displays severe side effects, they may be required to take a lower dosage of Concerta. However, some of them might have to switch to different medications.

Additionally, the FDA has not found any association between cardiovascular events and the use of ADHD drugs like Concerta. These cardiovascular events include sudden cardiac death, heart attack, and stroke. Even without this association, however, the FDA recommended that patients who are on these drugs should get tested periodically for changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

Concerta Dosage

There are other similarly long-acting forms of the chemical methylphenidate used to produce Concerta. They include Quillivant XR, Ritalin LA, Metadate CD, and Daytrana. As such, you might wonder why parents and doctors often choose Concerta.

For starters, although all these drugs contain methylphenidate as a primary ingredient, they are different in their systems of delivery. The delivery system that Concerta uses, for instance, can provide your child with initial doses of 22 percent of the drug before delivering the rest of the medication all through the day.

Therefore, children who take 18 mg Concerta will only 4 milligrams of the drug in the morning. This means that they can start off with smaller doses of the drug than if they had to take 3 doses of 5mg regular Ritalin.

Even so, Ritalin works in much the same way as Adderall. This means that those who have the prescription can get half their daily dose the first time they take the drug and another half some hours later.

Therefore, children who take 20 milligrams of Ritalin will get 10 milligrams first thing in the morning. This is starkly different from the usually 4mg dose of Concerta that they would have got if they were on a daily dose of 18 mg of the drug.

To this end, children who have problems when they take Concerta in the morning might be required to make the switch to Ritalin LA. This is because Ritalin could work better than increasing the usual dosage of Concerta.

Another drug that is similar to Concerta is Metadate CD. This is in the sense that patients will get initial lower doses of the drug. In particular, Metadate CD contains immediate release beads designed to provide 30 percent of the drug immediately. The remaining 70 percent will be released continuously from the extended-release Metadate beads.

However, there is a disadvantage in this - in the sense that Metadate CD is only available in a single strength of 20 mg. This means that children who receive a prescription for it will need to consume more than one capsule for a higher dose of the drug.

Concerta Warnings

There are other things that you need to know about this drug. These include:

a) Mode of Administration

Your child must swallow Concerta whole and not crush or chew it. This might prove problematic for children who are unable to swallow the tablets. This is a disadvantage that Concerta loses out to other ADHD medications.

Metadate CD and Ritalin LA, for instance, can be opened. This means that you should be able to sprinkle them on food (like applesauce) for children who are unable to swallow pills and tablets.

Quillivant QR, on the other hand, is a form of methylphenidate that comes in liquid form while Daytrana comes as a patch. Therefore, children who cannot swallow tablets and pills (like Concerta) have many options.

b) Classification

Concerta is controlled by the federal government.

c) Generic Concerta

Also known as Methylphenidate ER, Generic Concerta first became available in the American market in 2012. Unfortunately, however, two forms of the drug were not found to provide the same therapeutic benefits as real Concerta - because they came with different extended release mechanisms. As a result, they are no longer on the market.

d) Dangers

There are some children who might react dangerously to Concerta. These include children who are allergic to the drug, as well as those who have glaucoma, Tourette's syndrome, tics, and anxiety. However, the drug might still be good for most of the children who are diagnosed with ADHD.

Additional Concerta Side Effects

As a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant, Concerta is effective in the treatment of ADHD. However, the drug also comes with a variety of side effects. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Numbness, cold feeling, and tingling in the feet or hands
  • Skin rash
  • Sleep problems (or insomnia)
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Using Concerta chronically can also lead to tolerance and dependence. Children who develop these conditions as a result of this drug might experience severe depression once the drug is discontinued or their usual dose is reduced.

Drug Interactions

Most doctors will prescribe the recommended dose of the drug - that is a daily intake of 18 to 72 milligrams. However, the drug has also been known to interact with other medications, including:

  • Antidepressants
  • Blood thinners
  • Citric acid and sodium citrate
  • Clonidine
  • Cold and allergy medications that contain phenylephrine (which is a decongestant)
  • Diet pills
  • Dobutamine
  • Epinephrine
  • Isoproterenol
  • Mao inhibitors
  • Medications used in the treatment of low or high blood pressure
  • Potassium citrate
  • Potassium citrate and citric acid
  • Seizure medicines
  • Sodium acetate
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Stimulant medications

You should inform your doctor of all the supplements and medications that your child uses.

Allergic Reaction

You should also seek emergency medical attention in case your child experiences any of the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to Concerta. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or throat

Adverse Side Effects

You are also advised to take your child off Concerta and talk to a doctor immediately they suffer any of the severe side effects listed below:

  • Fast heartbeats
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Buzzing in the ears
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Easy bruising
  • Feeling like they are about to pass out
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Motor tics (muscle or twitches)
  • Pounding heartbeats
  • Purple spots on the
  • Red skin rash
  • Restlessness
  • Seizure
  • Severe headache
  • Severe peeling or blistering of the skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Uneven heartbeats
  • Unusual behavior

Concerta might also give rise to other side effects, most of which are not considered serious. These effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild headache
  • Mild skin rash
  • Nausea
  • Nervous feeling
  • Numbness
  • Sleep problems (or insomnia)
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Tingling or cold feeling in the feet or hands
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Prescription ADHD Drug Abuse

The abuse of prescription stimulants used in the management and treatment of ADHD - including but not limited to Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall - tends to be higher among college students and teenagers than most parents may realize. In many cases, the problem tends to start in the early years of teenage before continuing through high school and college. At every one of these stages, actions and perceptions of those affected will change.

Consider the following statistics relating to the abuse of prescription ADHD medications:

  • 15% of all students in the 8th grade agree that it is easy to obtain Ritalin or Adderall for nonmedical and recreational use
  • By the 10th grade, this percentage shoots up to about 28% and goes up by 12th grade to 47%
  • 4% of all teens believe that it is safe to abuse prescription medications
  • 29% of all adolescents do not think that they can develop an addiction to these prescription medications
  • On an annual basis, a total of 36% of freshmen in colleges around the United States got their first opportunity to abuse ADHD drugs for non-medical and recreational purposes
  • Every year, 13% of all college freshmen abuse prescription ADHD medications
  • Of college sophomores, over 38% get the opportunity to abuse these drugs and about 38% of them use the medications
  • Of college juniors, more than 41% get the opportunity to abuse prescription ADHD medications and more than 21 percent of them use the drugs
  • Of all college seniors, 32% get the opportunity to abuse prescription drugs for the treatment of ADHD and about 16% give in to the opportunity
  • Considering all these 4 years cumulatively, 62% of all students in college get the opportunity to take ADHD prescription drugs for non-medical purposes and 31% use them
  • Students in college are twice as likely as other age groups to abuse prescription stimulants
  • Finals and midterms are quoted as some of the reasons use prescription ADHD drugs
  • 40% of all students in college who abuse Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall - among other prescription stimulant medications - do so over testing periods
  • More than 90% of all college students who abuse ADHD drugs fake symptoms to doctors so that they can get prescriptions for the drugs
  • 90% of all students in college who abuse prescription ADHD medications without prescriptions will also occasionally engage in binge drinking and could be clinically classified as heavy drinkers
  • Students in college who use prescription ADHD medications for non-medical reasons are three times more likely to abuse marijuana, eight times as likely to abuse benzodiazepines and cocaine, and five times as likely to abuse prescription opioids

Risks Of Abusing Adhd Medications

The mild enjoyment that you might derive when you abuse Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall for your studies and the nominal improvement in your academic performance all seem too high a price to end up paying for the many risks attached to the abuse of ADHD stimulant drugs. These risks include, but are not always limited to:

  • Addiction
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Arrest
  • Blisters on your skin
  • Death
  • Dependency
  • Digestive problems
  • Expulsion from schools due to popular zero-tolerance to drugs policies
  • Heightened risk of abusing other intoxicating and mind-altering substances
  • Imprisonment because feigning ADHD symptoms for purposes of illegally obtaining prescription is considered to comprise a felony
  • Overdose
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Vision changes

Tolerance to ADHD stimulant drugs can grow. Additionally, addiction to these drugs tends to be progressive in nature. As such, abusing these drugs in the long term might cause you to get trapped in worsening downward spirals of substance abuse. Eventually, you might find yourself abusing stimulant drugs for cognitive improvement. After that, you will add prescription sedatives to deal with the insomnia that results. Finally, you may find that you have to abuse benzodiazepine tranquilizers for anxiety.

All of these drugs - benzodiazepines, sedatives, and stimulants - are highly addictive. It is because of this form of cross-addiction that you should never abuse ADHD medications in the first place.

Concluding Thoughts

Now that you have answers to the "what are the side effects for the millions of children on Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall?" question, you can be sure that the time is ripe to ensure that your children are not adversely affected by these medications.

The right drugs can help your children overcome their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Through these medications, they should be able to focus better and end up finish their homework and any other tasks assigned to them. They could also fidget much less than they otherwise would have done, and even improve their social skills.

However, you should also protect them from the negative side effects of these ADHD medications - which can be hard on both your children and on yourself. This is why you should use the trial and error method until you find the perfect dose of the right drug for your children. After you find the perfect combination, it is highly unlikely that they will continue suffering adverse side effects.

If you don't know what to do,
Call to speak with a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor.

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