Side effects of Ritalin and Adderall

As a start-up in the Western Sydney University Launchpad incubator, I have the privilege to work in collaboration with university students. It’s a symbiotic win-win relationship where there is a mutually beneficial exchange of information and experience.

So, I met with John (not his  real name), a university student, to discuss how I could help him with his major assignment using Xootro as a test case.

After we tossed some ideas around, John explained to me why he was hooked on the idea of plant-based cognitive enhancement medication or vitamins.

It turns out that John had a deep personal reason for his interest because he had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD and had been prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Pharmaceuticals include Ritalin or Adderall which are prescribed to treat ADHD.

John spoke of his struggles with the treatment drugs, particularly how hard it was to get on and to come off when he wanted to clean himself up. He told me about his friends who are or have experienced exactly the same struggles with pharmaceuticals.

I was struck by how much John’s story sounded like a drug addict trying to wean himself off an illicit drug like ice or heroin. Except John wasn’t a ‘druggie’ living on the margins of society in the illegal world of drug labs, shady dealers and crime, no, he’s a young university student who had struggled to kick a pharmaceutical drug that was prescribed to him.

Now, there is a distinction I have to make – John was prescribed pharmaceuticals to treat ADHD and he used them to treat that condition, not for recreational use. But, it points to the very real risks of using Ritalin and Adderall in Australia, even for their designed purpose, let alone non-prescribed recreational use.

While the exact amount of recreational use of Ritalin and Adderall is unknown, anecdotal evidence suggest that recreational use may be widespread.

So the use of Ritalin and Adderall as a recreational drug particularly by university students and professionals warrants a deeper dive because I suspect that recreational use may present even greater risks and danger.

Although we briefly covered Adderall and Ritalin in an earlier blog about current pharmaceutical drugs being used as a nootropic or for recreational use in Australia, let’s have a more detailed look at the possible side effects of using Adderall or Ritalin.

Adderall side effects

Adderall, classed as an amphetamine, is particularly prevalent in the USA where it has been ‘adopted’ by recreational users who are looking for a stimulant to enhance athletic performance, cognitive ability, aphrodisiac or euphoriant.

Google ‘Adderall side effects’ and there’s no shortage of sites that report, often in great detail, the side effects that users may experience.

I’ve cut down the list to the major (in my opinion) side effects. These may include:

  • Nervousness

  • Fear

  • Anxiety

  • Agitation

  • Blurred vision

  • Sleep problems (insomnia)

  • Hair loss

  • Loss of interest in sex and difficulty having an orgasm

  • Increase blood pressure and heart rate

  • Heart palpitations

That’s a pretty scary list, especially when you consider that these side effects may result from prescribed medical doses, not self prescribed recreational doses which may be larger, or consumed more often than recommended.

Adderall use in Australia is limited as the drug is not widely available here.

However, Ritalin use and availability in Australia is a whole different story, so let’s dive in.

How common is recreational use of Ritalin in Australia?

Ritalin is the trade name for Methylphenidate, a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

The true scale of recreational Ritalin use in Australia is unknown. Speaking to students, professionals and fitness enthusiasts off the record leads me to think that it may be more widely used than realised.

In 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald published an interesting article on Ritalin recreational use amongst university students.

The article outlined the use of Ritalin for recreational purposes even describing instances of students selling their prescribed pills to other students.

Some users would crush Ritalin tablets to snort the powder, hence Ritalin getting the nickname; ‘kiddie cocaine’.

In addition to a party drug, Ritalin was also bought to give a brain boost. As a former student I understand the pressure of wanting to perform and excel in exams and assignments, so I understand the lure of Ritalin.

Prescribed Ritalin use in Australia is extensive.

But, Adderall and similar stimulants like dexamhetamine (or ‘Dex’) and methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin) may produce a host of adverse side effects.

Ritalin side effects

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant.

There are a number of side effects even when used under medical supervision in prescribed doses, which highlights the danger of using the drug outside of medical scrutiny, that is for recreational use.

Common Ritalin side effects are extensive and can even affect the growth in children. Scary.

Other side effects may include;

  • Nervousness

  • Agitation

  • Anxiety

  • Sleep problems

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Palpitations

  • Headache

  • Vision problems

  • Increased heart rate

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Psychosis

  • Numbness

Wow, and I’ve cut this list down.

And here’s the kicker – there is a potential for addiction because Ritalin has a close pharmacological relationship to illegal stimulants like ice, speed (methamphetamine) and cocaine.

Ritalin and Adderall in Australia

So there you go, a quick snapshot of Ritalin and Adderall and the side effects that may be experienced. For me, the biggest take away is that recreational use of these drugs may present an even greater danger to users.

Newer Post