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Ritalin is the brand name of a prescription drug sold by the pharmaceutical company Novartis Pharma. The main ingredient is the amphetamine-like active ingredient methylphenidate. The active substance is subject to the Narcotics Act (BtMG) (Annex III).
In the case of abusive, d. H. Ritalin is consumed for non-intended use because of its stimulating effect: to drive away tiredness, to increase attention, to be able to study or party all night long and to experience the euphoric effect. There are no reliable figures on the prevalence of abusive consumption. However, it can be assumed that a certain proportion of medical prescriptions are not consumed as intended.
In the drug scene, Ritalin is also traded as a "replacement speed". The tablets are mostly taken orally, but also consumed nasally in powder form (sniffed through the nose), or injected dissolved in water. Injections pose a particular risk, because the insoluble fillers in the tablet can clog small blood vessels and damage the lungs or retina.
When used as intended, i. H. According to the doctor's prescription and in the prescribed dosage, side effects of the drug are very frequent sleep disorders and increased irritability. Frequently there is also loss of appetite, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting. In addition, with certain pre-existing conditions such as B. diseases of the cardiovascular system, anxiety disorders or Tourette's syndrome, according to the manufacturer, no Ritalin should be taken.
In the event of improper use, however, significantly higher doses can be the case, with far-reaching risks. Among other things, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, headaches and confusion can be expected. For example, anxiety, delusions or aggressiveness are also possible. Current research also cites hallucinations and sudden death as possible risks. In the case of improper consumption, psychological dependence can develop.
Background to the medical field of application
The medical field of application of Ritalin includes the so-called attention deficit and hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD), which occurs mainly in children, but also in adults. It is popularly known as "Fidgety Philip Syndrome". On the other hand, it is used in narcolepsy. In this condition, sudden attacks of sleep occur during the day.
Ritalin became known to the general public primarily in connection with ADHD. Although the active ingredient has been used for over 50 years, it has only come under fire in Germany in recent years, as there has been an extreme increase in the number of prescriptions. These increased 20-fold between 1993 and 2001.
The criticism of the prescribing practice grew, since it was to be assumed that there will be more misdiagnoses or incorrect prescriptions, which could result in improper use of the stimulant. The Federal Medical Association was therefore asked in 2002 by the then federal government to develop recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.
Effect on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Medical research has not yet fully clarified the causes. However, it is considered certain that the ADHD disorder cannot be traced back to a single cause. Genetic and family conditions are very likely to play a major role. However, research has uncovered the mechanism in the brain that causes the attention problems and restlessness. People with ADHD have a lack of dopamine in the brain, an important messenger substance that is responsible for transmitting information between certain nerve cells. Ritalin stimulates the nerve connections containing dopamine, so that the transmission of information between the nerve cells is restored. This allows those affected to concentrate better and become calmer.
It is assumed that if Ritalin is used as intended and at therapeutically effective doses, no dependence will develop. In contrast, children with untreated ADHD would have a higher risk of later substance abuse. This abusive consumption is probably also aimed at dampening the unrest, whereby other substances such as cannabis may also play a role.
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