A common misconception is that only children have problems paying attention and focusing on important tasks. Many people have accepted for years that some children have a pervasive problem with inattention or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.) The stimulant Ritalin is one of the most popular treatments for ADHD in children. Research supports that many children with ADHD do not outgrow the potentially debilitating problems with impulsive behavior and inattention, so in some cases doctors prescribe Ritalin for adults.
Ritalin or methylphenidate stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for attentiveness and impulse control. The stimulant medication was first approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1955. Because some aspects of Ritalin are similar to stimulants such as cocaine, doctors are supposed to use caution when prescribing it to people of any age. Legal prescription stimulants can also be used to treat narcolepsy, a rare but serious disorder in which people fall asleep at unpredictable intervals. Ritalin for adults is available as an instant-release or an extended-release medication.
Doctors typically will not prescribe Ritalin for adults who have a substance abuse history; some people have abused the drug through crushing it and either snorting or injecting it. Other people claiming to have symptoms of ADHD have illegally sold Ritalin, which has led to some people dying from heart attacks or drug overdoses. In rare cases, Ritalin taken as prescribed can cause serious heart problems. Thus, doctors who prescribe stimulant medications for any reason must know the emotional and physical condition of their patients
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