Ritalin - Pros? Cons?

I looked back at a previous thread about Ritalin, and it had some good info, but I have some more questions, and I’m wondering if there are any Dopers with personal information about it (or any other ADD-type drugs).

How often during the day does a kid need to take it?

Does it significantly alter the kid’s personality?

Do they outgrow the need for it? When?

What happens if they miss a dose, or stop taking it all together? Withdrawals?

Does it interfere with sleep? Appetite?

I’ll be asking a pediatrician these same questions. I was just hoping someone could provide me with the personal observances.

There are several books available, just search Amazon. Side effects vary. Some authors claim there is a greater tendency to depend on other drugs later in life, even addicting drugs.Compared to kids not on Ritalin.


I am an ADD adult. My experience with Ritalin has always been a positive one.

My current situation is I am not on Ritalin or its equivalent, methylphenidate due to income and lack of health insurance, however I do believe that if the doctor has diagnosed your child correctly, then it is totally worth it.

I have been on and off Ritalin for 16 years, most “kids” outgrow the need for the medication (which there are other alternatives in the prescription end) but then there are some people like myself that will require it for the rest of my life. They call me an ADDult. It’s not a problem with me, I am totally functional, but with my meds I accomplish so much more than without…aka, doing nothing to being a normal contributing human.

If Ritalin or other similar medication significantly alters your child’s personality, then this is not the medication for your child, and the possibility should spark that your child is not ADD/ADHD. In that case, serious testing with a psychiatrist is in order. Adderall is the other medication that may be better for your child if the diagnosis is correct. In either case, a true ADD/ADHD diagnosis with the medications, your child should never “feel different” however the life effects are tremendous after about 4-8 weeks. Again I stress, you child should not feel different.

Ritalin may interfere with appetite, but in a true diagnosis should actually help your child sleep better. I have always been a night owl, but when I am on my meds, I tend to regulate my sleep patterns more to those around me and my schedule.

If one misses a dose, one will feel a little sluggish, at least from my experience, and usually with ADD/ADHD patients need more reminders with when to take the medication, the nature of ADD/ADHD. However, you shouldn’t fear a withdrawl, one tends to revert back to the same attitude, for lack of a better term, as before but there are no side effects that are significant with missing a dose. If there is, Ritalin isn’t the answer. Since I am ADD (no hyperactivity) I tend to be more mellow. If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible. All psychoactive medications are this way…I hate that word, psychoactive, because it’s not a psycho thing…

When I am on my medication, I take it 2 times per day, once around 8:00 in the morning and again around 2:00. For me personally since I am a night owl, I don’t need to have it later, but they do state that one should not take it after 6:00 pm at night.

I have to mention that with ADD, those around them need to understand that the drugs that are taken are not a total cure-all. There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration with an ADD/ADHD person that will affect most if not all in the household. I highly recommend “Driven to Distraction” by Dr. Hallowell. He wrote this book with another doctor, he is ADD and writes this not only for parents but for adults with ADD/ADHD. He explains the ADD/ADHD person in great detail and how to cope with things even after meds are introduced.

As you can tell I am totally passionate about my ADD diagnosis. I have many reasons including, I realize why I turned to self destructive behavior in my life. In my younger days, ADD/ADHD was not well known and I was always considered a loser, lazy, smart but can’t seem to get her life together, dadada. Once I learned about my ADD, I realized why I have an IQ of 135 and ended up getting my GED. Why I am such a computer nerd and never had any formal training. A lot of WHYs where answered.

I hope that I have helped one person learn more about ADD and ADHD…we are slightly different, but without the correct medications it really can screw up one’s life.

Peace – techchick68

BTW, Rysdad, if you would like, I can email you more about my circumstances and why I am so passionate about my diagnosis…mostly because had they caught this early in my childhood, God only knows who or where I would be…but I suspect much better a person than I am at 31.

There you have it, all the details.

Just to clarify, Ritalin and methyl phenidate are the same thing, brand name and generic. It’s a type of amphetamine, and Adderall acually IS amphetamine, 4 diferent salts of it.Pemoline was around for a while, but is not in use due to a side effect.Some liver thing unique to Pemolin.

Mrs. Kunilou teaches special ed, so she’s had a lot of experience with Ritalin kids over the years.

She says the major problem is mis-diagnosis. True ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficity/hyperactivity disorder) is a constant problem, not just a child who won’t pay attention in class. However, many doctors aren’t skilled in diagnosis or prescribe something just to satisfy the parent.

Ritalin is a blessing for a true ADD or ADHD case. However, many children are not true cases and would benefit more from counseling or alternative teaching techniques. For them, Ritalin is not good.


I would appreciate hearing more from you regarding your diagnosis and anything else you could tell me about ADD. My email address is Drrysdad@AOL.com.


My little brother takes ritalin. Although it seems to be over-prescribed nowadays, I’d wager that his diagnosis is accurate, if only because he suffers from a genetic abnormality generally associated with ADHD.

He takes ritalin ‘vacations’ in the evenings and weekends, depending on the situation and circumstances he’ll be in.

The ritalin has an extremely strong and noticeable effect on his personality. It’s like seeing the cord on a record player being pulled, or watching somebody be shot up with heroin. 30 minutes or whatever after taking it, he stops bouncing off the walls, yelling, jumping, making fighting noises and gestures. His unritalined behavior can be very difficult to deal with for more than a few minutes, just because he is both hyperactive and somewhat spoiled, but his ‘ritalined’ behavior is, well, not nearly as interesting.

My concern is that Ritalin might cause a personality-ectomy. You know what I mean?

I remember when Prozac became popular. Talk about being serene. Some of the people I knew that were on it wouldn’t’ve gotten riled if their hair was on fire. The highs and lows were ironed out too well.

I would hope that wouldn’t occur with Ritalin.

PS- I know Prozac is of great value to many people, and I don’t intend any disparagement.

Ritalin has no lon-lasting effect on personality and washes out of the bloodstream pretty quickly.

As Melatonin mentioned, it basically knocks the edges off of the behavior spikes. Before my son took it, he simply could not settle down in a room with any other activity in it (people talking, music playing, TV on) and would bounce off walls and do a lot of (excited, not angry) yelling. His personality didn’t really change when he took it, but he could settle down to the point where he could talk to people or play with other kids.

He is pretty excitable even when medicated and only his mom and I were able to tell whether he needed his meds just by looking at him. He would work up to a certain pitch. Then, if he didn’t get the medicine he’d explode. So some people (who had trouble dealing with excitable kids) would think he needed medicine when he was fine. Other folks who would see him tumbling around with loud boys his age would wonder when we’d pull him out of the crowd to administer his meds: they’d see one loud boy among four or six; we’d see that he was at the limit of his control.

The most common side effects are insomnia and lack of appetite. (I’ve heard of nausea, but only in texts, I’ve never met a kid who was nauseated by Ritalin.) My son had insomnia even before he started the medication, so that was not an issue for us. He has no trouble eating, either. The usual approach to those problems is to administer the drugs just after a meal (so they’ll eat as the earlier dose wears off) and to make sure that the last dose is not too close to bedtime.

It should not be handed out as a panacea. You should still get some help for the child to learn to manage their emotions. (This doesn’t have to be heavy-duty psychiatry, just some level of professional to work with the child to help them take steps to internalize their control.) We always told our son that the medicine was to take off the edge so that he could control himself.

Since our son never suffered nausea, we did not go along with “med holidays.” We felt that he was better off learning to be controlled all the time. (The “holiday” doesn’t help the child stay out of fights with the cousins at grandma’s or help the child sit still in church. This was our position, and I do not have any censure for families who do use the drug holidays; “no holidays” was our view and those were the reasons.)