Drinking six to seven cups of coffee is what it would feel like if a person abused the prescription drug Ritalin, said Dr. Michael Severson, pediatrician at Brainerd Medical Center.
Ritalin, also known as Methylphenidate, is a prescribed medication for individuals, mainly children, who have an abnormally high level of activity or have attention deficit disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 3 to 5 percent of the general population have this disorder.
The drug is a central nervous system stimulant and has a calming effect on hyperactive children.
Severson said knowledge of the drugs is becoming more well known today and people who abuse Ritalin and the other similar generic brands are realizing the street value of the drug.
In Brainerd, Severson has seen about five out of every 100 cases where Ritalin is stolen or sold on the street.
"We monitor it very closely," said Severson. "We treat it one month at a time."
Every patient receives one prescription at a time with no refills. The patient has to make an appointment with their doctor to have a new prescription filled or to get more pills if necessary.
Severson said if a patient is running out of their pills early or if their prescription happens to be stolen or lost too often they sometimes will discover abuse.
National research has discovered reports of abuse of the drug in recent years. It found that individuals abuse it for its stimulant effects, appetite suppression, wakefulness, increased focus and euphoria. When abused, the tablets are either taken orally, are crushed or snorted. Some abusers dissolve the tablets in water and inject the mixture. Research shows that this technique can cause complications because insoluble fillers in the tablets can block small blood vessels.
Ritalin tablets cost between 25 to 50 cents a piece and can sell on the street for about $3 to $15 each.
Louie Kappes, chief pharmacist at BMC who fills about five to 10 prescriptions a day for attention deficit medication, said side effects of the controlled substance such as loss of appetite, blurred vision, dizziness, lightheadedness, dry mouth, stomach upset, sleepiness, irritability or constipation may occur the first few days as the body adjusts to the medication.
Kappes said the drug is not to be taken after 4 p.m. because of the side effect of insomnia.
If a person would overdose on the drug, the person would feel an overstimulation of the central nervous system. Kappes said an overdose would also cause other medical conditions such as vomiting, agitation, tremors, muscle twitching, seizures, headache, sweating, coma, confusion/hallucination and high blood pressure.
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