If you have wondered about the side effects of prescribed stimulant medications, you are not alone. Such drugs are often prescribed to individuals with ADHD.
ADHD is considered to be a hyperactivity disorder. You may have noticed very impulsive behavior with the child or adult who is experiencing symptoms.
Often the problem is first noticed by parents and teachers during the preschool or elementary years. The average age for symptoms to be displayed is right around 7 years old.
For many suffering from this disorder, symptoms may disappear at around the time of adolescence. That being said, it can still persist into adulthood. Estimates are that about eight percent of children suffer form this problem. Surprisingly estimates tell us that about 3 to 4% of adults may be suffering from ADHD as well.
Prescribed Stimulants Affect the Brain
Frequently, a doctor will attempt to treat this disorder by prescribing a stimulant medication. Stimulants, like the popular Ritalin, affect the brain by increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical associated with attention. When a doctor prescribes such a medication, he will be looking for just the right dosage. Typically, he will start with a lower dose and slowly increase it until the desired effect is obtained.
When a stimulant drug is not prescribed in this manner, it is possible that the brain can be flooded by dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria (heightened well-being). When this happens, their is real potential for addiction. In fact, some stimulant prescribed drugs are chemically very similar to street methamphetamine.
One of the big questions in child psychology revolves around whether the use of stimulant type prescription medications for ADHD increases the risk for substance abuse in adulthood. Most studies suggest that proper use of a prescription does NOT increase the likelihood of substance abuse addiction later in life. However, it is believed that more research is needed to find a definitive conclusion – especially in regard to adolescents.
I spoke to a former user of Ritalin and he volunteered, without being prompted in any way, that former users of this medication would sometimes become addicted to crystal meth. It was not clear, however, if he was speaking from personal knowledge of individuals or simply repeating a theory he had heard.
When you consider whether prescription stimulant ADHD medications are right for your child, it is important to think about the potential problems that a prescription stimulant medication can bring.
Some of the side effects that have been reported with Ritalin and other stimulant medications include sudden death from heart attack. This is believed to only happen to those with preexisting heart defects. A doctor should insure that a child’s heart is not compromised before prescribing such a medication.
On the other hand, stroke and heart attack have been noted as possible side effects of this class of prescription drugs. In addition, increased blood pressure and heart rate have also been observed as a possible side effects.
There is the possible side effect of new or worsening behavioral problems with stimulant medications. There is also the possibility of increasing hostility on the drug. These, of course, are the opposite of what
the physician hopes to achieve with a stimulant drugs prescribed for ADHD.
At times, prescription medications are completely necessary and appropriate for treatment of ADHD symptoms. However, you may be wondering if there are alternatives to prescribed ADHD stimulant medications and other possible alternative treatments that may be a better choice for your particular child or even an adult that you know.
Scott Starksy writes about ADHD and natural alternatives at https://www.ADHD-Discovery.com
*This article is for information purposes only and does not intend to provide diagnosis, advice or treatment for any health condition whatsoever. If you have or think you might have a health issue, you should visit your doctor for advice, diagnosis and treatment. The USFDA has not evaluated statements about products in this article.