There are numerous side effects caused by Ritalin. This drug not only harms those who take it, it physically hurts them. Ritalin decreases blood flow to the brain, and routinely causes other gross malfunctions in the developing brain of the child, reveals Peter R. Breggin, M.D., Director of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology and associate faculty at The Johns Hopkins University Department of Counseling. In his new book, Talking Back to Ritalin (Common Courage Press, 1998), Dr. Breggin thoroughly documents the many scientific studies that have been ignored by Ritalin advocates.
"Ritalin does not correct biochemical imbalances-it causes them," Dr. Breggin says, adding that there is some evidence that it can cause permanent damage to the child's brain and its function.
"Pediatricians, parents, and teachers are not aware of these hazards because a large body of research demonstrating the ill effects of this drug has been ignored and suppressed in order to encourage the sale of the drug," Dr. Breggin stated. Damaging side effects of the drug can include:
- Decreased blood flow to the brain, an effect recently shown to be caused by cocaine where it is associated with impaired thinking ability and memory loss.
- Disruption of growth hormone, leading to suppression of growth in the body and brain of the child
- Permanent neurological tics, including Tourette's Syndrome
- Addiction and abuse, including withdrawal reactions on a daily basis
- Psychosis (mania), depression, insomnia, agitation, and social withdrawal
- Possible shrinkage (atrophy) or other permanent physical abnormalities in the brain
- Worsening of the very symptoms the drug is supposed to improve including hyperactivity and inattention
- Decreased ability to learn
- Decreased appetite (more severe in children) and stomach upset
- Headache, nervousness, or dizziness