Parents are seldom told that Methylphenidate is “speed” – that is pharmacologically classified with amphetamines and causes the same effects, side effects, and risks. Yet this is well-known in the profession. For example, Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders observes that cocaine, amphetamines, and Methylphenidate are “neurologically alike” (American Psychiatric Association 1989, p. 1221). As evidence the textbook points out that abuse patterns are the same for the three drugs; that people cannot tell their clinical effects apart in laboratory tests; and that they can substitute for each other and cause similar behavior in addicted animals (American Psychiatric Association, 1989, p. 1221. Also see Breggin, 1991, and Breggin and Breggin, 1994 a&b).
The DSM-IV confirms these observations by lumping cocaine, amphetamine and methylphenidate abuse and addiction into one category, Schedule II, which also includes amphetamines, morphine, opium, and barbiturates (Goodman a al., 1991). Before it was replaced by other stimulants in the 1980s, methylphenidate was one of the most commonly used street drugs (Spotts and Spotts, 1980). In our home town of Bethesda, youngsters nowadays sell their prescribed methylphenidate to classmates who abuse it along with other stimulants. Like any addictive stimulant, methylphenidate can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as “crashing” with depression, exhaustion, withdrawal, irritability, and suicidal feelings. Parents will not recognize a withdrawal reaction when their child gets upset after missing even a single dose. They will mistakenly believe that their child needs to be put back on the medication. Check out other posts from this site.