Ritalin Abuse In Adults Could Be Deadly

November 8, 2004 – Posted at 4:08 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- Ritalin is a drug prescribed to over-active children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. For many parents, the drug has been a relief. But is it ever safe for adults to take their children's medication?

Pop culture could be influencing your medicine cabinet. In a day and age when there is a drug to treat just about everything, mass media has stepped in. The hit ABC show Desperate Housewives aired an episode that showed a character taking her son's Ritalin.

"According to package insert, it does say that it's not to be used for normal fatigue episodes," said pharmacist Ken Gibson.

No one is certain why Ritalin can have a calming impact on children and work as a stimulant in adults, but one thing is for sure, it's not just desperate housewives using it.

"Turkey hunters love to use it. It keeps them focused all day long, just like it would a kid. So that they can sit there in the woods, and be still and focused and concentrate on their hunting all day long," said Gibson.

The class two narcotic is only available with a doctor's handwritten note. Even then, it's something pharmacists have to watch for.

"We monitor that if the child has a 30 day prescription, it doesn't get picked up again for another 30 days," said Gibson.

The drug can also have dangerous interactions. For example, for a person on a thyroid supplement product, the interaction of the two drugs could cause hyperthyroidism…something that could be fatal.

"If you are not prescribed the medication and you don't know the problems with these medications, then you could be in danger" said Gibson, "If you take one from your neighbor or Sunday School Teacher...then all of the sudden you could be dead."

Ritalin is most commonly prescribed to children, but can also be used to treat adults for attention disorders. Chronic abuse of the drug can lead to psychotic episodes.