Ritalin In Adults

Is Ritalin Effective In Treating Adult ADHD?

The use of Ritalin in adults is not as common as other ADHD medications. However, Ritalin is prescribed to treat adult ADHD in certain circumstances, depending on the individual.

Ritalin also has different medical uses in children compared to adults.

In children and teens, Ritalin is used to relieve symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In adults, however, Ritalin is commonly used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that causes excessive sleepiness and results in frequent bouts of daytime sleepiness.

However, doctors have the ability to prescribe medications for "off-label" purposes, which means Ritalin can be occasionally used to treat adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

 Ritalin In Adults: The Research

Since this site is about ADHD treatments, we will examine the use of Ritalin in relieving adult ADHD symptoms, not narcolepsy.

Researchers Barkey (1977), and Wilens and Biederman (1992) found that Ritalin was effective in reducing ADHD symptoms in adults, but with some variability even at moderate doses. (This basically means that Ritalin was effective in relieving symptoms in some adult ADHD sufferers, but not for others.)

Conversely, Levin, Evans, Brooks, and Garawi (2002) found that in cocaine-dependent subjects with ADHD, there was no significant difference between Ritalin and a placebo (no treatment) in relieving ADHD symptoms according to subject self-reports.

It is important to note that there is still a lack of research concerning Ritalin and adults because ADHD is still widely considered a condition of childhood. Research involving adults is rare, and but some research is ongoing.

More Research Needed

The reality is that ADHD often persists into adulthood and many adults with ADHD are undiagnosed and untreated due to this lack of awareness.

This research gap is improving, however, as doctors and researchers examine the efficacy and effectiveness of Ritalin in adult ADHD treatments. However, there tends to be a greater research focus on newer, longer-lasting, ADHD medications such as Adderall.


If you are an adult taking Ritalin, be sure to report any history of high blood pressure, addiction, substance abuse, or other health problems.

ritalin in adults

Since Ritalin is a stimulant, caution should be exercised when prescribing Ritalin for individuals with high blood pressure or heart problems.

Most ADHD medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine are classified as Schedule II controlled substances, which means the drugs have high abuse potential and have certain legal restrictions regarding usage and dissemination.

Since stimulants can be addictive, they are not recommended for people with a history of substance abuse or addiction.

For those with a history of substance abuse, Stattera is often prescribed to treat ADHD due to its lack of addictive properties.

The Bottom Line

The jury is still out regarding using Ritalin to treat adult ADHD. While it can be effective for some adult ADHD sufferers, widespread use it not generally indicated. More research is required.

The challenge with psychiatric medications is there is often some trial and error in order to find an effective balance for each individual. If your doctor recommends Ritalin, it may be worth a a try. But remember that Ritalin is only one of many ADHD medications available.

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