Methylphenidate, brand name Ritalin, is a central nervous system stimulant drug. Stimulants have been approved to treat ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors, and inattention. They do so by helping to activate the areas in your brain responsible for paying attention and by circulating neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine acts to keep you alert, while dopamine contributes to the feeling of pleasure, and can help increase attention.

Ritalin is taken in it's active form, and is available in three dosages: short-acting, intermediate-acting, and extended release forms. The short-acting dosage is taken two to three times daily, with period of up to four hours of effectiveness, while the sustained release dosage is taken once per day, and may last eight to ten hours. As it can affect sleep patterns, it is recommended to take Ritalin earlier in the day. Taking Ritalin too late in the day can cause trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

Stimulants such as Ritalin should be avoided by people with advanced arteriosclerosis, symptomatic cardiovascular disease, and hyperthyroidism. Those who have moderate to severe hypertension may also want to avoid using drugs such as Ritalin. Ritalin should be avoided by people who are affected by motor tics or Tourette's syndrome, as it can worsen the symptoms. Anyone with a history of drug abuse, history of agitated states, or history of sensitivity to stimulants such as these should also avoid Ritalin.

Common side effects with stimulants such as Ritalin are headache, irritability, dizziness, loss of appetite, dry mouth, insomnia, and anxiety. More severe and less common side effects include increased risk of high blood pressure and heart rate.

Ritalin and Alcohol
Where Ritlain is a stimulant, alcohol is a depressant. This does not mean they will balance themselves out in your body. When used together, they compete in your body, and may cause many serious side effects. These can include many heart problems, higher temperature, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and irregular heartbeat. Mood problems, sleep problems, anxiety, and drowsiness can also be experienced when mixing these two drugs.

Another danger is the risk of alcohol poisoning. Ritalin can dull the sense of feeling drunk. People who use Ritalin and alcohol together are often unaware of just how intoxicated they are. This can affect your ability to breathe, lead to confusion or unconsciousness, and in some cases can be fatal.

Alcohol can also cause too much of the medication to be released into your body at once, especially if you are taking extended release forms of Ritalin. This can increase the side effects associated with your medication even more.

Using alcohol and Ritalin together may lead to dependence to one or both substances. This would cause withdrawal symptoms should you stop taking them. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and include insomnia, headaches, nausea or vomiting, depression, anxiety, body shivers, and extreme fatigue.

Stimulant medications such as Ritalin have many side effects and potential drug interactions. When you mix Ritalin with alcohol, you put yourself at risk of heart problems, alcohol poisoning, and multiplied side effects. If you are wondering whether mixing Ritalin and alcohol is a good idea, here's the answer: It isn't. Always and only use Ritalin as prescribed by a doctor. If you would like to stop taking Ritalin, talk to your doctor. They may be able to help you taper off your dosage, and limit your symptoms of withdrawal.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.