Does Ritalin work for people without ADHD

Brain doping with Ritalin: Doctors warn of long-term effects

Ritalin is a drug that is used to treat children with ADHD. In healthy people, it should have a performance-enhancing effect. After it became known that many students were doing brain doping with Ritalin, experts feared the trend could spread to schools.

Does Ritalin act as brain doping to improve children's performance? Image: iStockphoto-Thinkstock

Many children have difficulty concentrating, especially during class work at school. The consequences of the lack of attention in children are at best average grades. No wonder that pupils and parents sometimes dream of a miracle drug like methylphenidate to increase the performance of their child, doping for the brain.

Effect of Ritalin on healthy people: higher concentration?

Psychotropic drugs that are supposed to dop the brain have long been in circulation. "Surveys have shown that, for example, the drug Ritalin, which is actually used to treat children with ADHD, is popular with students in exam situations," says a website of the University of Zurich. "They hope that the methylphenidate it contains will increase their ability to concentrate." Viviane Strebel, a research associate in the Research and Promotion of Young Talent Department at UZH, even noticed a “trend” that is becoming more and more noticeable in Switzerland: it is called “cognitive enhancement”. This includes all interventions that have an effect on intellectual performance.

Explosive increase in the consumption of Ritalin

In 2011, German pharmacies ordered 1,791 kilograms of methylphenidate - in 1993 it was only 34 kilograms. "This huge increase can also be explained by the fact that parents use the active ingredient for themselves and their children to increase mental performance," concluded the magazine "Focus". “Experts assume that every fourth child will have at least one time during their school daysRitalinand the methylphenidate contained therein comes into contact. " The figures are also alarming in Switzerland: according to the therapeutic products authority Swissmedic, Ritalin consumption has increased almost tenfold since 1996. "It will probably not be long before concerned parents raise the question at parents' evenings whether they can or should give their children performance-enhancing drugs," concludes the addiction prevention center of the city of Zurich in its report "Neuro-Enhacement".

Sure, Ritalin (methylphenidate) is only available from pharmacies. "But if you can convince your doctor that you need a prescription drug to eliminate a disturbance of the ability to concentrate such as ADHD, you can use the prescription to legally get your very own brain booster from the pharmacy," said PM magazine, as many others said Healthy people come to Ritalin. Apart from that, Ritalin is already available in many households - for the treatment of a hyperactive child with ADHD. Ritalin unfolds its effect by intervening in the brain metabolism and controlling attention and movement impulses there.

Long-term side effects cannot be estimated

Parents should not refrain from the consequences of drug abuse. Side effects of the drug can include increased blood pressure, palpitations, poor appetite, headache, insomnia, nausea, skin reactions and severe anxiety. The biggest problem: "Nobody knows exactly how the substances, for example methylphenide, which were actually developed for the sick, work on healthy people," says Dr. Claus Normann hin, senior physician in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Freiburg University Clinic. Experts believe that brain doping can cause tumors in healthy people in the long term.

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Anyone who dopes with Ritalin to become more efficient is also at risk of addiction. Because the impression can quickly arise that only the tablet can meet the demands of everyday life. "There is a risk of ignoring the body's warning signals - with unforeseeable consequences for health," says Dr. Normann.

Brain doping is a legal gray area

Tanja Trost is currently investigating whether children can even be treated with performance-enhancing drugs as part of her dissertation, which is funded by the UZH research loan. More precisely: She wants to find out whether the use of neuro-enhancers can be fully and satisfactorily clarified on the basis of the general provisions for the protection of personality, which are laid down in the Swiss Civil Code (ZGB). «Children are particularly vulnerable people. They can neither influence the development of society, nor do they themselves decide on the consumption of psychotropic drugs, ”she explains. "It is important to create the necessary legal basis for dealing with enhancement measures at an early stage."

Brain doping: a danger to society

Whether brain doping actually has the desired effect has not yet been scientifically proven. However, should studies prove the performance-enhancing effect of certain psychotropic drugs in the future, fairness and equal opportunities are at stake. Because whoever dopes his performance, creates - as in sport - artificial advantages. Everyone else is left behind.

Further links to Ritalin and brain doping: