The Ultimate Ritalin UK Guide - Uses, Side Effects and Legality in the UK
Ritalin, the lesser-known little cousin to modafinil and Adderall is a potent nootropic in its own right.
This article will look at Ritalin in the UK, both its prescribed and off-label uses. You will find out all you need to know about Ritalin, including the best alternatives to it as a smart drug.
If you are interested in this topic, you should also consider checking out our Smart Pill UK 2019 Review - Which Ones To Try and Which To Avoid article.
Ritalin’s prescribed uses in Britain
In the UK, Ritalin (also known as methylphenidate) is prescribed very frequently as a treatment for ADHD. Where medication was prescribed to treat ADHD, Ritalin was used in around 88.9% of all cases amongst children and 63.5% of cases in adults between 1995 and 2015.
For comparison, dexamphetamine - a primary component of Adderall - made up 2% of prescriptions for children, and 28% among adults.
Ritalin might also be used as a treatment for narcolepsy, like Adderall and Modafinil. It might be used in other fatigue-related disorders too.
Doctors might also prescribe Ritalin as a treatment for depression that’s resistant to other medications.
Ritalin’s off-label uses
Ritalin works to improve wakefulness and concentration by increasing levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.
As a result, people such as doctors, shift workers, office workers and others use it as a smart drug.
In the UK, students use Ritalin to get a cognitive edge while working. This is particularly common around exams and deadlines, as Ritalin can be effective at helping you stay awake and work into the night. Some people also use it recreationally.
Ritalin’s side effects
The vast majority of studies on Ritalin’s side effects are carried out on patients with ADHD, narcolepsy or other disorders - they have been prescribed the medication by a doctor.
This means that these studies may not be fully applicable to those who are using Ritalin without a prescription as a smart drug.
Taking that into account, the NHS says that Ritalin may commonly cause increases in heart rate, increases in blood pressure, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite (which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain), headaches, stomach aches and mood swings.
The American FDA shares a similar view, saying that Ritalin's common side effects are decreased appetite, headache, nervousness, stomach ache, nausea and trouble sleeping. They also mention more serious side effects such as seizures, problems with vision, cardiovascular issues or circulation problems.
Ritalin may also cause psychological problems in rare cases. Using Ritalin can trigger or worsen mental issues, primarily paranoid psychosis or hypomanic or manic symptoms. This is very uncommon, but it’s not impossible.
Because Ritalin increases dopamine in the brain, it may also be addictive when used regularly. Again, this is rare according to the vast majority of studies - but, it is not entirely impossible, and has the potential to cause significant problems.
Finally, the long-term effects of Ritalin on healthy brains are not fully known.
As mentioned, most studies on Ritalin are conducted on patients who have been prescribed the drug, rather than people using Ritalin as a smart drug. Thus, there is a lack of research into Ritalin’s long-term impact on neurotypical brain chemistry.
If you want a nootropic alternative to smart drugs such as Ritalin, without the side effects, you should check out natural nootropics. Click here to see our favourite natural nootropic.
Ritalin’s legality in Britain
In the UK, Ritalin (methylphenidate) is categorised as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This means it is illegal to possess, and possession can be punished with up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
Selling Ritalin is also illegal in the UK, punishable with up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
As a result, many people who acquire Ritalin off-label purchase it online from a pharmacy that does not operate under British law. These pharmacies are unregulated and might be selling adulterated or substandard medication that could pose additional dangers alongside Ritalin’s usual side effects.
Why are more people in the UK using Ritalin as a smart drug?
In the UK, Ritalin use appears to be on the rise. There have been numerous pieces in the media recently on increased incidences of smart drug use, which could be because of numerous factors.
The first thing to consider is that it’s become more common to be prescribed Ritalin in the first place. From 2000 to 2015, the rate of being prescribed medication to treat ADHD increased by “almost 800%” in the UK. Ritalin is by far the most popular medication prescribed for ADHD here.
This makes it easier for people to access Ritalin, as friends and family members may be willing to give or sell their pills to someone who wants to use them as a smart drug.
Students might also use Ritalin to ensure academic success. This is particularly relevant in the UK, as tuition fees are currently as high as £9,250 per year.
Moreover, interest rates on student loans are also increasing. As a result, many British students feel that success at university is the only way they can ever be free of debt in their lives. This, in turn, leads to them using smart drugs to try to ensure they get a return on their investment.
Another factor is the increasing competition after university. It’s becoming harder and harder for British students to find rewarding work after graduating, meaning they must excel academically to find a good job.
Use of smart drugs such as Ritalin may thus be seen as necessary, to be able to do better at university and get a better job.
People in employment are also facing increasing demands. Cuts to public services in Britain mean nurses, doctors, police officers and other important people are being stretched further day-to-day.
Some may use a smart drug like Ritalin to cope with long hours or more stressful work as a result. And, even in other jobs, many workplaces are also highly competitive.
People may feel like they need to use smart drugs to perform better, to set them apart from their colleagues and make it more likely that they will be promoted.
Alternatives to Ritalin as a smart drug
Because of the legality and side effects associated with Ritalin, many people are searching for an alternative.
We recommend BrainZyme, a natural brain food supplement that has been scientifically proven to support concentration, mental performance and the reduction of tiredness. It also comes with much fewer side-effects, despite having similar effects.
You can learn more about why we think BrainZyme is the best Ritalin alternative here.
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