Street Name / Slang Terms
Kibbles & Bits, Kiddy-Cocaine, Pineapple, R-Ball, Skippy, Smart Drug, Smarties, Vitamin R, West Coast

What is it ?
Ritalin, the trade name for the prescription drug methylphenidate, is a central nervous system stimulant often prescribed to treat individuals (mostly children) diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.)1

Taken as prescribed, Ritalin can be an effective medicine. Research has shown that people with ADHD do not get addicted to their stimulant medications at treatment dosages.2

In clinical studies, methylphenidate, like amphetamines, produce behavioral and psychological effects similar to cocaine. In simple terms, this means that the human body cannot tell the difference between cocaine, amphetamines, or Ritalin.

When abused, these prescription tablets create powerful stimulant and addictive effects. In recent years, Ritalin has become one of the most abused prescription drugs.

 National Drug Intelligence Center
2 National Institute of Mental Health

Ritalin tabletsWhat does it look like ?
Ritalin is available in 5-, 10-, and 20-milligram tablets. The tablets typically are white or yellow in color. On the streets, a single tablet is illegally sold for $3 – $15.

How is it illegally used ?
Abusers either swallow the tablets or crush them to produce a powder, which is snorted. Some abusers dissolve the tablets in water and then inject the mixture — a particularly dangerous practice. Complications can result when the drug is injected because insoluble fibers in Ritalin can block small blood vessels.

Short Term Effects
Since Ritalin is a prescribed medication, it’s often considered innocent and harmless, without the stigma associated with street drugs. In fact, illegal Ritalin use can be very dangerous, with effects similar to those produced by cocaine and amphetamines.

Common Ritalin side-effects include:
• insomnia
• irritability
• nervousness
• dizziness
• dry mouth
• skin rashes and itching
• abdominal pain
• weight loss
• blurry vision
• toxic psychosis
• loss of appetite
• nausea and vomiting
• drowsiness
• palpitations
• headaches
• stomach aches
• digestive problems
• psychotic episodes
• drug dependence syndrome
Other Ritalin side-effects include:
• anorexia
• change in blood pressure
• changes in pulse
• toxic psychosis
• palpitations
• cardiac arrhythmia
• anemia
• scalp hair loss

Federal Classification
Schedule II

  • Ritalin is abused by diverse segments of the population, from health care professions and children to street addicts.1
  • Between 30 and 50 percent of adolescents in drug treatment centers report Ritalinuse.1
  • Ritalin ranks in the top 10 most frequently reported controlled pharmaceuticals stolen from licensed handlers.1
  • Organized drug trafficking groups in a number of states have utilized various schemes to obtain Ritalin for resale on the illicit market.1
  • Reports from students and faculty on college campuses show Ritalin used as a study aid and party drug in the same manner that amphetamine was used on campuses in the 1960s.2
  • Research suggests that Ritalin causes long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function. The drug appears to initiate changes in brain function that remain long after the therapeutic effects dissipate.2

1 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
2 University of Buffalo

Additional Online Resources
Ritalin Evaluation  (Drug Enforcement Administration)
Ritalin Fact Sheet (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
• “Factline” Non-Medical Use of Ritalin (Indiana Resource Center)
• “Schoolyard hustlers’ new drug: Ritalin” (Christian Science Monitor)Ritalin