Methylphenidate: Physiological effects

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 12:59 pm

Physiological effects include increased pulse rate and blood pressure, which contribute to the feelings of increased energy and stamina.
Harmful side effects
Common harmful side effects include insomnia, nervousness, and loss of appetite. Other adverse reactions include skin rash, fever, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, headache, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat and breathing, and generalized anxiety. The irregular breathing may come from an allergic reaction to the drug. The allergic reaction can also cause swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat.
Individuals who ingest methylphenidate by dissolving the tablets in water and injecting the mixture risk complications due to the insoluble fillers used in the tablets. When injected, these materials block small blood vessels and can cause serious damage to the lungs and retina of the eye.
Snorting the drug can also be dangerous. The delicate tissues that line the nasal cavities and air passages can be damaged by direct contact with MPH because the tablets contain hydrocholoride salt of methylphenidate, which yields dilute hydrochloric acid when it comes into contact with moisture within the nose. While this is not a problem in the stomach (because hydrochloric acid is one of the stomach acids used to digest foods), the acid can burn the delicate epithelial nasal tissues. This can result in open sores, nose bleeds, and with chronic use can lead to deterioration of the nasal cartilage.
“Shooting up,” street parlance for dissolving the drug in water and using a syringe to inject it, can cause harmful side effects. Not only can dust, dirt, and other contaminants fall into the liquid mixture, but bacteria, talc, lint, and other particles are also injected with the drug. The inert ingredients that manufacturers include to increase the bulk of the tablets can create serious health problems when injected directly into veins or body tissues. Complications from injections include overdose, blood clots, infections such as blood poisoning, abscesses, hepatitis, AIDS from sharing needles, scars, and circulatory and pulmonary problems. The effects of overdose include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, paranoia, convulsions, and possibly even death.
The FDA classifies methylphenidate as being in pregnancy category C, which means it is not known whether it would harm an unborn baby. Medical authorities advise pregnant women not to take MPH without consulting a doctor.
Other side effects of MPH include allergic reactions, extensive bruising, and abnormally low red and white blood cells counts. Individuals who abuse the drug suffer from loss of appetite so severe that they develop anorexia. They can also suffer abdominal pain, extreme weight loss, and skin rashes.
Long-term health effects
Chronic abuse of MPH can lead to marked tolerance and psychological dependence. According to the DEA, chronic MPH intoxication is identical to the paranoid psychosis of amphetamine intoxication. Studies indicate that 5-15% of the amphetamine users who become psychotic fail to make a complete recovery.

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