Archive for the ‘Side Effects of psychostimulants’ Category

Side Effects of psychostimulants

November 7, 2007 3 comments

The below information is taken from a report which overviews the side effects of common psychiatric drugs and includes information on drug regulatory agency warnings, studies and other reports that may not appear in the packaging information for the drugs themselves.


Cylert (now removed
from the market)
Daytrana (skin patch)


Abdominal pain
Angina (sudden acute
Blood pressure and
pulse changes
Blurred vision
Dry mouth
Heart palpitations
Increased irritability
Involuntary tics and
twitching called
Tourette’s Syndrome
Liver problems
Loss of appetite
Mental/mood changes
Stomach pain
Stunted growth
Suicidal thoughts
Tachycardia (heart
Toxic psychosis
Unusual weakness or
Violent behavior
Weight loss
“Zombie” demeanor1

Suicide is a major complication of withdrawal from Ritalin and similar amphetamine-like drugs.2

Note: The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies methylphenidate, the generic name for Ritalin and Concerta, as a Schedule II narcotic in the same abuse category as morphine, opium and cocaine.3

Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) is amphetamine-like as it is very similar in chemical structure to amphetamine and its effects on the body. An amphetamine’s chemical structure resembles natural stimulants in the body, like adrenaline. However, as a drug, it alters the natural system in the body and can reduce appetite and fatigue and “speed” you up. A stimulant (psychostimulant) refers to any mind-altering chemical or substance that affects the central nervous system by speeding up the body’s functions, including the heart and breathing rates. Stimulants are most often prescribed to children for the so-called condition Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In children, stimulants appear to act like suppressants but psychiatrists and doctors have no idea why. A 1999 study published in Science Journal, determined: “The mechanism by which psychostimulants act as calming agents…is currently unknown.”4

Note: Strattera, a non-stimulant ADHD drug, is an antidepressant.


June 28, 2005: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified possible safety concerns with methylphenidate (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta) drug products. Specifically noted were psychiatric adverse effects linked to stimulants prescribed to treat children “ADHD,” such as visual hallucinations, suicidal ideation, psychotic behavior, aggression and violent behavior. The FDA announced its intention to make labeling changes and to examine other stimulant drug products approved for the treatment of ADHD.5

September 13, 2005: The Oregon Health & Science University, Evidence-Based Practice Center published the findings of its review of 2,287 studies—virtually every study ever conducted on “ADHD” drugs—and found that no trials had shown the effectiveness of these drugs and that there was a lack of evidence that they could affect “academic performance, risky behaviors, social achievements, etc.” Further, “We found no evidence on long-term safety of drugs used to treat ADHD in young children” or “adolescents.”6

January 5, 2006: The FDA said it had received reports of sudden deaths, strokes, heart attacks and hypertension (high blood pressure) in both children and adults taking “ADHD” drugs and asked its Drug Safety and Risk Management advisory committee to examine the potential of cardiovascular (heart) risks of the drugs.7

February 4, 2006: A University of Texas study published in Pediatric Neurology reported cardiovascular problems in people taking stimulants.8

February 9, 2006: The FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee urged that the FDA’s strongest “black box” warning be issued for stimulants stating that they may cause heart attacks, strokes and sudden death.9

March 22-23, 2006: Two FDA advisory panels held hearings into the risk of stimulants and another new “ADHD” drug called Sparlon. Between January 2000 and June 30, 2005, the FDA had received almost 1,000 reports of kids experiencing psychosis or mania whiletaking the drugs. The first panel recommended stronger warnings against stimulants, emphasizing these on special handouts called “Med Guides” that doctors must give to patients with each prescription. The second committee recommended not to approve Sparlon, which the manufacturer, Cephalon, estimated would lose them $100 million in drug sales.10
March 28, 2006: The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration announced its review of reports of 400 adverse reactions to stimulants in children taking them, including strokes, heart attacks and hallucinations.11

Abuse of Stimulants

August 2001: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that methylphenidate is chemically similar to cocaine.12 Children who took stimulants were more likely to start smoking or use cocaine and continue these habits into adulthood.13

May 2005: Partnership for a Drug-Free America released the findings of its survey, which determined that 10% (2.3 million) of teens had abused Ritalin and Adderall.14

February 25, 2006: A study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence revealed that seven million Americans were estimated to have abused stimulant drugs and a substantial amount of teenagers and young adults now appeared to show signs of addiction.15


Adderall has been linked to violent behavior when, in 2000, a North Dakota judge acquitted 26-year-old Ray Ehlis of murdering his 5-week-old daughter after two independent psychiatrists testified he was suffering a severe psychosis induced by Adderall.16

June 2004: The FDA ordered that the packaging for Adderall include a warning about sudden cardiovascular deaths, especially in children with underlying heart disease.17

February 9, 2005: Health Canada, the Canadian counterpart of the FDA, suspended marketing of Adderall XR (Extended Release, given once a day) due to reports of 20 sudden unexplained deaths (14 in children) and 12 strokes (2 in children) in patients taking Adderall or Adderall XR. However, in August 2005, Health Canada agreed to reinstate the marketing authorization with a number of revisions to the labeling. The labeling was revised to include warnings against the use of Adderall XR18 in patients with structuralheart abnormalities and advised about the dangers of misusing amphetamines.19

April 21, 2005: Partnership for a Drug-Free America, released its findings of a study that determined that 10% of teens (2.3 million) had abused the stimulants Adderall and Ritalin.20

In 1999, the Ontario Medical Association Committee on Drugs and Pharmacotherapy reported that sales of Cylert were to be suspended in Canada, after a risk benefit assessment concluded that Cylert posed a threat of serious liver complications, including liver failure resulting in death or liver transplantation. The findings said that the risks far outweighed the benefits of continued use.21

Britain and Canada removed Cylert from the market after reports of death related to liver problems in people taking it.

October 24, 2005: The FDA finally withdrew Cylert from the market because of its “overall risk of liver toxicity” and liver failure.22


The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) warns, “psychotic episodes can occur” with abuse. Suicide is the major complication of withdrawal from Ritalin and similar drugs.23

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says Ritalin could lead to addiction and that “psychotic episodes, violent behavior and bizarre mannerisms had been reported” with its use.24

2002: Researchers at the University of Buffalo conducted studies that showed Ritalin might cause long-term changes in the brain. Conducted on rats, the study revealed the changes to the brain are similar to those seen with cocaine.25

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights investigates and exposes psychiatric violations of human rights. It works shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded groups and individuals who share a common purpose to clean up the field of mental health. It shall continue to do so until psychiatry’s abusive and coercive practices cease and human rights and dignity are returned to all.

For further information consult the Physicians’ Desk Reference, which can be found at It could be dangerous to immediately cease taking psychiatric drugs because of significant and dangerous withdrawal side effects. No one should stop taking any psychiatric drug without the advice and assistance of a competent, medical doctor. This report and CCHR does not offer medical advice or recommendations.