Adverse Side Effects of Using Central Nervous System Stimulants

Methylphenidate (MPH) is a central nervous system stimulant, which affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Hence, this is used in the treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperacitivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, lethargy, obesity, and other psychiatric disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Many people, particularly teens think that MPH is safe or mild drug because of its medical use. Pre-teens and adolescents abuse this drug to lose weight, stay awake or increase their attention span or for euphoric effects. According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released in 2009, 1.8 percent of 8th graders, 3.6 percent of 10th graders, and 2.1 percent of 12th graders abuse methylphenidate.

Many of them are ignorant of the adverse side effects of using methylphenidate in higher doses or without prescription. There are many common and serious side effects of MPH abuse. Some of them are:

Common side effects:

The few main common side effects of methylphenidate abuse are:


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, MPH abuse may lead to tolerance and severe psychological dependence, Methlyphenidate is considered as a ‘Schedule II drug,’ as it has high addiction potential. Methylphenidate is as addictive as cocaine or any other illicit drug.

Anxiety and irritability

MPH abuser may feel restless, edgy or keyed up. MPH abuser will have difficulty in concentration, muscle tension, sleep disturbances which result in anxiety and irritability. MPH results in anxiety because of increase in blood pressure.

Decreased appetite

The MPH acts as an appetite suppressor. MPH abusers may experience fatigue as the proper nutrition is not supplied to the body due to decreased appetite. It also induces weight loss. This is the main reason of abuse in teenagers for weight reduction. This overall leads to malnutrition.

Headache and stomach ache

Many people using MPH without a professional medical practitioner’s advice, suffer from headache and stomach ache. As with any other illicit drug, headache and stomach ache might result because of the methylphenidate drug overdose.

Other effects

The other effects of MPH include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, growth suppression, leukopenia (decrease in WBC), hypersensitivity, skin rashes, anemia, jaundice, nervousness, anorexia, tachycardia, agitation, hallucinations, psychosis, hyperthermia, dysrhythmias, lethargy, hypertension etc.

Serious effects:

Some of the serious effects of MPH abuse include:

Slow growth (height and weight)

As the appetite is decreased by the use of MPH, proper minerals and vitamins which are required to the body are not provided. This results in slow growth. Usually, there will not be much increase in weight and height. Dwarfism might result as a result of malnutrition.


Seizures are one of the major side effects of MPH. Generally, seizures are caused because of abnormal brain function. Methylphenidate drug abuse causes seizures as it affects the chemical composition of the brain. Prolonged use of MPH will lead to epilepsy.

Eyesight changes or Blurred vision

After the intake of MPH, some people have visual disturbances. MPH abuse causes changes in eyesight. Sometimes, it may also result in blurred vision as a result of overdose. The overdose might also result in enlargement of the pupil of the eye.

Many children and adults are getting addicted to this drug as a result of prolonged abuse. It is important to know the serious and adverse effects of this drug. It is necessary to educate people, particularly teenagers about the adverse effects of MPH in order to prevent them from destroying their life.