According to a report in The Observer the children’s drug Ritalin has a more potent effect on the brain than cocaine, a study has found. Using brain imaging, scientists have found that, in pill form, Ritalin – taken by thousands of British children and four million in the United States – occupies more of the neural transporters responsible for the ‘high’ experienced by addicts than smoked or injected cocaine. The research may alarm parents whose children have been prescribed Ritalin as a solution to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Even in pill form, Ritalin blocked far more of the brain transporters that affect mood change and had a greater potency in the brain than cocaine. Researchers were shocked by this finding. A normal dose administered to children blocked 70 per cent of the dopamine transporters. Cocaine is known to block around 50 per cent of these transporters, leaving a surfeit of dopamine in the system, which is responsible for the hit addicts crave.
Opponents of Ritalin, labeled a “‘wonder drug” and a “chemical cosh”, believe it may be addictive and has dangerous side-effects. A spokeswoman for Novartis, which makes Ritalin, said: “Ritalin is available as tablets only. It should only be initially prescribed by a doctor who is a specialist in child behavioral disorders and should always be used and monitored under strict medical supervision.”