Types of Ritalin

by Susan Willets on September 12, 2008

Ritalin is available in many different forms, but essentially, they are all Ritalin. These varieties are all extremely similar forms of the drug but with various chemical differences to create different effects in children. Not everyone responds to Ritalin in the same manner and as a result, differing forms of Ritalin exist – each with a specific time span of effectiveness.

Short Term (Effective for 3-5 hours)

  • Ritalin is a fine, white, powdery substance that can be ingested in a number of ways. It can be taken as a capsule or a tablet.
  • Methylin, also a form of methylphenidrate, can be taken as either a chewable tablet or as an oral solution. The chewable tablet tastes good, but due to the manner in which it is ingested, it doesn’t have a slow-release factor.

These are immediate release drugs and can be broken, crushed or chewed making them easier for children to take.

One downfall is that they have to be taken more than once a day which can be a problem for some users. An additional dose often needs to be taken around lunchtime and many patients either forget or don’t want to take their medication at school/work in front of their peers.

Intermediate (Effective for 3-8 hours)

Ritalin SR, Metadate ER and Methylin ER are all extended release forms of methlyphenidate. These are usually administered in the form of a pill or capsule and can be taken with or without food.

It is important to take extended release medicines in their entirety. Do not to crush, break or chew the pills as this will release too much medication into the system at once.

Long Term (Effective for 8-12 hours)

ConcertaMetadate CD and Ritalin LA are all forms of Ritalin that offer a slow-release action rather than an immediate release. These medications are usually given only once a day and the caplets/pills must be swallowed whole. While short-term forms of Ritalin can be opened and sprinkled onto food, this will release too much medication into the system too quickly with long-term forms.
The Daytrana Patch is another form of Ritalin. The dermal patch functions exactly as the nicotine patch. It is applied to the skin, usually on the upper arm, and worn throughout the day. It is a slow-release medication that can be used by children and adults.

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