Methylphenidate is a drug commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD involves persistent lack of attention, hyperactivity, and restlessness. Methylphenidate stimulates the central nervous system, which reduces the symptoms of ADHD. The mechanisms by which this drug works are unknown. ADHD is more common in children. However, many children never outgrow the disease.


Many athletes, who have not been prescribed the drug, use it as a recreational drug. This drug is mainly used in an effort to improve performance in school, by improving attention.


  • Nervousness.

  • Decreased appetite.

  • Inability to sleep (insomnia).

  • Stomach pain.

  • Tearfulness.

  • Headaches.

  • Heat illness (rare).

  • Skin rash.

  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

  • Increased heart rate (usually only with the first few doses).


Methylphenidate is a reliable drug for treating ADHD. It improves coordination and attention span. It may also reduce aggression. There is no evidence showing that this drug will improve skills such as hitting a baseball or fielding. Methylphenidate breaks down quickly in the body (4 to 6 hours). It should not be taken with other drugs such as anorexiants, MOI's, or sibutramine (appetite suppressants). Short breaks from the medicine are often advised.


Certain athletic governing bodies, such as the International Olympic Committee, test for methylphenidate because it is a stimulant. Acceptable drug levels have not been established for competition, although they have been considered. Athletes are advised not to take this drug for recreational use. Athletes who have been diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed methylphenidate should use the drug, but only as prescribed by their caregiver.