Concerta Addiction: Symptoms and Treatment - PAX Riverbend

Everything You Need to Know About Concerta Abuse and Addiction

concerta pills

Concerta (methylphenidate) is a stimulant medication that is often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although highly effective when taken as prescribed, the drug is similar to Ritalin and has a high potential for abuse and addiction. This medication is most commonly abused among college students, and even athletes, who want to enhance their attention, focus, and energy.

What is Concerta (methylphenidate)?

Concerta pills come in many different doses and colors. For example, the pill comes in the following strengths: 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, and 54 mg, and the cylindrical pills may be either yellow, white, red, or gray. Methylphenidate is the generic name for Concerta, and it is sold under additional brand names, as well, including Ritalin, Metadate, and Aptensio. Concerta, in particular, is an extended-release version of methylphenidate and its effects can last up to 12 hours.[1]

This stimulant medication has a calming and relaxing effect on people who struggle with ADHD allowing them to remain focused. When abused, the drug produces energizing and stimulating effects that people can become addicted to. Concerta abuse is any use of the medication that goes against medicinal use. For example, taking a higher dose than suggested or using the medication without a prescription are both considered medication abuse. Long term abuse of the drug ultimately increases the risk of Concerta addiction.

Side Effects of Concerta Abuse

When abused, Concerta increases dopamine levels in the brain. In people with ADHD, this treats their condition. In others, it produces a high similar to that of Adderall or cocaine. Some people abuse Concerta by taking a larger dose than recommended while others crush and snort the substance to achieve a stronger and faster high. Users who are in the advanced stage of their addiction may use the drug intravenously.

Like other stimulants, Concerta affects both the brain and the central nervous system, impacting areas that are responsible for impulse control and energy. There are many reasons why some people abuse Concerta. For example, some people abuse it for its stimulant properties to stay awake longer, study throughout the night, have extra energy for products, or for a boost of energy before a sports game. Others abuse Concerta in an attempt to suppress their appetite and lose weight.

In high doses, individuals can overdose on Concerta. Symptoms of an overdose include:[2]

Symptoms of Concerta Overdose

Both long term and excessive Concerta use can put a strain on the heart and central nervous system, resulting in a heart attack, stroke, seizure, coma, cardiac arrhythmia, and more.

This medication is often combined with other types of drugs or alcohol as drug users try to produce more powerful effects. However, combining Concerta with alcohol or other drugs can have extremely dangerous and life-threatening consequences, such as overdose, drug poisoning, alcohol poisoning, and ultimately, addiction. Mixing substances, or polydrug use, may also lead to compounded negative side effects such as headaches, irritability, dizziness, nausea, and more.[3]

Recognizing Concerta Addiction

As a Schedule II controlled substance, Concerta carries a high-risk potential for addiction. When abused in the long-term, addiction is very likely. Someone who is addicted to Concerta will experience painful withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. These include paranoia, depression, fatigue, and hypersomnia. They may also experience intense drug cravings when they aren’t high and go to any lengths necessary to get another prescription or more pills.

Other signs of Concerta addiction are:

  • Visiting multiple doctors in an attempt to get multiple prescriptions
  • Purchasing Concerta illegally on the street
  • Developing a tolerance where the person needs to take higher and higher doses to get high
  • Lying to friends and family about drug use, finances, behaviors, and whereabouts
  • Isolating from friends, family, and events or activities a person used to enjoy
  • Losing weight and being energized or over productive most of the time
  • Lying, stealing, or manipulating in order to continue one’s drug habit
  • Acting out on risky or illegal behaviors

People who are addicted to Concerta should never stop taking the medication cold-turkey or without medical supervision. Instead, the best way to detox from Concerta and start recovery is by participating in a tapering plan that is supervised by a physician. This way a person’s dose will be slowly reduced until he or she is no longer dependent on or withdrawing from the substance.

Find Help for Concerta Addiction Today

You don’t have to live the rest of your life addicted to Concerta or any other drugs. With the help of a professional addiction treatment program, you can detox safely, get the therapy you need, and obtain support from your peers. If you or a loved one are struggling with Concerta addiction, don’t wait any longer. Our dedicated drug and alcohol counselors can help. Call now.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.