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  • Methylphenidate HCL, brand name Concerta, is a prescription drug that treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It also treats narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder.

    Concerta has a high potential for substance abuse. Concerta use can have several adverse health effects on both your physical and mental health.

    How Concerta Works

    Concerta is a central nervous system stimulant. The central nervous system is made of the brain and spinal cord. Most of the body and mind’s functions run through the central nervous system.

    The brain produces several chemicals to keep your body running smoothly. Two such chemicals vare dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine controls motivation and attention span, while norepinephrine controls blood pressure and heart rate.

    Unusual dopamine levels are often a cause of ADHD. Concerta treats this by changing dopamine levels. Norepinephrine can also help treat ADHD by increasing attention and drive.

    Concerta Vs. Adderall Vs. Ritalin

    Concerta, Ritalin, and Adderall are three common prescriptions that treat ADHD. However, they attempt to treat ADHD in different ways. 

    Concerta and Ritalin have the same active ingredient, methylphenidate. Both are central nervous system stimulant medications. Concerta affects both norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, while Ritalin mostly controls dopamine levels. 

    Adderall is an amphetamine, which also affects the central nervous system. Amphetamines focus on controlling norepinephrine levels in the brain. Norepinephrine mostly affects blood pressure and heart rate.

    Concerta is a long-acting tablet, which gradually affects the body throughout the day. Ritalin is a long-acting capsule. Adderall is an immediate-release tablet, which goes into effect right away.

    Is Concerta Safe?

    Prescription medication is tested and approved by medical professionals long before it makes its way to your local pharmacy. Following the guidelines set by your doctor should minimize the chances of side effects.

    However, no drug is completely safe. Concerta affects your brain chemistry, as well as the mixture of chemicals in your body. This may lead to unexpected side effects and health problems.

    Taking the recommended dosage and communicating with your doctor is the safest way to take Concerta.

    Side Effects Of Concerta

    Concerta may have a number of physical and mental side effects, even when taken properly. 

    Side effects of Concerta may include:

    • high blood pressure
    • loss of appetite
    • weight loss
    • dry mouth
    • changes in body temperature
    • muscle tightness
    • back pain
    • mood swings
    • depressive symptoms

    If you experience any number of these symptoms while taking Concerta, talk to your doctor.

    Effects Of Concerta Abuse

    According to the FDA, Concerta is a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that it has seen widespread substance abuse throughout the years.

    Concerta can be abused in a number of ways. Both Ritalin and Concerta contain methylphenidate, and both can be crushed up and inhaled. This is known as “snorting.” Concerta can also be taken in excessive amounts, or mixed with other prescriptions.

    The abuse of Concerta can cause a number of side effects. Like other prescription stimulants, taking Concerta will lead to increased brain activity. Overuse of Concerta may increase these effects to a dangerous level.

    You can spot signs of recent Concerta abuse in a family member or loved one if they:

    • overuse their Concerta prescription
    • do not have a prescription and still take Concerta
    • take Concerta with other prescriptions or alcohol

    Concerta abuse can lead to health problems. You should get help for yourself or a loved one who is at risk for abusing Concerta.

    Concerta Addiction

    Concerta addiction can affect both your physical and mental health. Drug addiction generally happens when mental or physical dependence forms around taking the drug. One may also become addicted when taking increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effect.

    You can spot signs of Concerta addiction in a family member or loved one. One who has recently taken the drug, or who hasn’t taken it for a while, will exhibit certain signs.

    Signs of Concerta addiction include:

    • drug tolerance (taking larger doses to get the same effect) Learn more about Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms
    • craving of Concerta
    • depression (especially after stopping Concerta)
    • experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use

    Risk Of Concerta Overdose

    Stimulant drugs can have severe effects when you take too much because they overload your central nervous system. While overdose may not always be fatal, intense professional care may be required to fight the overdose.

    Symptoms of Concerta overdose include:

    • vomiting
    • tremors (uncontrollable shaking)
    • flushing
    • palpitations
    • heart arrhythmia
    • convulsions

    Concerta overdose is serious and may require medical assistance. If you or a loved one exhibits these symptoms after taking Concerta, get help right away.

    Learn more about Concerta Overdose

    Concerta Abuse Treatment Options

    Concerta is a Schedule II controlled substance. Many people have struggled with Concerta abuse and addiction, along with other stimulant drugs. Thankfully, treatment options for stimulant addiction have also seen success.

    Behavioral Therapy

    Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most well-known treatment options for stimulant addiction. It helps patients minimize their chances of relapse while offering coping skills for living free of substance use.

    Other behavioral therapies that have proven to work for stimulant addiction include:

    If you or a family member are struggling with drug abuse, our addiction treatment programs offer safe and welcoming environments for recovery. To learn more, please contact us today.


    How Long Does Concerta Last In Your System?

    It depends. Because of Concerta’s 3.5 hour half-life, it can last in your system from 7-8 hours. However, a number of factors like age, weight, and drug history can affect that timeline, as well as when it’s likely to show up on a drug test.

    To learn more, read How Long Does Concerta Stay In Your System?

    How Much Does Concerta Cost On The Street?

    On the street, Concerta usually costs about $2 to $15 per pill. The specific price depends on factors such as strength and supply.

    Learn more about Concerta Street Value & Names

    Can You Snort Concerta?

    Concerta (methylphenidate HCL) is a prescription stimulant that can be crushed and snorted. When Concerta is snorted, the drug quickly enters the bloodstream and causes rapid effects. Snorting Concerta is not recommended due to the life-threatening side effects that may occur.

    Learn more about Snorting Concerta

    What Is A Concerta Crash?

    A Concerta crash is the return of ADHD symptoms as the effects of Concerta wear off. A crash usually lasts for about an hour. If it lasts longer or is especially severe, a crash may be signs of more serious problems with Concerta use.

    Learn more about a Concerta Crash

    Is Concerta Approved For Weight Loss?

    Concerta is not approved by the FDA for weight loss. 

    Many stimulant medications like Concerta cause appetite suppression that may lead to weight loss. But using these drugs just to lose weight isn’t the best choice, since they are addictive and have a long list of side effects.

    Learn more about Concerta & Weight Loss

    Is Concerta Or Vyvanse Better For ADHD?

    Whether Concerta or Vyvanse is better for ADHD depends on the person taking the drug. Concerta may work best for some people while Vyvanse may work better for others.

    Learn more about Concerta Vs. Vyvanse

    Are Concerta & Adderall The Same?

    Although Adderall and Concerta are both prescription stimulants that treat ADHD and narcolepsy, they are different. Concerta is the brand name for methylphenidate while Adderall is the brand name for amphetamine/dextroamphetamine.

    Learn more about Concerta Vs. Adderall

    How Are Concerta & Ritalin Different?

    Concerta and Ritalin are both brand names for methylphenidate. The main difference is that Ritalin is available as an immediate-release formulation while Concerta is only available as an extended-release tablet.

    Learn more about Concerta Vs. Ritalin

    Can You Get High On Concerta?

    Yes, you can get high on Concerta. Getting high on Concerta can cause life-threatening side effects, such as psychosis, heart attack, and severe weight loss.

    Learn more about Getting High On Concerta

    What’s A Typical Dose Of Concerta?

    A typical dose of Concerta for adults and children starts at 18 mg daily but can increase as needed.

    Learn more about Concerta Dosage

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration - Concerta (methylphenidate HCL)
    Harvard Health Publishing - Overcoming cocaine or stimulant addiction - Harvard Health
    U.S. National Library of Medicine - Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information
    U.S. National Library of Medicine - Methylphenidate: MedlinePlus Drug Information

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
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