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  • Concerta is the brand name for methylphenidate and methylphenidate hydrochloride. It’s a long-acting prescription drug and central nervous system stimulant medication often used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

    Concerta works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which helps to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. It does come with some side effects including dry mouth, mood swings, weight loss, and loss of appetite. 

    Other ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which share an active ingredient with Concerta, work in similar ways to Concerta.

    There are multiple types of tests that can detect Concerta in the body, but how long they detect the drug depends on the test as well as a variety of other factors

    Drug Testing For Concerta

    Each type of drug test has a different detection rate. Some can detect Concerta a day or two after use while others can detect it months later. 

    • blood test: although not typically used for drug screenings, Concerta can be detected up to 4 days after last use
    • urine test: detects Concerta 1 to 3 days after last use
    • saliva test: detects Concerta 1 to 3 days after last use
    • hair test: can detect Concerta in hair follicles up to 90 days after last use

    Half-life Of Concerta

    The half-life of Concerta, or how long it takes for half the drug to work its way through the body, is about 3.5 hours in adults and 2.5 hours in kids. 

    This means the drug will have completely left your system in about 7-8 hours if you’re an adult. However, the therapeutic effects can last up to 12 hours.

    If you’ve been using Concerta for a while or abusing it and taking higher doses, once it leaves your system, withdrawal symptoms like irregular heart rate, nausea, anxiety, and headaches may set in.

    How long the drug stays in your system, whether you’ve been abusing it or not, depends on a variety of different factors.

    Factors Affecting How Long Concerta Stays In Your System

    While there are average amounts of time for how long Concerta can be detected in your body and how long it takes to exit your system, there are some factors that may shorten or lengthen that time, including:

    • person’s height and weight 
    • level of activity
    • metabolism
    • age
    • health status
    • kidney function
    • genes
    • medical history
    • if immediate-release or extended-release tablets are taken
    • dose of Concerta taken
    • how long Concerta has been taken

    Why Drug Test For Concerta?

    There are a variety of reasons someone may be given a drug test. Those testing may be looking for Concerta abuse or addiction. 

    Concerta is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means it has a high potential for abuse. A drug test could be given by a healthcare provider to check on drug use in someone who has abused it in the past.

    But, besides monitoring for abuse, drug tests can also be given for:

    • pre-employment
    • random employee drug checks
    • athletics organizations/sports
    • forensic or legal purposes

    If you’re struggling with drug abuse or addiction, it’s never too early or late to ask for help. Call our helpline today and find the treatment program that’s right for you.

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

    Food & Drug Administration (FDA) - Concerta Label
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Methylphenidate
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Drug Testing

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 26, 2022
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