• For 24/7 Treatment Help Call:

    (800) 526-5053

  • Although the stimulant medications Concerta and Ritalin are both used in ADHD treatment and contain the same active ingredient, they are different in terms of formulation and dosage/strength.

    Methylphenidate hydrochloride, the active ingredient in both brand-name drugs, is a medication used to help treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the sleeping disorder narcolepsy. 

    Concerta and Ritalin are also both Schedule II controlled substances according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means they have the potential for abuse and addiction.

    Differences Between Concerta & Ritalin

    Despite the many similarities between these ADHD medications, there are a few differences between the brand name versions of methylphenidate, Concerta and Ritalin.

    Although both drugs are stimulants that affect the central nervous system (CNS) by increasing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, the medications work in different ways. 

    Release Formulations

    Concerta is a long-acting and extended-release tablet while Ritalin is a short-acting and immediate release drug.

    Extended-release drugs like Concerta extend a medication’s effects and reduce the number of daily doses. Immediate-release drugs like Ritalin are fast-acting and the effects don’t last as long.

    However, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), other types of Ritalin include Ritalin SR and Ritalin LA, which have some extended-release properties.

    Dosage & Strength

    The other key difference between Ritalin and Concerta is the dosage and strength. Concerta is available in 18, 27, 36, and 54 mg tablets. Ritalin tablets are available in 5, 10, or 20 mg.

    Although the formulations and strengths may differ, Ritalin and Concerta should be discussed with your doctor. The healthcare professional prescribing your medication to treat ADHD symptoms can help assist you in deciding which drug is right for you.

    Similarities Between Concerta & Ritalin

    In addition to reducing the symptoms of ADHD such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention, Concerta and Ritalin are similar in terms of side effects, drug interactions, and contraindications.

    Side Effects

    Concerta and Ritalin can produce the same common side effects such as:

    • increase in blood pressure
    • increase in body temperature
    • mood changes
    • increase in heart rate
    • sleep problems
    • vomiting
    • loss of appetite or weight loss
    • fainting
    • paranoia
    • dry mouth

    Despite these similarities, those who abuse Ritalin may suffer from more serious side effects due to its immediate-release formulation. More serious side effects can include a heart attack, psychosis, and seizures.

    Drug Interactions

    Combining Concerta or Ritalin with other substances may create dangerous drug interactions. Combining medications is a form of drug abuse.

    Those taking these stimulant medications should avoid other substances such as:

    • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    • supplements or vitamins
    • antidepressants
    • other stimulant medications including lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) or amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
    • decongestants
    • antihistamines
    • alcohol
    • anticoagulants

    Health Conditions

    Before taking Concerta or Ritalin, consult the medical advice of your healthcare provider. Those with the following medical conditions should speak with their doctor before taking any stimulant:

    • those with heart problems
    • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • those suffering from glaucoma
    • those with a history of mental health problems including mood disorders such as bipolar disorder
    • those with tics or who have Tourette’s Syndrome

    If painful erections in men or menstrual problems in women occur, contact your doctor immediately.

    For information on our prescription stimulant addiction treatment options, please contact us.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Sources

    Food and Drug Administration - Concerta
    Food and Drug Administration - Ritalin
    National Alliance on Mental Illness - Methylphenidate or Dexmethylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin, and others)
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Stimulant ADHD Medications
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Methylphenidatet

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on October 21, 2022
    Questions About Treatment?

    Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Achieve long-term recovery.

    100% confidential. We respect your privacy.
    Prefer Texting?
    We've got you covered.

    Receive 24/7 text support right away.
    There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

    chat-header

    For Immediate Treatment Help Call 800-526-5053