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The Effects of Concerta Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

What Is Concerta Used For?

Concerta is the trade name of a central nervous system stimulant known as methylphenidate. It is prescribed mainly for the treatment of:

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Narcolepsy.

As a stimulant, it can help patients pay attention, stay focused, and limit behavior issues relating to hyperactivity. However, Concerta abuse leads to harmful effects and increases the risk of addiction.

Is Concerta Harmful?

drugabuse_istock-14340440-young-girl-drunk-glass-against-foreheadPrescriptions containing methylphenidate—such as Concerta and Ritalin—are increasingly abused and mixed with other drugs and/or alcohol. In fact, those with a history of any kind of substance abuse are advised to avoid taking Concerta, which is classified as a Schedule II drug with potential for abuse.

Using Concerta without the consent and direction of a medical professional is dangerous and can lead to a host of medical problems.

Concerta also does not mix well with alcohol, as the two substances affect the brain in opposite ways. Combining central nervous system stimulants and depressants (e.g. alcohol) can mute the perceived effects of both, leading someone to consume increasingly toxic levels of the two substances.

Short-Term Effects of Concerta Use

Known for their reputation as “study drugs” or “smart drugs,” prescription stimulants like Concerta are often abused by drug users looking to get a “focused high” or by students looking to focus on finishing a paper or test.

While on the drug, Concerta users may get feelings of:

  • Increased focus.
  • Alertness.
  • Euphoria.

However, stimulant misuse can actually do long-term damage to the brain and body. For example, abusing stimulants can actually hamper the development of a young brain. Continue reading to learn more about the effects of Concerta use.

Concerta Side Effects

The side effects of Concerta use can be mild or extreme. Side effects depend on the dosage taken, the body chemistry of the user, and the presence of other substances in the body. Side effects of Concerta use can include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Agitation.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Headaches.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Hypertension.
  • Insomnia.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Impaired vision.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Arrhythmias.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.

Long-Term Effects of Concerta Use

The long-term effects of Concerta abuse can be dangerous and, in some cases, life-threatening. These effects can include those listed above, as well as:

  • Tolerance to the drug.
  • Addiction/Concerta dependence.
  • Seizures.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Tendency to bruise easily.
  • Weight loss.
  • Delusions.
  • Paranoia.
  • Violence.

Concerta Dependence

drugabuse_istock-58830606-young-woman-in-jacket-head-in-hand-against-wallConcerta dependence is closely associated with the development of drug tolerance. Upon taking any drug for sustained periods of time, especially at doses higher than recommended, the body becomes tolerant to it.

When you’ve developed a tolerance to Concerta, you begin to need more and more of the drug to feel the same sense of alertness and euphoria. Higher doses mean higher risk. The more you take, the more likely you are to experience the negative effects of Concerta use, which can include both physical and psychological problems.

Addiction can be debilitating. If you are in need of help and don’t know where to go, call American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at to talk to one of our addiction treatment support specialists and discover how you can find your way back from Concerta dependence.

Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms

Concerta withdrawal treatment can be difficult and uncomfortable. Those detoxing from Concerta may experience the following stimulant withdrawal symptoms:

  • Depression and suicidal ideation.
  • Manic states.
  • Cravings.
  • Fatigue.
  • Foggy thinking.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Increased thirst and appetite.
  • Sleep changes and weight changes.
  • Problems concentrating without the drug.

The duration of the Concerta withdrawal process really depends on the length of the addiction and the individual’s body chemistry. Typically, stimulant withdrawal can last for one to two weeks. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe and can occur anywhere inside this window of time.

NOTE: It is smart to detox under close medical supervision, such as in a rehab facility, because of the risk of depression during withdrawal and the possibility that underlying mental disorders may be revealed during the detox process.

Learn about 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day detox programs.

How to Find Concerta Addiction Treatment

If you or someone that you love is dealing with Concerta abuse issues, you don’t have to wait for things to change on their own. You can get help. Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. Give us a call free at to learn more about substance abuse and treatment options with AAC. We can help you to find a specialized rehab center that meets your specific personal requirements.

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