Concerta is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Once-a-day-Concerta is often prescribed to treat ADHD. The drug helps control the chemicals in the brain that are associated with hyperactivity and impulse control. Concerta is a relatively new drug; it’s been on the market since 2000 and is prescribed to adults and children over the age of six. While Concerta is a helpful medication for people who need it, it can also be habit-forming and is associated with prescription drug abuse and addiction. Like the drug ADHD drug Adderall (amphetamine-based), which has also been widely abused, Concerta (methylphenidate-based, similar to Ritalin) is an alternative for treatment with a different chemical foundation. Read on to learn more about Concerta.
Introduction to Concerta
Long-acting Concerta is only available in extended-release form and is the brand name for methylphenidate. It has the same active ingredient as other stimulants used to treat ADHD like Ritalin. Concerta is a Schedule II drug because it can be abused and has some history of leading to dependence. The drug’s time-release formulation is designed to promote a steady level of medication in the individual’s body. When taken properly, a dose of Concerta should stay in the individual’s system for 12 hours, curbing impulsivity and enhancing focus. Concerta should never be taken without a doctor’s prescription.
Concerta is prescribed in pill form. The pills are cylindrical in shape and may stand out as they appear more of a pellet than a normal rounded pill. They come in different colors in accordance with their potency. Colors include red, gray, yellow, and white. Strengths include 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, and 54 mg. The drug is associated with various slang terms used for ‘study drugs’ such as “smarties,” “kiddy cocaine,” “kiddie coke,” “kibbles and bits,” and “skittles.” People who abuse the drug may take the pill in ways other than indicated creating a much more dangerous product. Since the pill is designed to be a slow-release tablet, crushing it or mixing it with something will destroy its mechanisms and deliver a much different effect than taken normally. The potential for overdosing on methylphenidate HCl is increased greatly in these cases.
When is Concerta Used?
Physicians typically prescribe once-a-day-concerta for ADHD, but it is sometimes prescribed to treat narcolepsy. Concerta has become a popular option for ADHD treatment because it lasts longer in the person’s system than other drugs that treat the condition (like Adderall). Concerta’s slow-release formulation is what sets it apart from other ADHD drugs. People who take the drug should experience improvement in their ability to focus. Unfortunately, there can be side effects. Both children and adults who take Concerta may experience difficulty sleeping, a decrease in appetite, stomach aches, nausea, weight loss, and headaches.
It’s important to tell your physician about any side effects you have experienced and if they persist. Also, if the drug stops working as well as it once did, it’s important to let your doctor know. In serious cases, a person taking Concerta could experience complications that might include hallucinations and delusions.
Concerta and Addiction
As a Schedule II drug, Concerta is associated with a risk for abuse and addiction. As it works in the body, Concerta’s active ingredient intensifies levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the central nervous system. Activating these brain chemicals causes pleasant, feel-good effects. Other drugs that are listed as Schedule II controlled substances include morphine, Vicodin, and cocaine, which is why the drug is strictly controlled by physicians.
Taking more of the drug than is prescribed or taking it before the next scheduled dose are forms of abuse that can lead to the development of addiction. People who are under a doctor’s care can still become addicted to Concerta, which is why it’s important to tell your doctor if it begins to work less effectively than before. This could be a sign that an individual has developed a tolerance for the dose. Rather than increase the dose, some physicians may opt for a different drug to treat the condition.
Taking this drug without a prescription is a form of drug abuse. People who take the drug from someone else or buy it on the street are at risk for Concerta overdose, especially when taking too much at once. Because the drug is slow-acting, people sometimes take too much after thinking that the amount taken isn’t working or combine it with other drugs without realizing the interactions that occur. This is dangerous as Concerta can be fatal if you if you take too much.
How Does Concerta Addiction Happen?
A person can become addicted to a habit-forming drug-like Concerta when their body and mind become dependent on it. It’s important to remember that addiction involves both mind and body. That’s why people who only go through detox often wind up relapsing; the mind, too, must be treated for dependency. By increasing the dose of Concerta, a person can develop a tolerance to it. To achieve its effects, the individual must take more. This practice paves the path to addiction.
What Are the Dangers of Abusing Concerta?
When taken at low doses, Concerta does what it’s meant to do: treat ADHD. However, when taken in high doses by someone who routinely or habitually abuses the drug, Concerta can cause serious health problems that include:
- Heart attack
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Stomach damage
- Cognitive problems
- Development of tics
- Delusional behaviors
Also, there is always the risk of an overdose. When buying this drug on the street, an individual can’t be sure of the dose level. Additionally, it’s not safe to take this drug with other drugs or alcohol.
Signs and Symptoms of Concerta Abuse/Addiction
People who abuse Concerta or who have developed an addiction to it might exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- Obtaining the drug from family members or friends
- Taking the drug in a manner that is unprescribed (grinding up the pills and snorting them)
- Taking more than is prescribed by a doctor
- Is unable to stop using the drug
- Uses the drug for non-medical reasons
- Begins to withdraw from family or friends
- Fails to meet obligations at work or school
- Experience urges to take the drug
- Experiences withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken
Addiction to a stimulant like Concerta is serious. If you or a loved one is abusing this drug, it’s important to get help. Many people who are addicted to powerful drugs may engage in high-risk behaviors like driving while under the influence, sharing needles, or taking the drug in combination with other drugs.
Treatment for Concerta Addiction
A person who is addicted to Concerta will experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t take the drug. Concerta withdrawal symptoms include:
- Panic attacks
- Irregular heartbeat
People can experience these symptoms after about 24 hours of stopping the drug’s use. Rather than stopping cold turkey, it’s best to seek treatment at a professional addiction treatment facility like FHE Health. Medical detox is typically the first step in the treatment of Concerta addiction. As individuals are slowly weaned from the drug, medical caregivers can treat the withdrawal symptoms.
At FHE Health, individuals can choose between inpatient and outpatient detox. Addiction specialists can help individuals choose the ideal treatment protocol. Remember, detox only addresses the physical dependency associated with Concerta addiction. Multi-type treatments are essential for managing all aspects of the addiction.
Treating the Psychological Dependency
After medical detox, individuals can enter the next phase of their treatment plan. Subsequent treatments target the mental and behavioral dependencies associated with Concerta addiction. For instance, an individual who became addicted to the drug because they believed it helped them perform better on tests or at work will need help overcoming this dependency. They’ll need tips for managing their triggers. Without treatment, relapse is likely.
FHE Health offers comprehensive treatments for individuals who are addicted to Concerta. Through medical detox and behavioral health therapies, individuals can get the help they need to manage their addiction and achieve long-term recovery. Don’t put off getting the help you need. Addiction is a chronic disease that is often progressive. This means, without treatment, it’s likely to get worse— and your physical and mental health is far too precious to lose on account of Concerta. Contact FHE Health today.