Concerta: Side Effects, Misuse, & Treatment

Concerta is a type of prescription stimulant medication.1 Prescription stimulants are commonly used to treat conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1

However, while Concerta is a legal medication with legitimate medical purposes, it can be misused.2 Traditionally, prescription stimulants like Concerta have been more commonly misused among teens and young adults who use it as a study drug, however some studies have also shown that adults misuse prescription medications for a variety of different reasons, including to lose weight and to stay awake.1,3 Elderly individuals may also misuse these medications to improve their memory.1

This article will help you understand what Concerta is and why it’s used. It also lists possible Concerta effects, discusses Concerta addiction, Concerta overdose, and Concerta withdrawal symptoms, as well as how to seek Concerta addiction treatment at AdCare.

What Is Concerta & What Is It Used For?

Concerta, a brand name for methylphenidate, is FDA-approved for the treatment of ADHD.2 The exact mechanism of Concerta’s action on symptoms of ADHD isn’t totally understood, but it is thought to work by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, known as dopamine and norepinephrine.1,2

Despite its therapeutic benefits, this prescription stimulant medication carries a high potential for misuse and dependence, and it is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.2,4

Effects of Concerta Misuse

Concerta misuse can produce a number of effects that can range in severity based on how much is being misused, how frequently misuse is occurring, and in what capacity it is being misused. Common effects of Concerta misuse can include:2

  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Nausea.
  • Irritability.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Dizziness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.

Other effects, including but not limited to, tremors, dry mouth, and vertigo, can also occur when Concerta is being misused.2

Other Health Effects of Concerta Misuse

The chronic, long-term misuse of Concerta can lead to the development of serious health effects which are different than acute effects, such as those listed above. Some of these health effects can be potentially life-threatening and can include:

  • Cardiac problems. This can include sudden death in people with heart problems or heart defects, stroke and heart attack in adults, or increased blood pressure and heart rate.2
  • Psychiatric problems. This may involve new or worsened thought and behavioral problems, new or worsened bipolar disorder, or new or worsened aggressive behavior or hostility.2
  • Seizures. Concerta can lower the convulsive threshold, which is a term used to describe a person’s individual level of resistance to seizures.2,5 The lowering of this threshold can contribute to an increased risk for seizures to occur.2
  • Blood and lymphatic disorders. The continued misuse of Concerta can lead to the development of leukopenia, a condition where the body experiences a decrease in white blood cells.2,6 The greatest risk associated with this condition is the risk of infection, which can lead to severe or even fatal outcomes.5
  • Musculoskeletal disorders. Rhabdomyolysis is a specific medical condition where damaged muscle tissues release electrolytes and protein into the blood.6 Both of these substances can impact vital organs and systems, including the heart and kidneys, in a serious, possibly fatal manner.7

Some people may have an increased risk for experiencing both acute and chronic Concerta effects regardless of the severity of their use due to pre-existing conditions like mental illness, structural cardiac abnormalities, cardiomyopathy, serious heart rhythm abnormalities, coronary artery disease, or other serious cardiovascular problems.2

Is Concerta Addictive?

Yes. Concerta misuse can expose people to the risk of addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease that usually develops after tolerance has been established, causing compulsive substance use despite the negative consequences associated with it.8

Can You Overdose on Concerta?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Concerta.2 An overdose occurs when a person takes enough of a substance to produce adverse and potentially life-threatening effects.1

Symptoms of Concerta overdose can include:2

  • Vomiting.
  • Agitation.
  • Convulsions.
  • Confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Palpitations.
  • High blood pressure.

The risk of overdose can increase if a person is also using other substances at the same time, such as other stimulants (like cocaine or amphetamines), alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines.2,9

Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms

Dependence is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in the system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge. Concerta withdrawal refers to the unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms that can occur when a person suddenly stops or cuts down on Concerta after chronic, ongoing use.1,2 As mentioned previously, withdrawal can occur due to dependence, therefore when the substance is being removed from a person’s body after a period of prolonged use, they can experience withdrawal symptoms as their body returns to a substance-free state.2,10

Common withdrawal symptoms associated with prescription stimulants like Concerta include:1

  • Fatigue.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep problems.

Although stimulant withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening, some people may have an increased risk of complications, such as severe depression or suicidality.10 Seeking professional Concerta detox can help you get through the withdrawal period as safely and comfortably as possible, and can also help set the stage for long-term recovery success.10,11

Treatment for Concerta Addiction at AdCare

If you or someone you care about are struggling with Concerta misuse or addiction, you should know that treatment can help. Treatment at AdCare involves comprehensive, evidence-based therapies and personalized treatment plans that are based on your unique needs.

Rehab at AdCare may involve different levels of care, such as detox, followed by treatment at our Rhode Island inpatient rehab facility or outpatient care, depending on your unique needs. AdCare offers a complete continuum of care to help people overcome Concerta addiction and take back control of their lives.

If you’re ready to start the recovery process, please call our free, confidential helpline at to speak with one of our caring admissions navigators about your addiction treatment options. You can also learn more about rehab admissions and insurance coverage for addiction treatment, and easily verify your insurance right away by filling out our secure online

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