Concerta Addiction | Abuse, Effects, Signs, & Treatment

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Telltale signs can indicate when someone is addicted to the prescription stimulant medication Concerta (methylphenidate). When this is the case, a variety of treatment options may be recommended to help with the recovery process.

Concerta is a brand name extended-release prescription medication made with the stimulant drug methylphenidate. It is used to treat either attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, impacting 12.8% of Ohio children) or the chronic sleep disorder narcolepsy.

Concerta has effects comparable with other amphetamine-class central nervous system stimulants like Adderall (mixed amphetamines), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine).

All of these stimulant drugs are classified as Schedule II controlled substances with a high potential for diversion, abuse, and addiction.

Concerta Abuse

Amphetamines like methylphenidate produce their effects by blocking the reuptake and reabsorption of certain neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, especially dopamine and norepinephrine. 

Because ADHD is associated with atypically low dopamine levels, therapeutic Concerta use can help relieve and, paradoxically, calm the distractibility, hyperactivity, and poor impulse control associated with ADHD in adults and children.

However, Concerta is often abused by those who don’t have a valid medical need for it, often to:

  • stimulate wakefulness, energy, and focus
  • boost confidence and libido
  • suppress one’s appetite and facilitate unhealthy weight loss
  • produce a euphoric, dangerous, and highly addictive stimulant high similar to cocaine or methamphetamine abuse

Prescription stimulant abuse, in both low and high doses, is especially common among high school and college students who will often misuse the drug during exam seasons in particular.

Methods Of Concerta Abuse

Unlike Ritalin, which is an immediate-release methylphenidate medication, Concerta is an extended-release product formulated for long-lasting effects. Because of this, Concerta is sometimes tampered with to increase and accelerate its effects.

This usually involves chewing and swallowing the capsules or either cutting or crushing them and taking them through:

  • snorting (insufflation)
  • injection into a vein
  • parachuting (swallowing the loose powder in a small pouch of toilet or tissue paper)
  • plugging (rectal administration)

Tampering with Concerta and taking it in unusual ways or in combination with other drugs can vastly increase one’s risk of experiencing serious side-effects and adverse reactions, including addiction and serious or even life-threatening symptoms of overdose.

Side Effects Of Concerta Abuse

Even at therapeutic levels, Concerta use may cause certain common side effects including:

  • nervousness
  • trouble sleeping
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dizziness
  • nausea/vomiting
  • headaches
  • dry mouth

These side-effects may be more likely to occur and to occur more severely when the drug is taken in higher doses than recommended or misused by those without a valid medical need for it.

Signs Of Concerta Addiction

Stimulant intoxication, or the state of being high on a stimulant drug like Concerta, typically produces a number of telltale signs and symptoms, including:

  • dilated (widened) pupils
  • euphoria
  • talkativeness
  • racing thoughts
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of inhibition
  • hypersexuality
  • sleeplessness
  • aggressive or violent behavior
  • elevated heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • agitation, anxiety, or panic attacks
  • symptoms of psychosis (hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and disconnection from reality)

This high may be followed by a crash or comedown after the effects of the drug wear off, commonly leading to confusion, exhaustion, mood swings, irritability, depression, headaches, and muscle twitching.

Other common signs of Concerta abuse or addiction can include:

  • increasing tolerance or dosage
  • using someone else’s prescription
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • experiencing drug cravings
  • neglecting one’s hygiene, self-care, and daily responsibilities
  • engaging in drug-seeking behavior like theft, ordering prescriptions fraudulently online, or faking symptoms

Concerta Overdose

Overdosing on prescription stimulants like Concerta can be a life-threatening medical emergency, especially when the medication has been tampered with or mixed with other drugs of abuse, or when it is misused by someone with a pre-existing medical heart defect or other serious medical condition.

Symptoms of Concert overdose may include:

  • mental confusion
  • heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat
  • skin flushing
  • tremors or convulsions
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • psychosis
  • fainting or coma
  • seizures
  • heart attack
  • stroke

If you believe you or someone around you has overdosed, immediately contact your local emergency services and seek or provide first aid until first responders arrive.

Concerta Addiction Treatment

Too often the danger and addictive potential of medications like Concerta are underestimated by those who misuse them. Fortunately, a variety of different drug addiction treatment programs have been developed to effectively treat prescription stimulant use disorders.

Tapering & Detox

The process of recovering from Concerta addiction, and most other substance use disorders, usually begins with tapering and/or medical detoxification to manage the uncomfortable physical and mental effects of Concerta withdrawal.

During this process, participants will either quit the drug cold turkey or slowly lower their dosage over time to ease any withdrawal symptoms that may occur. In both cases, medical detox programs can help provide participants with much needed guidance, comfort, and security.

Addiction Treatment Services

Following detox, the medical professionals working in rehab centers will usually treat Concerta addiction through individual and group therapy, family therapy, peer support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of behavioral therapy, and alternative therapies.

At Ohio Recovery Center, we offer inpatient treatment for substance abuse and addiction. To learn more about available addiction treatment options for yourself or a loved one, please contact us today.


How Long Does Concerta Stay In Your System?

Concerta stays in your system for about 30 hours after your last dose. Common forms of Ohio drug testing, such as urine testing, can detect Concerta use for 1 to 3 days after your last dose.

Learn more about How Long Concerta Stays In Your System

How Much Does Concerta Cost In Ohio?

In the state of Ohio, thirty 18 mg Concerta pills from a pharmacy costs $72. However, several factors can change this price depending on your type of insurance, the pharmacy used, and if any coupons are applied. On the black market, Concerta pills may cost $2-$15 per pill.

Learn more about the Cost Of Concerta

What Do Fake Concerta Pills Look Like?

Fake Concerta pills look like real Concerta pills but they may have defects. 

Legitimate Concerta tablets are oblong and look different depending on the dosage. They are: 

  • yellow, stamped with alza 18 (18 mg)
  • grey, stamped with alza 27 (27 mg)
  • white, stamped with alza 36 (36 mg)
  • red, stamped with alza 54 (54 mg)

Fake Concerta pills may be:

  • stamped unevenly
  • stamped with the wrong letters or numbers
  • not perfectly shaped
  • more crumbly or firmer
  • lighter or darker color than real Concerta

Learn more about What Concerta Looks Like

What Does A Concerta High Feel Like?

A Concerta high can make you feel euphoric, energetic, anxious, and restless. Getting high on Concerta can put your mental health and well-being at risk.

Learn more about Getting High On Concerta

Can You Smoke Concerta?

Concerta can be smoked but not much of the drug goes into the bloodstream and the brain. Most of it is burned off in the smoking process, but smoking Concerta can still lead to serious side effects and risks.

Learn more about Smoking Concerta

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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