Concerta Withdrawal | Symptoms, Timeline, & Detox

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on August 22, 2023

Concerta is a stimulant drug that is widely abused because of the high it can produce. When it’s abused over a long period of time and then you stop using it, serious withdrawal symptoms can occur and last over a period of weeks.

Concerta is the brand name for methylphenidate, a central nervous system stimulant and an extended-release prescription drug primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It’s very similar to Ritalin and Adderall.

Concerta is also classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, has a high potential for abuse, and can lead to dependence and Concerta addiction.

The prescription stimulant medication works by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain and lessening ADHD symptoms. It can also lead to an intense high when taken in high dosages.

When Concerta is abused over a long period of time, you increase your risk of building up a physical dependence. When that occurs and you stop taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms can appear and be very serious and uncomfortable.

Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms

When you stop taking Concerta after long-term abuse, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are a response to your body not receiving the drug it has become accustomed to. Your body may no longer function properly without it.

Concerta withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • severe depression
  • difficulty sleeping
  • suicidal thoughts
  • paranoia
  • strong cravings for Concerta
  • irregular heart rate
  • irregular blood pressure
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • dysphoria
  • panic attacks
  • nightmares
  • increased appetite
  • psychosis

Concerta Withdrawal Timeline

How long withdrawal symptoms and the withdrawal process last differ depending on a number of factors. However, there are some general guidelines you can look at to see if your symptoms are normal or not.

12-24 Hours After The Last Dose

Withdrawal symptoms start to show up at this point and may include irregular heart rate and blood pressure, fatigue, hunger, insomnia, tremors, mood swings, vivid dreams, restlessness, and agitation.

1-5 days After The Last Dose

Withdrawal symptoms peak at this point, and this is when the risk of relapse is at its highest. 

The symptoms can include muscle aches, fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and delusions, suicidal ideations, intense cravings, difficulties concentrating, and trouble with short-term memory.

1-2 Weeks After The Last Dose 

Withdrawal symptoms will start to wane during this time but mental health issues like depression and anxiety as well as cravings may persist.

2 Weeks To 1 Month After The Last Dose 

Withdrawal symptoms continue to dissipate but depression, strong cravings, and sleep issues may continue. At this point, withdrawal is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and more professional help may be necessary.

Factors Affecting The Length Of Concerta Withdrawal

How long withdrawal from Concerta lasts and how intense the symptoms are depend on a variety of factors. One of the major factors is your choice of detox method. Quitting cold turkey can lead to very intense withdrawal symptoms. It may last less time but it can be very unpleasant. 

Medical detox, on the other hand, can be much more comfortable although it may last longer.

Some of the other factors that affect stimulant drug withdrawal include:

  • how long Concerta was taken
  • how much Concerta was taken each time
  • general diet and exercise
  • overall health
  • use or abuse of other drugs
  • family history of drug abuse or addiction

Concerta Detox Process

When detoxing from Concerta, you shouldn’t do it cold turkey. Because of how intense the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms are, medical supervision is almost always recommended. 

During detoxification or detox, drugs are allowed to exit the body naturally. With help from healthcare providers in medical detox, you’ll receive medications and other treatments to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. 

Although there is no medication approved specifically for stimulant withdrawal, your detox team can use other medications to help ease uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. 

Detox programs generally last 5-7 days and you stay in a secure facility while the drug leaves your system. This increases the likelihood of successful detox and the risk of relapse goes way down.


Medical professionals may also put you on a tapering schedule where you take lower and lower doses of Concerta over a period of time until you can quit completely without any (or very few) withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction Treatment

After detox, inpatient/outpatient treatment programs are recommended to further treat your substance abuse and addiction. 

During rehab, you participate in behavioral therapy, group therapy, support groups, family therapy, recreational activities, and addiction education. You’ll also learn how to recognize triggers, cravings, and high-risk situations

If you or a loved one are struggling with Concerta abuse and/or substance use disorder, our clinicians at the Ohio Recovery Center can start you on your journey to sobriety today. 

With a variety of addiction treatment options, including detox, inpatient drug rehab, and aftercare support, we can ensure you get the treatment that’s right for you.

For more information, please call our helpline today.

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

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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