Concerta

Modified: 22nd Jul 2019

The ADHD treatment drug Concerta helps many people get better grades at school and pay more attention at work.

As with any prescription medication, it’s dangerous and unlawful to take prescription meds prescribed to someone else. Learn more about the drug and its uses below.

What Is Concerta?

Doctors prescribe it to children six years old and up, along with ADD adults. It’s used to help concentration in the classroom and the workplace.

Definition

The active ingredient in Concerta is methylphenidate. It’s related to the drug Ritalin.

The drug itself, even for those prescribed it, is habit-forming. Without it, people may find they’re even less able to concentrate than they were pre-diagnosis.

Some physicians believe it treats impulsive behavior related to hyperactivity. The stimulant and appetite-suppressing effects of Concerta make it highly abused, especially in college cultures.

How Is It Taken?

Concerta is almost always in the form of a tablet, though it’s sometimes a pill. The patient will either take the drug twice a day or take it once in the morning, in a long-release form.

The long release capsules make it possible to only take one dose a day and they make it harder to abuse.

Those who abuse the drug will take the pill as normal or they’ll snort it after crushing. Time-release pills don’t act quickly when snorted, so they’re worthless to a drug abuser.

Who Takes It?

Most of the time Concerta is sold from student to student, though sometimes it’s seen in adults. Since the drug helps people concentrate, it’s commonly abused in high-stress schools or workplaces.

Most commonly it’s distributed from a student that has a prescription to others in the school. The student selling their prescription may have suffering grades or lower performance— as they sell their daily dose.

There are higher occurrences of drug abuse around stressful academic events, like the SAT or exam week.

Those who abuse Concerta in a school setting are unique, compared to other prescription drug abusers. They use it for it’s on label effect, not to necessarily chase a high.

That’s not to say it’s a safe drug to abuse, which we’ll get into later.

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A Brief History of Concerta

The active ingredient in Concerta, methylphenidate, was created about eighty years ago in Switzerland. The chemist Leandro Panizzon of Ciba pharmaceutical company synthesized it himself.

The name “Ritalin,” which is a brand name now, came from the chemists’ wife’s name, Rita. The story goes that she had low blood pressure and would take the drug to help her before tennis games.

The drug didn’t come into the US market until the ’50s when it was approved to treat very different conditions than it treats today.

Then, doctors prescribed it more for the mood-altering effects than to help with concentration. That included disorders like depression, lethargy, and even narcolepsy. The stimulant effects cause an elevated mood, but it wears off quickly as the dose drops.

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that Ritalin or Concerta (different brand names, same drug) was prescribed as we use it today. That’s when research started to show the effects of stimulants on energy and attention.

As the research advanced, Concerta became a more obvious choice for treating hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Consequences of Concerta Abuse

In the brain, Concerta works by increasing dopamine levels blocking certain chemical transporters. Blocking these transporters allow people to concentrate longer on one task or thought.

Effects on the Mind and Body

In less chemical terms, Concerta and other stimulants speed up the body’s processes or stimulate them. Hence the name.

For those that don’t need that brain stimulation, they may experience racing or faster than normal thoughts.

In individuals with ADD or ADHD, the stimulation actually slows the brain processes, to a more reasonable speed for daily activities.

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Short-Term Health Effects

Most people who take Concerta as prescribed have a few mild side effects. The most common ones are similar to other stimulant-like drugs, such as decreased appetite and difficulty sleeping if taken too late in the day.

Common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Sinusitis
  • Dizziness

Those side effects are common during the duration of the drug. As it wears off, many people experience a short period of anxiety and or irritability.

Dry mouth and a wave of hunger after the drug wears off can lead to binge-eating like episodes, if the person experiences the appetite suppressant effects while taking the drug.

Some people lose a significant amount of weight while on stimulants, which creates another set of abusers. Those with eating disorders or those trying to lose weight also buy the drug to help them curb hunger.

This is not a prescribed off-label use and those needing help losing weight should speak to their doctor.

Long-Term Health Effects

Most children on Concerta take it daily through the school year. Some parents may give their children a break from the medication during the summer or they may decrease the dosage amount.

This long-term use does have some documented effects on health.

People who take Concerta long term have developed digestive disorders. The stimulant effect of the drug can heighten blood pressure and raise the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Doctors will usually avoid prescribing the drug to children or adults with heart problems as it can lead to sudden death.

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Using Concerta With Other Drugs

As Concerta is usually used to enhance academic performance or energy, it’s not usually combined with other drugs. Were someone to use it as a party drug, it would most likely be paired with alcohol.

Using a stimulant and a depressant (Alcohol) at the same time is never recommended. Learn why here.

Treating Concerta Addiction

Do you know someone who’s abusing Concerta and want to get them help? Is that person you? Either way, our professional services can help you through detox and treatment.

Ready to access more information? Speak with someone here.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.