In the past decade or so, the face of drug addiction has changed. Beyond illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, we’re seeing more and more people becoming addicted to prescription pills.
Most of the time when you hear about prescription drug abuse, you think of opioids. As large of a problem as opioid addiction is, we can’t forget about other medications with abuse risks. One group that tends to fly under the radar is medication for attention deficit disorders.
Medications like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta can be risky, as they’re extremely vulnerable to abuse. Some people without attention deficit disorders even use them as study aids or weight loss aids. Here’s what you need to know about Concerta addiction and abuse in particular.
Concerta Addiction Statistics
Concerta is a prescription medication meant to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In some cases, abuse happens when someone uses the drug without a prescription. In other cases, it happens when someone with a prescription overuses the medication.
Concerta abuse is particularly common among students. Many begin using it because they think it will help them focus and study.
While results vary from one survey to the next, at least 1 in 6 college students abuse Concerta or other ADHD medications. Compare that to the fact that just 6% of kids and 4% of adults in the US have prescriptions for these medications.
It’s also important to note that with or without medication abuse, people with ADHD are more likely to abuse alcohol. In fact, ADHD is ten times more common among alcoholics than among the general population.
Signs of Concerta Abuse
With prescription medications, it can be hard to see the line between appropriate use and abuse. Still, there are several signs that offer a hint.
To get a high from ADHD medication, a person needs to take more than their prescription calls for. Over time, their body will get used to these higher amounts. They will need to take more and more medication to get the result they want.
If your loved one keeps increasing the amount of Concerta they take without their doctor’s advice, it could be a sign of a problem.
Taking Medicine In Other Forms
Concerta comes in the form of a pill, and this pill is appropriate to give the desired effect to someone with ADHD. To get a better high, though, some people start taking Concerta in other forms.
One common tactic is to crush up Concerta pills and snort them. In other cases, users inject the crushed Concerta into their veins. Both of these lead to a stronger high, and are signs that the user is taking the medication for a high rather than for treatment of ADHD.
Getting Medicine Through Other Means
For someone who wants Concerta for ADHD, the process is simple: go to the doctor and get a prescription, then go to a pharmacy. For people abusing Concerta, though, this won’t provide them with enough of a supply.
If someone goes through other channels to get Concerta, it’s a sign that they’re abusing it. This could include buying the drug illegally or going to multiple doctors for multiple prescriptions. Either way, this can indicate that it’s time for an intervention.
Prioritizing Concerta Over Necessities
If there’s a medication you need to take for your health, it’s a minor part of your routine. It usually doesn’t take time or attention away from other aspects of your life.
A classic sign of addiction is prioritizing a substance or activity over other necessities in life. For instance, someone who’s abusing Concerta may neglect their bills to buy more of the drug. They may neglect their job or their friends and family to get high instead.
Using Concerta for Non-ADHD Purposes
When a doctor prescribes Concerta, they prescribe it to counteract their patient’s ADHD. If someone starts taking Concerta for other purposes (whether or not they have ADHD), they’ve crossed the line into drug abuse.
The most obvious way people use Concerta beyond ADHD is to get high. However, some people also use it to lose weight. Like other stimulants, Concerta is an appetite suppressor. If someone uses Concerta to lose weight, it’s a type of drug abuse.
Dangers of Concerta Abuse
Abusing Concerta can be an expensive and time-consuming habit. However, it has plenty of other associated dangers as well.
The most prominent risk of abusing Concerta is a possible overdose. If you’re not taking a medication as prescribed, you have no way of knowing what your body can handle. This is especially true if you have to keep taking more and more Concerta to chase a high.
A Concerta overdose can be life-threatening. In addition to unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms, the overdose can raise your heart rate enough to cause a heart attack. It can also negatively impact your nerves and cause violent seizures.
Another common problem with Concerta abuse is the way Concerta interacts with other substances. It’s particularly problematic with alcohol.
As a stimulant, Concerta counteracts the depressive effects of alcohol. When this happens, you may not realize how drunk you are. This can lead to severe drunkenness or even fatal alcohol poisoning.
Overdoses and alcohol interactions are both acute or sudden problems from Concerta abuse. Even if you don’t have any acute incidents, long-term Concerta abuse can lead to other problems.
As a stimulant, Concerta can cause an irregular heartbeat over time. This can lead to a heart attack.
In addition to serious heart problems, Concerta abuse can lead to psychological issues. Long-term use may cause lasting psychosis, paranoia, and anger problems.
Getting Help for Concerta Addiction and Abuse
It’s easy for people to get caught up in abusing Concerta, especially when they get it with a valid prescription. As safe as the pill can be when you take it as directed, abusing it can be just as risky as abusing illegal drugs.
The first step is getting informed about Concerta addiction and abuse. Now that you’re armed with knowledge, you can reach out to our substance abuse experts for help getting your life back on track.