Concerta is a drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. The drug’s active ingredient is called methylphenidate. It is a stimulant, and it is one of the first line treatments for ADHD.
Concerta targets the central nervous system, increasing the levels of two brain chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine. In effect, this improves focus and concentration while reducing hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Read ahead for more information about how Concerta works and how long before it takes effect.
How long must I wait before feeling the effects of Concerta?
It usually takes one hour before you start to feel the effects of the drug. The effects are long-lasting, too, because of how the drug is designed.
Concerta is delivered to the body through an osmotic controlled release oral delivery system, which prolongs the release of the drug. In turn, you can feel the effects last for 10 to 12 hours.
Who can take Concerta?
Concerta is generally prescribed for adults, but children over the age of 6 may also take it safely. As this drug can produce changes in the brain, you must only take it when your doctor prescribes it.
Self-medication is harmful, and it may even lead to addiction.
Before taking Concerta — or any medication for ADHD — consult with your doctor first. Not all people may be able to benefit from this drug.
If you have existing medical conditions, mental health issues, or a history of substance abuse, Concerta may not be right for you. Your doctor may prescribe a different ADHD medication instead.
Particularly, Concerta should not be taken by people who have the following conditions:
- Anxiety problems
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Allergies to methylphenidate
This is especially true in the case of children with ADHD. Do not give them Concerta without first consulting a pediatrician. The potential side effects and adverse reactions on children may be worse than those that adults experience.
But if taken properly, Concerta is safe for both children and adults.
What are the side effects of Concerta use?
These are the common side effects you may experience when taking this drug:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Stunted growth (in children)
Some people may also experience more serious side effects, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Blurred vision
- Blockage in the small intestine, stomach, or esophagus
- Prolonged or painful erections
If you get any of these side effects, tell your doctor immediately. Stop taking the medication and ask for alternatives.
Concerta may also produce psychological side effects like:
- Aggressive behavior
If you are living with a mental illness other than ADHD, tell your doctor. In most cases, you will be given a different medication that will not worsen the symptoms of your mental condition.
Can I get addicted to Concerta?
Concerta is a habit-forming drug, so it’s possible to form an addiction to it. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies this substance under Schedule II, making it a highly regulated drug.
If you take Concerta strictly following your doctor’s prescription, your risk of developing an addiction is very low. But misusing the drug increases your chances of getting addicted. If you have a past substance abuse problem, it’s wise to tell your doctor first before he prescribes the drug to you. Taking Concerta may trigger the substance abuse problem to show up again.
A common way to misuse Concerta is to take a higher dose than what you’re prescribed. Some people do this when they feel that the effects of the drug are not as strong as they were before.
When you feel that the drug’s effects are weaker, tell your doctor right away. Do not adjust your dose by yourself.
Are there withdrawal symptoms when stopping Concerta use?
If you have been taking Concerta as prescribed, you should experience no withdrawal symptoms when it’s time to stop the medication.
There have been many cases, though, of people feeling sluggish, groggy, or drowsy once they stop taking Concerta. This is normal, as the drug is a stimulant. If you stop taking it, your body needs to adjust to the sudden absence of the drug. You should feel back to normal after a while.
But if you have been misusing the drug — taking higher doses than normal — then you will experience these withdrawal symptoms:
- Depressive mood
- Increased appetite
- Low blood pressure
What happens when I get addicted to Concerta?
These are the common signs of a Concerta addiction:
- Spending more time obtaining and taking the drug
- Performing poorly at work or school
- Missing out on important life events
- Neglecting personal hygiene and grooming
- Isolating yourself from friends and family
- Struggling to stop Concerta use even if you genuinely want to quit
- Suffering from withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to quit
- Getting into debt because of excessively purchasing Concerta
- Accidentally overdosing on the drug
Addiction to this drug changes your overall lifestyle. At worst, your life will revolve around the drug, and you may no longer be able to live normally without it.
Overdose, in particular, is highly dangerous. The symptoms of a Concerta overdose are life-threatening, and they include:
- Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Heightened reflexes
- Muscle twitching
If you’re experiencing an overdose, call 911 right away if you can. Otherwise, have someone close to you call for help. Immediate medical care is a lifesaver.
How do I prevent Concerta addiction?
The best way to avoid addiction to this drug is to strictly follow your prescription. Never take more than what your doctor advised. If you feel any adverse effects, or if you feel that the drug is not improving your concentration as much, talk to your doctor immediately. Increasing your dose on your own is what often leads to addiction.
Also, it pays to give a full disclosure of your health conditions to your doctor before he prescribes Concerta to you. This includes your mental health history. All that information will help your doctor make the best choice whether to give you Concerta or a different medication.