Concerta, a brand name for methylphenidate, is a prescription stimulant that helps manage the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in people between the ages of 6 and 65.1 Despite its medical uses, many people misuse or abuse Concerta for its energizing and euphoric effects, whether to enhance the high of another substance, improve academic performance, or to counteract the depressant effects of alcohol.
Long-term Concerta abuse can lead to physiological dependence, withdrawal, and Concerta addiction. Dependence and withdrawal often contribute to the development of an addiction, which is a chronic, relapsing condition in which a person can no longer control their Concerta use. If you or someone you know is struggling with a Concerta addiction, call our helpline at 1-800-429-7690 to find a rehab program.
Signs and Symptoms of Concerta Addiction
Concerta addiction is a chronic condition that tends to worsen over time if you don’t seek treatment. What may begin as a mild addiction can progress to a severe and debilitating Concerta addiction that’s far more difficult to overcome. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Concerta addiction so you can get help for you or someone you know.
Physical and Psychiatric Signs
Some common physiological signs of Concerta addiction may include:1
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Blurry vision
- Weight loss and decreased appetite
- Increased alertness and energy
- Intense euphoria
Possible psychiatric signs of Concert addiction may include:1,2
- Depressed mood
- Lack of emotional affect
At high doses, Concerta abuse can lead to dangerous consequences, such as seizures, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.1,3
Symptoms of Concerta Addiction
In addition to the physical and psychiatric signs of Concerta addiction, there are also behavioral symptoms to be aware of. Addiction is a pattern of drug-seeking behaviors, regardless of negative consequences. You may want to seek a treatment program if you or someone else demonstrates the following:4
- Using Concerta in dangerous situations, such as mixing it other substances or using it while driving
- Failing to quit or control Concerta use despite efforts to do so
- Continuing to use Concerta despite interpersonal, social, or occupational problems
- Continuing to use Concerta despite physical or psychiatric issues worsened or caused by use
- Neglecting previously enjoyed activities in favor of Concerta use
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining and using Concerta, as well as recovering from its effects
- Using Concerta in larger amounts than previously intended
Additionally, you may experience tolerance, which means you need higher doses of Concerta to get high. And you may also experience Concerta withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to cut down or quit use. These may be unpleasant enough that they cause you to return to Concerta use to relieve them. This cycle can be very difficult to break without professional substance abuse treatment.4
Understanding Concerta Addiction: Who is at Risk?
Although anyone who misuses Concerta can develop a Concerta addiction or stimulant use disorder, some people have a higher likelihood than others. Risk factors for Concerta addiction include:4,5
- Impulsive temperament
- Childhood conduct disorder
- Exposure to community violence during childhood
- Living in an unstable home environment
- Associating with dealers and users
- Comorbid psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and antisocial personality disorder
- Early age of onset for Concerta misuse
- Parental substance use or mental health conditions
- Severe family dysfunction
- Trauma, such as childhood physical or sexual abuse
- Social isolation
- Interpersonal difficulties
It’s important to remember that just because you have one or more risk factors for Concerta addiction, it doesn’t mean you’ll develop an addiction. Many people with several risk factors never misuse Concerta or other stimulants.
How to Treat Concerta Addiction
Choosing to enter a Concerta addiction treatment program is the best choice you can make for your health and happiness. The two main settings for Concerta rehab include inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. The right setting will depend on your needs.
An inpatient Concerta rehab is a more intensive and structured treatment setting. You live at the center for the duration of the program. Most inpatient centers offer programs lasting between 30 and 90 days. During that time, you will be able to focus solely on your recovery in a distraction- and trigger-free environment. Every program offers individualized treatment programs tailored to your unique needs. Your treatment plan will include a combination of modalities and treatment methods, such as:
- Group therapy
- Behavioral therapies
- Family therapy
- Drug education classes
- Relapse prevention classes
Inpatient Concerta treatment can be beneficial for anyone, but it is especially recommended for people who have:
- A severe Concerta addiction
- A history of dropping out of outpatient treatment
- A polydrug addiction
- A co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety
- A chaotic home environment
Outpatient Concerta rehab offers more flexibility than inpatient because you reside at home throughout the program while attending treatment sessions at the facility during the day. If you need to continue attending school, working, or fulfilling other obligations during rehab then outpatient may be a good choice for you. However, it’s important to note that because there is less structure, patients need to be highly motivated to stick to their treatment plan. If you do decide to go the outpatient route, make sure you have a sober support system in place to help encourage you throughout your recovery.
Therapies for Concerta Addiction
When you attend Concerta addiction treatment, whether, on an inpatient or outpatient basis, your treatment plan may include several therapies that have been proven effective in treating stimulant addiction, such as:6,7
- The Matrix Model: This therapy includes elements of group therapy, family counseling, drug education, self-help methods, and relapse prevention techniques. They also conduct regular urine testing to ensure that you remain abstinent throughout. The therapist functions as a coach and teacher, creating a positive and empowering relationship with you. Once you’ve built a trusting relationship, they will be able to reinforce positive behavioral change. This model helps to foster self-worth and self-esteem, which can help you avoid relapse and be confident in your newfound sobriety.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): The therapist helps you recognize and understand the connection between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to help you cope better with negative emotions and improve abstinent behaviors.
- Contingency management: The counselor uses positive reinforcement in the form of tangible rewards to encourage abstinence from Concerta and any other drugs.
If you or someone you know struggles with Concerta addiction, know that help is available. Call our 24/7 helpline at 1-800-429-7690 to find a rehab that’s right for you.
1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (updated July 2021). DailyMed – Concerta – methylphenidate hydrochloride tablet, extended release
2. Morton, W. A., & Stockton, G. G. (2000). Methylphenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side Effects. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 2(5), 159–164.
3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription Stimulant DrugFacts.
4. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
5. The University of Arizona. (n.d.). Risk Factors for Abuse/Addiction.
6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). The Matrix Model (Stimulants).
7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.