January 16, 2024

Concerta Addiction: Signs, Overdose Risk, & Treatment

A woman looks troubled as she thinks about Concerta addiction withdrawal

Concerta is a prescription stimulant containing methylphenidate that shares similarities with Ritalin, including its potential for misuse. Read on to learn more about the addictive potential of this prescription stimulant and find out how to engage with evidence-based Concerta addiction treatment in Southern California.

Is Concerta Addictive?

Prescription stimulants like Concerta are categorized as Schedule II controlled substances due to their high potential for misuse and addiction. In 2022, 1.8 million U.S. over-12s developed an addiction to prescription stimulants, highlighting the widespread issue of Concerta drug abuse.

The active ingredient in Concerta – methylphenidate – boosts the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain in the same way as other stimulants of the CNS (central nervous system), specifically dopamine and norepinephrine. This increase in dopamine levels in the brain’s reward centers can reinforce drug-using behaviors, potentially leading to continued and eventually compulsive misuse.

As a member of the same drug class as Ritalin, Concerta has a comparable risk of addiction and abuse. The main difference between the two medications is that Concerta is formulated as an extended-release medication, effective for up to 12 hours. 

Beyond this, the non-medical use of prescription stimulants often correlates with the consumption of other legal and illegal substances. Engaging in polysubstance use can increase the Concerta addiction risk.

Research also indicates a heightened risk of developing substance use disorders among individuals who misuse prescription stimulants through alternative methods of delivery  – snorting, smoking, or injecting, for instance.

How Addictive Is Concerta?

Concerta is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. The addictive nature of Concerta can be attributed to several factors. 

Firstly, Concerta increases levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, neurotransmitters associated with pleasure, movement, and attention. This effect on the brain’s reward system can lead to reinforcement of drug use behaviors, potentially escalating to compulsive misuse.

Over time, people may develop tolerance to the effects of Concerta, leading to the need for higher doses to achieve the same therapeutic effects. This increasing usage can contribute to the development of addiction.

Stopping Concerta abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, a sign of physical dependence. These symptoms might include fatigue, depression, and changes in sleep patterns.

The use of Concerta alongside other substances, either legal or prohibited, can increase the risk of developing an addiction. Polysubstance use complicates the condition and can trigger more severe health consequences.

The extended-release formula of Concerta, designed to last up to 12 hours, provides a steady effect, but this doesn’t eliminate the risk of misuse. The drug can still be misused by taking higher doses than prescribed or by altering the method of intake by crushing and snorting the pills.

Given these factors, use Concerta strictly as prescribed by a healthcare professional and be aware of the signs of misuse and addiction. If concerns about dependence or addiction arise, seek prompt medical advice and support.

A man appears curious, asking himself, "Can you get addicted to concerta?"

Signs of Concerta Addiction

Understanding the signs of Concerta addiction can be beneficial for recognizing when use has transitioned to misuse. Here are some indicators that a person may be addicted to Concerta:

  • Needing more of the medication to feel its effects.
  • Experiencing negative physical or mental symptoms when not taking the drug.
  • Inability to control the urge to use Concerta, even when there are negative consequences.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Concerta.
  • Failing to fulfill personal or professional obligations due to Concerta use.
  • Using Concerta despite knowing that it’s causing physical or psychological issues.
  • Having troubles in relationships due to the effects or use of Concerta.
  • Engaging in hazardous activities while under the influence or to obtain the drug.
  • Noticing significant weight loss or changes in personal grooming habits.
  • Visiting multiple doctors to obtain more prescriptions for Concerta.

If you or someone that you care about is exhibiting these signs, engage with professional help to address potential addiction issues before they worsen.

Concerta Overdose

For anyone prescribed this medication and wondering, “Can you overdose on Concerta”, this is a serious risk that can lead to critical overstimulation of the CNS and a host of adverse physical reactions that demand immediate medical attention.

Concerta overdose symptoms may include:

  • Extreme restlessness: A state of heightened agitation.
  • Seizures or convulsions: Uncontrolled shaking or jerking of the body.
  • Hallucinatory experiences: Hearing or seeing things that are not present.
  • Significant increase in body temperature: A dangerous rise in body heat.
  • Irregular heartbeat: Abnormalities in heart rate and rhythm.
  • Breathing difficulties: Breathing at an accelerated or irregular pace.

An overdose of Concerta is a medical emergency. If an overdose is suspected, call emergency services without delay.

The danger of overdose increases when Concerta is acquired illicitly or if the pills consumed are counterfeit, often the case with substances bought outside of regulated pharmacies without a valid prescription. Unregulated drugs can contain unknown substances, including fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is highly addictive and has been implicated as the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Just a small amount of fentanyl can be fatal.


Can you get addicted to Concerta when used as prescribed?

When used as prescribed, the risk of addiction to Concerta is relatively low, but it still carries a potential for physical dependence due to its stimulant properties.

Is Concerta less addictive than Adderall?

Many mental health professionals consider Concerta to be less addictive than Adderall, as it has a different release mechanism that may reduce the potential for abuse and addiction. Nevertheless, use Concerta only as directed by a prescribing physician.

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Get Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

Most people who are battling prescription drug addiction find that a supervised medical detox program offers the most seamless pathway to sustained sobriety. We can help you achieve this at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California.

During Concerta addiction withdrawal at our Long Beach or Newport Beach rehabs, you can access FDA-approved medications and a tapered reduction in dosage to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chances of relapse derailing your early recovery.

After detoxification, move into ongoing inpatient treatment at our welcoming and inclusive facilities. Over the course of one month, you can access an individualized mix of the following interventions:

When you are committed to moving beyond addiction to prescription medications, call Gratitude Lodge at 800-994-2184.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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