Concerta Addiction Signs, Withdrawal and Treatment
Is Concerta Addictive?
Even though Concerta has medical uses, it can be addictive. Medical users, parents, and thrill seekers can all become addicted. Signs of addiction include insomnia, paranoia, doctor-shopping, and low appetite. Withdrawal symptoms can include increased hunger, irritability, and sleepiness. Treatment facilities for Concerta addiction include standard, luxury, and executive.
What is Concerta?
Concerta is a stimulant medication that is typically used in the treatment of ADHD. It is an extended-release, brand name formulation of the drug called methylphenidate.
Like Ritalin, another methylphenidate formulation, Concerta is classified as a Schedule II drug – meaning that it is highly controlled due to the potential for abuse and addiction.
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As with Ritalin, Concerta is sometimes abused by those who want a boost to help them focus during a late night or by those who simply enjoy the euphoric feelings it can evoke. Unfortunately, individuals who start to abuse the drug often fall into a cycle of compulsive use as dependency begins to form.
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The potential for addiction to Concerta is strong. No one sets out with the intent to become addicted, but if you abuse Concerta because you crave the highs that the drug is capable of inducing, you may have a problem. It’s important to look out for the signs of addiction before a problem grows to the point of no return.
What signs and symptoms may indicate a Concerta addiction?
Physical Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Physical dependence to Concerta may not develop as quickly, nor be as pronounced as it is among those addicted to heroin, for example. But it can be a problem. Symptoms of physical addiction to Concerta may include1:
- Chronic insomnia.
- Consistently decreased appetite, and accompanying weight loss.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Increased body temperature.
- Increased blood pressure.
Psychological Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Psychological dependence on Concerta may be even more gripping and troublesome than the physical addiction, and it can persist much longer after the drug is no longer taken. Some psychological signs of addiction include:
- Drastic mood changes.
Behavioral Signs of Addiction
- Doctor-shopping, or seeking out prescriptions from multiple providers.
- Repeatedly “losing” prescriptions so as to obtain more prescriptions.
- Making poor decisions.
- Taking doses that are higher than the prescribed dose.
- Obtaining more drug from illicit sources.
Reasons for Concerta Abuse and Addiction
There are a number of reasons people first begin abusing Concerta. These reasons are often the earliest indicators that abuse of the drug may worsen to the point of addiction.
Many will begin using and abusing Concerta just to feel those highs. As the drug is a stimulant, it increases one’s alertness, energy and attention – which many find enjoyable.
2. Weight Loss
Concerta is also frequently abused in an attempt to lose weight, as loss of appetite is one of Concerta’s side effects. Some users see this side effect as a benefit, so they take more and more of the drug to lose weight.
Other abusers such as students who do not even have ADHD will begin using and abusing Concerta at times to perform better in school.
How Is Concerta Abused?
Those who abuse Concerta may do so in a variety of ways:
- Orally, generally in doses that exceed the therapeutic range.
- By crushing and snorting it.
- By dissolving in solution and injecting it.
- By taking it while drinking alcohol or using other substances.
Some prefer to take the drug as it’s medically intended (orally) – but often at a higher dose. Others choose not to take the medication orally so they can speed up the drug’s release into the body’s system.
Crushing and snorting Concerta is common, and some even dissolve the tablets in water or other aqueous solution to inject it.
One dangerous method of abusing Concerta that is especially popular among adolescents and young adults is to take the drug with alcohol in order to enhance the effects.
The concept of prescription drug abuse can entail any drug use behavior involving a prescription medication that was not specifically recommended by a doctor. Since dangerous side effects may accumulate once patterns of abuse emerge, medical evaluation and subsequent treatment will often be necessary for anyone struggling with prescription addictions.
Problems with Concerta Addiction
There are a great deal of problems associated with Concerta addiction, a few of which may be life-threatening. Those who begin using the drug for their ADHD seldom become addicted when they stick to their doctor’s orders. However, those who use the drug and abuse it to the point of addiction should consider the serious health problems associated with addiction.
Taking high doses of the drug can lead to dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, and the possibility of cardiac failure and seizures.
Concerta Abuse Side Effects
Side effects from abusing Concerta can range from common and relatively mild to those more rarely seen yet quite serious, depending on the individual user’s body chemistry and health conditions.
Common side effects2,3:
- Stomach pains.
- Decreased hunger.
- Weight loss.
- Dry mouth.
Serious side effects3:
- Heart attack.
- Dangerously elevated blood pressure.
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate).
- Sudden death (in patients with heart problems).
- New or worsened:
- Bipolar disorder.
- Cognitive impairments.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Prolonged, painful erections.
- Circulation problems in the toes and fingers.
Concerta Abuse Overdose
Some of the effects listed above may occur even when the drug is taken as prescribed. When the medication is abused, however, the likelihood of these effects is increased and can present significant health dangers to the individual misusing the drug.
Toxicity from Concerta may result in2:
- Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.
- Manic states.
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Markedly disoriented behavior.
- Repetitive, obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
One way in which to monitor if your intake of Concerta has evolved into an addiction is through observing potential withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking the drug.
Withdrawal symptoms appear because your body has gotten used to adapting to and relying on a regular dose of the drug to feel and function normally. When the drug is suddenly withdrawn or withheld from those dependent on it, they will often feel out of balance and experience a number of unpleasant physical sensations.
Possible withdrawal symptoms from Concerta may include:
- Excessive sleepiness.
- Increased hunger.
- Decreased heart rate.
- Psychotic features such as hallucinations.
Many who struggle with Concerta abuse will try and stop taking the drug on their own – only to relapse when faced with these painful withdrawal symptoms. The alternative to this crippling cycle of addiction is to seek professional treatment help that can help stabilize you through the detox period, and next set you on a long-lasting and sustainable road to recovery.
Treatment Options for Concerta Addiction
If you suffer from a Concerta addiction, you have a few options available to you with regards to treatment. While physical dependency is always an issue, the withdrawal symptoms from stimulants such as Concerta are not as severe as they may be with other types of drug addiction. This means that for some individuals, a less intensive form of treatment may be suitable.
The options for the treatment of Concerta addiction include:
Outpatient treatment: Individuals with less severe addictions and less intense withdrawal symptoms may have the option of using an outpatient treatment program that allows them to continue living at home. Since many individuals who abuse this drug are teens and young adults, the prospect of treatment may not otherwise be appealing if it means stepping away from school, work and other responsibilities. Outpatient treatment allows individuals the chance to maintain many other aspects of their everyday life as they undergo treatment. Both detox and counseling services can be provided in this format.
Treatment Facility Types
If you decide with your healthcare provider that inpatient treatment is best for you, then you will discover that you have a few different facility types to choose from, depending on your unique needs and circumstances.
- Standard addiction rehab programs provide both outpatient and inpatient treatment options. These programs tend to be more affordable than either luxury or executive programs – which is a plus for those who are working with more of a limited budget.
- Luxury rehab programs offer residential addiction treatment alongside a range of plush, resort-like amenities.
- Executive rehab programs also offer residential addiction treatment with many high-end amenities – however, these programs also specifically cater to busy professionals who need to maintain an active involvement at their workplace throughout the recovery process.
Concerta addiction can hit a number of different types of individuals, and the challenges to getting help are unique in each situation.
A few different types of individuals may be more prone than others to developing a Concerta addiction:
1. Once Patients, Now Concerta Addicts
One of the most common types of individuals who end up in need of Concerta addiction help are those who first began taking Concerta in accordance with their prescription for legitimate medical need.
Concerta is a stimulant – but when it is prescribed to a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it serves to increase focus and help calm impulsive behavior urges.
As children grow and body chemistry changes, however, Concerta no longer affects them in the same way. Its stimulant effects may begin to dominate the experience. Should this occur, the person may no longer be taking Concerta for its therapeutic benefits but rather because an active Concerta addiction has developed.
2. The Addicted Parent
Because children are the recipients of Concerta, it is sometimes their parents – those who manage their medication – who develop a dependence upon the stimulant effects of the drug. Some mothers who seek treatment for Concerta addiction, for example, say they started abusing the drug just to keep up with the pressures of suburban motherhood alongside the stresses of having a child with ADHD. Soon, an addiction took hold that became out of control.
3. Stimulant Seekers
Individuals who’ve abused crystal meth and cocaine will often get high off of Concerta, as well – if the opportunity presents itself. All these drugs are stimulant drugs and have similar “upper” effects on the body.
Learn More and Find a Treatment Center
Do you or a loved one need help for a Concerta addiction? If Concerta addiction is a problem for you or someone you care about, make today the day you move toward treatment. No matter the reasons on how or why the addiction has started, it’s never too late to seek treatment and recovery.
- Prescription drug abuse: symptoms. Mayo Clinic.
- Morton, W. Alexander, Stockton, G. G. (2000). Methylphenidate abuse and psychiatric side effects. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry, 2(5), 159-64.
- Medication guide: concerta. FDA.
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