Concerta Addiction | Effects, Abuse, Signs, & Treatment

Concerta abuse can lead to feelings of euphoria and wakefulness, increasing the risk of substance use disorder and addiction. Thankfully, treatment options are available.

Methylphenidate (brand name Concerta) is a prescription drug used to treat those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. 

Concerta is a stimulant that’s classified as a schedule II controlled substance, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Some of the other stimulants that belong to this class include Ritalin (another brand name of methylphenidate), amphetamine (Adderall), and methamphetamine (Desoxyn). Substances that belong to the schedule II class of drugs have a high potential for abuse.

Since Concerta stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), it intensifies levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. When this happens, one may experience feelings of euphoria or wakefulness, increasing the risk of substance use disorder or addiction.

Side Effects Of Concerta Use

The prescription stimulant Concerta targets the CNS, causing a number of side effects to occur. 

For those with ADHD, Concerta can help with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulse control. Despite this, unwanted side effects may take place.

Common Side Effects

Some of the common side effects of Concerta include:

  • insomnia
  • upset stomach
  • anxiety
  • loss of appetite
  • nervousness
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • drowsiness
  • headache

Rare Side Effects

In addition to the common side effects, there can be rare effects that one can experience. Speak with your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following while taking Concerta:

  • increase in blood pressure
  • shortness of breath
  • increase in heart rate
  • fatigue
  • severe anxiety including panic attacks
  • a prolonged, painful erection
  • chest pain
  • seizures
  • rash
  • itching
  • mood changes


Concerta may be habit-forming and can lead to physical dependence to the drug. If a person develops a psychological dependence to Concerta, they may experience psychosis or a severe form of depression.

Once a dependence is formed, a stimulant addiction can occur. Those who abuse Concerta are at a greater risk of developing an addiction or a substance use disorder which may require extensive treatment.

Concerta Abuse

There are a number of ways that Concerta can be abused. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that forms of abuse include taking higher doses of the medication than prescribed, taking someone else’s medicine, or taking it to feel its euphoric effects.

Types Of Concerta Abuse

Since methylphenidate is available as a pill, it can be crushed and snorted, inhaled, or combined with liquid to inject into a vein. When this type of Concerta use takes place, serious and potentially life-threatening side effects may occur.

Abusing Concerta in this manner can lead to a number of health problems. For instance, those snorting Concerta may experience:

  • damage to the nasal passageways
  • bacterial infections in the nose
  • a deviated septum
  • frequent nosebleeds
  • a constant runny nose

Injecting Concerta can lead to abscesses at the injection site or collapsed veins. When injecting Concerta directly into a vein of your body, the effects of the drug can take place immediately. Abusing Concerta in any of these ways can lead to a Concerta overdose.

How Concerta Affects The Body

When taken in high doses or not as prescribed, Concerta can cause a number of harmful effects to the body. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), stimulant abuse can cause cardiovascular stress on the body and can lead to heart problems such as cardiac arrhythmias, stroke, or heart attack.

Because the drug rapidly enters your system when snorted, smoked, or injected, the euphoric sensations can dramatically increase, causing the common side effects to become more pronounced. In addition to this, abusing this drug can lead to a stimulant addiction.

Signs Of Concerta Addiction

Those taking high doses of Concerta may develop a Concerta addiction. Some of the signs of a Concerta addiction include:

  • cravings for the stimulant
  • taking larger doses of the drug to receive the same effect
  • depression
  • withdrawal symptoms when you stop use
  • weight loss

Those who observe loved ones who take Concerta can also look for additional signs such as neglecting personal hygiene, favoring drug use over past hobbies, spending most of their searching for or using drugs, and continuing to use despite harmful consequences.


Those who abuse Concerta may experience a life-threatening overdose when the drug is taken in large quantities or when Concerta is combined with other medications that can interfere or interact with the stimulant.

Some of the symptoms of a Concerta overdose include:

  • high body temperature
  • tremors
  • heart palpitations
  • vomiting
  • confusion
  • sweating
  • muscle weakness
  • agitation
  • blurred vision

Withdrawal Symptoms

During withdrawal, a person may experience cravings for the drug. A person suffering from prescription stimulant withdrawal should remain under careful supervision by a treatment provider as severe depression can be a side effect of withdrawal.

Other symptoms of Concerta withdrawal include:

  • cravings for the drug
  • impaired sexual frustrating
  • paranoia
  • loss of energy
  • confusion
  • cognitive impairment

Because of the severe withdrawal symptoms that can occur, your doctor may recommend tapering off the drug. Abruptly stopping the drug “cold turkey” can cause more health problems. This is why medical detox is likely recommended for those seeking addiction treatment.

Stimulant Addiction Treatment

If you or one of your family members struggle with substance abuse problems, an inpatient or outpatient treatment center can help you discontinue this type of stimulant drug use.

At Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, we outpatient services that include:

Contact us today to speak with a representative about your treatment options.


How Long Does Concerta Stay In Your System?

How long Concerta stays in your system depends on several factors like your age and overall health. In general, Concerta stays in the body and can be detected on drug tests anywhere from 2-4 days after last use.

Learn more about How Long Concerta Stays In Your System

Can You Abuse Concerta If You Have ADHD?

You can abuse Concerta even if you have ADHD. If you’re taking high doses or snorting or injecting the drug, that is considered drug abuse and can lead to serious issues.

Learn more about Concerta & ADHD Stimulant Abuse

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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