Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a diagnosis which effects large percentages of young children and adults throughout the United States. With several treatment options available to help subside the effects ADHD has on learning and focus, one most often used are stimulants. Able to provide clinically diagnosed patients with therapeutic rewards, stimulants, such as Concerta, are also susceptible to abuse.
What is Concerta?
Concerta is a prescription stimulant which doctors use to help treat symptoms of ADHD. Containing methylphenidate, a central nervous system stimulant which affects brain chemicals responsible for hyperactivity and impulse control, this drug is incredibly potent. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, methylphenidate is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II substances are said to have a high potential for physical and psychological dependence.
Normally abused by people looking to become more alert and focused, Concerta has become a popular drug of choice on college campuses. College students who abuse Concerta take it with the hope of helping them study for exams. However, several studies have shown that people who abuse Concerta end up with lower GPAs than those who take the time to study without a stimulant.
Though administered in pill form, many people snort or inject Concerta into their system to feel the effects of the drug more heavily. People who take Concerta for extended periods will inevitably become physically and psychologically dependent.
Because the brain becomes used to the positive influences of Concerta, it expects a constant presence. The brain’s yearning for Concerta increases possibilities of chronic disease formation making users more impulsive and harmful to not only themselves, but others.
Signs of Concerta Use
Because Concerta is a stimulant, people specifically look for this drug as a way to stay more alert and focused. Once a person begins using Concerta, their central nervous system is placed into overdrive, meaning that neurotransmitters (dopamine) are released at much higher rates. As a person continues using Concerta, they begin exhibiting certain signs of physical and mental change.
A major physical sign to look for when dealing with Concerta is a drop in weight. As a person takes stimulants, their metabolism increases resulting in weight loss. If a person you know does not go to the gym or exercise on a regular basis, but somehow keeps losing weight, Concerta or other stimulant use could be at play.
With the use of stimulants, certain psychological changes are also bound to occur. The signs to look out for can range from extreme mood swings to paranoia. Through paranoia, a user can experience trouble sleeping as their brain struggles to turn itself off. Constantly releasing chemicals, the brain has a hard time regulating itself because normal receptors of the body bind with foreign receptors, creating a never ending chain of disrupted energy.
Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms
After a person has used Concerta for an extended period of time, the body begins craving it. Abruptly quitting Concerta can cause the body to go into a state of shock as it struggles to function without the presence of the drug. As a reaction to the lack of Concerta, a user’s body will experience symptoms of withdrawal. The duration and severity of these symptoms are correlated to length of use and dosage level.
Some of the first symptoms of Concerta withdrawal are difficulty sleeping and lack of focus. Because the drug is meant for people clinically diagnosed with ADHD, the brain’s neurotransmitters and receptors begin shifting back to their natural state.
As withdrawal symptoms continue to arise, one of the most prominent symptoms is extreme fatigue. Stimulants allow a person to stay awake for extended periods of time. Once the dosage level decreases or stops all together, a user begins feeling side effects from lack of sleep.
In a state of flux and confusion, the brain can begin to bring about feelings of anxiety. Through this anxiety, a user may express sentiments of increased stress or even suicide. If a person ever states an intention to end their life, reaching out to a professional is incredibly important.
Street Names for Concerta
Due to the fact that Concerta can only be obtained after an individual has been properly diagnosed with ADHD, the illegal sale of this drug has forced dealers to become creative. Street names are aliases created with the intention of concealing the true identity of substances. Street names are often descriptive terms for a color or side effect associated with a drug. The following are some of the common street names for Concerta:
- Diet Coke
- Kiddie Cocaine
Treatment for Concerta Addiction
For those that find themselves needing assistance breaking away from the addictive nature of Concerta, admitting there is a problem and seeking help is the necessary first step. When taking the vital step of seeking advice and counsel, a trusted doctor is a great place to begin.
Having an open dialogue with your doctor allows them to fully understand your situation. Doctors can also provide recommendations for treatment programs.
As a patient makes the decision to enter a program, one of the first things that must be accomplished is expulsion of Concerta. Professionally regulated detoxes are used to help a patient gradually rid themselves of Concerta. While many people believe they can detox at home without supervision, a user enhances the probability of an adverse reaction.
The reason that stimulant addictions require professional guidance is due to the psychological effects that can resurface months or even years after a person stops using. Through the detoxing process, it aims to release the hold that Concerta has on an individual. Because a person’s emotions are running rampant throughout the detox process, use of certain drugs like antipsychotics and antidepressants may be necessary.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
With options of inpatient and outpatient treatments, it is up to the individual to decide which program is best for them. Through inpatient treatment programs, an individual is able to recover from their addiction while being closely monitored and regulated. Outpatient treatment programs allow individuals to get treatment while also giving them an opportunity to continue going to work and living at home. However, it is important that patients going through outpatient treatment be accountable and take steps to ensure they do not give into temptation and begin using.
The strongest treatment options for Concerta addiction is behavioral therapy. The major strength of behavioral therapy is its focus on peeling away at an individuals psychological makeup to understand their addiction. Whether attending one on one or group therapy sessions, a professional can help users understand the wide scope of abuse.
One type of behavioral therapy commonly used to treat individuals with stimulant addictions is contingency management. Contingency management is a therapeutic treatment that uses positive reinforcement to encourage continued abstinence from drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this type of therapy is said to be effective because it helps to restructure the reward pathways of the brain. During an addiction, reward pathways are altered causing the brain to expect drugs in order to achieve any sense of pleasure.
Contingency management works by creating a strong relationship between the professional counselor and a patient where the patient is provided with reinforcements as a result of their dismissal of addictive drugs. This treatment becomes especially beneficial once the patient and counselor are able to discover a system where reinforcements offered are of interest to a patient.
Family Behavior Therapy
Family Behavior Therapy is another approach which involves the entire family unit. As a person falls deeper into an addiction, the entire family suffers greatly. Family therapy gives family members the opportunity to address their frustrations and concerns brought about by their loved one’s addiction.
This type of therapy also equips family members with tools necessary to effectively communicate with the addict. While aggression and “tough love” may be approaches more suitable to frustrated family members, using empathy has proven successful.
Treatment options for recovering addicts are abundant and widespread. If you or someone you know is struggling with a Concerta addiction, don't wait any further. Reach out to your nearest rehabilitation treatment centers and get help today.