What Is Concerta?

Pronounced as kän-ˈsərt-ə/

Concerta is the brand name of the generic drug methylphenidate hydrochloride (methylphenidate HCI), the central nervous system stimulant that activates your brain stem arousal system and cortex to promote cognitive function.

Concerta is a prescription medication that has been clinically approved to assist in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as part of a comprehensive or total treatment program.

Concerta is available in four extended release tablets (XR) with varying strengths. The four Concerta extended release tablets contain varying amounts of methylphenidate HCl USP: 18, 27, 36, or 54 milligrams. These Concerta tablets were formulated to give a 12-hour effect for the patient.

The DEA has classified Concerta as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that taking Concerta has a high potential for addiction and abuse.

Concerta and other drugs used for the treatment of ADHD symptoms are usually abused as a “party drug”, appetite suppressant, or a "study drug” to boost focus. This is because Concerta has side effects that boost alertness and energy levels.

Most people abuse Concerta by crushing the tablet or emptying the capsule and then by taking Concerta through injection or snorting. If you feel that you are dependent or addicted to Concerta, tell your doctor or seek help from a rehab center.

What Does Concerta Look Like?

If you have been prescribed Concerta or are considering taking Concerta, you might be interested to know what Concerta looks like.

The natural physical appearance of Concerta's chemical composition is white, odorless crystalline powder. In the market, this prescription medicine takes the following form:

Concerta, 18mg XRYellowOblongalza 18
Concerta, 27mg XRGrayOblongalza 27
Concerta, 36mg XRWhiteOblongalza 36
Concerta, 54mg XRBrownish-redOblongalza 54

What Are the Other Names of Concerta?

The brand name Concerta has a generic name methylphenidate HCI. This means that there are other drugs similar to Concerta extended release medicine that can also treat adults and children with ADHD as well as deliver the same effects.

Some of the brand names include:

  • Aptensio XR
  • Cotempla XR-ODT
  • Metadate CD
  • Metadate ER
  • Methylin
  • QuilliChew ER
  • Quillivant XR
  • Ritalin

What Are the Street Names of Concerta?

Street names are often used to disguise the actual name of a drug, and Concerta is no different. People use street names to refer to ADHD drugs like Concerta during illicit transactions in the streets or online.

Concerta Street Names:

  • JIF
  • MPH
  • R-ball
  • Skippy
  • The Smart Drug
  • Vitamin R

What Is Concerta Used For?

Concerta is used to treat different types of conditions but mainly to treat children and adults with ADHD. Some people are also taking Concerta to treat narcolepsy, depressive symptoms, and fatigue.

It is unfortunate, however, that there are also people who take advantage of the side effects of Concerta and use this central nervous system stimulant illicitly.

Concerta uses

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms

Concerta is a prescription medicine used to cure attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A person diagnosed with ADHD has hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive manifestations which prevent normal social interaction.


Narcolepsy is a condition that affects the ability to stay awake. Symptoms of narcolepsy include sleep attacks during the day, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. Concerta can help people with narcolepsy by increasing alertness and decreasing fatigue.

Depressive Symptoms

Concerta has also been used to treat symptoms associated with depression such as low energy and fatigue. Some people taking Concerta for this purpose notice improvement in their depression, but more studies are needed to examine this effect.


Concerta can also be used to reduce fatigue. It is thought that Concerta increases energy levels by acting on the parts of the brain involved in motivation, reward, and pleasure.

Recreational Use

Some people abuse Concerta because they seek the side effects of increased alertness, increased energy levels, or a “high” feeling when taking the drug. These side effects are attractive to those who want to forego sleep or fatigue, such as students, athletes, and professionals who want to stay active for long periods of time.

On college campuses, it's not unusual for students to store Concerta or other drugs for ADHD as study drugs. It is important to remember that taking Concerta only as directed by your doctor is very critical.

While Concerta might deliver side effects that may seem harmless in the short term, you should remember that Schedule II drugs like Concerta can be highly addictive. If you keep on taking Concerta without a proper prescription, this could result in substance use disorder.

How Does Concerta Work?

Upon taking Concerta, this central nervous system drug inhibits the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine into the presynaptic neuron while enhancing the secretion of these monoamines.

This first action leads to more production of postsynaptic dopamine which provides the required stimulation and activation of the motor inhibitory system in the orbitofrontal-limbic axis.

Upon the activation of this motor inhibitory system, there’ll be a decrease in the person’s state of impulsiveness. Due to its stimulating properties, this prescription medicine can help you think more clearly while also providing a boost in alertness and focus.

Consequently, this makes methylphenidate hydrochloride an effective medicine for ADHD patients.

How Strong Is Concerta?

Since it is a prescription medication, some people taking Concerta have the misconception that the side effects of Concerta are not that harmful. However, many may be surprised that Concerta has dangerous side effects that can even develop into severe substance use disorder.

Concerta is a stimulant medicine and when abused has a comparable addictive potential as cocaine, amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, phenmetrazine, and diethylpropion.

When this substance is taken intravenously, it shows similar pharmacokinetics as cocaine. There are also several publications that have stated that Concerta has the same pharmacologic properties as amphetamine.

The time and the rate at which Concerta and cocaine are absorbed by the brain are parallel, but cocaine is absorbed faster, with around 70 minutes difference.

To get the right medicinal effect from Concerta and avoid the risk of developing a substance use disorder, a person taking Concerta for ADHD symptoms must not exceed the maximum daily dosage of the drug.

If you have a missed dose, do not double the missed dose on the next dose. Take the next dose at the recommended time and continue taking your medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Methylphenidate substances must start at the lowest recommended amount. Read below

to learn more about the recommended dosage for Concerta.

Children (over 6 years old) and Adolescents:

  • Dosage increments must be done consecutively at 9mg between 18mg and 36mg.
  • 18mg increments to a maximum daily dosage of 54mg/day for children between 6-12 years old (not in younger children)
  • Maximum dosage of 72mg per day for adolescents between 13-18 years old
  • In general, dosage increments can be done weekly.


  • The initial dose of 18 or 36mg per day in 18mg increments to a maximum amount of 72mg daily (once every morning)
  • An increment in dosage can be done in weekly intervals

How Long Does Concerta Stay in Your System, Blood, Urine, Saliva, Hair?

If you are to undergo a drug test, you may be wondering how long this drug stays in your system. The duration of how long Concerta remains in your body will depend on several factors.

The amount of Concerta you took, the frequency of drug use, and the length of time you took Concerta all play a role in how long this drug will remain in your system. Your metabolism, weight, age, and organ function also affect this duration.

  • Blood test: this method is not typically used for drug screening
  • Urine test: 48 to 96 hours
  • Saliva test: 1 to 3 days
  • Hair test: 90 days

How Do You Get Addicted to Concerta?

While Concerta has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD symptoms and other conditions, it is important to remember that this drug also has a high potential for addiction and abuse.

Concerta Addiction

The high addictive potential of stimulant medications like Concerta is overshadowed by the several positive clinical results from oral intake. However, abuse of Concerta either through intranasal or intravenous methods can also be highly dangerous.

There are several routes on how people develop drug dependence and later on, addiction. Below are some ways how people could get addicted.

Taking More Than the Prescribed Dosage

Continuous dosage of more than 18 to 36 mg daily can lead to overdose and addiction, which will require emergency medical help. Some people intentionally take more than the prescribed dosage because they wrongly associate a higher dose with better results.

Taking Concerta More Frequently

People may take Concerta more frequently without taking into consideration that this medication has an extended release formula. Taking it in large amounts and too often can lead to significant side effects and potential addiction.

Extending the Time Beyond the Prescription

Some users store Concerta that may be leftover from a previous prescription and use it when they feel the need, even without a valid prescription from health professionals. This practice is a dangerous way of taking methylphenidate because if you don't tell your doctor, it increases the risk of an overdose, tolerance, and even addiction. It could also lead to long-term consequences like behavior problems, blood pressure issues, and heart conditions.

History of Drug Abuse or Mental Health Conditions

People with a history of drug abuse or mental illnesses are also more likely to get addicted. If you have a family history of these conditions, it also increases the risk of getting addicted.

Recreational Use of the Drug

People may also abuse Concerta to experience its euphoric effects. Some people use Concerta as an over-the-counter recreational drug or combine it with other substances like alcohol, marijuana, and opioids to enhance the ‘high’ they are seeking. This practice is highly dangerous since users unknowingly increase their risk of developing an addiction.

What Are the Side Effects of Concerta?

Taking Concerta extended release drugs without a prescription or in ways not prescribed can be dangerous due to its side effects and possible drug interactions. Some Concerta side effects can range from increased blood pressure, circulation problems, trouble sleeping, weight loss, serotonin syndrome, behavior problems, sudden death, and more.

Some of these side effects can be possibly fatal (sudden death) and can manifest in the short term or long term. While this is not a complete list of side effects, below are some of these side effects of Concerta extended release medications. Call your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Short-term Side Effects:

  • Nervousness
  • Euphoria
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Allergic reaction (chest pain, difficulty breathing, blood pressure issues)

Long-term Side Effects:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Blood flow problems or circulation problems
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fast heart rates
  • Uncontrolled body reactions
  • Priapism or long painful penis erection
  • Glaucoma
  • Deformed brain arteries
  • Behavior problems
  • Mood swings
  • Structural cardiac abnormalities
  • Sudden death
  • May affect growth in children

Possible Drug Interactions

Using Concerta without the proper advice of a doctor can be dangerous because you may be taking Concerta tablets without knowing the drug interactions that can happen when Concerta is combined with other medications. This combination can lead to serious and life-threatening side effects.

Examples of drugs that should not be taken together with Concerta are monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants, narcotic painkillers, blood thinners, blood pressure medication, seizure medication, stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines, and certain herbal supplements.

For instance, combining Concerta with Vyvanse may cause serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a condition where there is an increase of serotonin in the body, resulting in symptoms like sweating, confusion, agitation, and hallucinations.

People with high blood pressure or those already taking blood pressure medication should be cautious about taking Concerta. This could result in more blood flow problems or blood circulation problems.

If you have heart problems or structural cardiac abnormalities, taking Concerta extended-release tablets could also result in side effects such as high blood pressure and even sudden death.

People with Tourette's Syndrome are also not advised to take Concerta. Tourette's Syndrome is a neurological disorder causing uncontrollable physical and vocal tics. Even if you have not been diagnosed yet with Tourette's Syndrome but have a family history of Tourette's Syndrome, avoid taking Concerta.

It's important to tell your doctor if you have any of these conditions or taking any of the medicines listed above to avoid any dangerous side effects. A doctor will be able to advise on the complete list of drug interactions for Concerta extended release.

ADHD with Bipolar Disorder

Some studies propose that the stimulant medications used to treat ADHD can result in manic symptoms and psychotic episodes among those suffering from ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Concerta ADHD

However, other clinical trials have determined that individuals with bipolar disorder and ADHD respond favorably to these drugs. If you have ADHD with bipolar disorder, make sure to seek medical attention for proper treatment and do not self-medicate.

Concerta and Pregnancy

Concerta passes into the mother's breast milk and it could harm a nursing infant. Therefore, mothers should not be taking Concerta while pregnant or breastfeeding. Concerta may also cause birth defects so caution should be practiced.

Allergic Reaction

It's possible to have an allergic reaction to Concerta. Some symptoms can include trouble breathing, chest pain, hives, and swelling of your lips, tongue, face, and throat. Call for emergency medical attention right away if you have an allergy to Concerta.

Why Is Concerta Dangerous?

There are several reasons why Concerta is dangerous. If you take Concerta extended release medications without a prescription, it can affect your physical and mental health. Here are some reasons why Concerta is dangerous:

Concerta Is Highly Addictive

Concerta is dangerous because it has a comparable effect to cocaine and amphetamines when abused. The high addictive potential of Concerta extended release drugs are often overshadowed by the positive medical results from oral intake, but addiction should be taken seriously. If you have a history or family history of drug or alcohol dependence, you should be cautious about Concerta use.

Concerta Can Cause Drug Overdose

Drug overdose is one of the side effects of using too much Concerta extended release and this can be possibly fatal. Overdose can also take place if you mix Concerta with other drugs. The risk of overdose for this drug is staggeringly similar to other central nervous system stimulants.

Long-term Use Can Worsen Mental Health illnesses

Prolonged misuse can lead to an array of dangerous side effects, such as schizophrenia, psychoses, delusions, heart problems, and cerebrovascular disorders — all of which may result in drastic behavioral changes.

Concerta can Cause Heart Problems and Sudden Death

For people with existing heart and blood pressure problems, Concerta extended release meds can worsen these conditions. Using Concerta can even trigger sudden death in some people with heart issues.

What Causes Concerta Overdose?

One of the most common causes of overdose for any prescription drugs is taking larger amounts in order to heighten the effects provided by the drug. In the case of Concerta extended release drugs, overdose typically happens as a result of intranasal and intravenous abuse.

The highest reported amount of Concerta that was intranasally abused was 200mg of substance. Meanwhile, for intravenous and oral intake, the highest amount reported is around 40 to 1000mg and 125 Concerta extended release tablets per day respectively.

Concerta Drug facts

What Are the Signs of Overdose?

There are several physical and behavioral indications if a person has been excessively using Concerta extended release medications. These overdose indications are a result of the overstimulation of the brain and the excess adrenaline effect.

Overdose Symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Uncontrolled bodily actions
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure / circulation problems

How Do You Treat Concerta Overdose?

In order to help those people who have experienced a Concerta overdose, the following treatments or procedures are recommended:

  • To ensure the patient's well-being, it is necessary to prevent them from harming themselves and also minimize any external triggers that could induce a response.
  • If necessary, it is imperative to flush out the existing contents of the patient's stomach.
  • An alternate way to detoxify a patient's stomach is by taking activated charcoal or cathartic.
  • The patient can also undergo peritoneal dialysis or the removal of waste from the blood.

If you or someone you know is experiencing drug overdose, call your doctor or get emergency medical help right away.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms from Concerta?

With Concerta extended release being an addictive controlled substance, withdrawal symptoms may manifest when you suddenly stop using the drug. Tell your doctor if you plan on stopping the use of Concerta drugs before you quit cold turkey. If you tell your doctor or medical professional, they can advise ways to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Frequent headaches
  • Severe fatigue
  • Depression
  • Low heart rate
  • Panic attacks
  • High-level of irritability
  • Delusions

How Can You Treat Concerta Addiction?

If you're struggling with Concerta drug dependence or addiction while being treated for ADHD, tell your doctor immediately. Your doctor can provide you with other medication options or offer helpful advice on how to manage the addiction.

Seek professional help from rehabilitation centers and mental health providers near you. Professional help is key for a successful recovery as they are trained to diagnose and treat your condition, helping you navigate through the process of detoxification more effectively.