Will I Experience Withdrawal From Concerta Addiction?
September 12, 2021
Concerta is a commonly prescribed medication for individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It has the generic name methylphenidate, and it’s classified as a stimulant.
The drug acts on the central nervous system, increasing the amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. As a result, concentration and focus improves, while hyperactivity is decreased.
Concerta is also an addictive drug. It has a high potential for abuse and producing dependence. Because of this, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) puts it under the list of Schedule II controlled substances. That’s the second highest classification of regulated substances (Schedule I is the highest, and drugs under this list have no known medical uses).
What happens when you get addicted to Concerta, and are there withdrawal symptoms?
Why is Concerta addictive?
By altering the levels of dopamine in the brain, Concerta is acting on the brain’s rewards system. Heightened dopamine levels are associated with feelings of pleasure, alertness, and high energy. These pleasurable feelings are what most recreational users seek.
Also, some people misuse Concerta to improve their performance in academics. As the drug improves focus, they find that taking it helps them study better and get higher grades. This is not an intended use of the drug. If students take too much of it, or take it too often, they will develop a dependence on the drug. Later on, this may progress into an addiction.
What are the signs of Concerta abuse?
If you abuse this drug, you may show these signs:
- Being restless often
- Appearing too busy all the time
- Being more talkative
- Trouble sleeping
- Aggressive behavior
- Weight loss
Long-term abuse may also produce the following symptoms:
What are the withdrawal symptoms of Concerta?
Once you get addicted to Concerta, you’ll find that you can no longer live normally without taking the drug. If you attempt to quit, you will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. They can be so annoying that you would rather just take Concerta again to make them go away.
For this reason, overcoming a Concerta addiction on your own is extremely daunting.
There are various symptoms of Concerta withdrawal. These depend on how long you’ve been taking the drug, how severe your addiction is, and the amount that you take. If you have been suffering from Concerta addiction for a long time now, the withdrawal symptoms tend to be more serious and longer lasting.
Usually, you will feel withdrawal symptoms within 24 hours of your last intake of Concerta. In some cases, though, it can take several days for withdrawal to kick in.
Most of the symptoms often last for no more than 7 days. There are other symptoms, though, that can persist for months.
Common withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Irregular blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Extreme fatigue
- Increased appetite
- Inability to think clearly
- Dysphoria (feeling uneasy in general)
If you experience these, it’s also known as going through a “Concerta crash.” More serious symptoms, like irregularities in your heartbeat and psychotic behaviors, are signs that you need to seek professional help.
Quitting the drug on your own is not recommended. You will only keep getting withdrawal symptoms. Managing them properly requires medical help.
How do I safely quit Concerta?
First of all, consult your primary care doctor or an addiction professional. They will help you go through a procedure known as medically assisted detox. This detox will rid your body of all traces of Concerta while managing the withdrawal symptoms.
During the detox process, there are two ways to quit the drug: either “cold turkey” or tapering off your dosage.
The “cold turkey” method involves suddenly stopping your intake of Concerta, but this will give you more intense withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal ends much sooner, though.
Because it tends to produce more intense withdrawal symptoms, the cold turkey method is not often done in medical detox.
Tapering off your dosage is the recommended method in detox. It takes longer, but it only produces mild withdrawal symptoms. Here, doctors assist you in slowly reducing your intake of Concerta. At the end of detox, you will have reached a zero dose. At that point, you can start living without the drug.
Detox is usually not enough to fully recover from the effects of Concerta addiction. Following this process, you will enroll in either an inpatient or an outpatient rehab program.
If your case of Concerta addiction is mild, an outpatient program may be adequate. Here, you don’t have to stay in a rehab center for months. Instead, you will go to therapy a few times a week, then you can go back home after each therapy session is done. These sessions may last a few weeks to months, depending on your case.
If your Concerta addiction is more serious, and you’ve been suffering from it for a long time, an inpatient rehab program is recommended. Here, you will have to live inside a rehab facility for the whole duration of the rehab program. This can take anywhere from thirty days to three months, depending on how severe your addiction is.
In an inpatient program, you will experience the highest level of care. Doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals will be ready to help you at any time. You’ll also be exposed to a wide range of activities that will help you transition to a drug-free lifestyle. These may include sports, hobbies, and socialization.
Inside the rehab center, you will be taught many techniques to keep yourself away from the influence of drugs. These are done through different evidence-based therapies like:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Talk therapy
- Individual and group counseling
- Family therapy
You may go through any combination of those therapies or all of them. Some rehab centers even have more luxurious amenities like spas, saunas, and swimming pools to help you manage stress in healthy ways. Some rehabs also provide holistic methods like art therapy, animal assisted therapy, and many others.