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Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment

2 min read · 5 sections

Misusing Concerta (methylphenidate) can present numerous physical and mental health concerns, including a risk of Concerta addiction and physiological dependence.1

This page will discuss how Concerta works, Concerta withdrawal symptoms, and how to find stimulant addiction treatment.

What is Concerta?

Concerta is a prescription central nervous system stimulant medication that is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1 It contains methylphenidate, which is also the active ingredient in Ritalin. Unlike Ritalin, Concerta contains an extended-release formulation of methylphenidate that has steadier symptom control over a longer duration (12 hours).1

Concerta is classified as a Schedule II substance, which means that it has a legitimate medical purpose but also a high potential for misuse and the potential to cause dependence.3,4

How Does Concerta Work?

ADHD can make it difficult for people to pay attention and manage impulsivity, and they may find it hard to concentrate or sit still.2 Prescription stimulants are used for the treatment of ADHD because they increase and balance levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which are two chemicals that play a role in attention and problem-solving abilities.2

People with ADHD who take Concerta may therefore experience:5

  • Improved wakefulness.
  • Concentration.
  • Alertness. 

Teens and young adults in college may misuse prescription stimulants like Concerta because they believe it can help them improve their academic performance and help them stay awake to study (which is why prescription stimulants are often referred to as “study drugs”).5

Although younger people have historically misused prescription stimulants more commonly, older adults sometimes also misuse these drugs to offset cognitive decline or increase productivity. Prescription stimulants are also misused among shift workers to help them stay awake and concentrate during overnight shifts. Prescription stimulants have also been misused for weight loss.6

Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms

Over time, the brain and body can become dependent on Concerta, meaning someone feels they need the medication to function normally; when the person cuts back or stops taking the drug they may experience withdrawal. Chronic misuse of Concerta may gradually diminish dopamine stores in the brain, resulting in depressive and exhaustive symptoms when someone cuts down or stops taking the drug.5,6 Withdrawal from stimulants is rarely dangerous, but can be very uncomfortable.5

Concerta withdrawal can vary from person to person, but stimulant withdrawal symptoms may include:7

  • Fatigue.6 
  • Increased appetite.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams. 
  • Depression.6 
  • Psychomotor retardation (slowed thoughts and movements) or agitation (heightened movements, like uncontrollable fidgeting).

Concerta Withdrawal Timeline

Stimulant withdrawal generally occurs within a few hours or days after a person cuts down or stops using the drug.7

Withdrawal symptoms can last up to 2 weeks, after which time they usually subside. However, some people may experience post acute withdrawal, in which fatigue, depression, and excessive sleepiness may last longer than 2 weeks.5

How is Concerta Withdrawal Treated?

Withdrawal symptoms from stimulant medications are rarely physically dangerous,8 and there are no FDA-approved medications to treat stimulant withdrawal.6

However, some people may develop depression with suicidal thoughts and may benefit from proper monitoring and therapeutic support.8 Behavioral therapy can help patients manage cravings and develop positive coping strategies.9

Find Concerta Addiction Treatment Near You

Treatment can help people safely stop using stimulants and start the path to recovery. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of evidence-based treatment programs for stimulant addiction, with rehabs located across the country.

American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) facilities offer different interventions, including behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, peer support, and aftercare. Stimulant addiction is treated mainly in outpatient addiction rehab settings; however, we also provide inpatient care as well. 

Please call to speak to a knowledgeable admissions navigator about treatment options and to easily verify your insurance. You can also verify your coverage by using the confidential form below.

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