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Concerta Symptoms and Warning Signs

A person struggling with an addiction to Concerta may exhibit certain physical changes, such as weight loss. Identifying these changes can help you determine if your loved one has a problem.

Signs of Concerta (Methylphenidate) Abuse

concerta abuse

Someone abusing Concerta will exhibit certain behaviors and physical changes.

Those who abuse Concerta often appear restless or very busy. They may also have trouble sleeping, act aggressively and begin losing weight.

While abusing methylphenidate, some users experience hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and psychosis.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are also common among those who abuse the drug. Other symptoms of Concerta abuse include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Vision problems
  • Skin rash
  • Numbness
  • Sweating

Individuals who abuse Concerta typically take high doses of the drug in one of several ways. It may be taken orally, in pill form, or the pills can be crushed up and then snorted, smoked or intravenously injected.

The Dangers of Concerta

When Concerta is abused in high doses—often by crushing a pill and snorting it—there is a rapid increase of dopamine produced in the brain. When this occurs, the normal connection between brain cells becomes disrupted, leading to serious consequences.

Abuse of stimulants like Concerta can cause side effects that are harmful to the body, including:

Increased blood pressure

Increased heart rate

Higher body temperature

Insomnia

Decreased appetite

Cardiovascular complications

Stroke

Seizures

Psychiatric disturbances

Chronic abuse of Concerta can cause psychological disorders, such as paranoia, delusion and hostility. The most serious effect of abusing Concerta is toxicity or overdose. Concerta toxicity can cause delirium, confusion, toxic psychosis and hallucinations.

An overdose on Concerta can be fatal. It can even be dangerous for other people, as the user may become extremely aggressive and hostile.

“The fact that students often use these drugs around deadlines, when their natural adrenaline is already high, elevates the risk even more…Sporadic use can lead to severe sleep deprivation and cause stimulant-induced psychosis, when a student gets paranoid and may hallucinate.”

Dr. Josh Hersh, Staff Psychiatrist at Miami University, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 2014

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Recognizing a Concerta Addiction

Addiction to Concerta happens relatively quickly. Because Concerta causes a quick release of dopamine in the brain, the user experiences a sense of euphoria, a higher energy level, and better focus and concentration. They often desire to relive this high, which leads to repeated abuse. Continued abuse changes the user’s brain, increasing their dependence on the drug.

A person who is addicted to Concerta will experience withdrawal if they quit taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and the user will begin craving the drug, which often leads to relapse.

Certain behaviors are indicative of a Concerta addiction, including:

  • Constant cravings for Concerta
  • Spending more and more time trying to get the drug
  • Wanting to stop using Concerta but always going back for more
  • Recognizing health problems (like increased heart rate or dramatic weight loss), but continuing to use the drug
  • Spending more money than they can afford on Concerta
  • Problems with relationships as the drug takes center-stage in their life
  • Using Concerta as a crutch any time there’s a test, work project or big game
  • Obsessing over getting the next high, or feeling unable to focus normally without the drug

When someone first experiments with Concerta, they may consider it a harmless drug they’re just using to help them study. However, stimulants can quickly create a psychological dependence in the user, leading them to believe their academic performance will suffer if they quit using.

Intervention for a Concerta Problem

In many cases, an addict’s loved ones may suspect the user has a substance abuse problem. They may even confront the user about the issue. Unfortunately, loved ones are often met with anger and denial. People in active addiction are rarely able to have a reasonable discussion about their problem.

A skilled interventionist can help loved ones get through to the Concerta user by guiding an effective intervention. During an intervention, family and friends confront the addict and let them know they will not enable the addiction. They also offer their love and support for the addict’s treatment and recovery.

An intervention is a highly charged, emotional and unpredictable event that should be managed by a professional interventionist.

The interventionist will do pre-intervention research and interviews with the family to determine if there are enabling behaviors or other factors contributing to the user’s addiction. In a successful intervention, the user agrees to treatment and is then admitted to a drug treatment facility.

Rehab for Concerta Addiction

When Concerta is abused in high doses and/or for a long period of time, it is not safe to stop taking the drug “cold turkey.” The onset of withdrawal symptoms will make it difficult for the user to stay the course. Instead, a medically supervised, gradual tapering of the drug is recommended.

An addiction treatment professional can place the Concerta user on a tapering program over a period of time to slowly acclimate their body to reduced levels of the drug. This weaning process minimizes and reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

An outpatient or inpatient treatment program can guide those struggling with Concerta addiction towards a sustained recovery. Please call us now for help finding treatment.

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Sources & Author Last Edited: January 21, 2016

  1. RxList. (2015). "Concerta". Retrieved on October 1, 2015 from: http://www.rxlist.com/concerta-side-effects-drug-center.htm
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2000). "Methylphenidate Abuse and Psychiatric Side Effects". Retrieved on September 30, 2015 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181133/
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