What Is Concerta Withdrawal?

Due to the powerful impact Concerta has on the brain’s reward system, an addiction to the drug can develop quickly. Concerta is a Schedule II substance, which means that it has medicinal purposes as well as a high potential for abuse. Even those who follow a prescription can develop a physical depenendence or become addicted to Concerta, but the risk is far higher for a recreational user.

Concerta is typically abused as an academic or athletic performance booster, an appetite suppressant for weight loss, or to achieve a high. After prolonged abuse, Concerta users can develop a tolerance to and a psychological dependence on the drug. Those who abuse Concerta to improve athletic performance put themselves in even greater danger of negative health effects, because the increased blood pressure and heart rate caused by Concerta combine with the stress of physical exercise on the body.

[Concerta], which is thought to be a fairly innocuous compound, can have structural and biochemical effects in some regions of the brain that can be even greater than those of cocaine.

- Dr. Yong Kim, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2009

Once an addiction to Concerta has taken hold, the user will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they quit taking the drug or reduce their dose. Withdrawal is the body’s response to no longer having the drug in its system, because the body has become so accustomed to the presence of Concerta that it can no longer function “normally” without the drug.

Any attempt to discontinue use of Concerta should be done under a doctor’s care, as withdrawal from the drug can have  discomforting physical and psychological symptoms that make it harder for the patient to achieve and maintain sobriety.

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Symptoms of Withdrawal

Concerta withdrawal is sometimes referred to as the “Concerta crash.” Symptoms of withdrawal vary depending on the severity and history of the Concerta addiction. A long-term addiction to Concerta usually results in more pronounced and longer-lasting withdrawal.

Common and serious Concerta withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irregular heart rate
  • Irregular blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Panic attacks
  • Nightmares
  • Increased appetite
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Foggy thinking

The symptoms that the individual displays must result in severe distress or impair everyday functioning to be considered stimulant withdrawal symptoms.

Concerta withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable or severe. For this reason, medically assisted detox is recommended over quitting without a doctor.

Duration of Withdrawal

Withdrawal from Concerta usually begins within 24 hours of taking the last dose, but it can take up to several days for some users. Concerta withdrawal usually lasts no longer than 7 days, but some symptoms, known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) may continue for several months.

Quitting “cold turkey” generally results in a more intense, but quicker, withdrawal period. Although it takes longer, tapering off use is the recommended method of detox because the withdrawal is much less intense.

Concerta Withdrawal Timeline

First 24 hours Symptoms of withdrawal usually present within the first 24 hours after stopping use. Former users often develop a headache, feel very tired and find it hard to concentrate. They may also experience cravings or urges to use.
Days 2-4 Symptoms peak over the next several days. Mood swings often start to appear at around 48 hours. Anxiety, dysphoria, and irritability may be intense.
Days 5-14 Withdrawal symptoms gradually subside and become more manageable as the body adjusts to the absence of Concerta. Dysphoria may persist and can last several months for some users.

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Concerta Detox

Abruptly quitting Concerta can cause severe psychological withdrawal symptoms. Instead of suddenly quitting, users can wean themselves off the drug under a doctor’s supervision.

A tapering regimen will help to slowly reduce the body’s dependence on Concerta, resulting in less intense symptoms of withdrawal.

For someone with a long history of Concerta abuse, an inpatient rehab center is a better option than outpatient care. Inpatient facilities offer the highest level of care, as well as a structured and supportive environment. The treatment professionals guide the recovering individual toward developing new habits and behaviors that help solidify sobriety.

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Finding Detox and Treatment for Concerta Addiction

Finding a program that offers medical detox can ensure a safer withdrawal process. For help finding a Concerta treatment program, please reach out to a treatment provider today.


Last Edited:


Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

Theresa Parisi

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  • Theresa Parisi is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) with over 12 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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