Continued use of Concerta can lead to tolerance and dependence. This means withdrawal symptoms will occur when use is stopped.
Stimulant withdrawal generally lasts for about a week, though some symptoms can persist for weeks. Medical detox is recommended to ensure a safe and comfortable withdrawal process.
Methylphenidate is a stimulant that can help people improve their concentration and focus if they are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
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Healthline states that Concerta is an extended-release medication that can cause a comedown or crash. Concerta requires an ADHD diagnosis and a prescription from a doctor, but some people misuse it in attempts to do better in school. Students may take Concerta to cram for a test or to stay up all night to write a paper.
They may obtain the drug from friends who have a legitimate prescription for it, or they may buy it from dealers.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says using Concerta and other prescription medication without a doctor’s approval is considered misuse. This misuse makes it easier for people to become addicted to the substance.
NIDA states that using Concerta for a long time could cause a person to become tolerant to the medication. At a certain point, the body becomes so used to a dose that it will no longer be effective. In order for the effects to again be felt, the dosage will need to be raised.
If someone has been abusing Concerta for a while, it’s likely that their body is dependent on the medication to some degree. This means it will be thrown into a state of imbalance when the drug is processed out of the system and not replaced. This is withdrawal.
As early as 2011, CNN reported that drugs such as Concerta were becoming a problem on high school and university campuses across the U.S. On campuses, they are known as “study drugs” that can help students do better in school.
The report highlighted a few reasons why study drugs are popular on college campuses.
- There is increased pressure to have excellent grades, so students feel more anxiety about performing well.
- Many students do not feel that using a prescription drug is dangerous, even if students are obtaining the medication illicitly.
- Students obtain favorable results from the drug, such as finishing their paper or doing well on a test, and feel the medication does no harm.
Using Concerta without a prescription is unlawful and can pose legal issues for people who take it outside of the proper channels.
People who take Concerta may notice a crash after the effects of the medication starts to wear off, as mentioned on Healthline. This crash may be even more unexpected for people who buy the medication without a prescription because they are not sure how their dose will affect them.
Along with experiencing a crash, people who use Concerta may become tolerant to its effects or develop a dependence on it. Dependence means that a person relies on Concerta to go about their daily activities because their body is now used to functioning with it.
Becoming dependent on Concerta or tolerant to certain dosage levels does not mean a person is addicted to the drug. However, tolerance and dependence make it easier to become addicted to Concerta, and they can also lead to withdrawal when a person stops taking the drug.
How to Handle Withdrawal
Genetics, personal differences, and the type of drug all affect how the body experiences withdrawal.
Below are a few things we know about Concerta withdrawal:
- It can affect the brain’s reward center, according to a 2010 study published on Neuroscience Research.
- Taking Concerta for even one month can cause a person to develop symptoms of withdrawal when they stop, as mentioned on Healthline.
The best way to avoid withdrawal is to seek medical attention to decrease use of Concerta.
The detox process from Concerta varies for everyone, but below are some tips that have been adapted from a timeline for detoxing from Adderall, a stimulant that is also used to treat ADHD.
It is normal to feel very tired and have a lesser quality of sleep. Fatigue and depression are also common at this time.
After the third day of withdrawal, other more serious symptoms may begin. They may last for 7 to 10 days.
- Sleep problems
- Trouble focusing
- A boost in appetite
Decreasing the dose slowly is the best way to reduce the use of Concerta. Quitting cold turkey and without help from a doctor or treatment center may cause withdrawal symptoms to be more serious and uncomfortable.
Suddenly quitting Concerta may make withdrawal symptoms last longer too. Overall, a person who quits Concerta should expect to feel better within four to 12 weeks.
A 2015 article published on Mic shared accounts from people who quit taking their ADHD medication for a variety of reasons. Self-reported symptoms of withdrawal and detox included:
- Weight gain
Not everyone who quit using stimulants to treat ADHD felt they had a misuse problem. It is common for ADHD patients who have taken medication as children to want to wean themselves off it as they grow older. Even then, it is best for people to get help from their prescribing doctors, so their detox goes smoothly.
What to Look for in a Detox Center
Anyone who wants to quit using Concerta can get help. A person who used Concerta without a prescription can still consult with a doctor for help or find a treatment center that can assist them.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides information about what to look for in a treatment center.
- Customized treatment should be available.Not everyone has the same needs, and treatment should be tailored to each individual.
- Detox should be available but it is only the first step in treating drug misuse. Those who misuse Concerta could benefit from additional therapies and strategies to prevent further misuse.
- Dealing with mental health issues is part of treatment, especially for people who have mental health issues that trigger or worsen drug misuse.
- Treatment can be modified depending on a person’s progress and changing needs.
- Treatment can deal with more than just drug misuse. It can involve assistance with career or work opportunities and learning to navigate the legal system.
Family members, friends, and loved ones can also provide incentives for a person to receive necessary treatment if they are misusing Concerta. These can be outlined in an intervention letter or spoken to the person. If the user doesn’t seek help, consequences could include no longer supporting them financially, making them move out of the house, or limiting contact with young family members.
What to Do if You Decide to Detox at Home
Despite the fact that treatment with medical assistance is the best way to wean off Concerta, some people decide to detox at home without discussing their plans with a doctor first.
Again, talking to a doctor can best assist a person who wants to quit using this stimulant, but there are some things you can do at home to support the withdrawal process. Some tips for home-based withdrawal are:
- Drink enough water and eat healthily. Staying hydrated and eating a diet rich in protein, nuts, fruits, and vegetables can help a person during detox. It may also help to drink relaxing beverages, such as milk or decaffeinated teas.
- Relax. Do not take part in activities that increase stress or require too much focus. Listening to music and meditating can help.
- Stay away from other stimulants.Avoid caffeine and cigarettes during detox.
- Resist cravings as much as you can.As you progress in recovery, your cravings for Concerta will lessen over time. It helps to have family members or friends present if you attempt to detox at home. Their support can help you resist temptations to relapse.
Create routines that can help you sleep. Try these tips:
- Stay away from screens and phones for at least one hour before going to sleep.
- Use a white noise machine or wear earplugs to reduce distractions.
- Keep the room dark and cool.
- Maintain a regular schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
Medication to treat addiction to or withdrawal from Concerta has not been approved. There are medications that may be prescribed to address some uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, such as nausea or diarrhea. In some cases, a person may be advised to take an over-the-counter medication such as Imodium.
There are other recommendations to deal with nausea and diarrhea brought on by withdrawal.
- Avoid fried or greasy meals
- Eat smaller portions
- Drink Pedialyte or sports drinks to replace electrolytes
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The Importance of Support
Whether you decide to detox at home or enroll in a detox program, support is imperative during this process. Detox is a vulnerable time when relapse is likely. Support is needed to ensure you make it through detox and don’t return to stimulant abuse.
If you have been taking Concerta via a legitimate prescription for a medical purpose, talk to your doctor about the best way to discontinue use.
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction or abuse, Arete Recovery is here to provide the help and resources that someone may need while they follow the path to sobriety. Our addiction specialists are on-call 24/7, so call now at (855) 781-9939 to get connected to the help you need, or contact us online.
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(September 2015) Here’s What It’s Like to Go Off ADD Meds In Your 20s. Mic. Retrieved February 2019 from https://mic.com/articles/125085/here-s-what-it-s-like-to-go-off-add-meds-in-your-20s#.FfGCmnbZE
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(December 2010) Withdrawal from methylphenidate increases neural reactivity of dorsal midbrain. Neuroscience Research. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20832433
(March 2017) Managing Concerta Crash: What You Need to Know. Healthline. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/managing-concerta-crash
(October 2017) Mitigating risks of students use of study drugs through understanding motivations for use and applying harm reduction theory: a literature review. Harm Reduction Journal. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5639593/
(September 2012) Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brain and Behavior. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/
(September 2011) College students take ADHD drugs for better grades. CNN. Retrieved February 2019 from https://edition.cnn.com/2011/09/01/health/drugs-adderall-concentration/index.html
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