Concerta (methylphenidate) is a stimulant used in treating ADHD for children age 6 and over and for adults to age 65. FDA warns sudden death and stroke have occurred in children and adults at usual doses. Safety has not been tested under age 6 or over age 65 or in pregnant or nursing mothers.
Before starting or stopping Concerta it is recommended to research the subject thoroughly to help understand more about how the drug works, as well as learning about possible side effects, withdrawal symptoms and management, and other important topics.
Concerta is licensed by the FDA and can be legally prescribed from the age of 6 through 65. FDA warnings are required to be listed on the label, and include interactions with other drugs, contraindications, cautions for use during pregnancy, and health risks such as sudden death, suicidality, age restrictions, and others.1
Of importance, a prescription for Concerta and others in its class is typically meant to continue over many years, often beginning in childhood and continuing even into adulthood. Currently, about 1 in 10 children have been diagnosed, in the US alone, as needing to take Concerta or other ADHD medications. Some countries around the world have experienced even higher percentages, initiating extremely high drugging of children, for example, in South Africa.8
Below is some additional information that is frequently searched for to help anyone considering stopping or starting a prescription of Concerta.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Concerta contains methylphenidate, a drug with similar structure and stimulant properties to cocaine and methamphetamines. Methylphenidate is prescribed to treat ADHD in children and adults between the ages of 6 and 65. The term ADHD is an acronym for attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder.
Some believe that ADHD is a bonafide diagnosis that may even be related to autism, and that it should be treated as a psychiatric illness.
The DSM 5 edition revised the official diagnostic criteria for ADHD in 2013.2
Symptoms of ADHD have recently been separated into two kinds of ADHD. One is “inattentive ADHD” according to the most current psychiatric literature on diagnosis. This disorder is diagnosed against a set of 9 symptoms. A diagnosis for children under the age of 17 years must include evidence of at least 6 of these nine symptoms for at least 6 months; however, for age 17 and up, a patient only needs evidence of 5 of these 9 symptoms to completely satisfy the criteria for diagnosis:
Overlooks details in assigned tasks, makes mistakes, careless about details
Lack of sustained attention during lengthy activities, such as reading, listening to a lecture or playing
Distracted or non-attentive when being spoken to
Fails to finish assigned homework or chores, gets easily sidetracked
Lacks organization skills such as time management, possessions not organized, etc.
Reluctant to begin lengthy tasks such as preparing a long report that requires sustained focus and effort
Often loses possessions related to school or work, like pens and pencils, cell phones, etc.
Gets distracted by outside sounds or other environmental stimuli
Tends to be forgetful about chores, errands, keeping appointments, etc.
The second diagnostic category for this disorder is called “hyperactive-impulsive ADHD,” and the 9 symptoms to satisfy diagnostic criteria for this psychiatric disorder, (required minimum of 6 of the 9 symptoms under 17 years of age, and a minimum of 5 out of 9 for age 17 and older) are:
Frequently fidgets, taps with hands, squirms while seated
When expected to remain seated, often gets up or leaves the area
Runs about, climbs, restless
Inability to play quietly or participate in leisure activities quietly
Often active, as if driven by a motor, can’t sit still, is difficult to keep up with
Blurts out answers before a question has been completed or speaks out of turn
Difficulty waiting in a line, waiting for his/her turn, tends to intrude without permission
Hyperfocused, becoming overly absorbed in tasks to the detriment of social responsibilities, agreements, appointments, etc.
However, ADHD is considered by some in the mental health field as a fictitious disease model and do not agree that placing a label on a child, or an adult for that matter, is sound medical practice, or that such labels and treatment models lead to any desirable outcome in helping those so labeled to do better in school, in their work or professional career, or to meet the challenges in general that life may bring.3
Some medical experts question the near tidal-wave rise in reliance on medication to relieve boredom, increase interest and attention span, or as a quick fix to calm down overly-boisterous children or adults.
Other questions have yet to be completely answered as to the wisdom of attempting to alter natural brain chemicals and neural pathways in young people and in adults, and why such practices should have become the most frequently chosen option when such significant questions as to potential long-term health and safety consequences still remain glaringly open.5
Giving a child a stimulant such as Concerta during the time of transition from puberty into adulthood raises some important concerns. It is during this time that a child begins to sense the rewards of life. The dopamine areas of the brain, called the mesocorticolimbic region, are just getting wired up and interconnected with other parts of the brain at this time. It is likely that stimulants like Concerta could interfere with this very important age-related development. Additionally, it is very common for children and young adults to abuse Concerta, and then stay up one too many nights in a drug-induced mania. Concerned parties, including physicians, may mistake this drug-induced psychosis as an actual mental disorder and prescribe antipsychotic medications. Unfortunately, this is an all too common event and can result in long-term consequences.
Such questions deserve a serious assessment so that informed decisions can be made regarding the use of drug-based treatments, as well as considering other approaches to improving social skills, workplace management skills, improved strategies and skills for learning, and achieving bettered individual mental health without relying on drugs.
Alternative Names and Slang
Concerta has developed a host of slang terms such as:
Kibbles & bits
These terms would be used in a context of recreational use or diversion.
Concerta is a stimulant, but is probably better known for its paradoxical (non-stimulant) effects particularly in children and teenagers.
Some side effects point to health risks and these should be closely monitored, such as:
The above points are from the warnings listed on the FDA label information for Concerta.1
The following is a list of other commonly reported side effects of drugs containing methylphenidate:
Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach
Loss of interest in eating, decreased appetite, weight loss
Mood swings, i.e., euphoria to irritability, sadness, anger, hostility, etc.
Insomnia, disturbed sleep, unusual dreams
Tachycardia, racing heart rate even at rest
More serious side effects can include:
Suicidality (thoughts or attempts)
Thoughts of self-harm
Chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
Poor circulation in fingers and toes causing them to turn blue or white, cold or numb.
Hearing voices in the head, especially directing the person to do certain things, or other auditory hallucinations
Always talk with your prescribing physician if these or other symptoms appear while taking Concerta.
The FDA warns of the following possible withdrawal effects:1
Elevated blood pressure
While some people report minimal withdrawal symptoms after stopping Concerta, others report a range of withdrawal effects that may include:
Slowed heart rate
Headaches, can be severe
Nausea, stomach ache, vomiting
Increased appetite, ravenous hunger
Cognitive impairment, brain fog
Coming off any medication, especially one that has been taken for years or even decades, may require precise, careful monitoring to ensure the safety of the person during and after the tapering process.
Worldwide statistics collected over many years have shown that a person diagnosed with ADHD would be five times more likely to develop an addiction disorder.6
Tapering from Concerta in a nurturing, well-monitored and health-restorative setting is recommended to avoid the possibility of further health risks.
Are Ritalin and Concerta the Same Thing?
Both Ritalin and Concerta have the same active ingredient, methylphenidate. Ritalin has a more immediate release and is prescribed to be taken 3 or 4 times per day. Concerta lasts about 10–12 hours for a single dose; hence, dosing is needed only once a day.1,4
Both drugs have become popular diversion or street drugs, i.e., not prescribed, but used recreationally, usually crushed and snorted for immediate stimulating effects. These drugs cause an artificial surge of dopamine, which is a natural “reward” chemical.
Both drugs have seen a slight decline in numbers of prescriptions written yearly in the US, yet have seen a significant rise in numbers of prescriptions in other countries around the world.
It seems that this would be viewed as financially broadening the reach of pharmaceutical companies who vigorously market Concerta and similar stimulant drugs.
Given such global expansion in drug sales, coordinated with an ever-increasing prevalence of ADHD diagnoses, perhaps it is possible that ADHD could indeed soon become the leading childhood disorder treated with drugs, across the entire globe.7
Treatment for Concerta Abuse and Addiction?
Alternative to Meds Center provides careful tapering for adults who wish to discontinue Concerta or other drugs safely, in a relaxed and compassionate inpatient facility. Over forty highly trained staff members, including medical doctors, nurses, practitioners, and other caregivers are on hand for round-the-clock client care.
Prior to tapering, lab testing is employed to investigate neurotoxin accumulations. Poisonous toxins and heavy metals are often linked to unwanted symptoms such as anxiety, depressed mood, insomnia, and other ailments.
When these neurotoxic accumulations are removed from the body, using deep cleansing techniques, infrared sauna, nebulized glutathione, and other natural neurotransmitter repair protocols, clients often report near immediate improvements such as more energy and focus, deeper and more restful sleep, better appetite, less cravings, lift in emotions, improved sense of calmness, and many other benefits.
These are improvements to mental health, acquired naturally, that may be available especially where no real investigation of symptoms ever occurred, and stimulants were simply used to achieve an effect that is generally not sustainable.
A person who has become dependent on ADHD or other medication may have made a decision to quit, but may have some reservations. One might be the desire to quit Concerta in a way that does not create further health risks. Another concern may be the desire to correct symptoms that existed prior to medication, and not suffer the return of “rebound” symptoms after quitting Concerta. With gradual and gentle cessation methods, and with exhaustive investigation and holistic corrective techniques, Alternative to Meds Center specializes in both areas.
Contact us at Alternative to Meds Center for more information on the programs we offer, or for other information that may be helpful to you or your loved one.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.