Concerta Addiction and Abuse

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Concerta is a prescription drug that is mainly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Because it is a stimulant, it’s often abused in place of cocaine.  ADHD and substance use disorder would be classified as a dual diagnosis, requiring therapy to address both issues.

How Concerta is Abused

Concerta is usually provided as an extended-release pill, tablet, or capsule. People who abuse this medication often crush the pill or release the contents of the capsule so the drug can be injected or snorted.

Street Names

Concerta has a reputation for being a “study drug” because people believe that it allows them to focus more sharply on the subject at hand, in addition to providing feelings of joy.

This drug is sometimes referred to by its street names, which include:

  • Kibbles & Bits
  • Kiddy Cocaine
  • Pineapple
  • Kiddie Coke
  • Smarties
  • Skittles

How is Concerta Classified?

The drug is classed as a Schedule II controlled substance.1 It is placed in the highest-risk category of drugs that can be used legally for medical purposes. Schedule II drugs have legitimate uses but also have significant potential for abuse and physical addiction.

Is Concerta Addictive?

Concerta is a drug that does have the potential to become addictive. It’s made up of substances that are similar to other stimulant drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and amphetamines.2 Someone who uses Concerta for recreational purposes is at a higher risk for developing an addiction to it.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it’s estimated that 52 million people have used prescription drugs for recreational purposes at least once in their lifetime.3

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported that the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms due to the recreational use of stimulants by people between the ages of 18-34 increased from 5,605 to 22,949 visits over the course of six years (2005-2011).4

More recent studies show that 6.6% of American adults (16 million people) used stimulants in 2016. Of those, 5 million used these drugs as prescribed, and 0.4 million developed a stimulant use disorder.5

Is it Safe?

A doctor may give a patient Concerta to treat symptoms linked to ADHD or narcolepsy. This drug has been in use for more than 50 years for the treatment of ADHD to help with symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

The medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe for everybody.6 For instance, it’s not safe for people who also suffer from anxiety, agitation, glaucoma, or Tourette’s syndrome.

Some students and athletes abuse this substance in a misinformed attempt to increase the ability to focus and concentrate. Although some effects may be perceived, these do not translate to long term benefits in muscle or memory.

Side Effects of Concerta

The short-term side effects can be either mild or severe, depending on the dosage taken, the body make-up, and whether other substances, like alcohol, are also being used. These short-term side effects may include:7

  • Nervousness
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Stuffy nose
  • Very warm skin
  • Dizziness/Vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleeplessness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heart disturbances
  • Stroke

The following long-term effects can be very dangerous and even life-threatening:

  • Developing a tolerance to Concerta
  • Becoming addicted to or dependent upon the drug
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Bruising easily
  • Weight loss
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Anger

Taking an more than the amount a doctor recommended of Concerta can cause serious side effects, including death.8


Someone who quits taking Concerta after having abused this drug for a while is likely to experience unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Severe depression
  • Cravings for the drug

Treatment for Concerta Addiction

Quitting Concerta suddenly can cause symptoms within just a few hours of taking the last dose. Addiction to Concerta typically needs withdrawal treatment performed under medical supervision.9

During detox, the drug dosage is gradually decreased over about a week’s time. After detox, it’s recommended for a person suffering from addiction to receive psychological counseling and behavioral therapy treatments.



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