If you or a loved one struggle with Concerta and want to quit, you may be worried about the prospect of withdrawal symptoms. Like many stimulant drugs, Concerta can cause withdrawal symptoms once it has been stopped. Due to the long-acting, complex drug release mechanism of Concerta, it is thought to be less prone to misuse than other stimulant drugs. Concerta causes less of a high than other stimulants and takes longer to kick in. For this reason, it takes longer to wear off as well.
The long wearing-off time means that Concerta withdrawal symptoms are milder than other stimulants. However, Concerta is nonetheless linked to some withdrawal symptoms that can be serious. Therefore, knowing what to expect in Concerta withdrawal is important if you are stopping the drug.
Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms
- Norepinephrine, which causes you to feel energetic
- Dopamine, which causes you to feel euphoric
When the brain gets used to having extra amounts of these chemicals available, it starts to rely on their presence. Cells in the brain may even undergo changes because they expect these chemicals to be supplied. Therefore, if you stop taking Concerta, the levels of these chemicals drop below what the body is now used to. Withdrawal symptoms are the result. Symptoms of Concerta withdrawal can vary but may include:
- Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms
High blood pressure
Abnormal muscle movements and contractions
Painful and prolonged erections
Mood problems including dysphoria can occur during Concerta withdrawal. Severe depression is a rare but serious side effect of stimulant withdrawal in general. The Food and Drug Administration even has a Black Box Warning about severe depression in Concerta withdrawal. Underlying mood issues that were present prior to Concerta use may worsen after Concerta is stopped.
Dangers Of Concerta Withdrawal
Most Concerta withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous. However, there are some exceptions:
- Severe depression: Someone who has severe depression after stopping Concerta may be a danger to themselves or others. If you or someone you know is thinking of self-harm, immediate medical attention is needed. You should call 911 for any emergency. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a free resource available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
- Priapism: A painful and prolonged erection is a possible side effect of Concerta withdrawal. This type of erection is not linked to sexual arousal and can last for hours. Priapism is considered a medical emergency. If not assessed and treated by a doctor, it can cause permanent impotence. If you have a painful erection that lasts more than 4 hours, you should seek immediate medical help.
Further, due to cravings conditioned into your brain, relapse is a risk following Concerta withdrawal.
Concerta Withdrawal Duration
Little information is available for the length of Concerta withdrawal specifically. However, withdrawal from other, similar stimulants can last seven to 10 days. Because Concerta is a slow-acting drug, it wears off slowly. This helps to prevent crashes and can limit the severity of Concerta withdrawal symptoms. This contrasts with other types of prescription stimulants, which may have a quicker onset and thus lead to more severe crashes.
Medical Detox For Concerta Addiction
Especially if you are taking Concerta with another substance, medical detox can help to get you through the initial phase of withdrawal. Detox is the first step in addiction recovery. While in medical detox, substance use is stopped while you are closely supervised by a medical team. Because detox requires monitoring, it happens in an inpatient environment.
Completing detox does not prevent future substance use in and of itself. However, detox can wean you off substances while safely addressing withdrawal symptoms. Since severe withdrawal symptoms are linked to future problems staying sober, a medical detox program can help your chances for long-term success.
Finding a Concerta Detox Center
Many detox centers are available, and it can be hard to narrow it down. Each detox center is different and offers unique options. It is important to find one that meets your needs. Items to take into consideration when picking a center include:
Some centers may only offer detox. Other centers offer a blend of services like inpatient, residential or outpatient rehab.
Rehab centers are located across the country. Some will be far from where you live, while others may be nearby.
- Program Length
Some detox centers have programs that last only a certain duration. In contrast, other programs may have more flexible durations.
Some programs specialize in the type of drug they are best prepared to help detox. Further, some facilities may offer specialties in dual diagnosis, which is treating not only the substance addiction but underlying mental health issues. Someone with ADHD who struggles with Concerta use may benefit from a center that offers dual diagnosis services.
Insurance programs may work with some programs but not others.
Costs vary widely for detox and rehab. Factors that determine how much detox costs include:
- Your insurance plan
- The type of detox or rehab you need
Detox and rehab centers do not want to turn anyone away. They may be able to work with you through financial options if you cannot otherwise afford to go. Never be afraid to ask, because it is a common question.
Although insurance may pay for detox and rehab, coverage can vary. You should contact your insurance plan to learn more. You can also verify your insurance coverage for rehab. If you are covered by Florida Medicaid, contact the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration to verify your coverage. If you are a military veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs may provide rehab.
Key Points: Understanding Concerta Withdrawal & Detox
Important things to remember about Concerta withdrawal and detox are:
- Concerta withdrawal is due to an imbalance of brain chemicals after you stop taking the drug.
- Most Concerta withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous. However, symptoms like severe depression and priapism require immediate medical help.
- Concerta may cause fewer withdrawal symptoms than other forms of methylphenidate because of its long-acting mechanism.
- Detox centers are available to help you stop taking Concerta safely.
If you or a loved one struggle with your Concerta use, assistance is here. Contact our team at The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to learn how we can help you.
Grau-López, Lara; et al. “Dystonia in Methylphenidate Withdrawal: A Case Report.” Journal of Addiction Medicine, March/April 2017. Accessed October 5, 2019.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Concerta.” August 15, 2019. Accessed October 5, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Medical Detoxification.” February 2016. Accessed October 5, 2019.
Sinha Rajita. “New Findings on Biological Factors Predicting Addiction Relapse Vulnerability.” Current Psychiatry Reports, October 2011. Accessed October 5, 2019.
Phillips, Karran A; Epstein, David H; Preston, Kenzie L. “Psychostimulant Addiction Treatment.” Neuropharmacology, April 12, 2014. Accessed October 5, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.