Concerta is a commonly prescribed drug for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The main active ingredient in Concerta is methylphenidate hydrochloride. That’s also the primary component in Ritalin, another widely prescribed ADHD medication.
Concerta increases the amount of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Norepinephrine is a natural stimulant and dopamine affects movement, emotion, and other brain functions in the central nervous system.
Concerta is usually taken once a day in the morning. Tablets are available in 18, 27, 36, and 54 mg. Depending on the dose and the actual time it’s taken, the effects of Concerta may start to wear off in the afternoon or evening. People sometimes call this a crash. A crash is when your body experiences withdrawal symptoms as the medication level in your body decreases. You may notice a change in your ability to focus as the medication level decreases. For some people, the change is significant, and symptoms like irritability and hyperactive behavior may result.
You’re less likely to experience a crash if you’re taking the medication as prescribed. Serious crashes generally occur when the doses are too high or when you are taking someone else’s prescription.
Under supervised medical care, Concerta is usually a safe and well-tolerated drug. Your doctor will usually prescribe smaller doses at first and then increase your dose if needed. Follow-up physical and psychological checkups should be done to determine whether the medication is working safely and properly.
Concerta, like many stimulants, is sometimes abused and taken in higher-than-recommended doses. This is common on college campuses, according to a survey by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Students may take higher doses of Concerta to help them stay awake during the night in order to study or to party. Other people may abuse Concerta to get high.
A Concerta crash can be a dangerous experience. If you take Concerta or you know someone who does, it’s important to understand what a crash involves.
You may have a crash or withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking Concerta. Common symptoms may include:
- digestive discomfort
- feelings of depression
- lack of energy
- decreased ability to focus
- increased anxiety
If you are already depressed or suicidal, a Concerta crash may be more serious.
Quitting Concerta should be done slowly and under a doctor’s care. This allows the body to get used to the change in norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain. Psychological counseling may also be appropriate to help Concerta users who have low self-esteem, depression, or other psychological disorders.
Concerta can accelerate your heart rate and make you anxious. A Concerta crash may lead to a rebound effect and cause your heart rate to decrease. It may also lead to increased anxiety. Careful consideration should be given before taking Concerta if you have a personal or family history of heart problems or mental disorders.
If you see someone struggling after suddenly quitting Concerta, don’t hesitate to call 911. There may be serious physical and mental consequences from a Concerta crash.
If you find yourself experiencing mood swings or other physical or emotional changes hours after taking Concerta, you may be experiencing side effects rather than a crash. Side effects may be worse if you are taking a dose that’s too high. The peak effectiveness of Concerta is several hours after taking it, so what may seem like an unpleasant crash may be just the opposite. You may need to go on a lower dose so the effects aren’t as pronounced.
You should talk with your doctor if you’re planning to stop taking Concerta. Speaking with your doctor is important whether you’ve been taking Concerta as prescribed by a physician, or if you’ve been abusing the drug. If you’ve taken the drug without a prescription, don’t skip medical care to end your dependence. If you’re ready to quit, get professional help to avoid serious consequences from suddenly stopping the medication. Your health is the most important issue.