Methylphenidate hydrochloride (Concerta) is a long-acting stimulant. It’s powerful effect on the brain helps relieve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Alcohol is another substance that has a powerful effect on the brain. Drinking it is not recommended while you take Concerta. This combination can lead to some severe effects. Additionally, Concerta is a drug with a potential for misuse, so it’s not recommended for people with a history of alcohol misuse.

Concerta is one type of stimulant available for ADHD treatment. Given the hyperactivity in ADHD, it may seem like an oxymoron to prescribe stimulants for this condition. However, these types of medications actually have the opposite effects of what their name implies. They work by increasing dopamine in the brain to alleviate symptoms of ADHD. The increased levels of dopamine help stimulate the brain and increase attention and focus. Because it is a long-acting stimulant, you need to take Concerta just once per day for symptom relief. The effects can wear off if you skip a dose.

Your doctor will likely prescribe the medication in an 18-mg daily dose first to evaluate your response to Concerta. Daily dosages range from 18–72 mg, though the typical daily dosage for adults is 18–36 mg.

Learn more: Drug information for Concerta (methylphenidate) »

Mixing alcohol and Concerta is a bad choice because it can lead to alcohol poisoning and increased side effects.

Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol is a depressant, so it suppresses brain activity. This effect can result in:

  • anxiety or irritability
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • loss of coordination
  • erratic behavior

However, stimulants like Concerta can override these depressant qualities of alcohol. This can be dangerous. It can lead people to feel as though they haven’t had very much alcohol because they don’t feel the effects. In turn, this can lead to drinking more, which can eventually lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal.

Concerta is known to stay in your body longer than other stimulants. That said, mixing Concerta with alcohol may be even more dangerous than mixing other stimulants with alcohol.

Read more: Alcohol poisoning symptoms, treatment, and more »

Increased potential side effects of Concerta

Drinking alcohol may add to the potential side effects of Concerta. These side effects include:

  • nausea
  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • irritability

The most common results of combining Concerta and alcohol are:

  • impaired concentration
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness

Due to the delicate nature of the brain, drinking alcohol while taking a stimulant might also cause psychiatric changes. This can lead to worsened ADHD symptoms as well as anxiety and aggression.

Concerta is a Schedule 2 drug. This means that it has the potential for misuse. Doctors are cautious in prescribing Concerta to people who have a history of drug or alcohol misuse.

While the exact connection isn’t clear, people with ADHD may have a tendency for substance misuse. According to a report in Alcohol Research and Health, there’s a clinically significant relationship between alcohol misuse and ADHD. The report notes that an estimated 25 percent of adults who received treatment for drug and alcohol misuse also have ADHD.

Alcohol can be dangerous alone, but its effects can be even worse when it’s mixed with medication. Both alcohol and Concerta affect the brain. Combining them can lead to unsafe situations.

To avoid alcohol poisoning and other potential problems, avoid drinking alcohol while taking Concerta. If you have a history of alcohol dependence, discuss it with your doctor before taking this medication.