What Are the Long-term Health Risks of Concerta Misuse?

Concerta is the brandname of the prescription medication methylphenidate, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Recently, concerns have been raised about young people and college students misusing Concerta.

This article will discuss Concerta, its effects, the risks of Concerta misuse, and how to get help if you’re struggling with a stimulant addiction.

What Is Concerta?

Concerta is a prescription stimulant medication that is used to treat ADHD, because it acts on the brain by increasing alertness and focus. When used correctly for this purpose, it is a safe treatment that can help people with ADHD stay focused and organized on a day-to-day basis.

Potential for Concerta Misuse

As a nervous system stimulant, Concerta is sometimes misused. One involves students using it, even when they don’t have ADHD, because of a perception that it can help them perform better in school or on other intellectual tasks. Another reason for abuse is that Concerta also acts on the dopamine system and can create a sense of euphoria that makes some people seek it out as a recreational drug.

Either with recreational use or through abuse or misuse of the drug, there are a number of long-term health risks that are of concern, as described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Problems from Concerta

All stimulants, including the one found in Concerta, are known to raise blood pressure and heart rate slightly. While this doesn’t normally cause problems over a short course or with occasional low-dose use, over time, it is possible for continued higher-level use of the drug to cause changes in normal heart rate and blood pressure for an individual. This is particularly likely if the drug is being misuse.

Insomnia and Fatigue from Concerta

A study from Neurotherapeutics discusses the sleep issues that can be caused by the use of methylphenidate, including insomnia and resulting fatigue. As described in the study, there are multiple ways in which the drug can interfere with sleep, including:

  • Delay of falling asleep that can shorten the sleep cycle.
  • Sleep disturbance that awakens the individual in the middle of sleep.
  • Altered circadian rhythms resulting in shifted sleep time, sometimes reversing the night-day cycle.

Appetite Changes and Malnutrition from Concerta

A report from ADDitude demonstrates that stimulants taken to treat ADHD are known to result in a decreased appetite; Concerta has this effect as well, which is mild and can be managed when the drug is used properly. However, when it is abused, appetite suppression can become extreme, leading to weight loss and decreased intake of nutrients. In fact, some people will misuse stimulant medication — as an unsafe method to help with weight loss.

Anxiety and Paranoia from Concerta

People who have a co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety, may find that Concerta can increase their symptoms. This side effect is typically mild if the drug is used correctly. However, long-term misuse of the drug can contribute to increased anxiety, and, like illegal steroids such as cocaine, it can sometimes result in the individual feeling paranoia, according to NIDA.

Anhedonia from Concerta

A study from Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology has shown that use of stimulant drugs, especially in those who abuse them or are dependent on them, can lead to a condition called anhedonia, which is described as a loss of the ability to feel pleasure.

Concerta Addiction

As with any drug taken recreationally because of its euphoric effect, Concerta has a high addictive potential. In fact, the National Library of Medicine’s encyclopedia has a specific warning at the beginning of its article about methylphenidate that the drug may be habit-forming, should not be abused, and should be prescribed with caution to those who have struggles with addiction or the potential of becoming addicted.

Getting Help for Concerta Misuse and Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to stimulants or prescription medications, including Concerta, there is effective help to get you on the road to recovery.

At our inpatient rehab in Lafayette, NJ we offer addiction-focused evidence-based healthcare to help people with substance use disorders. Contact our admissions navigators at to learn more about our different levels of addiction care or to find out what to expect in inpatient rehab. They’re on hand 24/7 to answer any of your questions, including how to use insurance to pay for rehab, treatment payment options, and how to start the rehab admissions process.

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