Concerta is a prescription stimulant medication that helps people who have ADHD by enhancing their ability to focus and concentrate.1Concerta is the brand name for an extended-release formulation of methylphenidate, a type of stimulant medication that is prescribed to children, adolescents and adults for the treatment of ADHD. Ritalin is another well-known trade name for methylphenidate, and Adderall is a similar stimulant.1
For those who have ADHD, these stimulant drugs increase the activity of specific neurotransmitters. This, in turn, impacts various brain processes and results in increased focus and minimized hyperactive behavior.1 When used properly, ADHD stimulant medications are of great benefit, especially in conjunction with therapy.
However, some people abuse ADHD medications, crushing and snorting the drug in an attempt to hasten or enhance the feelings of euphoria that it provides them. Sometimes people who abuse Concerta also abuse alcohol, which may increase the negative effects.
The Issues of Mixing Alcohol with Other Stimulants
Side Effects of Drinking While on Concerta
In recent years, medications such as Concerta have become increasingly abused in an attempt to improve study efficiency and academic performance, especially among college students. Others use Concerta improperly as a way to lose weight since it suppresses a person’s appetite. Some people simply like to crush and snort or inject it to get high. Concerta and other ADHD medications are stimulants that cause a feeling of euphoria, energy and excitement that is often described as a “rush.”1
The abuse of Concerta is dangerous on its own, but many people also abuse alcohol with it, which produces different effects than using either substance on its own. The stimulant effect of Concerta may oppose some of the effects that alcohol, as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, has on the body.2
One of the dangers of combining these substances is that stimulants cause the body to underestimate the sedative effects of alcohol on the body.2 In doing so, the amount of alcohol consumed may be more than a person otherwise would drink without the presence of the stimulant. Excessive alcohol consumption has been known to lead to high-risk behaviors, such as driving under the influence, and other poor decisions that may endanger the user and other people.
The misuse of Concerta can have serious side effects too, including:1
- High blood pressure.
Treatment for Addiction to Concerta and Alcohol
While thousands of children, adolescents and adults take Concerta for ADHD with minimal problems, Concerta may be addictive when used improperly and without proper medical oversight. Attempting to stop the use of Concerta after an addiction has developed can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression and sleep disturbances, so medical supervision is critical when trying to detox from the drug.1
It is especially important that a person who wants to stop drinking alcohol while addicted to Concerta does so under the care and direct supervision of medical professionals. Potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, must be handled with great expertise and care.
Professional detox programs provide this essential supervision and medical monitoring throughout the often difficult duration of acute substance withdrawal. Detox is usually one to three days in length, but it is not a substitute for ongoing rehab or treatment. Instead, detox should be thought of as the first step on the path to recovery.
Prior to enrolling in a detox program, a person’s medical history and pattern of use are assessed by substance abuse professionals. A determination is then made as to whether the person is appropriate for a detox program. Once a person is admitted to a detox program, he or she undergoes a series of medical and mental health assessments conducted by a nurse, a physician and a counselor or social worker.
Detox is not treatment; it is stabilization. Ongoing treatment may involve an outpatient program, which can meet several hours per week over the course of many months, or inpatient rehab, which can last a few days to a few months, depending on the severity of the addiction, as well as other factors.
The type and length of ongoing treatment for addiction to Concerta and alcohol is determined on a case-by-case basis. Ongoing treatment usually consists of individual and group therapy that is designed to work on skills the recovering addict will need to maintain a substance-free lifestyle.
If you’re concerned that the co-abuse of alcohol and Concerta is impacting your health, or that of someone close to you, substance abuse treatment programs can help. Call us to speak with a treatment support advisor about your recovery options.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.
- State Government of Victoria. (2012). Know the Facts: Alcohol and Other Drugs.