How does Concerta work?

Concerta works by stimulating the central nervous system. Concerta specifically enhances the effects of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. More on Concerta’s uses, side effects, and dangers here.

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Concerta (methylphenidate) is a stimulant medication which is used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). But what are Concerta’s effects on the body and brain? Will everyone react the same way to Concerta use? What are the dangers and side effects of Concerta? Can you get high on Concerta and is Concerta addictive? We’ll explore these questions and more in this article, and invite your questions about Concerta at the end.

How does Concerta affect the brain and nervous system?

Concerta is a brain stimulant which is a controlled release version of methylphenidate. Concerta works by enhancing the effects of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These neurotransmitters have stimulant effects, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, constricting blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, and causing a euphoric high when abused. But at a basic level, Concerta works as a treatment for ADHD by slow and steady increases of dopamine, which are similar to the natural production of the chemical by the brain. The doses prescribed by physicians start low and increase gradually until a therapeutic effect is reached.

How does Concerta work in the body?

Concerta (methylphenidate) can also have a stimulant effect on the body. Concerta can potentially cause:

  • anxiety
  • decreased appetite
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • sudden, repetitive movements (tics)
  • trouble sleeping
  • weight loss

Note here that Concerta also has some more potentially dangerous side effects, including intensifying mental health issues like bipolar, psychiatric events or suicidal tendencies and has occasionally caused sudden death in people with heart problems.

How fast does Concerta work?

Concerta starts working very quickly, reaching peak blood levels within one hour of oral administration. Crushing or snorting Concerta can result in a quicker onset of action, but taking the medication this way is very dangerous.  How long Concerta in system is usually eliminated from the body in under 48 hours, or 2 days, after ingestion.

How long does Concerta work?

Concerta works throughout the day, with the best effects occuring for 5-9 hours after initial administration. Because of its long-acting effects, Concerta is a very helpful drug for people with ADHD, since they don’t need to take Concerta repeatedly throughout the day.

What makes Concerta work better?

Concerta works best when it’s taken early in the day. Otherwise Concerta can interferes with the ability to sleep. It can be taken with or without food. Since Concerta is an extended-release drug, it shouldn’t be crushed or chewed, because too much of the drug will be taken at once, raising the risk of overdose and serious health complications.

Does Concerta work for everyone?

No, Concerta is a very bad solution for people with heart conditions and other serious health problems. It also has dangerous interactions with some common medications. Concerta should also be avoided by those with a history of mental instability, a history of addiction, or epilepsy.

If you feel a need to take Concerta more frequently or in higher doses (or in other ways different than prescribed) you might be in risk of addiction. For more on Concerta’s addictive potential, how you can seek help, how to find the best rehab options and therapies for you, read in our GUIDE on Concerta addiction treatment programs and get help TODAY.

How Concerta works questions

Still have questions about how Concerta works? Please send us your questions and experience by posting a comment below. We respond to all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NIMH: ADHD Medications
FDA: Concerta Drug Label

NIDA Drug Facts: Stimulant ADHD Medications

NIDA: Stimulants
ToxNet: Methylphenidate
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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