The advent of a variety of prescription drugs to treat behavioral problems has been a double-edged sword for our society. On the one hand, these drugs have proven to be effective ways of treating a variety of illnesses because they are capable of helping people overcome numerous intellectual or emotional challenges and live better lives. On the other hand, sadly, many of these drugs are ripe for abuse. The misuse of these prescription drugs creates a whole new array of problems. One example is the drug Concerta.
What Is Concerta?
Concerta is one of many drugs that is designed to help treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is a disorder that is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and an inability for individuals to control themselves. It often strikes school-aged children, but it is also prominent in adults. Thankfully, a variety of treatments and therapies have emerged to treat this disorder and to help improve the intellectual and social lives of sufferers. Concerta is one such example.
Concerta can be prescribed by any doctor who has the ability to prescribe medication, and while its use should be supervised by medical professionals, it is generally regarded as a safe drug that can be taken by individuals who are suffering from ADHD. It works by altering the brain chemistry of the individual who takes it, and it is currently approved to be taken for anyone aged 6-65.
Concerta is considered a stimulant. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in someone’s brain. These chemicals are both neurotransmitters. The drug has been proven to help people who take it concentrate better and lower their impulsiveness. This is particularly useful in professional, academic, or social environments because it enables users to perform better. It is typically taken at the start of the day, enabling its effects to be felt throughout an individual’s waking hours.
The good news is that Concerta is believed to be an effective drug for treating ADHD. Numerous double-blind studies have found that Concerta is more effective than other, more traditional forms of ADHD treatment. However, Concerta works best when it is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also affects the psychological, social, and family aspects of the patient’s life. In this way, Concerta can be a useful tool, but it is not the only part of a treatment plan.
What Are the Short-Term and Long-Term Side Effects of Concerta?
As one would expect for a medication that alters levels of brain chemicals, there are side effects from this drug. Common examples include nausea, dizziness, a loss of appetite, weight loss, or headaches. These are all relatively minor examples.
However, there are more serious potential side effects, including an increase in blood pressure, numbness in your extremities, mood swings, vision changes, or difficult-to-control outbursts of behavior. Individuals who experience these should consult their doctors immediately and consider switching medication.
Concerta is still a relatively new drug. As such, its long-term effects are not completely understood and are still being discovered. However, it is not the first drug used to treat ADHD, and there are many drugs that have been available for much longer periods of time, like Ritalin. Other ADHD drugs have been shown to have potential long-term problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, or seizures. Individuals who take Concerta should be aware of these issues and discuss them with their doctors. If you are more likely to suffer from any of these diseases, you may want to consider alternative forms of treatment.
How Can Someone Become Dependent on Concerta?
Concerta is a controlled substance. As such, it is possible to become addicted to Concerta. As noted above, Concerta alters your levels of neurotransmitters. While this actjon is the core of how the drug functions, it can also create problems, including addiction and dependency. Concerta manages this risk by coming in a time-release format, meaning that its effects are spread out over a 12-hour period. This helps to manage abuse by preventing any sort of euphoric feeling that individuals who take the drug would otherwise experience.
Unfortunately, it is possible for someone to become dependent on the drug in order to function. Like many drugs that alter levels of neurotransmitters, eventually, your brain will become used to the impacts of the drug. It will slow down its own production of these critical neurotransmitters, allowing the drug to essentially do the work for it. This creates problems when someone tries to stop taking the drug and may cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This is why it is generally preferable to stop taking Concerta under medical supervision.
Sadly, there is also ample evidence to indicate that Concerta is a drug that is ripe for abuse by individuals who take it for recreational purposes.
Concerta is a widely prescribed drug. Millions of prescriptions for drugs like Concerta are given out every year. Sadly, this means that there are literally tens of millions of Concerta pills available, many of which find their way to the black market for sale, resale, and recreational use.
As noted above, taking Concerta in an as-prescribed manner will not result in any sort of intoxication because the drug comes in a time-release format that prevents this. However, Concerta can be crushed and snorted, resulting in a high. This is extremely dangerous. It leads to an individual experiencing 12 hours-worth of the drug in an extremely short period of time, and it can lead to overdose and death.
When used in this ill-advised manner, the drug can overload the brain with dopamine levels, leading to a feeling of euphoria. However, it will also spike levels of norepinephrine, leading to sensations of mania. Taking Concerta in a way that is off-label can lead to major problems, including addiction. It may require professional treatment and counseling in order to break this addiction and to return to a fully functional life.
These are not minor dangers. In 2017, there were over 10,000 overdose deaths involving stimulants. A 2007 study showed that Concerta was the 9th most addictive drug of 20 studied. Furthermore, prescription drug abuse, in general, has proven to be a major societal problem.
What Are the Signs of an Addiction to Concerta?
Sadly, given the ability of individuals to abuse the drug and its availability on the black market, addiction to Concerta is not uncommon. There are numerous signs of an addiction to Concerta, including stomach pain, agitation, a change in friends or social groups, weight loss, decreased appetite, and more.
Of course, if someone is actually high on Concerta, he or she will appear to be in a happy, euphoric state. For many, Concerta use is associated with extreme bursts of productivity or physical activity. In fact, some people take Concerta to increase their concentration or school performance or to lose weight. This type of abuse is all too common among individuals training to be in high-pressure vocations, like medicine.
In the long-term, there are real dangers to Concerta abuse, including hallucinations and psychosis. Individuals who are schizophrenic – and thus also suffer from these symptoms – often have higher than normal levels of dopamine, so the fact that people who abuse dopamine medication can develop similar symptoms to schizophrenia is unsurprising. Sadly, individuals who are addicted to the drug may also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they go for a sustained period without it. These symptoms include depression, anxiety, fatigue, disjointed behavior, and difficulty sleeping.
The most common source of prescription drug diversion is from friends or from teenagers stealing medication from parents’ medicine cabinets. This means that parents or guardians must be particularly cautious about who their children spend time with because it is highly possible to obtain prescription drugs from one’s friends. It also means that adults should immediately dispose of any prescription drugs that are not being used, or at least hide them in a safe place.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Concerta Addiction?
As noted above, prescription drug abuse is rampant among individuals, but particularly teenagers. Large swaths of teenagers have used stimulants, opioids, or other prescription drugs in the past few years. Thankfully, this means that there is no shortage of treatment options for you or your loved one if you are suffering from an addiction to Concerta or any other prescription drug.
Treatment options for individuals who are addicted to Concerta vary. Typically, an individual will take part in either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment means that a person in therapy will attend therapy for a set period of time on a treatment schedule. However, at the end of each day, the individual will return home. This may mean that he or she can continue to attend work or school, thus minimizing disruptions in life. There is also intensive outpatient therapy, which takes place for longer periods of time. However, it still allows an individual to go home.
Inpatient therapy, by contrast, is residential. A person will stay in this program for a set period of time. These programs are usually more intensive and comprehensive so they are typically more appropriate for individuals who suffer from more severe addictions and require 24/7 supervision.
There are many types of therapy that may be appropriate for a Concerta addiction, including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational therapy, and family therapy.
In group therapy, an individual will work with a trained therapist and a group of people. Depending on the type of therapy being practiced, individuals will use group therapy to work together, identify commonalities, and help to solve each other’s problems.
A variety of evidence has begun to show the effectiveness of numerous types of “alternative” therapies for prescription drug issues, including music therapy, art therapy, and yoga. More and more treatment centers are beginning to offer these therapies for prescription drug use disorders.
For some types of substance use disorders, medication-assisted treatment can be a very effective tool. However, in most cases, this treatment is for opioid use only. At the moment, there is no medication-assisted treatment available for drugs like Concerta.
If you or someone you love is addicted to Concerta, you should seek treatment immediately – before the addiction becomes deadly. Thankfully, there are many resources available for Concerta addictions. One such example is Granite Recovery Center, located in New Hampshire. At Granite, we offer a wide array of treatment options, including drug rehabilitation and a residential treatment program. Don’t wait for things to get worse: Call us today at 1-855-712-7784. Caring representatives are on standby to help you find the best treatment program for your situation.