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How Long Does Concerta Stay In your system?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Concerta is a brand-name medication that is most commonly used with clients suffering from ADHD symptoms. This medication is a stimulant, and it helps boosts some neurochemicals that should improve your focus and attention. You might be wondering how long the Concerta effect lasts and how long it stays in your body. The exact time depends on your body and how quickly you metabolize Concerta.

We will cover the typical amount of time that Concerta stays in your body, the overall side effects, potential withdrawal symptoms, and more. We also cover common recovery options if you are having difficulty controlling your use of Concerta and other similar substances.

What Is Concerta?

Concerta is a medication that is most commonly used to treat ADHD. According to WebMD, this medication is a stimulant that boosts dopamine in the brain. Everyone’s brain releases dopamine, but it then quickly absorbs to halt its effects. Concerta blocks these pathways so that dopamine is absorbed more slowly, which increases its amount and potency. Those with ADHD will find that this should improve their focus and attention.

Concerta is a brand name. The generic name of this medication is methylphenidate. Concerta is a once-a-day medication with an extended release that should last most of the day.

What Is Concerta Prescribed For?

Concerta is a stimulant that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Medline reports that Concerta is most commonly prescribed for those with ADHD who struggle with focusing, paying attention, and directing their behavior. Stimulants such as Concerta often have a calming effect on those with ADHD, and this should improve overall focus.

While ADHD is the primary condition that Concerta treats, it is also sometimes prescribed to those suffering from narcolepsy or other similar sleeping conditions that cause daytime sleepiness. Concerta does not treat sleep disorders, but it should help keep you awake throughout the day. It does not replace real sleep, but it does give an energy boost that should make it easier to attend to work, school, and other parts of life.

How Long Does Concerta Last?

You might be wondering how long the stimulant effect from Concerta lasts. According to WebMD, Concerta is an extended-release medication that was formulated to last about 12 hours. This means that you should only need one dose per day to get through work, school, and other situations that require focus and attention.

At the same time, WebMD reports that these 12 hours are not a guarantee. Some people metabolize Concerta faster, and it might last 10 hours or less. If you find yourself having trouble controlling your use and building a tolerance, then the effect might last even less without higher doses.

How Long Does Concerta Stay in the Body?

Concerta is not known to stay in the body for very long. While the exact amount of time will depend on your body and how quickly you metabolize the medication, Medline reports that this medication usually stays in your system for one to four days.

Much like how long the medication effect lasts, this can change dramatically based on your metabolic rate, dosage, how often you take Concerta, and many other factors. You may want to speak with your prescriber for more specific information. It is possible that Concerta will show up on drug tests even after several days under certain circumstances.

Concerta Side Effects

Side effects are typical of every medication. There is, of course, no guarantee that you will experience any of them, but it is possible that some symptoms might develop after you start using the medication. The Concerta side effects tend to be mild, but you should speak with your doctor if any symptoms occur after starting Concerta.

According to Medline, the most common Concerta side effects include:

  • Nervousness
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Drowsiness

This isn’t a comprehensive list as there are some rare and serious side effects as well. Just be sure to monitor yourself after taking this medication. If any symptoms occur, then tell your doctor and allow them to guide you on how to correct any side effects.

Concerta Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people suddenly stop their medications for one reason or another. You may feel that Concerta isn’t doing anything for you, or maybe you’re tired of using or abusing it. The problem with suddenly stopping Concerta is that there is a withdrawal symptom that you might experience.

According to the National Institute of Health, suddenly stopping Concerta may result in depressive symptoms. This is especially true for those who were taking higher doses, have used Concerta for a long time, or those who were abusing the medication. This is because Concerta interacts with your dopamine levels, which results in improved energy and a better mood for most people. Your brain will have to adjust to lower amounts of dopamine once you discontinue Concerta.

Some people will feel a reduction in their energy or an increase in their ADHD symptoms when the dose is finished working. Those going through withdrawal symptoms will feel similar to this, but the feelings may get worse before they get better.

It is suggested that you work with a doctor when you wish to stop using Concerta. They can help you stop using the medication in the most comfortable way possible.

Concerta Overdose Symptoms

A Concerta overdose is typically rare for those taking therapeutic doses of this medication, but it can happen. Risk factors include taking increasingly higher doses or using other medications that also increase your dopamine.

Some of the overdose symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Blurred vision or dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Inappropriate or exaggerated happiness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing

If you experience these symptoms or see someone else with them, then you should either contact your doctor or get emergency medical attention.

Medical Detox

Many medications have withdrawal symptoms whether you use them therapeutically or if you take larger doses. Concerta can have the troubling withdrawal symptom of inducing depressive feelings like low mood and lethargy. This can be even harder for those who already suffer from depression.

Due to this, medical detox is suggested when coming off Concerta. One of our doctors will be able to assess you throughout the entire detox process to see how you’re feeling and how the detox is going. This normally involves tapering the dosage and monitoring your feelings. For example, if you are feeling depressed after tapering the dose, then the doctor might increase the tapered dose or prescribe other medications to ease the symptoms. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

This process typically doesn’t last too long, but it largely depends on how well you do from the reduced dose. The doctor will help you through the process as the Concerta leaves your body.

Keep in mind that a medical detox only addresses part of your use. If you found yourself having trouble controlling your use or were taking higher doses than prescribed, then the behaviors and thoughts are likely still present after the detox. It is suggested that you connect with our counselors in order to address these underlying issues.

Outpatient Levels of Care

Outpatient levels of care are there to help you get the support you need to recover without interfering with your daily life. If your environment is supportive of recovery, but you need some guidance, then these levels of care should be ideal for you. You will still be able to work, go to school, and see friends and family members while getting the treatment that you need.

The initial level of care is known as outpatient therapy or individual therapy. This type of care allows you to meet with a licensed therapist who will go over your treatment plan and will address your needs in terms of recovery. Not only that, but you can also explore other issues that might be holding you back or increasing your stress. The therapist will help you explore these ideas while also working on coping skills with you to manage stress in your life.

If you feel that you need more services, then you might want to consider intensive outpatient, or IOP. Unlike outpatient therapy, where you meet individually with your counselor, this is a group therapy format where you meet with a therapist and other group members going through recovery.

The benefit of this is that you can learn from other people going through the same struggles that you are facing. You’ll be meeting with like-minded individuals who are all working to recover. This means that you can learn coping skills, discover resources, and speak with others who truly understand how hard it can be to stop using substances.

IOP therapy lasts for three hours each session, and you will meet three times a week. This gives you a total of nine hours of weekly treatment. You can also combine this with outpatient therapy for an additional hour if needed.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Some people use Concerta to help with the ADHD symptoms, but then they lose control of their use for one reason or another. Others might be attracted to Concerta to help calm underlying anxiety or to boost energy levels because they are suffering from depression. You might be wondering if having an underlying mental health concern will change your treatment plan.

The truth is that it will, but we are ready for that. Any client that presents with both substance use disorder and any mental health concern is called a dual diagnosis client. This simply means that our clinicians have to work on both conditions simultaneously, which we are prepared to do.

Please be upfront with us when you’re ready to seek treatment. We can provide you the best treatment only if we know what your real needs are. We urge our clients to engage in their recovery, let us know what their true concerns are, and give us their input about the treatment plan. The more you let us know, the better we can support you.

Get Help Today

Granite Recovery Centers has existed for over 10 years, and we have treated many clients just like you with substance use concerns along with mental health issues. We are stationed in New Hampshire, but many clients come from the surrounding New England area.

If you are having difficulty with Concerta or any other substance, then contact us, and we can help you. We offer numerous levels of care, from outpatient to inpatient, and have many services that will help with your recovery. We know that you can do this, and we have all the services that you need in order to live free from Concerta or any other substance that you’re grappling with.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.