Concerta (methylphenidate) is a prescription drug that can usually be expected to stay in the average person’s system for up to three days. In general, it takes 48-72 hours for a complete detox. However, the precise timeline is predicated on several factors, such as dosage amount, frequency of use, weight, age, and overall health. It can be detected on most standard drug screens, including those that test urine, saliva, blood, and hair samples.
What Is Concerta?
Concerta belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants and is primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified it as a Schedule II controlled substance as it has legitimate medical purposes but also the potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.
Concerta works by altering the amount of natural brain neurotransmitters, namely dopamine and adrenaline. It is commonly used to increase an individual’s ability to pay attention, help them focus on an activity, and in some cases, relieve and manage behavioral issues. In addition, it can improve organizational and listening abilities.
Concerta includes the primary ingredient methylphenidate, a white, odorless crystalline powder that is soluble in water, alcohol, and methanol.
Concerta is administered orally once per day in the morning or upon waking. It is not usually recommended to take it later in the day, or it may make sleeping a challenge. The medication should only be taken as directed by a licensed healthcare provider. Tablets should never be altered by crushing or chewing, as this will activate the drug rapidly and increase the risk of side effects.
Dosages are generally based on the health condition it is treating and the individual’s reaction to the medication. In some cases, health providers may increase the dosage over time.
Potential side effects include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Profuse sweating
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Sleep disturbances
It was found that Concerta can produce biochemical effects in some brain regions that are more intense than those experienced with cocaine.
How Concerta Is Released in the Body
According to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysis on Concerta, how long the drug remains in a person’s system is influenced by several factors.
Currently, there are four different strengths of Concerta available that are all in tablet form containing 18 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg, or 54 mg of methylphenidate. The drug’s effects can be experienced for up to 12 hours.
Concerta is released into the system through osmosis, and the tablets are designed to release the active ingredient, methylphenidate, at a controlled rate. There are several membranes built into the tablet to effectively manage this process, including two layers that dissolve within about an hour in the gastrointestinal system.
Levels of Concerta increase rapidly within the first hour. Next, the concentration gradually increases over the next five to nine hours after which time it will slowly start to fall. On average, peak plasma concentrations occur 6-10 hours after use.
Concerta can be addictive and induce withdrawal symptoms if taken for an extended period and then abruptly discontinued, including the following:
- Decreased heart rate
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disturbances
- Extreme fatigue
- Severe headaches
- Extreme hunger
- Mental fog
A comedown or “crash” can occur when a person has been using Concerta, especially for those taking it for a prolonged period or in high doses, and suddenly stops using it. As noted, the drug works by boosting levels of dopamine and adrenaline in the brain. Dopamine aids in concentration and motivation, while adrenaline increases alertness.
Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to the higher concentrations of these two neurotransmitters. When an individual quits taking the drug, the brain needs a readjustment period to restabilize back to the previous levels of dopamine and adrenaline. At this point, a person coming down from the effects of Concerta will likely find it challenging to stay focused and attentive. Other symptoms are fatigue, irritability, and low mood.
Detoxing from Concerta can be very difficult because it is such a potent prescription drug. Therefore, it’s essential to seek professional treatment with this process. With medical detox, individuals are treated and supported around the clock in a supervised clinical setting. The purpose is to create a safe, secure, and comfortable environment in which withdrawal can be undergone successfully without the risk of relapse or severe health complications.
Drug Testing for Concerta
Concerta has a relatively short half-life of only about 1-4 hours, so it doesn’t tend to accumulate in cells as some other drugs do. It is possible to identify the drug using a few different drug screens. Several variables will determine if the drug will be detected in a person’s system. For example, immediate-release tablets don’t remain in the system as long as those that are extended-release.
Concerta is mainly eliminated from the body through urine. The rate at which a person excretes the drug from their system varies. Some individuals can expel 97% of the drug in 24-48 hours, while others may only clear 78% in the same period.
Several factors could influence the cause of this variation. For instance, different people have different metabolic rates, body mass indexes, and levels of kidney function. Combined with other health factors, these all play a role in determining an individual’s timeline for detox and withdrawal.
While the precise amount of time that Concerta can be detected on a drug test can’t be definitively determined, there are approximate estimations for what a person might expect with certain types of tests.
Hair Follicle Screens – A hair follicle drug test can detect the presence of Concerta samples for up to 90 days, although they are rarely used for this purpose, as it is relatively expensive compared to other tests.
Saliva Screens – A saliva-based test can reveal trace amounts of Concerta anywhere from 24-72 hours after use.
Urine Screens – A urine-based test is the most commonly used, and it can detect the drug for 48-96 hours after use.
Blood Screens – This particular screening tool is not used commonly for recreational drug use screening because saliva, urine, and hair tests are fairly accurate and less expensive. Instead, blood screenings are typically used to see if a prescribed drug is being used at the proper dose. Concerta can be detected in the blood for up to 96 hours.
Getting Treatment for Drug Dependence and Addiction
Misusing or abusing Concerta or other prescription or illicit amphetamines can result in addiction and many adverse health consequences. Those trying to quit using Concerta are urged to undergo medical detox to ensure safety, followed up with long-term inpatient treatment to prevent relapse and foster improved coping skills.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery are specialized substance abuse treatment centers that feature an integrated, individualized approach to addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. We offer various evidence-based therapeutic services and activities, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, psychoeducation, art and music therapy, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, and much more.