- Classification: Stimulant CSA
- Schedule: Schedule II
- Substance Name: Methylphenidate
- Medical Uses: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, depression
- Physical Dependence: Possible
- Psychological Dependence: High
- Tolerance: Yes
- Duration (hours): 2–4
- Usual Method: Oral, injected, snorted
- Possible Effects: Increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite
- Effects of Overdose: Agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, possible death
- Withdrawal Syndrome: Apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, disorientation
Concerta (methylphenidate) is an amphetamine-like central nervous system stimulant. Amphetamine-like stimulants are prescribed to treat the sleep disorder (Narcolepsy), Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Depression.
Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered to be one of the most important psychiatric mental disorders in children. These symptoms are often observed in the early school years or the elementary years, and pattern often includes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The children diagnosed with this type of disorder present difficulties in maintaining their attention focused on certain things, difficulties in listening to explicit instruction, forgetfulness and the least but not the last, an extreme activity behavior. These behavior disorders can be observed pretty often, especially when the children are having difficulties in paying attention in school, difficulties in standing still and challenges in focusing on particular class tasks like tests and assignments. It is important to mention that this type of disorder drastically affects the social development of the diagnosed children. Research reveals that people with ADHD do not become addicted to stimulant medications like Concerta when they are taken in the form prescribed and at treatment dosages. Even though the Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) represents a commonly diagnosed mental disorder, the pathophysiological ways (biological mechanisms) are still not fully understood by the physicians.
Concerta is also used to treat narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by an excessive desire for day-sleeping. The individuals diagnosed with this disorder present difficulties in staying awake for extended periods of time, no matter the circumstances. At the moment, no specific treatment can adequately treat disorders like narcolepsy, but changes in the patient’s lifestyle and a proper medication can overcome the pattern of symptoms caused by this disorder.
Amphetamine-like drugs like Concerta are considered by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be very powerful and highly addictive stimulant drugs.
Origin of Concerta Use
Methylphenidate was first discovered in Europe in the 1940s. It received a patent in the United States in 1954, and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) one year later. At first, it was supposed to be a substitute for more powerful and addictive stimulants, such as the amphetamines. It was used to treat conditions that included depression, narcolepsy, and fatigue.
In the 1960s, the FDA approved methylphenidate to treat memory loss in the elderly and behavior problems in children. At first, doctors prescribed methylphenidate only for children who were having problems standing still. In the 1980s, the physicians devised a name for these problems and coined the term attention deficit disorder (ADD). In 1987, beside the behavioral symptoms, the doctors discovered that this disorder also included symptoms of high energy and reckless actions and the condition was renamed into attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Once the diagnosing guidelines became well known, the physicians began diagnosing more and more children with ADHD and prescribed more and more methylphenidate. Ritalin and Concerta use increased dramatically, partly because it was advertised as safer than amphetamines. Drug companies had to produce more methylphenidate to keep up with the demand. Although the abuse of methylphenidate began much earlier, it was not until the 1960’s that drug regulators in several countries realized that the drug could be abused and that people could become addicted to it. In 1968, Sweden was one of the first countries to ban methylphenidate because of the increasingly widespread street use of the drug.
Ritalin and Concerta remain popular today because of the significant role it played in the ADHD’s (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) treatment. ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorder in childhood. The symptoms become apparent in some children in the preschool and early school years. It implies manifestations like inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Symptoms related to attention behavior deficits include difficulties in maintaining concentration, lack of ability to listen to precise instructions and forgetfulness. The symptoms related to hyperactivity include excessive activity and fidgetiness. Most of the time, the children with ADHD have trouble paying attention in school, sitting still, concentrating and focusing on particular class tasks (including tests and assignments). These difficulties sometimes interfere with social development and building lasting relationships.
Diagnosing ADHD is not an easy task for a physician. Before a diagnosis is made, the manifestations must continue for at least six months, and the symptoms must create a real behavioral handicap in at least two aspects of a person’s life.
Even though ADHD represents a commonly diagnosed mental disorder, the pathological mechanisms involved are still not fully understood by physicians. In the 1980’s, the doctors noticed that methylphenidate had a calming effect on overactive children. That seemed a bit odd, stimulants like this were known for their properties of increasing energy and excitement, and not for their calming effects. The doctors began to ask themselves of how this could happen. At first, scientists thought that methylphenidate drugs would calm people down only if they had ADHD. The researchers believed that small doses could slow down the part of the brain responsible for hyperactivity. Since then, more research was conducted and the studies proved the hypothesis wrong. New studies about the methylphenidate show us that stimulants can help anyone to focus and concentrate, and not just people with the ADHD. The researchers concluded that the effects are just a bit more apparent for patients with ADHD.
How Concerta is Consumed
Drugs like Concerta can be used and abused in many different ways. The stimulant’s effects change depending on the administration route, the way the user chooses to get this drug into his bloodstream. As most of the stimulants, Concerta can be taken orally as tablets, capsules, or liquids but it can also be snorted or injected into a vein.
Even though oral administration is the easiest one, it is not a very common way of administration among the users because it takes longer to get the desired effects. Oral amphetamines (like Concerta) also do not produce an intense high. The user needs to take an increased dose of oral amphetamines to get the desired effects, something that can be easily obtained by just changing the method of administration.
Another way of abusing this drug is by snorting it into the nose. Concerta has a unique feature that differentiates it from other stimulants. Concerta was designed to be difficult to smash. That unique feature was adopted after more and more people became addicted to stimulants by snorting them. When snorted, the amphetamines reach the brain faster than when they are taken orally. Using this method, an individual should feel the desired effects in about five minutes. Also, snorting these drugs can cause complications that range from an intense burning in the nostrils to causing burns that can perforate the user’s nose.
It is not a secret anymore that some people dissolve amphetamines in water and inject the mixture into the vein with a needle. It is a very commonly used method of administration. Once the drug gets into the bloodstream, it can cause the desired effects within seconds and can produce an intense high and extreme pleasure.
Effects of Concerta Use
Short Term Use Effects
• Loss of appetite
• Increased heart rate
• Increased blood pressure
• Increased body temperature
• Dilation of pupils
Long Term Use Effects
• Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain,
• Increased blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
• Liver, kidney and lung damage
• Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
• Respiratory disorders if smoked
• Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
• Weight loss
• Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
• Strong psychological dependence