Commonly prescribed to treat ADD and ADHD, Concerta is a drug that is often abused on college campuses by students hoping to improve their grades. Concerta helps maintain a high level of focus. Like any prescription medication, Concerta can be addictive when abused, so it is extremely important to adhere to the doctor’s recommended dosage and timeline.
Generic versions of Concerta are available, however, there has been some controversy over the generic medications in the past year. Complaints arose from users of the generic drugs, saying it was not providing the desired effect. For students with ADD or ADHD, grades had dropped drastically shortly after switching to the new, generic drug.
In November of last year, the FDA reclassified two of the generic forms of Concerta, having analyzed the drugs and found them to not be bioequivalent. What does this mean? Simply put, it means the drugs did not provide the same rate of release and absorption as the brand-name Concerta to which they are compared. Studies showed that the two generic drugs may release their dosage more slowly, which in turn slowed absorption, which reduced overall effectiveness.
While the FDA has stated that the generic drugs pose no safety risk and can still be prescribed by doctors, they are no longer to be recommended as an automatic substitute for Concerta. However, as is the case with most generic drugs, they are a lower-priced alternative, which makes them valued among consumers. By the same token, however, they have been widely reported by consumers to be less effective.
Dangers of Addiction
As previously stated, like any prescription medication, Concerta and it’s generic alternatives can be addictive if abused. If taken as prescribed with a slow introduction, Concerta is generally safe and has a low risk of addiction. The danger comes when Concerta is taken without a prescription, as in such cases it is generally taken in moderate-to-large doses. The sudden and large increase in dopamine levels alter the brain much in the same way that drugs like cocaine would. This sudden rise in dopamine levels in the brain is what often causes addiction to Concerta if not taken as advised by a physician.
When the body becomes addicted to Concerta, a number of symptoms arise. The normal side effects of the drug include decreased appetite, irritability, dry mouth, weight loss, trouble sleeping, anxiety, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, and excessive sweating. The physical signs of addiction are headache, chronic sinus congestion, nose bleeds, sore jaw from grinding teeth and other dental problems, fatigue, and insomnia. Long term effects of continued Concerta abuse include such effects as hearing voices, paranoid delusions, visual hallucinations, grandiosity, urges to hurt themselves or others, increased aggression, euphoria, confusion, and severe anxiety.
As is the case with most substance addictions, abruptly stopping use of the drug can cause severe, even dangerous withdrawals. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms varies depending on a number of factors, such as how long the drug was abused and how long the addiction has lasted already. It can also vary from person to person. Withdrawal symptoms include nightmares, exhaustion, depression, panic attacks, extreme hunger, psychosis, irritability, digestion problems, nausea, and weight gain. Like most substances that are both mentally and physically addictive, it is not recommended to stop taking Concerta by one’s self if a dependency has formed. Weaning off the addiction under medical supervision is strongly advised.