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Concerta Withdrawal & Detox

Concerta is a prescription stimulant drug. Like all other medications in its class, Concerta can cause withdrawal symptoms when people stop using it.

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The Concerta withdrawal process is relatively long. It’s also very uncomfortable. A structured detox program can keep you safe while your body adjusts to a lack of the drug. 

What Is Concerta Withdrawal?

Concerta withdrawal describes the process your brain and body move through when you stop taking the medication. Your systems have adapted to chronic drug use and need time (and help) to function properly without substances. 

Withdrawal management involves detox. Doctors supervise your recovery and provide medications and support to ensure that you move through the process safely with a low risk of relapse. 

Detox is not drug addiction treatment. It’s unrealistic to believe that withdrawal management will lead to long-term sobriety.[1] Instead, think of withdrawal as the first step you’ll take on a long journey that eventually leads to recovery. 

Help during this process increases the likelihood that you’ll make it through successfully and safely. It also lays the foundation for a healthy treatment process.

Common Symptoms of Concerta Withdrawal 

The active ingredient in Concerta (methylphenidate) can cause withdrawal when used consistently for long periods. Your symptoms can be physical, mental, behavioral, or all three. 

Physical Symptoms 

Stimulants like Concerta cause increased energy when they’re used repeatedly. When you stop taking them, the opposite sensations appear. Exhaustion and low energy are common during stimulant withdrawal.[2]

Regular users may be accustomed to the “crash” that takes hold after a drug binge. Concerta withdrawal causes similar feelings, but they can last longer. 

Mental Symptoms

Severe depression is common in people who move through Concerta withdrawal.[3] Experts say careful monitoring is required, as some people develop suicidal feelings while they’re trying to quit. 

Other known symptoms associated with stimulant withdrawal include the following:[2]

  • Agitation 
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability 

You may also experience severe drug cravings. Without careful supervision, these feelings could lead to relapse. Support throughout this process makes relapse much less likely.

Behavioral Symptoms 

Many of the behavioral symptoms seen in Concerta withdrawal are associated with the physical and mental changes you’re experiencing. You may spend a lot of time sleeping or resting, and when you’re awake, you may cry.[2] Mood swings are common.

There is no right or wrong way to behave while you’re moving through withdrawal. Be patient with yourself and let the process unfold. 

Concerta Withdrawal Timeline 

Stimulant withdrawal is typically split into two phases: acute and chronic. During the acute phase, you’ll feel a crash commonly attributed to a drug binge. But as those signs ease, you’ll develop a second set of symptoms that could be harder to manage without help. 

Within 24 hours Exhaustion and severe need for sleep 
Up to day 5Depression, which can be severe
Up to month 2Lethargy, anxiety, disturbed sleep, drug cravings, and depression 


Detoxing From Concerta 

Quitting Concerta cold turkey isn’t smart. Severe depression can be life-threatening, and you may relapse to make your unhappy feelings end. Detoxing is a more helpful way to quit for good. 

Since the 1980s, doctors have recommended a tapering approach for methylphenidate users.[4] Doctors cut your dose by small amounts, allowing your brain cells to adjust to sobriety slowly. This process can take months, depending on how much Concerta you’re accustomed to using. 

A separate detox approach involves management. Doctors use electrolytes and fluid therapy to help you stay hydrated. Medications like acetaminophen and diphenhydramine can address your specific symptoms.[2] With this approach, you could move through detox much faster. 

No matter what type of withdrawal approach you use, follow-up care is critical. Without help, you may return to Concerta abuse. You need addiction therapy to truly recover from your drug misuse. 

Doctors use psychological therapy (talk therapy) to help people recover from stimulant abuse.[1] You explore the thoughts, feelings, and habits that lead to drug use. And you build skills to help you deal with these triggers without relapsing. Your work should begin as soon as you feel focused enough to participate. 

Getting Help for Concerta Withdrawal 

If you’re ready to quit using Concerta, talk with your doctor. A tapered approach could help you to get sober safely, but you must follow up with a treatment program. 

Enrolling in a detox program, such as one at Boca Recovery Center, can be a better approach. You can move from the detox portion of the center to the treatment side without finding a new treatment team. Contact us to find out more.

Updated March 21, 2024
  1. Withdrawal management. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Published 2009. Accessed September 21, 2023.
  2. Stimulant use disorder treatment. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Accessed September 21, 2023.
  3. Concerta. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published March 2007. Accessed September 21, 2023.
  4. Keeley K, Licht A. Gradual vs. abrupt withdrawal of methylphenidate in two older dependent males. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 1985;2:123-125.
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