CONCERTA® (methylphenidate HCl) Structural Formula Illustration

methyl α-phenyl-2-piperidineacetate hydrochloride

Concerta is a stimulant designed to treat people affected by ADHD but it can also be used for narcolepsy and clinical depression as an alternative to antidepressants. Specifically, it is a methylphenidate. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, so it works directly on the brain by reducing the reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine. It blocks the norepinephrine transporter (NET) and dopamine transporter (DAT) increasing the extracellular concentration of both neurotransmitters thus increasing focus.  Like most other ADHD drugs, it comes in the form of a sustained release pill. This type of methylphenidate would normally be white odorless, crystalline powder.

As mentioned before, Concerta is a extended release pill meant to be taken once a day. So how does it work? Unlike most pills of its kind that contain fillers to increase the break down time, it uses a three stage system. 22% of the drug is found in the outer coating of the pill and is, therefore, immediately released into the recipient’s system. Once the outer layer is gone, a tiny drill hole is uncovered at one end of the pill that the methylphenidate can be released through over time. Within the pill, there are three compartments. Two of these contain methylphenidate while the third contains a material that swells like a sponge as it becomes wet. The material slowly swells pushing the methylphenidate through the tiny drill hole.

It is important to keep in mind the side effects of Concerta before deciding whether or not it is the ADHD medication for you. These include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Cry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach ache
  • Increased sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability

As a methylphenidate, Concerta also increases attention and focus and therefore, it can be abused by students wishing to obtain higher grades. Taking this drug may lead to tolerance and dependence especially when taken unregulated/unsuscribed. Following a familiar pattern, using this drug unprescribed in order to improve studying abilities is not a good idea. However, for those who have ADHD, it is another option to consider especially with its unique sustained release feature.

Author: Maggie Martinez

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