Substance Use

Concerta and Alcohol Substance Abuse

young woman drinking beer and taking concerta pill

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Mixing Alcohol With Concerta: What Are The Dangers?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) annual survey found that in 2020, more than 59 million people (aged 12 and older) used illicit substances¹.

While Concerta is a prescription medication typically prescribed for individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), individuals without prescriptions take this drug to increase attention at work or school. These users often include people in jobs that require a certain level of attention or college students studying for exams. It’s becoming increasingly common for this drug to be misused, abused, and even mixed with other substances, such as alcohol, which acts as a CNS, or central nervous system, depressant.

Are you or a loved one struggling to stop mixing Concerta and alcohol? Zinnia Healing can help. Please contact us online or call one of our caring specialists at (855) 430-9439.

Concerta: What Is It?

Concerta (methylphenidate) is an extended-release medication for people with ADHD or narcolepsy. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies methylphenidate as a Schedule II psychostimulant. According to a study at the Institute of Research and Learning at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Professor Paulo Mattos and colleagues discovered that adults diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed methylphenidate saw an improvement in quality of life.

Drugs in the psychostimulant class like methylphenidate work similarly. When used as intended, according to your doctor’s medical advice, there can be benefits. If misused, common effects of Concerta include:

  • Intense euphoria
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Dizziness
  • Increased energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

These Concerta side effects, such as intense euphoria, can lead to Concerta abuse as the stimulant boosts the individual’s dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Long-term Concerta abuse requires a treatment program.

Mixing Alcohol and Concerta: The Dangers

When you drink alcohol after taking a stimulant, the effects of alcohol take the “edge” off the stimulant, meaning you’d need to take more of the stimulant in order to still feel its effects the same. Because alcohol intoxication reduces methylphenidate’s effects, a person could unintentionally take dramatically high amounts of a stimulant.

Conversely, a stimulant works to reduce the intoxicating effects of alcohol. This means an individual could also inadvertently consume too much alcohol, leading to a dangerous balancing act that can result in an overdose of both substances. Thankfully, there are treatment centers that can help addicts recover.

Concerta is an extended-release medication — it is delivered to a person’s system throughout the day when taken orally as directed. For a person who needs this medication to improve focus due to ADHD or narcoleptic symptoms, it provides the prescribed result. However, some people misuse methylphenidate in ways not prescribed by their healthcare providers, like crushing the tablet or opening the capsule. Then the person either snorts the powder up their nose or blends the content with water and injects the mixture using a needle.

Once Concerta is no longer in its prescribed form, it negates the extended-release delivery system, meaning the person receives the entire dose at once rather than over the course of several hours. Mixing this method of delivery with the consumption of alcohol increases the risk of overdose.

Concerta and alcohol together can cognitively affect an individual’s mental health. Behavioral health is also affected.

One of methylphenidate’s indicated uses is for people with attention deficit hyperactivity, but when combined with alcohol, an individual can experience:

  • Worsening ability to pay attention
  • Weakened impulse regulation
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased potential for “blackout” periods
  • Other psychological effects include:
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Nervousness
  • Threatening behavior

Physical effects of mixing alcohol and Concerta include:

  • Diminished reaction time
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of balance
  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired breathing
  • High blood pressure and faster heart rate
  • Heart attack

Organs affected when mixing these substances include:

  • Stomach
  • Intestines
  • Liver
  • Heart
  • Kidneys

Even if you don’t mix alcohol with Concerta often, it can result in death. If you’re worried about your or a loved one’s substance use or alcohol addiction, Zinnia Healing has caring specialists knowledgeable in addiction treatment ready to help. Reach out to us online or call us at (855) 430-9439.

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Concerta and Alcohol

Using methylphenidate and alcohol together only occasionally can present the effects noted above. Abusing Concerta and alcohol together requires an inpatient, medically assisted detox for some individuals and presents further long-term concerns also, such as:

  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Depressed immune system
  • Increased potential for cancer

Other neurological issues could occur, such as stroke, seizures, or memory problems. Long-term motor or mobility issues and psychological problems could worsen.

Additionally, alcohol tolerance takes time to develop — stimulant tolerance takes no time at all in comparison. If someone uses these substances every day, it won’t take long before they need more of both to feel the same level of results. This has great potential to develop into substance use disorder (SUD). Not having access to one or both substances can initiate withdrawal symptoms, which can quickly ignite addiction, turning back to the substances to alleviate the discomfort.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol and Concerta?

According to SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning System (DAWN) report regarding drug-related emergency room visits, alcohol is the most common additional substance found in patients presenting for polydrug use. While this report doesn’t cover Concerta and alcohol combined use specifically, methamphetamine (which, in its salt form, is the main ingredient derivative found in ADHD medications like Adderall — a drug similar to Concerta and Ritalin) is the second-most common drug presented in polydrug emergency room visits.

In other words, it’s rather common for people struggling with substance use to combine stimulant medications with alcoholic beverages. The intense euphoria created by a stimulant medication is buffered by the depressant qualities of alcohol, creating a milder euphoria with a sense of calm.

There are consequences of substance abuse, and these consequences are increased and compounded when substances are mixed, such as Concerta and alcohol. If you mix these substances, any activity you engage in has the potential for danger. If you drive a car under the influence of methylphenidate and alcohol, you could be in an accident with life-changing consequences.

Zinnia Healing Can Help

At Zinnia Healing, there is help and hope. If you’re struggling with polydrug use, mixing alcohol and Concerta, call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439. Our substance abuse specialists can tell you about treatment options. Call or contact us online if you or a loved one need help finding the road to recovery.


1.   SAMHSA 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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