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Effects of Mixing Concerta and Alcohol

Get the Facts

Methylphenidate
hydrochloride (Concerta) is a long-acting stimulant prescription medication.
Used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it
works with the brain to reduce ADHD symptoms.

Alcohol,
another substance that has a powerful effect on the brain, is not recommended
while taking Concerta. At the same time, Concerta is not recommended for people
with a history of alcohol abuse.

Get
the facts on how these two interact and warnings on abuse.

Concerta Facts

Concerta
is one type of stimulant available for ADHD treatment. Given the hyperactivity
in ADHD, it may seem like an oxymoron to prescribe stimulants. These types of
medications actually have the opposite effects of what their names imply. They
work by increasing dopamine in the brain to alleviate symptoms. Since it is a
long-acting stimulant, you need to take Concerta just once a day for symptom
relief. The effects can wear off if you skip a dose.

Learn about the numerous factors doctors rely on to make an ADHD diagnosis »

Concerta
is available in the following dosages:

  • 18 milligrams (mg)
  • 27 mg
  • 36 mg
  • 54 mg
  • 72 mg – the maximum dose for adults

Your
doctor will likely prescribe the medication in an 18 mg dose first to evaluate
your response to Concerta.

Stimulants & Depressants

Concerta
is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant. Depressants suppress brain
activity, which also inhibits the exchange of chemical messages. This can
result in:

  • anxiety or irritability
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • stumbling and loss of coordination
  • erratic behavior

The
possible effects of combining alcohol and stimulant combinations might be
understood by taking a look at caffeine, another stimulant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that mixing
caffeine and alcohol can lead to overdrinking. According to the CDC, people who
combine caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol are three times more likely to
binge drink.

Stimulants
can override the depressant qualities of alcohol. Yet, alcohol affects the body
without the drinker being necessarily aware of it. This increases the risk of alcohol poisoning. Although caffeine and
Concerta have their differences, this raises concerns about the possible risks
of mixing the drug and alcohol.

Interactions and Side Effects

Combining
stimulant medications with alcohol can lead to alcohol toxicity. Concerta may
be even more dangerous than other stimulants because it stays in your body for
a longer period of time.

Drinking
alcohol may worsen potential Concerta side effects. Worsened side effects
include:

  • nausea
  • headache
  • dry mouth
  • irritability

The
most common results of combining the two substances are impaired concentration,
dizziness, and drowsiness. Due to the delicate nature of the brain, taking
alcohol while taking a stimulant might also cause psychiatric changes. This can
lead to worsened ADHD symptoms, as well as anxiety and aggression.

Abuse Considerations

Concerta
is a U.S. Schedule II drug, which means it has potential for abuse. Doctors are
cautious in prescribing Concerta to people who have a history of drug or
alcohol abuse. While the exact link isn’t clear, people with ADHD may have a
tendency toward dependence.

According
to a report in Alcohol Research and
Health, there’s
a clinically significant relationship between alcohol abuse and ADHD. The
report noted that an estimated 25 percent of adults receiving treatment for
drug and alcohol abuse also have ADHD. Rates of drinking alcohol in general
aren’t higher than average. However, the rates of abuse and dependence may be
greater in ADHD patients. The risk also seems to be greater in patients who
didn’t receive treatment for ADHD during childhood.

DailyMed suggests that a history
of dependence can increase your risk for abuse of prescription medications like
Concentra. Even more dangerous is the abuse of both types of substances.

Bottom Line

Alcohol
can be dangerous alone, but its effects can be even worse when it’s mixed with
medications. Both alcohol and Concerta affect the brain. And though they have
opposite effects, combining the two can lead to unsafe situations.

To
avoid alcohol poisoning and other potential problems, avoid drinking alcohol
while taking Concerta. Also important: if you have a history of alcohol
dependence, discuss it with your doctor before taking the medication.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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