How Long Does Concerta Stay in Your System?

Methylphenidate 10mg pills. Used in treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy
GIPhotoStock / Getty Images

Concerta (methylphenidate) is a prescription drug that is a central nervous system stimulant designed to last 12-hours per dose. It is used as part of a treatment program for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is also used to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). Concerta also has the potential for nonmedical use for its stimulant effects and as a drug of abuse to produce a feeling of euphoria.​

Effects of Concerta

The same active ingredient in Concerta, methylphenidate, is also found in Ritalin, but Concerta is formulated for time-release so it only needs to be taken once per day. The therapeutic effects last for 12 hours.

Usually, it is taken once a day before breakfast. It releases some of the medication immediately as the outer layer of the tablet dissolves. Then the medication is released gradually from the rest of the tablet, although the shell of the capsule will pass intact into the stool.

However, if the capsule is crushed and then ingested, snorted, or injected, all of the medication is delivered at once and this higher immediate dosage can lead to a greater risk of side effects and interactions with other medications. These include raising the blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, with decreased sleep and appetite. Abuse also has a serious risk of addiction.

There are many prescription drugs and nutritional supplements that can interact with Concerta, producing more effects in the body or reducing the effects of Concerta. Discuss any medications and supplements with your doctor. While you are taking Concerta, don't stop or start any medications or supplements without discussing them with your doctor as he may consider changing your dosage accordingly.

Preventing a Concerta Overdose

Knowing how long Concerta remains in the system can help prevent an accidental overdose of the stimulant. Concerta should be taken only as directed. You would increase your risk of an overdose if you take more than prescribed, have an interaction with other drugs, or you are taking it inappropriately by crushing the capsule.

Symptoms of Concerta overdose may include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth or nose
  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Flushing
  • Hallucinating
  • Headache
  • Inappropriate happiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Sweating
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • Vomiting
  • Widening of pupils

If you suspect a Concerta overdose, seek immediate medical attention. It is also important to not stop taking Concerta abruptly or you may have withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will put you on an appropriate reduction schedule if it's decided it's best to end using the medication.

Is Concerta Detectable in Lab Drug Tests?

The active ingredient in Concerta, methylphenidate, is not detected on typical urine toxicology screen panels. While there are rare reports that it might give a false positive for amphetamine, that is disputed.

If you are taking prescribed methylphenidate and must take a drug screen for your employment or another purpose, report that you are taking it as prescribed. This will allow your tests to be more accurately interpreted. Lab tests can be ordered that will detect methylphenidate specifically, either to follow therapy or if abuse is suspected.

Was this page helpful?
4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts.

  2. MedlinePlus. Methylphenidate.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Concerta (Methylphenidate HCl) Extended-release tablets CII.

  4. Breindahl T, Hindersson P. Methylphenidate is Distinguished from Amphetamine in Drug-of-Abuse Testing. J Anal Toxicol. 2012;36(7):538-539. doi:10.1093/jat/bks056