Concerta abuse in South Africa
Concerta is a medication used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The main medications used in South Africa to treat ADHD are Ritalin and Concerta. They have the same chemical structures (methylphenidate hydrochloride) however Concerta is a slower release, long-acting drug, similar in chemical makeup to other stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine, and the drug is just as addictive. Street names for Concerta include kibbles & bits, kiddy cocaine, pineapple, kiddie coke, smarties and skittles.
Concerta is primarily used as a stimulant medication to increase attention span and decrease hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour. The medication seems to have a positive impact on the treatment of ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD but at the same time has opened up a panacea for potential abuse and there is a lot of controversy around the use of medication to treat the diagnosis of ADD and ADHD. In fact, there is huge controversy about the very existence of the above mentioned disorders, with the scientific experts suggesting a clear neurological basis for the disorders and some other more holistic proponents saying they are not diseases in the chemical sense at all but rather behaviourally based maladaptions. The jury is still out.
The dosage prescribed is based on the severity of the condition and the response to treatment. The drug slowly raises the users dopamine levels in the brain, achieving a therapeutic effect for those with proper ADHD (and similar) diagnoses. However, if individuals who do not have ADHD take these medications, the result will be hyperactivity and overstimulation. Though it helps many people, this medication can be addictive. The risk may be higher if you have a related substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to alcohol). If you suddenly stop using this medication, you may have withdrawal symptoms (such as depression, paranoia, fatigue suicidal thoughts, or other mental/mood changes). Withdrawal symptoms are more likely if you have used methylphenidate for a long time or in high doses.
Signs of Concerta addiction include:
- Needing higher doses to feel the drug’s effects (tolerance)
- Experiencing strong urges to use Concerta
- Finding new ways to obtain the drug—legally or illegally—in order to abuse it
- Using Concerta even if it’s causing issues with loved ones or responsibilities
Those struggling with an addiction to Concerta are advised not to quit taking the drug without medical supervision. At Crossroads we consult with our specialist medical provider as to the best method for detoxification for the individual.
Some people use the drug recreationally—without a prescription—and those who take more than their prescribed dosage are at risk for developing an addiction to Concerta. It is common for adolescents who are prescribed these types of medications to trade their drugs to other kids who are in fact not in need of them and hence are using these substances illegally. This leads to very severe consequences in terms behaviour as adolescents and eventual addiction to the medication. When abused by older teens or adults – especially if it’s crushed or snorted or injected – the drug is more like other forms of amphetamine, including methamphetamine, that have damaging and addictive psychological and physical effects.
At Crossroads, we have encountered several cases of abuse of the medication either through overuse, misuse or mixing the medication with other substances. We have even come across the mixing of Concerta and Ritalin in the common street drug known as Nyaope.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with Concerta abuse in South Africa – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best possible care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s only a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.
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