Concerta's Dosage: What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Brittany A. Duke, PharmD, RPh

This drug has a boxed warning, the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Concerta is a stimulant drug that may carry a risk for misuse. (Misuse refers to taking a drug for a purpose or in a way that’s not prescribed by a doctor.)

Long-term misuse of Concerta can lead to dependence and tolerance. With dependence, your body becomes reliant on a drug to function like usual. With tolerance, increasing doses may be needed to produce the same effects from the drug.

People with a history of drug or alcohol misuse or dependence may have an increased risk for these problems with Concerta. Due to this risk, doctors may not prescribe Concerta to people with a history of misuse or dependence.

To learn more about dependence and Concerta, see the “ Concerta: Withdrawal and dependence” section below.

Concerta: Introduction

Concerta is a brand-name prescription medication that contains the active drug methylphenidate. It belongs to a class of drugs called stimulants. Concerta is available in a generic form.

This medication is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s approved for use in people ages 6 to 65 years.

Concerta is available as follows.

  • Form: extended-release* oral tablet
  • Strengths: 18 milligrams (mg), 27 mg, 36 mg, and 54 mg

In this article, you’ll find additional information about Concerta’s dosage and details on how to take the drug. For a comprehensive overview of Concerta, view this article.

* Extended release means the active drug is slowly released into your body over time after the medication is taken.

Dosage summary

For details about the drug’s dosage, including dosage charts, see the following sections below:

Your doctor will prescribe the dosage of Concerta that’s right for your condition.


Finding a healthcare professional

If you’re interested in taking Concerta, search here to find a doctor who might prescribe it.

This article describes typical recommended dosages for Concerta. These dosages are provided by the drug’s manufacturer.

Your doctor will prescribe the dosage of Concerta that’s best for you.

Concerta: Dosage in adults

Commonly recommended dosages for Concerta for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults are shown below. However, your doctor will prescribe the Concerta dosage that’s right for you.

For information about dosages in children, see the “Concerta: Dosage in children” section below.

Concerta’s form and strengths

Concerta comes as an extended-release oral tablet. This is a tablet that releases the medication slowly over time after it is taken.

Concerta is available in the following strengths:

  • 18 milligrams (mg)
  • 27 mg
  • 36 mg
  • 54 mg

Typical recommended dosages

Usually, doctors will prescribe a low dosage of Concerta at the start of treatment. Then, they’ll adjust the dosage over time if needed. Ultimately, your doctor will prescribe the smallest dosage of Concerta that gives the desired effect.

Dosage chart for adults

The following dosage chart shows Concerta’s typical recommended dosages for ADHD in adults ages 18 to 65 years.

Starting dosage Maintenance dosage Maximum dosage
18 mg or 36 mg once per day, in the morning 18 mg to 72 mg once per day, in the morning 72 mg once per day, in the morning

In general, Concerta should be taken in the morning. Your doctor can recommend when you should take the drug based on your sleep schedule.

Keep in mind, Concerta contains the active drug methylphenidate. If you’re switching to Concerta from another medication containing methylphenidate, your doctor may prescribe a different starting dosage of Concerta. For example, this would be the case if you’re switching from Ritalin.

If you’ve been taking a different form of methylphenidate, your body will already be used to the drug. So, your doctor will prescribe a starting dosage of Concerta based on the dosage of methylphenidate you’ve been taking.

Length of treatment

Doctors typically prescribe Concerta as a long-term treatment. You’ll likely take it long term if you and your doctor feel it’s safe and effective for your condition.

However, your doctor may recommend taking a break from treatment from time to time to see if you still need to take Concerta for your condition.

Concerta: Dosage in children

Commonly recommended dosages for Concerta for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children are shown below. However, your doctor will prescribe the Concerta dosage that’s right for your child.

For information about dosages in adults, see the “Concerta: Dosage in adults” section above.

Concerta’s form and strengths

Concerta comes as an extended-release oral tablet. This is a tablet that releases the medication slowly over time after it is taken.

Concerta is available in the following strengths:

  • 18 milligrams (mg)
  • 27 mg
  • 36 mg
  • 54 mg

Typical recommended dosages

Usually, doctors will prescribe a low dosage of Concerta at the start of treatment. Then, they’ll adjust the dosage over time if needed. Ultimately, the child’s doctor will prescribe the smallest dosage of Concerta that gives the desired effect.

Dosage chart for children

The following dosage chart shows Concerta’s typical recommended dosages for ADHD in children.

Age Starting dosage Maintenance dosage Maximum dosage
6 to 12 years 18 mg once per day, in the morning 18 mg to 54 mg once per day, in the morning 54 mg once per day, in the morning
13 to 17 years 18 mg once per day, in the morning 18 mg to 72 mg once per day, in the morning 72 mg once per day, in the morning

In general, Concerta should be taken in the morning. Your doctor can recommend when you should take the drug based on your sleep schedule.

Keep in mind that Concerta contains the active drug methylphenidate. For children switching to Concerta from another medication containing methylphenidate, their doctor may prescribe a different starting dosage of Concerta. For example, this would be the case if the child had been taking Ritalin.

Children who’ve been taking a different form of methylphenidate will already be used to the drug. So, their doctor will prescribe a starting dosage of Concerta based on the dosage of methylphenidate the child has been taking.

Length of treatment

Doctors typically prescribe Concerta as a long-term treatment. Your child will likely take it long term if you, your child, and the child’s doctor feel it’s safe and effective for the condition being treated.

However, the child’s doctor may recommend taking a break from treatment from time to time to see if they still need to take the medication for their ADHD. For example, this may be recommended once a year during a school holiday.

Concerta: Common questions about dosage

Below are some common questions related to Concerta’s dosage.

Is there a Concerta dosage chart based on weight or a Concerta dosage calculator?

There’s no Concerta dosage chart based on body weight or a Concerta dosage calculator. Instead, Concerta’s recommended dosage is based on age.

The starting dosage of Concerta that your doctor prescribes will also depend on whether you’ve previously been taking another medication containing methylphenidate. (Concerta contains the active drug methylphenidate.)

If you’ve been taking a different form of methylphenidate, your body will already be used to the drug. In this case, your doctor will prescribe a starting dosage of Concerta based on the dosage of methylphenidate you’ve been taking.

When should my doctor increase my Concerta dosage?

Your doctor will increase your Concerta dosage only if your current dosage isn’t working to improve symptoms of your condition. (Keep in mind that Concerta is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]).

You’ll need to take a particular dosage of the drug for at least 1 week to see if it improves your symptoms.

When starting Concerta, your doctor may increase your dosage each week if your current dose doesn’t work well enough for you. For some people, the starting dosage may be all that’s needed. So, your doctor may not always increase your dosage.

Talk with your doctor if you feel your current Concerta dosage isn’t working well enough.

What’s the highest dose of Concerta I can take?

The highest recommended dosages (also called maximum dosages) for Concerta are the following, based on age:

  • 54 milligrams (mg) per day for children ages 6 to 12 years
  • 72 mg per day for people ages 13 to 65 years

It’s not known if doses higher than these are safe. If you’d like to know more about this, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Is it normal to see Concerta tablets in my stool?

Concerta tablets have an outer shell that slowly releases the medication inside as the tablet passes through your digestive system. The empty outer shell doesn’t dissolve and isn’t absorbed into your body. So, you may notice it in your stool as something that looks like a tablet. This is normal, and it’s nothing to be concerned about.

Concerta: Overdose

If you take more than the recommended dosage of Concerta, serious effects can occur. Do not take more Concerta than your doctor prescribes. 

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms that an overdose of Concerta could cause include:

What to do in case of overdose

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much of this drug. They will provide appropriate treatment for overdose if needed.

Also, you can call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Concerta: Dosage considerations

Your doctor will consider several factors when prescribing the dosage for Concerta. These factors include:

  • your age
  • the severity of your symptoms

Your prescribed dosage may also vary based on other medical conditions you have.

Recommended adjustments in dosage

You’ll typically start treatment with a low starting dosage of Concerta. If this doesn’t improve your symptoms enough after 1 week, your doctor may increase your dosage. If needed, your doctor may increase your dosage each week up to the maximum recommended dosage.

If you have side effects from Concerta, your doctor may recommend decreasing your dosage.

Concerta: How to take

Concerta comes as an extended-release tablet. This tablet releases the medication slowly over time after it is taken. You’ll take Concerta by swallowing the tablet whole with water.

Your doctor will usually recommend that you take Concerta once a day in the morning. This helps Concerta work effectively during the day. The effect of the drug lasts for about 12 hours. In general, you shouldn’t take it later than the morning because this can cause trouble sleeping at night. Your doctor can recommend when you should take the drug based on your sleep schedule.

You can take Concerta with or without food.

Concerta tablets should not be split, crushed, or chewed, as this will damage the extended-release action of the tablets. This could cause all the medication to be released into your body at once, possibly leading to serious side effects.

If it’s difficult for you to swallow tablets, see this article for information on taking this form of medication. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist and ask if they have other suggestions to help you take the medication.

ACCESSIBLE DRUG LABELS AND CONTAINERS

If you find it challenging to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies provide medication labels with large print or braille. They may also offer labels containing a scannable code that your smartphone can convert from text to speech. If your pharmacy doesn’t provide these choices, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.

If it’s difficult for you to open medication bottles, ask your pharmacist if they can dispense Concerta in an easy-open container. They also may recommend ways to help make it easier to open the bottles.

Concerta: Missing a dose

In general, Concerta should be taken in the morning. If you miss a dose of Concerta, it may be best to skip the missed dose. Taking a dose too late in the day can cause trouble sleeping at night. Your doctor can recommend when you should take the drug based on your sleep schedule.

Never take two doses of Concerta together or extra doses of Concerta to make up for a missed dose. Doing so can cause serious side effects.

View these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses. You could also set an alarm or download a reminder app on your phone.

Concerta: Misuse

Concerta is a stimulant medication that may carry a risk for misuse. Misuse refers to using a drug in a way or for a purpose that’s not prescribed by a doctor.

Long-term misuse of Concerta can lead to dependence. (To learn more about dependence, see the “Concerta: Withdrawal and dependence” section directly below.)

In fact, Concerta has a boxed warning regarding the risk of dependence. For more information about this boxed warning, see “FDA warning: Risk of drug dependence” at the beginning of this article.

Concerta: Withdrawal and dependence

If Concerta is misused over long periods of time, dependence on the drug can occur.

Misuse refers to using a drug in a way or for a purpose that’s not prescribed by a doctor. With dependence, your body becomes reliant on a drug to function like usual. This means you may have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the drug.

Concerta has a boxed warning regarding the risk of dependence. For more information about this boxed warning, see “FDA warning: Risk of drug dependence” at the beginning of this article.

Taking Concerta as prescribed by your doctor doesn’t usually cause dependence. As a result, you’re unlikely to have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug.

However, stopping treatment with Concerta can cause symptoms of your condition to come back. You may also have symptoms such as irritability, hyperactivity, or tiredness when the effect of the drug wears off at the end of each day. (Keep in mind that Concerta is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]).

If your doctor recommends stopping Concerta or taking a break from treatment, they may recommend reducing your dose gradually at first. This can help you avoid having your ADHD symptoms suddenly come back.

If you’re concerned about symptoms you may have when Concerta wears off or when stopping treatment, talk with your doctor.

Concerta: What to discuss with your doctor

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist for additional information about Concerta’s dosage. Keep in mind that the dosages presented in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Concerta that’s right for you and your condition. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.

As with any medications you’re taking, do not change your Concerta dosage without a recommendation from your doctor.

In addition to discussing Concerta with your doctor, you may find the following articles helpful in learning more:

  • Overview of Concerta. For comprehensive details on Concerta, see this article.
  • Drug comparisons. To learn how Concerta compares with Adderall XR, read this article.
  • Information on side effects. If you’d like to know about possible side effects of Concerta, view this article.
  • Details about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To learn more about ADHD, which Concerta is used to treat, see this article.

Disclaimer: Healthgrades has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

Medical Reviewer: Brittany A. Duke, PharmD, RPh
Last Review Date: 2022 Jul 15
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