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Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often take the prescription drug Concerta to control their symptoms. At the same time, many argue that cannabis also helps with ADHD by improving focus, sleep, and rapid thought patterns.
But what about mixing the two? Taking Concerta and weed is generally well-tolerated. However, marijuana and prescription ADHD medication can lead to heart-related side effects and less-than-ideal drug interactions. Ultimately, it’s wise to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before mixing Concerta and weed.
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What Is Concerta?
Concerta is a brand-name prescription for the drug known as methylphenidate, the active ingredient found in Ritalin and Daytrana. Doctors prescribe it as a slow-release central nervous system stimulant to treat ADHD symptoms in children and adults. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause inattentiveness, impulse problems, and overactivity.
Uses and How It Works
Concerta increases levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain by preventing neurons from reabsorbing them. Dopamine is a stimulant, and norepinephrine is linked to attention, movement, and pleasure. Boosting these neurotransmitters can:
- Increase alertness, energy, and the ability to pay attention
- Retain the focus on an activity
- Control behavioral problems
- Decrease impulsivity and hyperactive behavior
- Organize tasks and improve listening skills
Concerta can also treat narcolepsy, a condition that suddenly causes a person to fall asleep.
Concerta is known for its extended-release formula. It has a proprietary delivery system called OROS (for osmotically controlled release oral delivery) that releases the medication periodically as it travels through the body. As a result, Concerta kicks in within 10-15 minutes and lasts 8-12 hours.
Potential Benefits and Risks of Mixing Cannabis and Concerta
Many people with ADHD report positive cannabis experiences. However, the big question is whether mixing Concerta and weed can provide added benefits.
Researchers haven’t conducted many studies on mixing Concerta with marijuana. Still, one investigation in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment showed that drugs alone and in combination were generally well-tolerated. People who took THC and Concerta together reported more feel-good effects and a desire to retake the drugs, likely due to THC’s euphoric properties.
When it came to cognitive performance, the results were mixed. THC alone typically hindered attention span, but adding 10-40 mg of Concerta seemed to counteract those effects. Interestingly, Concerta alone diminished reaction time performance, but adding THC mitigated that effect. Notably, this study examined non-ADHD patients, so further studies are needed to accurately assess the potential benefits of mixing THC and Concerta.
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Although using weed and Concerta together is generally safe, people who take both can experience adverse outcomes. Notably, the methylphenidate in Concerta, when mixed with weed, can cause increased strain on the heart.
Negative side effects can include:
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Cardiac stress and possible heart damage
One study showed that weed could blunt the effect of stimulant medications, indicating it could influence how the body absorbs and processes Concerta. Reduced medication strength could delay symptom relief. However, it’s important to note the study only included heavy marijuana users.
What to Do If You Need to Use Both Concerta and Marijuana
Some people may need to use Concerta and marijuana to treat various mental and physical health concerns and ADHD. For example, research shows marijuana helps with short-term sleep issues, chronic pain, and appetite stimulation. People who need the effects of both cannabis and Concerta should speak to their doctor first.
Taking Concerta and weed together is generally safe, but doctors can determine if a preexisting heart issue could present a severe risk. Additionally, doctors may be able to prescribe the best Concerta dosage based on the person’s THC usage.
Anyone who experiences an adverse reaction from mixing Concerta and weed should seek immediate medical attention and discontinue this practice.
The Bottom Line
Although many people say that cannabis for ADHD helps their symptoms, mixing Concerta and weed does have the potential for adverse side effects. These outcomes are rare, and many cannabis users take ADHD medication without issues. However, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, or heart damage can occur. Dosage levels and frequency likely play a role, so it’s essential to consult a doctor and pharmacist before mixing weed and Concerta.
Frequently Asked Questions
What strain of weed is good for ADHD?
Some suggest that strains containing terpenes linalool, pinene, or limonene may be good options for ADHD. That’s because these terpenes support focus, relaxation, and mood enhancement. Additionally, high-CBD strains may further support ease and focus.
A few strains that fit these profiles include:
- Ringo’s Gift
What drugs interact with Concerta?
Drugs with the highest interaction with Concerta include antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The combination can cause a rapid and severe increase in blood pressure called hypertensive crisis, which may lead to stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure.
Examples of MAOIs are:
- Linezolid (Zyvox)
- Methylene blue (ProvayBlue)
- Selegiline (Emsam)
- Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
- Phenelzine (Nardil)
Concerta can also make some drugs less effective or increase their side effects, including:
- Vasopressors, such as Sudafed and Orvaten
- Seizure drugs, such as Dilantin, Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol, phenobarbital, and primidone (Mysoline)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline, imipramine (Tofranil), and nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, and Lexapro
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Warfarin (Jantoven)
Can I smoke weed while taking ADHD meds?
Most people can smoke weed while taking ADHD medication without serious health issues. However, weed and ADHD meds don’t always go hand in hand. Marijuana has both stimulant and depressant properties, resulting in unpredictable consequences. In some instances, smoking marijuana might lessen the effects of the stimulant medications used for ADHD, and this is likely related to heavy doses and extended use. However, users should always take caution when mixing ADHD medications with cannabis.