The Three Parts of Concerta

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Concerta tablets can't be crushed
Concerta tablets can't be crushed (Image: "Travelling in time" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Senioscopia! (Xosé Arsenio Coto) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Concerta is a medication containing methylphenidate that is used to treat attention disorders, specifically Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat narcolepsy. Concerta works by affecting chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, in the brain. Although a Concerta tablet appears to be one solid object, each is actually made of three parts.

Why Concerta Must Be Taken Whole

Think of a food item with three ingredients, such as cheese, meat and breading. You can see that if you sliced the item in a certain way you could end up with portions that contained only the cheese, or only part of the meat. You would not get a uniform mix of the ingredients. In the same way Concerta has three parts: the methylphenidate, a filler and an expanding layer that is brown. Concerta pills must not be broken, crushed, or divided; they must be taken whole in order to receive a proper mix of the ingredients.

The Actual Methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is the active ingredient that works on the chemicals in the brain to control ADD and ADHD. It is found in two places in every Concerta tablet. Under the outside coating there is an underlayer containing the first dosage of methylphenidate. This underlayer dissolves immediately upon taking the Concerta capsule. Under that is the layer containing the rest of the methylphenidate, which is designed for release over an extended period.

The Brown Layer

The brown part of the Concerta tablet actually has tiny holes in it. It is called the “pusher layer.” When liquids penetrate the outer coating it causes the brown layer to expand and push the active ingredient in the next layer out through the holes slowly and gradually. The brown layer does not contain any methylphenidate and is not digested in the system. After it expands and pushes the medication out it is useless. It is passed through the body and excreted.

Why Amphetamines Are Abused

Methylphenidate is an amphetamine, which is a stimulant. Known on the street as “speed,” stimulants are in demand for creating a buzz or a “high.” The preferred delivery for such a substance is snorting it after it has been reduced to a powder, or injecting it if it is in liquid form. Because of that potential for abuse, amphetamines are controlled substances.

Concerta's Three Parts Discourage Abuse

Concerta's formulation makes it difficult to convert to an abusable form of amphetamine. It is extremely hard to crush and the methylphenidate is difficult to extract. It cannot be reduced to a uniform, powder-like substance. As for attempts to abuse the drug as formulated, its slow rate of drug delivery prevents an immediate impact or “hit.” This decreases the likelihood of drug abuse.

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