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Antipsychotic Dependence – Signs of Antipsychotic Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Is an Antipsychotic Addictive?

How addictive is an antipsychotic? Antipsychotic medications typically do not create addictive effects. Antipsychotics are normally employed to help patients cope with debilitating mental disorders and may be prescribed throughout the lifetime of the patients. These drugs do not produce the “high” associated with addictive medications and have not been shown to cause addictive behaviors in the majority of patients. That does not mean some dependency may not develop, however, and you should contact a doctor or call 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? for more information if you are concerned with a loved one taking and potentially abusing antipsychotics.

Understanding Antipsychotic Dependency and Tolerance

antipsychotic dependenceAntipsychotic dependence typically appears as the patient’s body begins to develop a tolerance to the medication. Physical dependence may take the form of an overuse or a desire for the medication beyond the prescribed dosages. Psychological dependencies are not always very clear, as antipsychotic drugs are prescribed for the treatment of problems including schizophrenia, bipolar, and delusional disorders. The drugs may also be used off-label for sufferers of dementia and some other developmental disorders. Many people suffering from the effects of these mental illnesses require these medications in order to interact normally with their friends, family, and society as a whole. The effects of the drugs may decrease over time due to an increase in drug tolerance as your loved one’s system builds up a resistance to the drug’s effects. Doctors may have to change medications to alleviate high levels of tolerance or dependency on higher dosages of antipsychotics. You can fill out a quick contact form for more information on dependency and tolerance factors related to these drugs.

Effects/Side Effects

The main effect experienced while under antipsychotic dosages is clarity of thought and a greatly increased attention span due to the reductions of distractions. There is no “high” effect experienced with the drug, but the medication can produce a fear of losing clarity, which leads to anxiety in some patients. Coming down from antipsychotics often results in increased anxiety as the patients’ underlying conditions may emerge and fear of such things may limit their day-to-day lives. Side effects are a major concern with antipsychotics, and many patients must discontinue use if the side effects become less manageable than the original problem the medicine was designed to treat. These side effects include dystonias (causing strange postures or muscular twitches), rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, impotence, lethargy, seizures, breast growth with milk discharge, and intense nightmares. However, not all patients suffer these side effects, which may be an indication that the dosage of the medication is too high. Many doctors typically attempt to lower the dosage of medication to the absolute minimum required in order to deal with tolerance best and limit side effects, which may also appear as after-effects that occur during detoxification.

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Detox, Rehab, and Treatment Options

Although withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the drug of abuse, duration of use, underlying disorders, and method of detox, some of the same symptoms may occur regardless of these factors. Common symptoms may include irritability, insomnia, fatigue, or hot and cold flashes.

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Withdrawal from antipsychotic medications can occur whenever the medicine is discontinued or dosages are reduced. Withdrawal symptoms commonly include nausea, anorexia, diarrhea, anxiety, agitation, restlessness, and insomnia. Psychological withdrawal systems may vary greatly and resemble a recurrence of the underlying problem that originally leads to medication. Detoxification is a fairly rare procedure with antipsychotics, as many patients must manage the existing problem with these medications for the rest of their lives. Gradual withdrawal with decreasing dosages is recommended to help alleviate side effects and after-effects. Those undergoing detoxification without neither a new medication nor a plan for treatment may experience tardive dyskinesia, a physical ailment that causes involuntary muscle movements. Tardive dyskinesia may appear as rapid eye blinking, lip smacking, tongue protrusion, or any similarly uncontrollable muscular or nervous movements. These effects typically decrease over time as the antipsychotic medications leave the body. Relapse remains a major concern as well during dosage decreases and detoxification periods.

Treatment for Antipsychotic Addiction

Though addiction is unlikely, the high likelihood of dependence on the medication and increased tolerances mean that many may suffer from similar effects. Detoxification is a common method of treatment, as tolerances typically decrease over time with the removal of the drugs. A lack of medication is likely to cause the underlying mental condition to emerge, however, and a new plan of control is required to help your loved one cope with these changes. Antipsychotic abuse treatment may include both psychological and pharmaceutical approaches, as the medications are most commonly prescribed for psychological or mental disorders. Call 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? or fill out a quick form for more information on helping your loved one develop a treatment plan for antipsychotic medicines.