Ropinirole Abuse: Is It An Addictive Narcotic? | High & Withdrawal


Ropinirole is a medication used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder that affects feeling and movement in the legs. It is in the dopamine-agonists class of drugs, which means it affects the same receptors in the brain as dopamine does, and it helps decrease shakiness (tremors), stiffness, slowed movement, and unsteadiness.

Ropinirole acts in place of dopamine, a natural substance in the brain that is needed to control movement. The medication is available as a tablet, which is sold under the brand name Requip, and an extended-release tablet, which is sold under the name Requip XL). Both are medications that are taken by mouth.

The Use and Risks of Ropinirole

Ropinirole is a drug that is shown to increase mood or mild depression in those with severe restless leg syndrome. Unfortunately, like most drugs that cause uplifting feelings, it can be taken to get high. For some of those more sensitive, there are risks involved with the use of Ropinirole. The presence of medical problems can affect a user, and using alcohol or tobacco can increase these risks. The medication is intended to be taken every day exactly as ordered by the doctor to improve the condition, and you should never take more or less of it without the doctor signing off on it.

Potential Drug Interactions

People who are prescribed this medication should tell their physician about all drugs they are taking, as interactions between Ropinirole and other medications can be dangerous. This includes legal prescription, nonprescription, recreational, herbal, nutritional and dietary drugs, and any antidepressants.

Smoking and Drinking Can Negatively Affect Ropinirole Users

Before starting ropinirole, alert your doctor if you are a smoker or drink alcohol. Ropinirole can cause drowsiness and sleepiness, even during the daytime, and alcohol can intensify these effects. Smoking decreases the medication’s effectiveness. Doctors should also be alerted to all drugs, including dietary supplements, that are being taken.

People who take this medication usually start on a low dose that is gradually increased by their doctor.

Common Side Effects of Ropinirole

As with many drugs, there are common side effects of Ropinirole. They include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Heartburn or gas
  • Painful urination
  • Swelling in the arms, hands, feet, ankle, lower legs
  • Pain, burning, numbness, tingling in hands, feet

Taking Ropinirole Can Cause Impulse Control Issues

Ropinirole, along with other dopamine receptor-agonist drugs used to treat Parkinson’s and RLS, has been linked to impulse control disorders. Some Ropinirole users have reported increased sexual urges, a condition known as hypersexuality, extreme urges to gamble, compulsive eating, and compulsive shopping.

Ropinirole Abuse Has Been Linked to Dopamine Agonist Withdrawal Syndrome

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these behaviors or impulses while taking Ropinirole, tell your physician or call a drug rehabilitation center that may be able to offer guidance on what to do next. Do not quit or suddenly reduce use of the drug. Over time, your body likely has built up a tolerance for it, so to stop suddenly is to risk going into withdrawal, which can be dangerous.

Research published in 2010 found that reducing the dosage of dopamine-agonist drugs such as Ropinirole can cause acute withdrawal symptoms that are similar to those experienced by some people who are addicted to cocaine. Researchers have called these symptoms dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome, or DAWS.

These include physical withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Generalized pain
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

And psychological symptoms, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Drug cravings
  • Depression

“Like cocaine and methamphetamines, dopamine agonists work by stimulating the reward pathways in the brain. For this reason, it makes sense that they would engender similar withdrawal symptoms, particularly in those with high cumulative drug exposure,” said senior author of the study, Dr. Melissa J. Nirenberg, associate director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College.

DAWS can be difficult to identify because the “invisible” symptoms are largely psychological in nature, Nirenberg said. Ropinirole users who experience these symptoms after reducing their dosage should seek help from a physician or mental health care professional.

How to Handle a Missed Dose

People who forget to take a dose of Requip or Requip XL (extended release) should take the dose when they remember. However, if the person remembers to take the dose when it’s almost time for the next dose to be taken, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular dosing schedule.

Taking a “double dose” to make up for a missed dose is not advised. Doing so may constitute as the abuse of Ropinirole, which can lead to overdose. If overdose is suspected, call 911 for immediate medical assistance. You can also visit the nearest emergency room or urgent care center.

Treating Ropinirole Abuse

Those who become addicted to Ropinirole place themselves at significant risk of overdosing when they begin abusing it. The drug has been linked to dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome, and abrupt cessation can also cause problems. If you have become dependent or addicted, you must reach out for professional medical treatment immediately.

Due to the potency of this drug, it’s imperative that you check into a medical detoxification center that can monitor you while the drug leaves the system. The addiction specialists will be at your disposal as you go through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, and provide medications that alleviate the worst of them. Additionally, the staff will be around 24-hours a day to offer their moral support or keep your mind off what you are going through. They will assess your needs and determine your next course of action, or help you find less addictive medication to treat your ailment.

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Ropinirole Overdose

Symptoms of Ropinirole overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Psychological symptoms of taking too much Ropinirole include:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Nightmares

Struggling with Ropinirole Abuse?

Legal prescription drugs can be misused or abused like illicit ones. There have been cases in which Ropinirole abuse has led to impulse control disorders that have led to risky behaviors that have been detrimental to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. You don’t have to be one of them. Let Arete Recovery help you.

If you are or someone you know has a problem with Ropinirole abuse, give us a call today at 855-921-2416 or contact us online to learn about recovery options from one of our specialists who can guide you to a new life of health, sobriety, and happiness.


Ropinirole: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Ropinirole (Oral Route) Side Effects. (2019, April 01). Retrieved from

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