Seroquel is not a controlled substance, but there is still a risk of abuse or addiction. It is important to understand how this drug can affect people, especially if someone is taking it improperly. This information can help people to know when it is time to seek treatment.

What is Seroquel?

Seroquel comes in both immediate-release and extended-release tablets. This drug is classified as an atypical antipsychotic and a second-generation antipsychotic. It works to rebalance serotonin and dopamine to improve a person’s mood, behavior, and thinking, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

This drug is used to treat schizophrenia, major depression disorder, and bipolar disorder. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe this medication for insomnia or anxiety. The following are possible side effects, according to MedlinePlus:

  • Dizziness or problems with balance
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting or dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Stomach swelling or pain
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty using language or speaking
  • Pain in the back, ears, joints, or neck
  • Indigestion or gas
  • Increased appetite
  • Stuffy nose
  • Difficulty with concentrating or thinking
  • Coordination loss
  • Extremity burning, numbness, and tingling
  • Unusual dreams
  • Male breast enlargement
  • Reduced sexual ability or desire
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Breast discharge

When someone uses this drug long term, there is a risk of tardive dyskinesia, a condition that affects the nervous system, causing involuntary movements. It occurs as a result of biochemical abnormalities in the striatum area of the brain, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. This issue is possible with both proper Seroquel use and when someone abuses it.

How Do People Abuse Seroquel?

A study was conducted between 2003 and 2013 that included a National Poison Data System retrospective analysis. During the study, the researchers determined there were 2,118 cases of Seroquel abuse, according to research published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. It was concluded that Seroquel was the most commonly abused second-generation psychotic for the study period.

Someone might use Seroquel to “slow down.” About 88 percent of people who use an antipsychotic are considered to be polysubstance abusers, according to research published by Medscape. This means they use Seroquel with other drugs to intensify the effects. Atypical antipsychotics are most often used with opioids, alcohol, cocaine, or a combination of these substances.

When someone abuses this drug, they may take it in pill form and swallow it. Some people will crush the drug so that they can snort it. Some people will crush it up, add water, and then inject the drug. When they inject it, they may mix it with cocaine or use it on its own.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Developing an addiction to Seroquel is possible. When someone starts to abuse the drug, they often notice this is when they develop tolerance. This means they must increase their dose over time to achieve the same effects.

When someone is addicted to Seroquel, they can experience cravings for the drug when they do not have it. In addition, withdrawal effects are possible. This drug stays in the body for about 1.6 days and has a half-life of about seven hours, according to research published in Clinical Pharmacokinetics.

The withdrawal symptoms that can occur with this drug include insomnia, headache, vomiting, irritability, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness. It can take one to two weeks for withdrawal symptoms to resolve, according to AstraZeneca.

The severity of withdrawal will vary. The factors that can play a role include the dosage someone took, how long they used Seroquel, and if they used other substances with it.

Who Seeks Treatment for Seroquel Addiction?

Someone might consider treatment for Seroquel addiction after realizing the drug is consuming their life. Some people might also seek treatment if they experience an overdose or suicidal thoughts.

Between 2004 and 2011, people who were taken to the emergency room for a suicide attempt related to drugs increased 41 percent, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

Taking 13.6 grams of this drug has caused a fatal overdose, according to Dr. Chris Illiades, M.D.

Possible Symptoms of a Seroquel Overdose Include:

  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizure
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Addiction to Seroquel affects someone’s life like any other substance abuse disorder. Possible signs of Seroquel abuse or addiction, according to the Indian Health Service, are:

  • Increasing tolerance to the drug
  • Not being able to control use of the drug
  • Using the drug in place of activities that were once enjoyable
  • Using Seroquel to prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • Continuing to use the drug even though it causes problems
  • Unexplained attitude or personality changes
  • Not having motivation or appearing to be “spaced out”
  • Increased irritability, sudden mood swings, or angry outbursts
  • Not maintaining personal relationships
  • Being suspicious or secretive
  • Unexplained financial difficulties
  • Not taking care of responsibilities

How is Seroquel Addiction Treated?

Those who want to quit their use of Seroquel should never try to quit the drug cold turkey on their own. Doing so poses the risk of potentially psychotic side effects, according to Mental Health Daily. This could cause people to experience paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations.

In some cases, those who experienced psychosis had a history of mental illness, but some of the people involved in the meta-analysis had no known history of mental illness, according to research posted in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Those who performed the study noted that further research was necessary to learn more about reducing this potential effect when someone is withdrawing from antipsychotic drugs.

In a treatment facility, people can undergo medically supervised detox process. This allows them to be monitored and receive medications that can help to make them more comfortable as they go through the process. Medical detox may reduce the risk of psychosis and decrease the severity of the other potential withdrawal symptoms.

Once the detox process is over, people proceed to enroll in a comprehensive treatment program. This may be at an inpatient facility where people reside at the place where they are receiving treatment. There are also outpatient options that make it possible to undergo addiction while still living at home.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often incorporated into addiction treatment programs. This treatment operates on the following principles, according to the American Psychological Association:

  • Issues are based partly on unhelpful methods of thinking
  • People can learn how to better cope with problems
  • Issues are based partly on learned patterns of behavior that are not helpful

With this therapy, people learn how to recognize the issues associated with their thinking so that they can evaluate them. They learn how to cope with stressful situations and understand the motivation and behavior of others better, and they learn how to develop greater confidence in their abilities.

Other forms of therapy are often incorporated into treatment. People might undergo group therapy. This allows six to eight people to work with a trained professional. Each member gets to talk and provide feedback to the other members of the group. This type of therapy can help people to learn how to accept themselves and others, as well as engage in personal experimentation, according to Appalachian State University.

Some facilities will offer family therapy. This allows people to work through issues that their addiction caused with their family. This typically involves bringing the family together in one room to work with a therapist. They will discuss their issues and work together to find ways to resolve the problems affecting their relationships, improving communication skills along the way.

Those who have mental illness and a substance use disorder should look for a facility that can treat both conditions. This is especially important if the Seroquel was prescribed to treat a specific mental health disorder. This can involve changing medications or using different therapies to treat the disorder.

What Resources are Available to Those Who Need Help?

Those who are struggling with an addiction to Seroquel have options. Numerous resources can help people to find the appropriate treatment and resources to aid them on their journey to recovery. The following are resources that people can use from anywhere in the U.S:

These organizations serve as national databases for information about substance abuse disorders. They aim to educate and provide aid to those who are seeking treatment. They also provide a wealth of resources for loved ones of people with a substance use disorder.

Those with a substance use disorder that involves Seroquel should not hesitate to seek treatment. The potential dangers of this drug can be problematic, and the longer someone abuses it, the more serious the results can be.

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