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Strattera (Atomoxetine) Abuse Potential

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 23, 2019

Strattera is the brand name of the medication Atomoxetine which is used to treat ADHD. It works by increasing the attention span and decreasing the impulsiveness or hyperactivity in individuals. Though Strattera has a low rate of abuse, it is important to recognize the potential of abuse as well as the risks and side effects of all drugs before taking them.

Abuse Of ADHD Medications

First, you may wonder why ADHD medications present the risk of abuse since they are usually prescribed for children and adolescents. Unfortunately, many medications, prescribed for any number of reasons, are abused every day.

Medications used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin, have a high potential for abuse. This is partly because the drug is a central nervous system stimulant. That is, it gives you energy, makes you feel alert.

Strattera, though also prescribed for the treatment of this disorder, works differently. It belongs to a class of medications call Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). These drugs work by “impacting chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to communicate between brain cells,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Essentially, SNRIs work by blocking the brain from reabsorbing serotonin and norepinephrine. This process helps regulate mood and behavior. After a while, though, the brain adapts to this new way of communicating. These changes can cause the brain to make the person affected keep seeking the drug, which is often what leads to abuse, and later addiction.

Side Effects Of Strattera Abuse

Every medication has side effects, but abuse can enhance these effects. The following are effects which can be moderate to severe, according to the FDA:

  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Impulsiveness
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Mania
  • Restlessness

In addition, one of the most troubling side effects of Strattera is that it increases suicidal thoughts and risk of suicide. Abusing it, then, increases this risk even further.

Many prescription drugs aren’t the sole drug of abuse, either. Often they are used with other substances, like alcohol, to increase or enhance the desired effects. However, most medications warn not to mix with alcohol and other substances, as this can lead to a number of complications including overdose.

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Other Risks Of Strattera Abuse

Substance abuse doesn’t always lead to addiction, but when you abuse drugs or alcohol for a prolonged period the risk of developing addiction increases. Addiction comes with its own set of risks, including tolerance.

When you abuse a substance, over time you may develop tolerance to the effects of it. In turn, you might start taking more and more to achieve the effects, which can increase the risk of overdose.

Addiction can also affect many different aspects of your life. At first, abuse might be manageable, but eventually, life with addiction becomes about seeking and abusing the substance. This can extend to family, relationships, work, finances, school, and more.

Abuse of Strattera could also lead to abuse of other drugs. Sometimes, when people begin abusing prescription drugs and no longer have access to the medication, they seek alternatives. And, of course, illicit drug abuse can lead to a number of consequences including addiction, the risk of overdose, and legal trouble.

What Can We Do?

To help combat the growing issue of abuse for drugs like Strattera, we can ensure safe administration of the medication—taking it as prescribed and only for the allotted amount of time. For those who have already fallen victim to abuse, the best chance they have to heal is treatment.

Rehab centers, like the ones we can connect you with, offer superior treatment methods to help you overcome addiction. Addiction is a complex disease which affects your emotional, mental, and physical health. Recovery plans should be comprehensive, working to address your individual needs.

Treatment Options For Strattera Abuse

Available treatments vary according to the rehab centers which offer them but may provide a number of methods so clients can build a treatment plan that works for them. For example, women have unique emotional needs during treatment. Women could greatly benefit from undergoing treatment at a facility that offers healing methods geared specifically for them.

Because addiction is a disease of the mind, much of treatment is spent teaching individuals to create positive lifestyle habits. Many rehab centers also include a fitness and nutrition plan as well, recognizing the importance of physical health to a person’s well-being overall.

The following are some of the proven effective methods offered at our rehab centers:

  • Gender-specific treatment
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Counseling
  • Adventure therapy
  • Aftercare support

Where To Find Treatment

Even though not all drugs have a high potential for abuse, we have to recognize the risks of any medication we take. Abusing some drugs can lead to abuse of other substances, and addiction can have far-reaching consequences. If you are struggling, let us help you find the treatment that is right for you. Contact us at to learn more.

Drug Free World - How Ritalin Abuse Starts

National Alliance On Mental Illness - Mental Health Medications: Atomoxetine (Strattera)

U.S. National Library Of Medicine - Atomoxetine

Mayo Clinic - Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

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