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Seroquel Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment

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

Medically reviewed by

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

April 16, 2019

Seroquel is an antipsychotic medication used to treat symptoms of some mental disorders. People who abuse Seroquel are at significant risk for developing addiction.

What Is Seroquel?

Seroquel is a brand name for the medication, quetiapine fumarate, prescribed to individuals diagnosed with bipolar 1, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. Seroquel is approved to treat bipolar and schizophrenia in patients as young as thirteen, and major depressive disorder in adults.

Quetiapine fumarate is part of the dibenzothiazepine derived class of chemicals. Seroquel is considered a second generation, atypical, antipsychotic. Seroquel acts on neurotransmitters in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin, and by doing so, is believed to restore some of the balance within the brain.

Seroquel is available in a tablet, with either immediate-release or extended-release options. It may be used on its own or in addition to other medications to treat symptoms of mood disorders and other mental health diagnoses.

Like other prescription medications, Seroquel has been abused for non-medical and recreational purposes. Seroquel is known on the street by several names, including suzie-Q, baby heroin, quell, and snoozeberry. The combination of Seroquel and cocaine is referred to as a Q-ball.

Seroquel Abuse

When Seroquel is taken as prescribed it reduces hallucinations, improves concentration, increases energy levels, and many report feeling increased levels of overall positivity. Overall, Seroquel minimizes the occurrence of mood swings and reduce the severity when they occur.

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People prescribed Seroquel have reported abusing Seroquel in an attempt to increase the positive outcome, while others have taken it recreationally in order to boost mood. Taking Seroquel in a way other than prescribed, or with other drugs or alcohol, is considered substance abuse.

Abusing Seroquel puts a person at risk for developing tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Signs Of Seroquel Abuse

When a person takes high doses of Seroquel, they are at increased risk for side effects, especially the negative effects of the drug.

A person abusing Seroquel may experience some of the following:

  • lethargic or sluggish
  • constipation
  • upset stomach
  • increased hunger/weight gain
  • dizziness
  • increased heart rate
  • sore throat
  • sinus inflammation
  • decrease sex drive
  • erectile dysfunction
  • high cholesterol
  • low blood pressure (in adults)
  • high blood pressure (in adolescents and children)
  • track marks near veins

Some of these side effects are a result of taking Seroquel in a way that is not prescribed, like crushing and snorting or injecting Seroquel.

Abusing Seroquel increases the risk of overdose, seizures, delirium, irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and diabetes. Mixing Seroquel with other drugs or alcohol can decrease the positive effects and increase the negative effects of Seroquel, and is strongly discouraged.

Seroquel Addiction

Abusing Seroquel can lead to a dependence on the drug. This is the result of the person believing they cannot function normally without Seroquel. Being dependent on Seroquel is not the same as being addicted to Seroquel, but it can lead to addiction.

When the mind becomes dependent on any substance, it alters the wiring in the brain. Over time, the chemical changes strengthen neuronal pathways and symptoms of addiction begin to emerge. These changes can be permanent without proper intervention and treatment.

Seroquel Addiction Symptoms

Behaviors that occur in a person struggling with Seroquel addiction may include:

  • disregarding responsibilities to use Seroquel
  • avoiding people and places where Seroquel use isn’t accepted
  • hiding or lying about how much Seroquel a person is taking
  • having several prescriptions or doctors prescribing Seroquel
  • continuing to use Seroquel despite the negative impact
  • unable to stop or decrease the amount of Seroquel they are taking
  • overdosing on Seroquel
  • experiencing withdrawal when attempting to stop taking Seroquel

Seroquel Withdrawal

Seroquel should never be stopped abruptly. Stopping a medication like Seroquel quickly can result in withdrawal symptoms that are extremely uncomfortable, even in people who take it as prescribed.

The longer a person has been abusing high doses of Seroquel, the more intense the symptoms will be.

These withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • cardiac palpitations
  • hallucinations
  • fatigue
  • vomiting
  • itchy skin
  • depression
  • migraines
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • irritability
  • psychosis

These Seroquel withdrawal symptoms can be properly managed with the right detoxification program, as part of a substance abuse treatment regimen.

Seroquel Addiction Treatment Options

Detoxification is usually the first part of treating a Seroquel addiction. During this phase of treatment, medical professionals supervise residents to provide intervention methods and medication on an as-needed basis to ease the symptoms of withdrawal.

Also during detox, medical professionals and addiction specialists may determine the presence of co-occurring disorders and how to treat them alongside substance abuse treatment.

After detox is complete, residents are encouraged to continue into a substance abuse treatment program to explore the nature of their addiction, and how to cope in an appropriate and productive manner.

Food and Drug Administration - Seroquel Label

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Understanding Drug Use and Addiction

Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology - Use of quetiapine XR and quetiapine IR in clinical practice for hospitalized patients with schizophrenia: a retrospective study

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica - Does antipsychotic withdrawal provoke psychosis?

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