Seroquel Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment
Medically reviewed byIsaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC
February 1, 2019
Commonly sold as Xeroquel, Ketipinor, and Hedonin, Seroquel was first approved for use in American markets in 1997. This medication is used for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders because of the way it interacts with serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. This drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction even when taken properly.
What Is Seroquel?
Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) is an anti-psychotic drug used in the treatment of schizophrenia in patients as young as 13 years, as well as bipolar disorder in adults and children over 10 years of age. Seroquel works as a mood enhancer and mood stabilizer, reducing the severity of symptoms associated both schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
Street names for Seroquel include:
- Baby heroin
How Seroquel Works
Seroquel works by affecting numerous neurotransmitters in the brain and body, and specifically dopamine and glutamate, two excitatory neurotransmitters. Those with schizophrenia appear to have elevated levels of dopamine in their system and abnormal levels of glutamate, which can lead to toxicity and impair brain development and function.
Seroquel works as a serotonin and dopamine antagonist, meaning it works to decrease the effects of these neurotransmitters in relaying messages in the brain and along the central nervous system.
The primary symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, including hearing voices, delusions, thought disorders, and repetitive motion. Seroquel works to “quell” excess levels of dopamine to reduce the severity of these excitatory nervous system responses. Seroquel restores balance to levels of neurotransmitters responding at any one time, reducing the side effects associated with an increase in the firing of nerve cells during neurotransmission.
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Schizophrenia And Seroquel Addiction
People with schizophrenia suffer a significantly higher incidence of addiction. Studies indicate that people with schizophrenia may be genetically more vulnerable to addiction, especially since schizophrenia appears to affect both dopamine and opioid receptors. There is also evidence to suggest those with schizophrenia may self medicate with drugs and alcohol to counter the effects of their illness. These two factors combined make those with schizophrenia far more susceptible to addiction.
Someone taking Seroquel who is suffering from schizophrenia may become addicted to the drug for the sedating qualities, which are similar to alcohol’s depressant effect. A person suffering from the paranoia inducing symptoms of schizophrenia, upon seeing relief from these symptoms, may feel compelled to increase their dose or take the drug more frequently.
Dangers Of Seroquel Abuse
Though there is no reported danger of physical addiction to Seroquel, studies indicate Seroquel, more than other anti-psychotic medications, results more often in addiction. The drug’s use for calming aggressive behaviors in prison populations, has highlighted the drug’s addictive nature. That said, the two populations being studied include prison populations and those within psychiatric institutions, where overall addiction rates are normally intrinsically higher. Unlike other drugs which elevate dopamine levels, affecting the brain’s reward system, Seroquel has the opposite effect.
Instead, it is likely that drugs like Seroquel have a particular psychological appeal to those who are already in high risk categories for addiction. Someone taking the drug will benefit from clearer thinking, and potentially less anxiety and fear-inducing paranoia. Similar to the sedative effect of cannabis, it is even used to treat withdrawal symptoms relating to cannabis use. Someone could become reliant on the drug to feel some semblance of normal.
Withdrawal symptoms from Seroquel include insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, headache, and anxiety. Someone may be compelled to continue use of the medication to avoid these symptoms. As with any anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel should be tapered gradually under medical supervision to avoid severe withdrawal side effects.
Adverse Health Effects Of Seroquel
There is a long list of potential side effects that accompanies use of Seroquel. These side effects range from the less severe headaches, constipation, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and insomnia, to more severe side effects including feelings of restlessness, dangerous drops in blood pressure, trouble breathing, muscle spasms, confusion, and thoughts of suicide.
A person abusing Seroquel and taking the drugs in higher doses than recommended is at risk for an irreversible movement disorder similar to Parkinson’s Disease. They may also see elevated blood pressure, which can put them at greater risk of heart attack or stroke. Overdose of Seroquel can be fatal. Someone suffering from overdose to the drug may lose consciousness, have a fast and weak heart rate, and may become comatose.
Seroquel side effects may include:
- gastrointestinal upset
- weight gain
- stomach pain
- rigid muscles or increased muscle tone
- high fever
- blurred vision
- flu-like symptoms
- uncontrolled movements
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