Antidepressant Addiction and Abuse

Antidepressants change the brain’s chemical makeup to treat mood disorders like depression. Those who abuse antidepressants might be struggling with an addiction to another substance.

Start the road to recovery

(877) 746-0480

Call Now

Treatment Center Locator

Steps Recovery Center

Payson, UT

Full Spectrum of Care

877-696-0054

United Recovery Project

Hollywood, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

877-586-7043

Beachside Rehab

Fort Pierce, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

888-452-3049

The Refuge, A Healing Place

Ocklawaha, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

855-990-1029

Enlightened Solutions

Egg Harbor City, NJ

Multiple Levels of Care

855-408-7163

Recovery Unplugged Austin Rehab Center

Austin, TX

Multiple Levels of Care

844-817-9493

The Recovery Team

Lake Park, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

844-999-2545

Bradford Recovery Center

Millerton, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-769-9928

Sober Life San Diego

San Diego, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

866-667-8629

SUWS of the Carolinas

Old Fort, NC

Residential

844-811-2644

Sierra Tucson

Tucson, AZ

Full Spectrum of Care

855-889-6553

1st Step Behavioral Health

Pompano Beach, FL

Full Spectrum of Care

844-334-8400

Azure Acres Recovery

Sebastopol, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

877-872-7360

Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center

Ball Ground, GA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-498-9407

Rebound Behavioral Health Hospital

Lancaster, SC

Multiple Levels of Care

855-336-7623

The Poseidon Method

Mykonos, Greece

Full Spectrum of Care

202-370-7462

Pacific Grove Hospital

Riverside, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-801-1534

Recovery Unplugged Austin Treatment Center

Austin, TX

Full Spectrum of Care

844-291-5968

Pocono Mountain Recovery Center

Henryville, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-589-1547

Recovery First Treatment Center – Hollywood

Hollywood, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

888-603-7860

Pinnacle Peak Recovery

Scottsdale, AZ

Multiple Levels of Care

844-225-8937

Harbor Oaks Hospital

New Balitmore, MI

Inpatient

866-468-6148

Mount Regis Center

Salem, VA

Multiple Levels of Care

877-539-2026

Cove Forge Behavioral Health Center

Williamsburg, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-225-6578

Ambrosia Treatment Center – Northeast

Philadelphia, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

866-970-0918

Dana Point Rehab Campus

Dana Point, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

866-944-2609

The Haven Detox

West Palm Beach, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

855-409-5866

Life Center of Galax

Galax, VA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-428-7940

Huntington Creek Recovery Center

Shickshinny, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-892-1288

Northeast Addiction Treatment Center

Quincy, MA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-831-4406

Carus Recovery

Van Nuys, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

888-616-9024

North Tampa Behavioral Health

Tampa, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

844-870-8069

Wilmington Treatment Center

Wilmington, NC

Multiple Levels of Care

877-257-1203

The Harrison House of Northern Virginia

Annandale, VA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-734-4364

Cornerstone Healing Center

Scottsdale, AZ

Multiple Levels of Care

844-931-1105

Amethyst Recovery

Port St. Lucie, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

888-965-6726

Recovery Unplugged – Austin Detox

Austin, TX

Detox

855-958-1650

Indiana Center for Recovery

Bloomington, IN

Full Spectrum of Care

866-657-4490

America’s Rehab Campuses

Tucson, AZ

Multiple Levels of Care

877-484-7367

Treasure Valley Recovery

Nampa, ID

Multiple Levels of Care

855-248-2193

New England Recovery & Wellness

Concord, NH

Multiple Levels of Care

844-408-1433

Lakeview Behavioral Health Hospital

Norcross, GA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-337-9509

Denver Recovery Center

Denver, CO

Multiple Levels of Care

855-729-4891

Northbound Treatment Services

Newport Beach, CA

Full Spectrum of Care

877-918-9085

Sunflower Wellness Retreat

Osawatomie, KS

Multiple Levels of Care

888-411-9183

Oceanside Malibu

Malibu, CA

Full Spectrum of Care

866-275-3956

Timberline Knolls for Women

Lemont, IL

Multiple Levels of Care

855-200-8406

Asana Recovery

Costa Mesa, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

877-899-6056

Wellness Counseling & Residential Detox

Stuart, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

855-937-0191

Ambrosia Treatment Center

West Palm Beach, FL

Inpatient

866-970-0918

Recovery Unplugged Fort Lauderdale

Fourt Lauderdale, FL

Full Spectrum of Care

855-900-6613

Bowling Green Brandywine

Kennett Square, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-797-7507

Twelve Oaks Recovery Center

Navarre, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

844-885-1218

Riverwalk Ranch

Mansfield, TX

Multiple Levels of Care

866-634-7479

Delta Med Center

Memphis, TN

Outpatient

877-235-0382

Future Now Detox

Palm Springs, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

877-325-0525

Duffy’s Napa Valley Rehab

Calistoga, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-766-4576

The Camp Recovery Center

Scotts Valley, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

877-282-5771

Bluff Plantation

Augusta, GA

Inpatient

855-331-2490

Clear Life Recovery

Costa Mesa, CA

Full Spectrum of Care

888-638-7182

White Deer Run

Allenwood, PA

Multiple Levels of Care

877-638-3697

Starlite Recovery Center

Center Point, TX

Multiple Levels of Care

855-349-1116

Ambrosia Treatment Center – Westcoast

Beverly Hills, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

866-970-0918

SOBA New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ

Multiple Levels of Care

888-341-1174

Southeast Addiction Center

Atlanta, GA

Multiple Levels of Care

855-614-6174

Recovery Unplugged Lake Worth Detox, Rehab, and Treatment Center

Lake Worth, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

888-283-0199

Moonlight Mountain Recovery

Pocatello, ID

Multiple Levels of Care

866-831-4706

Recovery First Treatment Center – Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Multiple Levels of Care

888-603-7860

Silver Lining Recovery

Huntington Beach, CA

Multiple Levels of Care

844-940-0031

Greenleaf Behavioral Health Hospital

Valdosta, GA

Multiple Levels of Care

866-692-1694

Keystone Treatment Center

Canton, SD

Multiple Levels of Care

855-417-3666

Recovery Unplugged Nashville

Nashville, TN

Full Spectrum of Care

877-463-0080

Addiction to Antidepressants

Antidepressant Antidepressants aren’t addictive in the same way substances like alcohol and heroin are. Those abusing antidepressants do not experience the cravings that other drugs cause, nor do they experience the euphoria, exhibit addictive behaviors, or experience the negative consequences that someone frequently sees with many other drugs.

People can still develop a physical dependence on the antidepressants. Individuals with depression are also more likely to abuse other drugs.

Antidepressant dependence can form in people who never needed the drugs in the first place. Some people are incorrectly diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants. According to one study, doctors misdiagnosed almost two-thirds of patients with depression and prescribed unnecessary antidepressants.

Antidepressant Addiction Vs. Dependence

Antidepressant dependence is a state of adaptation caused by regularly taking a medication where a specific withdrawal syndrome can be produced by abrupt discontinuation of use or rapid dose reduction.

Antidepressant addiction is a primary, chronic, neurobiological disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors that influence its development and manifestation. It is characterized by behaviors that include at least one or more of the following: impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving. Drug addiction is a treatable disease, utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, but relapse is common.

Are Antidepressants Addictive?

Doctors generally do not consider antidepressants to be addictive in the traditional sense. Antidepressants can absolutely can cause physical dependence as evidenced by the withdrawal symptoms stopping or reducing antidepressants can cause. People who suddenly stop taking antidepressants often have withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, hand tremors and depression.

However, very few people give up their daily responsibilities to find anti-depressants because the reward is not big enough; there is no euphoric rush of dopamine from taking antidepressants. There are no cravings, no hazardous behaviors, no examples of prolonged addictive behavior for antidepressants.

People do try to abuse antidepressants, especially Wellbutrin, by snorting them, but that does not create an addiction. It is usually done when no other substances are available to give the user a placebo type effect when they are craving their actual drug of choice.

Although there are risks with taking antidepressants, these medications help many people live better, more functional lives. Those prescribed antidepressants should never stop taking their medication without first speaking to a doctor.

What Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are prescription medications used to treat moderate to severe depression. The most common forms of antidepressant medication are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

SSRIs treat depression by changing the brain’s chemical balance of serotonin. This chemical impacts mood and helps users feel positive about their lives. SNRIs similarly boost mood by interacting with norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. Doctors also prescribe antidepressants to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Antidepressants are most often available as oral tablets or capsules. Common antidepressants include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

Antidepressant Effects and Abuse

Antidepressants are among the most prescribed medications in the United States. Many doctors prescribe SSRI and SNRI antidepressants as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines. (Many also prescribe Buspar as a safer alternative to benzodiazepines as it specifically treats anxiety disorders.) Doctors consider antidepressants safer because the drugs have less potential for abuse. Despite this, some people abuse antidepressant medications.

A small but growing literature on the misuse and abuse of antidepressants consists largely of case reports. […] The most commonly reported motivation for abuse is to achieve a psychostimulant-like effect.

- Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, Abuse and Misuse of Antidepressants, 2014

Antidepressants don’t have the euphoric effects other drugs have. In other words, antidepressants can’t get you high. That doesn’t stop some people from trying, though. Some people think that since antidepressants improve mood, high doses must induce euphoria, but that is not how the drugs work.

Antidepressants work over time, accumulating in the brain. They don’t produce immediate effects. It can take over a month before an antidepressant starts working.

Most antidepressant abuse is typically someone increasing their prescribed dose when they feel like the drug isn’t working fast enough. Some people combine antidepressants with other substances like alcohol in an attempt to amplify the medication’s effects. Over time, antidepressants can stop working for those who truly need them. This can lead some users to increase their doses when they can’t find the relief they need on what was prescribed.

I start to get the feeling that something is really wrong. Like all the drugs put together – the lithium, the Prozac, the desipramine, and Desyrel that I take to sleep at night – can no longer combat whatever it is that was wrong with me in the first place.

- Author Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation, 1994

Like most drugs, taking large doses of antidepressants can be dangerous and can also increase the likelihood of seizures. People abusing antidepressants increase their risk of overdosing.

Ready to get help?

Don’t waste another second. Enter your number to receive a call
from a compassionate treatment expert.

Make a Call (855) 826-4464

- OR -

Request a Call
(877) 746-0480

Signs of Antidepressant Overdose

Signs of an antidepressant overdose can include any or all of the following:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Convulsions

Common Drug Combinations

Alcohol is one of the most common substances combined with antidepressants. Doctors recommend avoiding alcohol while taking antidepressants. People who already suffer from another addiction, such as alcoholism, are more likely to abuse antidepressants.

Combining alcohol and antidepressants can cause severe physical and mental health problems, including:

  • Worsened depression or anxiety
  • Intense sedation
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Impaired coordination
  • Overdose

Some find it hard to wait for their antidepressants to start working. During this wait, people suffering from depression may self-medicate with other drugs such as marijuana and opiates.

Questions about treatment?

Get confidential help 24/7. Call now for:

  • Access to top treatment centers
  • Caring, supportive guidance
  • Financial assistance options
(855) 826-4464

Have you been affected by OxyContin®?

There may be a settlement available

Make a Call (855) 935-4660

- OR -

Get more information now Learn More

Antidepressant Addiction Statistics

10

percent

10 percent of Americans take antidepressant medication.

60

percent

More than 60 percent of Americans on antidepressants have taken them for 2 years or longer.

400

percent

The rate of antidepressant use in the U.S. increased by almost 400 percent between 2005-2008.

Getting Help for Antidepressant Addiction and Abuse

It can be dangerous to quit antidepressants, especially if a doctor prescribed them. Quitting any antidepressant requires careful medical supervision. It is absolutely essential not to quit any antidepressant without help. If you think antidepressants have taken control of your life, contact one of our treatment providers to learn about your treatment options today.

 

Treatment professionals are waiting for your call

(855) 826-4464

Take control of your life

Our treatment providers offer 24/7 assistance.

  • Access to top treatment centers
  • Caring, supportive guidance
  • Financial assistance options

Call now:

(855) 826-4464

OR

Have us call you:

(877) 746-0480

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by one of our treatment partners below.

All calls are private and confidential. Find out more about Addiction Center.

A treatment facility paid to have their center promoted here. Learn more about how to be featured in a paid listing.