Mirtazapine (Remeron) Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Remeron is the brand name of the generic drug, mirtazapine. It is a prescription drug and an antidepressant that is used to treat depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other anxiety disorders.1 When used to treat depression, it works by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain.
Many people who are prescribed Remeron for depression start out taking a single 15 mg dose per day for a period of 40 days. The drug typically makes people feel happier, less anxious, and less nervous. It also helps them eat more regularly and sleep better. Although most antidepressant drugs have many negative side effects, Remeron produces less severe side effects than other drugs in its class.
Mirtazapine isn’t considered to be an addictive drug and it won’t produce feelings of being high when it is abused. However, many people misuse the drug because it boosts their mood and produces feelings of calmness. People may also take larger doses of Remeron to counteract the effects of stimulant drugs.
People who take Remeron for depression or the treatment of other disorders should not take it with any other central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines, alcohol, or other antidepressant drugs.
Although Remeron and Xanax are both used to treat anxiety, they are not the same drug. First, Xanax does not belong in the same class of drugs as Remeron: Xanax is a benzodiazepine and Remeron is a tetracyclic antidepressant.
Xanax and Remeron also have different uses. For example, Xanax can be used to treat panic attacks in addition to anxiety. Remeron can be used to treat several different ailments, ranging from anxiety to depression, nausea, PTSD, and may even be prescribed to stimulate appetite in patients with anorexia.
Remeron and Xanax also have different effects on the body, with Xanax carrying many more possible negative side effects than Remeron.2
Most people who abuse mirtazapine do so by taking larger doses of the drug to feel its effects faster. They may also use it with other depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines to increase the high or to counteract the negative side effects of cocaine and other stimulants.
Although mirtazapine isn’t considered an addictive drug, it can cause physical dependence and withdrawal, especially when it is misused for extended periods. Some negative side effects of Remeron include weight gain, drowsiness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, which may all be intensified if Remeron is abused.
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 16.9 million Americans ages 12 or older misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs like mirtazapine at least once in the past year. That’s 6.2 percent of the U.S. population.3
Of those 16.9 million Americans who abused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs:
- 9.9 million also misused prescription pain relievers,
- 5.1 million also abused prescription stimulants,
- and 6.4 million also misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives.3
The best way to prevent mirtazapine abuse and addiction is to take the medication exactly as prescribed by a doctor or seek out alternative holistic options that may help treat depression or anxiety.
People who abuse mirtazapine may exhibit some of the following signs and behaviors:
- Taking larger doses of Remeron than was prescribed
- Taking Remeron for longer than prescribed
- Taking Remeron without a valid prescription
- Taking Remeron with other drugs or alcohol
- “Losing” prescriptions for Remeron
- Seeing multiple doctors to get several Remeron prescriptions
- Faking symptoms or asking a doctor for Remeron specifically
People who abuse mirtazapine may experience some of the following side effects:4
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain
- Body aches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal ideation
- Cognitive problems
Once a person becomes physically dependent on mirtazapine, he or she may begin showing some signs of addiction, such as:
- Wanting to cut back on mirtazapine use but being unable to
- Needing more frequent or larger doses of mirtazapine to feel the same effects (developing a tolerance)
- Spending a great deal of time getting mirtazapine, using it, or recovering from using it
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of mirtazapine wear off
- Continuing to misuse mirtazapine even when it causes problems in relationships, at work, school, or in other areas of life
If a person takes too much mirtazapine, he or she may overdose. The risk of overdose is also higher if a person takes Remeron with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or anti-anxiety medications. Signs of mirtazapine overdose include:5
- Cardiac arrest
- Low blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Extreme drowsiness
Remeron overdose can also be fatal as it can cause respiratory depression and death.
Mirtazapine withdrawal symptoms can be severely uncomfortable, making it very difficult to quit without medical assistance. Mirtazapine withdrawal symptoms may include:6
- Racing thoughts
- Sleep changes or insomnia
- Flu-like symptoms
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased appetite
- Mood swings
- Tingling of the skin
- Suicidal thoughts
Quitting Remeron cold turkey is likely to result in longer-lasting, more intense withdrawal symptoms so it’s highly recommended that people who are addicted to mirtazapine seek out professional help to detox instead of trying to go it alone.
Not only are addicted individuals more likely to sustain their sobriety with a medical detox program, but they are also less likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms and relapse. They are also more likely to stick with a long-term addiction recovery program as they will have access to ongoing professional support.
If you are addicted to mirtazapine, a medical detox program is a great way to start your addiction treatment regimen. Not only is it the safest and most effective way to stop abusing antidepressants, but it will also greatly improve your chances of staying sober long-term.
Mirtazapine withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person depending on how long you took it, your dosage, your physiology, and the method you used to quit, such as quitting cold turkey or tapering.
The duration and severity of Remeron withdrawal symptoms will also vary depending on the factors listed above, so it’s always safest to detox with medical assistance, whether it’s with the guidance of your doctor or at a drug detox center.
Remeron withdrawal may be different for every person that experiences it and there is no exact timeline for the process. However, most people experience extreme reductions in withdrawal symptoms sometime between two weeks and four months after their last dose. While this is a large range of time, working with a doctor or a medical detox team will help make the process shorter and easier.
Just because mirtazapine withdrawal symptoms have subsided, doesn’t mean you are fully “recovered.” In fact, most addicted individuals need at least 90 days of continuous addiction treatment to drastically reduce or stop abusing substances long-term.7 Enrolling in a drug rehab program is a great way to continue your personalized addiction treatment once you’ve completed detox.
Drug rehab is a very valuable aspect of treatment because it provides continuous support and structure during the very early stages of addiction recovery. In addition, it also provides relapse prevention education, life skills and tools, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and more to help you continue a lifestyle of sobriety long after your treatment program is over.
Although every drug rehab center is different, high-quality rehab programs utilize evidence-based treatment methods such as:
- Group counseling
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling/workshops
- Educational lectures
- 12-Step Program or similar recovery meetings
- Group exercise
- Life skills development
- Music therapy
- Art therapy
By using a variety of evidence-based treatment methods, addiction treatment professionals can provide individualized care based on each client’s needs. This whole-person approach aids in a full and lasting recovery that extends far beyond physical abstinence. Instead, it’s treatment that invites a full person transformation involving body, mind, and soul. This type of treatment is what will lead to lasting, permanent change.
If you are searching for a Remeron addiction treatment program, inpatient and outpatient rehab two of the most common types of programs. While both are recovery-focused and highly effective, there are some differences between the two. If you’re not sure which type of drug rehab program is best for you, a treatment professional can help you decide.
In residential rehab, clients:
In outpatient rehab, clients:
Many people choose to complete both inpatient and outpatient treatment after detox to receive a more comprehensive treatment regimen and long-term support that extends beyond the very early stages of recovery. This process often includes detox, residential rehab, outpatient rehab (IOP), sober living, aftercare, and/or a personal monitoring program.
Although addiction treatment can sometimes be costly, many programs are affordable and offer several different forms of payment to reduce the financial burden. These may include:
- Paying for rehab with health insurance benefits
- Using employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to find affordable treatment
- Getting financed healthcare loans
- Using low-interest or no-interest credit cards
- Using HSA funds to pay for rehab
After drug rehab, you may also want to consider enrolling in some type of ongoing treatment that provides recovery support. Sober living programs and aftercare are both excellent options that offer peer support, accountability, and services tailored to people in all stages of recovery.
Sober Living Programs
A sober living program is a type of addiction recovery program that provides safe, affordable, and sober housing for people who are recovering from substance use disorders. Many people who live in these homes have just completed rehab and need additional support or do not have a stable and sober living environment to return to at home.
Sober living houses are located in various cities and towns all over the United States and many provide apartment-style housing or shared residential spaces that are already furnished. Many also offer a variety of recovery support services, including:
- Peer recovery support
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- Individualized recovery programming
- Educational planning
- Employment assistance
- Volunteer placement
Depending on the location, amenities, staff, and support services offered, the cost of a sober living home can vary greatly. However, tenants generally make payments once a month.
Aftercare programs offer continuous support for individuals who have recently completed rehab or who are experiencing challenging life circumstances. Programs consist of weekly outpatient meetings that are hosted in a safe clinical setting.
Clients attend group meetings, which are designed to be safe and supportive spaces that encourage open communication. Conversation and group discussion often revolves around current challenges in recovery, ongoing issues, relapse prevention, and family/peer dynamics.
Aftercare is ideal for people who have established a life in recovery as it offers ongoing peer support, learning opportunities, and clinical care in a sober and accepting environment.
If you are addicted to Remeron, you can start over and live a fulfilling sober life with the right support. When you’re ready to accept help and get sober, call (512) 605-2955 to speak with a representative at Nova Recovery Center today.
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