Prozac Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment
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Prozac is an antidepressant and the brand name for the drug fluoxetine. It is only available with a prescription and is FDA-approved to treat depression, bulimia, panic disorder, and OCD.
As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, also known as an SSRI, Prozac works by balancing the chemicals in the brain and inhibiting the absorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin. As a result, users can maintain a more positive and stable mood. When taken correctly under the supervision of a doctor, Prozac can improve mood, sleep, appetite, energy levels, and decrease feelings of depression, fear, anxiety, and panic.
Prozac can be used to treat adults and children over the age of 10 and is available in several different forms, including liquid, tablet, and capsule (delayed-release and long-acting). It is a popular antidepressant drug in the U.S., although several other effective medications exist for those with depression.
There are several negative side effects of long-term use of antidepressants like Prozac, and other antidepressants like Cymbalta, Trazodone, and Wellbutrin (bupropion) carry many of the same risks. Although Prozac is not classified as an addictive drug, it alters the mood of users and therefore, may be psychologically addictive. It can also cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and young adults under the age of 25.
Other brand names for fluoxetine include:
- Prozac Weekly
Yes, Prozac is a good medication for treating anxiety. Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is meant to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and multiple other anxiety disorders. Being an SSRI, Prozac works by stopping the brain from reabsorbing naturally appearing serotonin. This helps the brain maintain it’s serotonin levels, providing a more stable, improved communication with brain cells. Combining the medication along with regulated therapy has been proven very successful in studies with treating anxiety.
The following terms are street names or slang for Prozac:
- Wonder drug
- Miracle drug
- Happy pills
- Bottled smiles
Introduced in 1986, Prozac was initially hailed as a miracle cure for depression. It is the most widely used antidepressant in history and has been prescribed to 54 million people worldwide. However, despite its popularity, there are many reports of people abusing Prozac and taking it to solve personal problems, rather than as a treatment for clinical depression.
Prozac is not considered a chemically addictive drug but some people may develop a psychological addiction to it due to the way it affects mood and behavior. For example, some people may begin to believe that they need Prozac to sleep better or eat well. There have also been reports that Prozac helps people achieve weight loss, so a person may continue taking it for that purpose.
More than 15 million people in the U.S. abuse prescription drugs like Prozac. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 19,000 adolescents, 52,000 young adults, and 281,000 adults are current abusers of prescription sedatives like Prozac.
Any abuse of antidepressants like Prozac can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Examples of Prozac abuse may include:
- Taking Prozac with other drugs or alcohol
- Taking someone else’s Prozac prescription
- Faking symptoms to get a Prozac prescription
- “Doctor shopping” and getting multiple Prozac prescriptions
- Taking larger or more frequent doses of Prozac than needed
- Taking Prozac with the intent of getting high
- Using Prozac as a “quick fix” solution for life problems
Abusing Prozac comes with many dangerous side effects that can negatively impact your physical and psychological health. Common side effects of Prozac abuse include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Extreme drowsiness
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive sweating
Someone who has experienced previous substance abuse problems may have a higher risk of developing a psychological dependence and addiction to Prozac. Signs of a psychological dependence and addiction to Prozac may include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Problems sleeping
- Being overly talkative
- Incomplete thoughts
- Suicidal thoughts/behaviors
Behavioral signs of prescription drug abuse may also include:
- Frequent absences at work or school
- Losing a job
- Strained relationships
- Lack of interest in hobbies and social activities
- Financial problems
If you abuse an antidepressant like Prozac on a long-term basis, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit. This is a sign that your body has become dependent on the drug. At this point, you may also feel like you need Prozac to function normally.
Prozac has a longer half-life than other SSRIs and this means Prozac stays in the body longer. Patients that have been taking Prozac for longer periods of time will experience more of the side effects of the withdrawal than a patient who just started the medication. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Muscle aches and pains
- Memory problems
Since Prozac addiction is largely psychological, detox from Prozac may require professional medical and clinical care. A counselor or therapist can help you address the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes behind the substance abuse while you detox. This may help you get to the bottom of your Prozac addiction and develop solutions to change those behaviors and attitudes.
Enrolling in a Prozac detox program at a detox center will provide the safest, most comfortable, and most effective detox experience. You will receive medical and clinical care to relieve any uncomfortable physical side effects while also addressing the psychological issues associated with Prozac addiction.
Stopping prozac abruptly is not recommended. Suddenly stopping the medication can increase the chance of severe withdrawal symptoms, especially if the patient was prescribed with a higher dose of the medication. Physicians highly suggest gradually lowering the doses over time to make the withdrawal symptoms a little more comfortable. If you are considering stopping your medication, speak with your physician as soon as possible.
The Prozac withdrawal timeline will vary greatly from person to person and the duration of withdrawal is largely dependent on dosage size and how long you were abusing Prozac. For example, if you are taking regular high doses of Prozac, you are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms and they may be more severe. However, it is very difficult to predict when the withdrawal symptoms will begin to appear. Some people may experience withdrawal symptoms immediately after quitting Prozac, while others may not experience them until two weeks or more after.
Once you have completed a detox program for Prozac addiction, you may want to continue your addiction treatment and further address the psychological issues that led to your dependence and addiction in the first place. Drug rehab programs can provide behavioral treatment and peer support to help you overcome addictive behaviors and attitudes and sustain your sobriety for the long-term.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a rehab program of less than 90 days will have limited effectiveness. Although addiction recovery is an extremely individualized process, most people need a long-term addiction treatment regimen or at least 90 days of continuous treatment to achieve sustained sobriety.
During drug rehab, you will work with a professional team of treatment specialists to address the various aspects of addiction. This usually includes:
- Educational lectures about the disease of addiction
- 12-Step meetings
- Process group meetings
- Individual counseling
- Life skills development
- Relapse prevention work
The overall goal of drug rehab is for you to achieve the objectives listed above and return to your life as a productive and sober member of society.
There are two main types of drug rehab programs: inpatient rehab programs and outpatient rehab programs. Although neither type of program is better than the other, it’s important to choose the type of program that best meets your treatment needs. Here are the main differences between the two.
As a client in an inpatient or residential drug rehab program, you will:
- Temporarily live at the rehab center in gender-specific group housing while you complete your program
- Adhere to a structured daily schedule
- Attend daily meetings, counseling sessions, meal times, and exercise groups
- Attend a family program with your loved ones
- Attend individual counseling sessions
- Have access to medical and clinical care specialists 24/7
If you are enrolled in an outpatient drug rehab program, you will:
- Live at home while attending co-ed group rehab sessions (they will be facilitated at a safe, clinical location)
- Complete any treatment homework outside of your regular weekly sessions
- Continue attending school or work while you complete treatment (if you are in school or employed)
- Complete individual counseling
- Have limited access to medical and clinical care specialists
When choosing a rehab program, it’s also important to consider the cost of the program and your financial ability. Although the cost of an inpatient or outpatient rehab program will vary greatly depending on its location, amenities, recovery support services, and amenities, there are several different payment options you can use to cover the cost of treatment. They include:
- Health insurance benefits
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits
- Addiction treatment scholarships
- Credit cards
- Privately financed healthcare loans
- Crowdfunding (GoFundMe, etc.)
- Out-of-pocket payments
After rehab, there are still several treatment options that are designed to help you continue living a life of sobriety and support you through the challenges of early sobriety. Sober living programs and aftercare programs are two of the most common types of continued care programs offered.
Sober Living Programs
A sober living home is a gender-specific group home where people in recovery can live temporarily as they transition out of a residential treatment setting and into a more independent lifestyle.
Sober living programs provide sobriety support by offering a safe and comfortable living environment that is supportive of your sobriety. While enrolled in a program, you will live with other men or women who are in recovery, attend weekly house meetings and support group meetings, and adhere to any rules and regulations set by your sober living house management team.
Most sober living programs also provide additional recovery support programs like:
- Peer led recovery support programs
- Regular drug and alcohol testing
- Employment, volunteer, and education assistance
- Tiered recovery programming (to address the needs of clients in various stages of recovery)
The cost of a sober living program will vary depending on its location, the amenities offered, and the recovery support services provided.
The type of support provided by an aftercare program is designed to address the needs of rehab and sober living alumni in recovery. Aftercare typically consists of a series of weekly meetings were alumni meet to discuss the daily challenges of sobriety.
Each meeting is designed to be a safe, non-judgmental place where people in recovery can share their personal struggles and success and receive helpful feedback from like-minded people. Aftercare programs can provide much-needed camaraderie and support for clients as they transition out of a sober living program and into an independent lifestyle at home.
If you are struggling with Prozac abuse and addiction, there is help available for you. Call Nova Recovery Center today to start your recovery journey and achieve lasting sobriety in recovery.
Could you have an addiction to antidepressants?
Take this confidential antidepressants use disorder assessment.
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