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Strattera Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

What is Strattera (Atomoxetine)?

Strattera is a brand name for the drug atomoxetine, which is a drug that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Strattera differs from most other ADHD drugs because it’s not a stimulant. It belongs to a class of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which are typically used to treat depression.1

Strattera is a relatively new drug that came out in 2002 and a generic version was introduced in 2017. It is FDA-approved to treat ADHD but nothing else. It is considered a relatively safe and effective drug, and research studies show that it controls ADHD as well as many other stimulant medications, without some of the side effects. It’s most often used by people who cannot or don’t want to use stimulant medications

Strattera has a lower potential for abuse because unlike other ADHD medications, it won’t make the user feel energized and alert. However, like all prescription drugs, it does have some risks and may be misused.

How Does Strattera Work?

Strattera works by blocking the brain from reabsorbing serotonin and norepinephrine to regulate mood and behavior. As a result, it also helps people concentrate, stay focused for longer periods, and decreases impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Strattera comes in a capsule form that is available in 10, 18, 25, 40, and 60 mg strengths. It is intended to be taken orally, usually in two doses: one in the morning and one in the evening. 

Upon first starting Strattera use, the effects can take several weeks to start working. After about a month, the dose can be increased if necessary, but a doctor will determine the most effective dose with trial and error. Patients using Strattera should not crush, chew, or break the capsules and it should only be taken in the prescribed dosage amount.2

Is Strattera Addictive?

Strattera is a non-stimulant drug so it doesn’t produce any feelings of euphoria and users won’t feel a Strattera high when they take it. As such, it does not currently have a known risk for addiction. It is not scheduled as a controlled substance in the U.S.

However, it could potentially lead to addiction to other drugs. In some instances, the brain changes caused by Strattera could cause someone to become psychologically addicted and they may develop a need to continue taking it in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed.

If you abuse Strattera for a long time, you’ll develop a tolerance to its effects. Meaning, you’ll need more of it to experience the same effects. Taking larger and more frequent doses may be the only way to get the desired effects, but doing so also increases your risk for overdose.

Additionally, sometimes people start abusing prescription drugs like Strattera and then they no longer have access to it. So, instead, they seek out alternatives, such as other addictive prescription drugs or illegal drugs that are easier to get. This can contribute to the risk of overdose and lead to legal problems, relational difficulties, financial problems, and severe substance use disorders.

How Common Is Strattera Addiction?

Strattera addiction is not common, as it has a very low potential for abuse.3 However, prescription drugs are rarely the only drugs of abuse if someone is misusing substances. Most people who abuse prescription drugs do so alongside other addictive substances, like alcohol or illegal drugs.

What Are the Side Effects of Strattera Abuse?

Strattera can produce some negative side effects, much like other medications. However, if it is abused, these side effects can be exacerbated. Common side effects of Strattera abuse in children and teens include:4

  • Upset stomach
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings

Common side effects of Strattera abuse in adults include:4

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue 
  • Mood swings
  • Sexual side effects
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Problems passing urine

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Strattera Addiction?

Although Strattera addiction is very rare, if someone becomes psychologically addicted to it, he or she may start to display some of the following behavioral signs:

  • Visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions for Strattera
  • Faking or lying about symptoms to get Strattera from a doctor
  • Lying about taking Strattera
  • Worrying about getting the next dose of Strattera
  • Developing a tolerance (needing larger or more frequent doses of Strattera to achieve the same effects)
  • Continuing to abuse Strattera despite the harmful physical side effects, emotional problems, and social consequences
  • Trying to stop using Strattera but being unable to

What Are the Symptoms of Strattera Withdrawal?

Unlike other stimulant ADHD drugs like Adderall or Ritalin, Strattera withdrawal symptoms do not occur when a person stops using it. This is because it doesn’t affect the user’s dopamine levels. Instead, it works by increasing levels of norepinephrine. Since there are no Strattera withdrawal symptoms, there is also no dreaded “Strattera crash” like there often is with other prescription stimulants. 

As such, someone who is experiencing psychological Strattera addiction is unlikely to need a medical detox program to stop using it. Although Strattera detox is not necessary, substance abuse therapy in an inpatient or outpatient Strattera rehab program may be required to overcome the addiction.

How Long Does Strattera Stay In Your System?

So, how long does it take for Strattera to work? And how long does Strattera last when you take it?

Once the right dose is achieved, it can take about four to eight weeks for Strattera to start working.5 It is effective for 24 hours after it is taken.

Strattera’s half-life is about 5 hours.6 It takes several half-lives for the drug to be completely eliminated from your system and the half-life will vary from person to person due to differences in rates of metabolism and other individual factors.

If you take a drug test, Strattera may be detectable in your system. Below, we’ve listed the approximate drug detection times for Strattera based on the type of test.

  • Urine – 1 to a few days after the last dose
  • Blood – up to 3 days after the last dose
  • Hair – up to 90 days after the last dose

How To Stop Taking Strattera

Although Strattera addiction is very uncommon, it may still occur among some users. If you’re psychologically addicted to Strattera or you’ve started misusing other prescription drugs with it, you might need professional help to stop taking Strattera. 

Depending on the severity of your Strattera addiction and abuse, your substance abuse history, and your treatment needs as determined by your doctor, a Strattera treatment program such as IOP or residential rehab may be necessary.

There are several different types of Strattera treatment programs that provide varying levels of structure and support for those that need it. These Strattera rehab programs are designed by substance abuse treatment experts and facilitated by medical and clinical professionals who apply evidence-based and research-based addiction treatment methods and therapies. 

During treatment, staff will help you address the underlying causes of your addiction, make positive life changes and modify your behavior, and establish healthy strategies for dealing with cravings, relapse, and other high-risk situations you may face outside of treatment.

Strattera Addiction Treatment Options


During residential rehab clients:
Live on-site at the treatment facility throughout the Strattera rehab programAgree to adhere to the rules set forth by staff at the facility during their time in treatmentAttend individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy regularlyParticipate in recovery group discussions, process groups, and recovery-related social activitiesAre allowed to have visitors and take or make phone calls and emails, but these activities must be planned and are somewhat restricted

During outpatient rehab clients:
Live at a sober living home or at home while they complete their rehab programAgree to adhere to the rules set forth by the staff of the treatment programAttend in-person or online group counseling sessions a few times a weekMaintain other personal responsibilities while they complete treatmentComplete recovery-related assignments independentlyParticipate in activities during groups sessions

Depending on what type of Strattera rehab program you choose, the cost may vary greatly. This is usually due to factors like the treatment program’s location, amenities, and services offered. 

Most Strattera treatment programs will accept health insurance benefits, which can help reduce the overall cost of treatment. Depending on your insurance policy and coverage, a portion of your Strattera treatment program may be covered. 

If you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to explore alternative payment options for rehab, such as:

What Are Continued Care Options for Strattera Addiction?

After you complete a Strattera rehab program, you may also want to continue your addiction treatment with a support program like sober living or aftercare.

Sober Living Programs

Sober living programs provide a safe, comfortable, and substance-free living space for men and women in recovery. Traditionally, these homes are gender-specific and many offer LGBTQ living spaces or pet-friendly homes too.

In addition to offering a safe home for newly sober people, sober living programs also provide recovery support services, such as:

  • Regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Certified peer recovery support programs
  • Phased and individualized recovery programming
  • Employment assistance
  • Volunteer placement
  • Educational planning
  • Access to IOP and clinical care services through a third-party provider

Although health insurance providers don’t cover the cost of sober living programs, many sober living homes are affordable housing options for people in recovery. Some also provide scholarships or financial assistance for those who need it.

Aftercare Programs

Sometimes, transitional life experiences or changes can make maintaining sobriety difficult due to excess stress and other factors. In these instances, an aftercare program can provide much-needed support and assistance.

Aftercare programs offer structured accountability with weekly meetings, discussions, and sober support from peers and professionals. Group discussions revolve around recovery-related topics and serve to enhance personal growth and help clients cope with cravings, manage stress, and navigate high-risk situations without compromising their sobriety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Strattera addiction, there has never been a better time to get help. Repeated misuse of prescription drugs can lead to all kinds of physical, psychological, and life problems, but we are here to help. Please call (512) 605-2955 today to learn more about Strattera treatment options at Nova Recovery Center.

References:

  1. https://www.rxlist.com/strattera-drug.htm 
  2. https://www.drugs.com/strattera.html 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579642/ 
  4. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/021411s004s012s013s015s021lbl.pdf 
  5. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Atomoxetine-(Strattera) 
  6. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2002/21411_strattera_lbl.pdf

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