Surprisingly enough, Lexapro abuse and addiction is becoming much more common in the United States. This drug is available by prescription only, and it can be sold under the generic name, escitalopram. Doctors prescribe it to treat anxiety and depression.
Lexapro is classified as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). It works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the body. For those who take this drug for depression and anxiety, it can be very effective. But more and more people are choosing to abuse it; some of them without any knowledge that doing so could be dangerous.
More people need to be made aware of how dangerous and even addictive Lexapro can be. They also need to know how to get help if they do become addicted.
Normally, Lexapro is a medication that’s given in various doses, but it’s to be taken once a day. It is very common for people to want more immediate relief of their symptoms of anxiety and depression, and so they increase their dosages on their own. It’s also possible to develop a tolerance to Lexapro and take more of it without consulting a physician first.
When Lexapro is taken in higher doses, it can produce a euphoric effect that becomes addictive. Lexapro abuse is defined as anytime the drug is taken without a prescription, when it is taken outside of its prescribed instructions, or when it is taken in a way that’s different than just swallowing a pill. For example, there are those who will crush their Lexapro pills and snort them to get high, or to increase the effectiveness of the drug. These are all considered to be Lexapro abuse.
As we mentioned earlier, sometimes people abuse Lexapro simply by taking higher doses than they should. It is a medication that should only be taken once a day, but people may add an evening dose, or an afternoon dose as well.
Another common way that people abuse this drug is by mixing it with other drugs and/or alcohol. Because they get their prescriptions from a doctor, they assume that it is safe. Some doctors may warn about the dangers of mixing Lexapro with other drugs, but not all of them do.
Regardless of how it is abused, misusing Lexapro in any way can be dangerous. It can lead to an addiction and dependence upon the drug, and it can be very difficult to stop taking it.
There are a number of different drugs that are dangerous to mix with escitalopram. They can have various effects, including making the medication not work as well, and even increasing the risk of addiction/dependence.
Escitalopram carries several different warnings about dangerous drug interactions. They include all of the following drugs, but this list is not a complete one.
Research has shown that consuming alcohol while taking Lexapro can result in worsened negative mental health effects. It can make depression and anxiety much worse, which could, in turn, cause people to up their dose of their medications.
This combination also causes people to feel tired, and it can have a direct impact on their motor skills and ability to make good decisions. Taking the two together tends to increase the severity of Lexapro’s side effects as well. That includes increasing the risk of suicidal ideation.
Alcohol itself also tends to have a negative impact on mental health issues. It can cause people to worry more, make them more irritable and make it hard for them to sleep at night. Clearly, the combination of alcohol and Lexapro is one that should be avoided.
Marijuana is becoming more popular than ever before because so many states have made consuming it legal. It makes sense that there would be more people who use it along with their antidepressants. But the combination of cannabis and Lexapro is not one that is recommended by any medical professional.
Cannabis is also a depressant drug, and using it alongside escitalopram can increase side effects. People may notice that it is much harder for them to concentrate, and they may feel confused, dizzy and/or drowsy. This is especially true for the elderly population, who tend to be much more sensitive to the effects of any drug.
There may be times when doctors might recommend their patients to take more than one SSRI at a time. But those types of recommendations tend to be rather rare. There are also other types of antidepressants, and an excellent example is Wellbutrin, which is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). Doctors may choose to try their patients on this or a similar drug as a way to treat their depression or anxiety.
But that does not mean that the combination is always going to be safe. Sometimes people will combine Lexapro with other antidepressants as a way to self-medicate. Usually, they are only looking for relief from their symptoms, but combining the two drugs without instructions to do so from a doctor can be very dangerous.
The side effects of both drugs are likely to be magnified. Also, this increases the risk of addiction to both or one of the medications.
There are many doctors who are quick to prescribe their patients with Lexapro for daily use and a benzodiazepine drug as needed. While many are careful to follow their doctors’ instructions carefully, not everyone will. The medication Xanax is an excellent example.
Xanax is a drug that is prescribed to treat severe anxiety and panic attacks. It should only be used as needed, but there are people who abuse it. It can cause euphoria; especially if it is taken in higher doses than intended.
When Xanax is mixed with Lexapro, the risk of serious side effects with both drugs is increased. Also, elderly patients should be particularly careful about combining them because of their sensitivity to various drugs.
Doctors should always be careful about prescribing prescription painkillers to anyone who is taking Lexapro. This is because when opiates/opioids and Lexapro are combined, there is a risk for a serious condition known as serotonin syndrome.
Serotonin syndrome causes the following symptoms:
People who use Lexapro may frequently abuse opiates or opioids, whether they are legal or illegal. The euphoria that can result can be very addictive. Continuing to use this combination can result in a need for addiction treatment for both types of drugs.
It is extremely dangerous to combine any type of stimulant with Lexapro. The two drugs do very different things in the body, and there are several major, known interactions when they are used at the same time.
Adderall is a medication that is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD and ADD. This is one of the drugs that is most often taken alongside Lexapro, which works to increase the side effects of the stimulant drug.
Also, taking them together can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, which we discussed previously when talking about benzodiazepines. If left untreated, this condition can cause people to fall into a coma, and it can even become fatal.
The same is true when Lexapro is mixed with a stimulant drug like methamphetamine. The combination can be deadly, and it should be avoided at all costs.
An addiction to Lexapro may not be a concern for someone who has been taking it long-term, and in appropriate doses. But that individual is likely to be dependent upon the drug because of the way it works in the body. Forming a dependence and being addicted are different, although the former can and often does lead to the latter.
When a patient who has been taking Lexapro appropriately wants to get off it, their doctor should taper them off slowly. That will minimize any withdrawals they might experience. But for someone who has been using it inappropriately, long-term, they may need to consider professional treatment.
Forming an addiction to Lexapro only happens because of continual abuse. The brain gets accustomed to the higher doses of the drug, and when it is stopped, the brain responds with withdrawal symptoms. Some of them can become severe, which – more often than not – drives people back to using it again. These individuals have an addiction that needs to be treated. Otherwise, they may not ever be able to get off the drug successfully or safely.
There is a fine line between Lexapro addiction and abuse, and it can be difficult to decipher where that line is, exactly. However, abuse usually precedes addiction with this type of medication. You may be addicted to Lexapro if you feel as though you need to have it just to feel normal throughout the day. Traditionally, Lexapro is not a drug that is considered to be very physically addictive. Its addictive qualities are more psychological than physical. Even so, there are some physical addiction symptoms that do manifest when you’re addicted to Lexapro.
There are many side effects of Lexapro that may be experienced soon after you’ve started taking it, or further down the road. Everyone is different, but in the short term, you might experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances, headaches and hot or cold sweats. In the long-term, you are more at risk. The longer you take Lexapro, the more apt you are to experience:
Once a person knows that they are addicted to escitalopram, getting help should be their primary focus. It is so important to treat both the physical and the psychological sides of the addiction. Otherwise, the addict is not likely to experience a full, long-term recovery.
It can be hard to convince someone to go to rehab if they formed an addiction to Lexapro. They may even be in denial because they cannot fathom why their doctor would give them an addictive medication. But the reality is that it happens all the time.
Getting treatment offers hope to those who are addicted to escitalopram. It gives them a way to manage their withdrawal symptoms and minimize their risk of relapsing once the drug is stopped. But even more, it can give them their lives back.
The first course of action should be to go to a quality drug detox to get help. Detoxing may not always be necessary, but some people may need it in order to get through their withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms people experience when getting off Lexapro include:
The goal of detoxing is to remove harmful toxins from a drug from the body. This can be done by using an approach to treatment that combines both medications and holistic treatments.
In some cases, medical detox will be necessary for someone who is recovering from a Lexapro addiction. But this might depend upon a number of different factors, such as:
For someone with this addiction, the doctor may first talk with them about a medical taper. This allows them to take less of the drug over time as a way to minimize the severity of withdrawal. Tapering should not be attempted outside medical supervision. Patients may get off the drug too quickly and experience withdrawal that becomes very hard to manage.
During the taper and after Lexapro has been stopped, any remaining withdrawal symptoms can be treated with medications.
For someone who suffers from a Lexapro addiction, drug rehabilitation is critical. They need to take the time to get treatment for the cause of their substance abuse problem. More often than not, it was caused by either depression or anxiety, which are both co-occurring disorders.
Many people with addictions also have co-occurring disorders, or mental health issues that they self-medicate with drugs. Unless these conditions are treated, even after attending the best addiction treatment program, a relapse is very probable.
During drug rehab, patients receive various types of therapy, including participating in group sessions and individual sessions with a counselor. This is such an important part of the recovery experience, and without it, a positive long-term outcome will mostly likely not occur.
Far too many people find out that they have gotten addicted to Lexapro without realizing it was possible. These individuals frequently feel lost, and like they have nowhere to turn to get the help they need.
At Northpoint Washington, we want you to know that we understand. We know how scary it is to find out that you have an addiction; especially when you did not realize your prescription medication was dangerous. Fortunately, we offer both inpatient detox and rehab to anyone who has found themselves in this situation.