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Zoloft Abuse and Addiction
Zoloft belongs to a category of drugs called SSRIs—selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. SSRIs are considered the first line of treatment for most anxiety and major depressive disorders. They are widely available as the most commonly prescribed antidepressant. Unfortunately, this also means selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants are one of the most commonly abused drugs.
As antidepressants are a more modern drug used for abuse, the literature on addiction to Zoloft and abuse is small but growing. The common motivation for Zoloft abuse is in order to achieve a psychostimulant-like effect or a euphoric high. The majority of people prescribed Zoloft do not use their medication for abuse, however, the potential is high. Most Zoloft addictions happen in people with a history of substance abuse. When signs of addiction and abuse are noticed, treatment for Zoloft abuse includes drug detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, dual diagnosis (addiction and mental health issues), and addiction programs.
What is Zoloft?
Zoloft is the brand name of the prescription drug sertraline. Sertraline and other SSRIs work by increasing the brain activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin works with the nervous system to regulate mood, personality, wakefulness, and mental balance. Available as a tablet, capsule, or liquid solution, prescribed Zoloft treats mood and mental health disorders like:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic attacks
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorders
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorders symptoms (mood swings, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness)
Sertraline may cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome if taken together with some medicines. Serotonin syndrome presents as:
- Sudden, involuntary muscle twitching
- Muscle rigidity
- Unusual amounts of sweating
- Overactive bodily reflexes
- Agitated delirium
For some children, teenagers, and young adults, this medicine can increase thoughts of suicide. Tell your doctor right away if you or your child start to feel more depressed and have thoughts about hurting yourselves. Sertraline may increase your risk for bleeding problems. There could also be symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Zoloft may cause some people to become drowsy, have trouble thinking, or have problems with movement. Individuals seeking treatment for Zoloft addiction and withdrawal should contact DayBreak to inquire about detox programs, addiction programs, and patient resources.
Signs of Zoloft Abuse and Addiction
Symptoms of Zoloft addiction are common among antidepressant abusers. More than half of the nonmedical Zoloft users obtained prescription drugs from a friend or relative. About four in five of these nonmedical users indicated that their friend or relative had obtained the drugs from a single doctor. Signs of abuse and addiction may include symptoms like doctor shopping for more pills, increased irritability, and affecting school or job duties negatively. Many antidepressants are abused at high doses by all means by which the drug is available. Negative consequences of abuse and addiction can include seizures, confusion, and even psychotic-like symptoms.
Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms
Especially when a drug abuser stops taking Zoloft suddenly, SSRIs can produce a variety of adverse effects. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- The sensation of constant movement of self or surroundings (vertigo)
- Increased sweating
- Shaking or trembling
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble walking
- Unusual tiredness
- Sensory disturbances
Even when used as intended, the best practice to stop taking Zoloft is to gradually decrease dosage instead of stopping cold turkey. Due to the severity and complexity of adverse effects during SSRI withdrawal, common wisdom dictates medical detox managed at a treatment center offers the best chance at a successful, safe, and relatively pain-free detox. Treatment options also include outpatient rehab, cognitive behavioral therapy, and aftercare centers.
Long Term Side Effects of Zoloft Abuse
Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by excessive serotonergic activity in the nervous system. It is characterized by mental status changes, autonomic instability, and neuromuscular hyperactivity. Most reported cases of serotonin syndrome are in patients using multiple serotonergic drugs or who have had considerable exposure to a single serotonin-augmenting drug. Most cases of serotonin syndrome are mild and may be treated by the withdrawal of the offending agent and supportive care. Patients with moderate or severe cases of serotonin syndrome require hospitalization.
Zoloft Addiction Treatment
Zoloft addiction treatment at DayBreak seeks to heal the emotional and physical dependence on the effect of the drug. DayBreak offers a full continuum of care, treating drug and alcohol addiction, and the emotional and mental health issues influencing substance abuse. Our levels of care range from drug detox to residential treatment, employing holistic modalities in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy and rest in sober living housing. You don’t have to stop drug and alcohol abuse alone. Contact DayBreak to receive more information about relapse prevention and the right treatment center to help you on the path to sober living.
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