Sertraline (Zoloft) Addiction
Sertraline (Zoloft) is an antidepressant medication that doctors commonly prescribed for various conditions. As a SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, the drug works by influences the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, on the other hand, influences emotion, mood, and sleep. When you take Zoloft, it will boost the activity of the neurotransmitter to decrease anxiety and improve. Read on to find out more:
About Sertraline (Zoloft)
Zoloft is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and an antidepressant. It is a brand name drug for sertraline that is only available through a valid prescription. Doctors often recommend it for use in the treatment of premenstrual Dysphoria disorder or PMDD, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, and depression.
The drug works by preventing the brain from reabsorbing serotonin. This means that there is more of this neurotransmitter in the brain to help with regulating mood. However, you also need to realize that although Zoloft can be effective in the treatment of various depressive disorders, it can also increase suicidal ideation and behavior. This is particularly true among young adults, teens, and children who take this medication.
Sertraline is available in tablet form with doses of 100 mg, 50 mg, and 25 mg. you should only take it once every day through your mouth. You also need to realize that it comes with various addictive disorders.
Apart from its health benefits, Zoloft is an antidepressant. This means that it is sometimes effective in the treatment of substance use disorders. This is because the mental health issues that it works against sometimes co-occur with addiction.
Other Names for Sertraline (Zoloft)
Even though there are not many slang terms that people use to refer to this drug, you may find others that are used in reference to other antidepressant medications. Examples of these street names include:
- Wonder drug
- Miracle drug
- Happy pills
- Bottled smiles
Signs and Symptoms of Sertraline (Zoloft) Addiction
If you have a substance use disorder, there is a high risk that you could start abusing Zoloft if you have a prescription for it. However, you may also abuse this drug even though you do not have a valid prescription.
Over time, this form of substance abuse could cause you to develop tolerance, physical and psychological dependence, and addiction. When this happens, you will start displaying the following common signs and symptoms of sertraline (Zoloft) addiction and abuse:
- Becoming paranoid
- Bouts of nausea
- Decreased libido
- Difficulty sleeping especially at night
- Diminished involvement in various personal and professional activities so that you can abuse Zoloft
- Experiencing anxiety
- Faking symptoms so that you can acquire another prescription for Zoloft
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling like you are no longer able to function normally unless you take this drug
- Feeling numb
- Financial losses due to spending most of your money and time looking for, acquiring, and abusing Zoloft
- Frequently feeling easily irritated or irritable
- Having incoherent thoughts
- Issues in your family because you refuse to give up this drug
- Loss of employment
- Loss of important relationships with your loved ones due to ongoing Zoloft abuse
- Panic attacks
- Reclusive behaviors
- Seeing different doctors so that you can get them to write you additional prescriptions for Zoloft
- Severe digestion issues
- Suffering from the various symptoms of psychosis
- Taking another person's Zoloft prescription
- Taking Zoloft in more frequent or larger doses than your doctor recommended when they prescribed the drug
- Using Zoloft to deal with daily problems
Short and Long-Term Effects of Sertraline (Zoloft) Abuse
Continued Zoloft use could also cause you to suffer some side effects. These effects are the unwanted reactions that will occur because you continue abusing this drug especially if you do not have a valid prescription for it. They include the following short and long term side effects:
- A dry mouth
- A high fever
- A skin rash
- Abnormal bleeding
- Akathisia (or a painful inner agitation that makes it difficult for you to sit still)
- An upset stomach
- Bouts of confusion
- Bouts of dizziness
- Changes in appetite
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Fainting spells
- Fast heart rate
- Feeling like you are about to pass out
- Feeling nervous
- Headaches that keep coming and going
- Hyponatremia (or dangerously low levels of the sodium chemical inside your blood)
- Impotence (in men)
- Incoherent thoughts
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of coordination
- Memory issues
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
- Problems with concentration
- Rigid muscles
- Serotonin syndrome
- Shallow breathing
- Sleep disturbances
- Stomach pain
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
- Uneven heart rate
- Weight loss
Sertraline (Zoloft) Overdose
Continued Zoloft abuse could lead to the development of tolerance. This condition will depend on various factors, such as your overall health, body weight, age, and if you were abusing this medication with other addictive substances.
To this end, it might be difficult for you to generalize if the amount of this drug that you are taking could turn out to be potentially painful. For instance, a particular dose could be useful in helping you relieve some symptoms but end up causing an overdose situation in another person.
In case you suspect that you may have taken too much of Zoloft, you need to seek emergency medical attention. You can also call your doctor, emergency medical services, and a suicide hotline if you are feeling suicidal.
If you take this drug in excess, you may experience any of the following potential reactions of a Zoloft overdose:
- Changes in blood pressure (lower or higher than normal)
- Heart problems
- Pancreatic inflammation
- Rapid heartbeat
- Serotonin syndrome
Serotonin syndrome, in particular, is a serious condition that could prove to be dangerous. It occurs when the neurotransmitter serotonin builds up inside the brain to dangerously high levels. This condition might occur if you take Zoloft in excess or combine it with another drug. It could also cause you to fall into a coma or lose your life.
Sertraline (Zoloft) Withdrawal Symptoms
When you continue taking Zoloft for a long time or in high doses, you could develop tolerance and physical and psychological dependence. Once this happens and you suddenly stop using the drug or significantly reduce the dose that you have become accustomed to, there is a high risk that you could suffer withdrawal symptoms.
Most of these symptoms show that your body has become physically dependent on Zoloft. As a result, it might be difficult for you to stop taking the drug because you will want to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms. They include:
- Concentration problems
- Flu-like symptoms
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
- Weight changes
- Worsening depression
The only way to manage these withdrawal symptoms is by checking into a medically supervised detox program. This way, you will receive the support and assistance that you need to wean yourself from the drug as well as relearn how you can continue functioning normally without taking it.
The medical detox program might require that you live at the treatment facility until you have achieved full emotional and physical stability. During this time, a team of addiction treatment professionals, doctors, and nurses will provide you with the treatments you need to manage all uncomfortable and severe withdrawal symptoms. They can also address the psychological issues that may arise during your Zoloft withdrawal.
By getting professional medical assistance during your Zoloft detox, you could reduce your risk of suffering a relapse, prepare you for other addiction treatment services, as well as enhance your comfort and wellness.
The Best Options for Sertraline (Zoloft) Addiction Treatment
After completing detox, it is recommended that you continue with treatment in a professional rehabilitation program. This way, you will be able to address all the psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues linked to your Zoloft abuse and addiction. This form of treatment is provided on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, so you should be able to find the right option for you.
Inpatient addiction treatment would be ideal if you have a severe Zoloft addiction or if you have also been diagnosed with other co-occurring medical and mental health disorders and addictions.
Outpatient treatment is recommended if your addiction is less severe or long standing, and you do not have other co-occurring disorders. It would also work if you have already been through inpatient Zoloft addiction treatment.