Those who have struggled with alcoholism or drug addiction might be apprehensive to go on medication of any kind. There is a lot of misinformation circulating about prescription medications – more specifically, a lot of misinformation circulating about antidepressants. The truth is, antidepressants aren’t addictive in the same ways that other drugs (drugs like heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription painkillers) are.
Taking a medication prescribed by a psychologist for an existing mental health condition is typically safe, so long as you take the medication as prescribed. In fact, because mental health issues tend to crop up in early sobriety as a result of post-acute withdrawal syndrome, taking antidepressants as a part of a comprehensive aftercare plan is sometimes necessary.
If you have a history of substance abuse and you’re wondering whether or not taking antidepressants is a good idea, be sure to mention your addiction history to your doctor. A medical professional will conduct an in-depth evaluation before making any major decisions. If you are unsure who to turn to, call Garden State Treatment Center, and we will do everything we can to point you in the right direction.
What Are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are prescription medications that are used to treat symptoms of mild, moderate, and severe depression. Depression itself is a chemical imbalance within the brain that leads to severe, inexplicable melancholy. Those who struggle with depression usually feel sluggish, hopeless, helpless, fatigued, and deeply sad for no apparent reason. Antidepressants help to correct these imbalances, ultimately allowing the concerned individual to lead a normal, productive life.
There are many kinds of antidepressants on the market today, some of the most common being Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Cymbalta, and Celexa. Some of these drugs were designed to treat depression, while others were designed to treat multiple disorders (Lexapro, for example, treats mild anxiety as well). A psychiatrist will help you determine which specific antidepressant is right for you. This important decision will be based on your personal history, and co-occurring disorders, and how severe your existing mental health condition is.
When choosing the antidepressant that will be the most effective, there are several factors that your medical practitioner will take into account. These include:
- Potential side effects. If you have a history of substance abuse, some symptoms might trigger a relapse. This is especially true if the symptoms mimic the symptoms of your drug of choice. For example – if your antidepressants make you groggy and fatigued, and you have a history of heroin addiction – this might not be the best fit.
- Your existing symptoms. The kind of medication you go on will depend on the severity of your symptoms. For example, you might go on a mild antidepressant if you experiencing brief periods of moderate sadness, and a much stronger antidepressant if you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning on a daily basis.
- Other existing health conditions. The medication you are prescribed will depend on underlying mental health conditions and physical conditions. Every pre-existing factor must be taken into account.
- Interaction with other medications. If you are already taking another medication, all potential interactions will be considered.
- Family history. If any of your immediate family members have a history of depression, your psychiatrist will take into account which medications worked (and didn’t work) for them.
When Are Antidepressants Addictive?
While antidepressants aren’t usually psychologically addicting, they can be physically addicting. This means that your body and brain adjust to the drug, and become acclimated to having the drug circulate through your system on a daily basis. If you stop taking your medication cold-turkey, you will likely experience severe symptoms of withdrawal – symptoms that could actually prove to be a relapse trigger. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that you speak with your clinician before attempting to taper off or quit an antidepressant drug. For more information on antidepressants or antidepressant addiction, please feel free to reach out to us today – we look forward to speaking with you soon and answering any remaining questions you may have!