Seroquel is a prescription atypical antipsychotic medication used in the treatment of disorders like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Over a one-year period of time, American doctors wrote more than 54 million prescriptions for antipsychotics like Seroquel, IMS Health states.
The base chemical in this drug is fumaric acid salt. It is intended to treat these disorders by affecting the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain — both feel-good chemicals. Increasing these chemicals decreases the potential for depressive episodes and mood swings in the affected person.
Around 13.6 million Americans have a serious mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports. First marketed in the US in 1997, Seroquel has gone on to be used in nearly 70 countries worldwide, Neuropsychiatry Disease and Treatment notes.
Why Is Seroquel Abused?
It may sound like an odd choice for drug abuse, but many addicts actually seek out the calming and hallucinogenic effects that Seroquel provides. A large number of those who abuse this drug are suffering from anxiety or other issues of mood fluctuations, and they self-medicate with Seroquel to ease their discomfort.
According to the Helpguide, half of Americans living with the severe types of mental illness that Seroquel is intended to treat are substance abusers. Sadly, many are unaware of their illness and end up deeply entrenched in a world of drug or alcohol abuse trying to cope with the cards life has dealt them. Many others end up misusing Seroquel after it was prescribed for them to treat an off-label illness or ailment. Case in point, antipsychotic prescriptions were rendered for 21.3 percent of patients who sought psychiatric care for an anxiety disorder in 2007 — a 10.6 percent increase since 1996, per The New York Times.
Known as Susie Q, Squirrel, Quell and baby heroin on the street, many of those who abuse Seroquel will crush and snort the drug. Others will dissolve Seroquel into water-based solutions and inject it intravenously. This multiplies the risk of dangerous outcomes. The potential for overdose is greater in these cases as well.
Attempts to deter this abuse came along in 2007 when the Food and Drug Administration approved AstraZeneca’s extended-release version of the medication. The Poison Review analyzed 20 cases of overdoses of quetiapine — the base generic drug in Seroquel — and noted delirium in eight people, seizures in four people and cardiac dysrhythmias in four people (one of whom died as a result).
Even prescribed use of the drug has been shown to cause the development of diabetes in some users. CBS News reported 15,000 people suffered that very consequence between 2000 and 2008. These people went on to sue the manufacturer, noting 2.4 percent of those who started the drug with normal blood sugar levels had developed diabetes within a year’s time.
Seroquel’s biggest fan base among substance abusers might surprise you. Many individuals housed in correctional facilities have been routinely medicated with the drug. Prison physicians have often used it as a means of calming an agitated inmate. Even juvenile inmates are being medicated with the prescription. The Palm Beach Post reported the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice purchased over twice as much Seroquel as ibuprofen in 2007.Those in the military may also be heavily medicated with drugs like Seroquel. As the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia have grown, physicians multiplied prescriptions for Seroquel between 2001 and 2015, increasing military spending for the drug by almost 700 percent, NBC News reports. The American Conservative notes the high rate of drug addiction among military members — 25 to 35 percent of US Army soldiers alone in 2011.
Medscape reported on one analysis of 429 people in treatment at a New York facility. Seventeen percent admitted to using a prescription atypical antipsychotic drug alongside alcohol, marijuana, coke, meth, or opioids. In addition, 84.9 percent of those who abused antipsychotics were abusing quetiapine.
If you suspect you may be dependent on Seroquel, look for the following warning signs of drug addiction:
- You have developed a tolerance to Seroquel that requires you to take more of the drug to get the same effect you desire.
- You’ve been taking Seroquel because withdrawal starts to set in if you don’t take it.
- You can’t stop thinking about or planning on using the drug.
- Even though only bad things have stemmed from your drug abuse, you can’t stop.
- You used to hang out with friends and family, but now you’d rather be alone and using the drug.
- You might have set a date to quit or planned to start scaling back your use, but you keep failing to stick to those goals.
Some Seroquel abusers will mix the drug with more potent substances like cocaine — a concoction known as “Q-ball.” This kind of poly-drug abuse often warrants a more complex detox and treatment plan. Being upfront during your intake interview at a rehab facility is necessary if you want to see a return on the time, effort, and money you put into the recovery process.
Detox is the first and most important step in moving forward from your addiction to Seroquel. Medications and alternative interventions can make this process more comfortable for you.
Afterward, treatment for the problems that led you to drug abuse and addiction in the first place can be the best next step. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids notes that addicts who seek follow-up care within a month of finishing detox will take 40 percent longer to relapse, if they ever do. Your aftercare program may include standard treatment regimens, such as individual therapy, group therapy, family counseling, and support groups, or it might branch out into holistic treatment, such as acupuncture, fitness activities, yoga and meditation. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment options allow you to tailor your treatment plan to meet your individual needs.
If you’re ready to step away from Seroquel abuse and step toward a life of health and balance, call us today. We can help.