Strattera is a brand name for atomoxetine, which is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Strattera differs from other common ADHD medications like Ritalin and Adderall in that it is not a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. Instead, it belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which are typically described to individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). While it may come with fewer risks than other CNS stimulants, Strattera withdrawal and addiction are risks that all patients should be aware of. The experts at our Clearbrook Massachusetts rehab share more about Strattera’s mechanism of action, withdrawals, and potential for addiction below.
How Does Strattera Work?
For ADHD, Strattera is a relatively new medication that came out in 2002, with its generic version having been introduced in 2017. It is only approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD and nothing else. It is also considered a safe and effective medication, controlling ADHD in some patients as effectively as stimulant medications but with fewer side effects.
Strattera works by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine in the synaptic gap (space between nerve cells), which is why it’s referred to as a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI). Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter or chemical that plays a major role in regulating attention, impulse control, and executive functions in the brain.
In the brain, chemicals like norepinephrine are used to transmit signals from one nerve cell to another. After the chemical is released, some of the neurotransmitter molecules are reabsorbed back into the original nerve cell, a process otherwise referred to as reuptake.
By blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine, Strattera increases its availability in the brain. This helps to improve mood and behavior symptoms associated with ADHD. As a result, the individual may experience improved concentration, longer periods of focus, and a decrease in impulse and hyperactive behavior.
Strattera is prescribed in capsules and available in 10mg, 18mg, 25mg, 40mg, and 60mg. It is intended to be taken orally twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. When first starting Strattera, patients may experience several side effects as their body becomes accustomed to the drug.
These effects may include upset stomach, decreased appetite, insomnia, mood swings, and others. If you experience any severe effects upon taking Strattera, speak to your doctor immediately.
Strattera Withdrawal Symptoms
Because Strattera is not a central nervous stimulant like other ADHD medications, it does not produce severe withdrawal symptoms, mainly because it affects the norepinephrine neurotransmitter instead of dopamine or serotonin. Therefore, Strattera withdrawals are much less severe than those of stimulant medications.
While rare, however, possible Strattera withdrawal symptoms include:
- Rebound ADHD symptoms
- Irritability and mood changes
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Sleep disturbances
- Nause and gastrointestinal discomfort
Withdrawal from Strattera is unlikely to occur as it would with medications that impact neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, while it’s common for individuals taking ADHD medications like Ritalin and Adderall to experience a “crash” when effects wear off, this symptom does not apply to Strattera use.
Dopamine impacts learning, attention, and mood, and most ADHD medications target this chemical to regulate attention, focus, and behavior. However, when taken in high doses or more frequently than directed, dopamine levels may decrease following a spike, resulting in a “crash”.
Strattera, on the other hand, is a non-stimulant medication, meaning it does not impact dopamine in the same way that other ADHD medications do. The chemical it targets – norepinephrine – has lesser effects on attention and mood and is not as severe on the CNS as other stimulants.
How Long Does Strattera Withdrawal Last?
In most cases, individuals who stop taking Strattera experience very minimal withdrawal symptoms, if they experience any. This is because Strattera specifically affects norepinephrine – as we mentioned – and these types of medications usually do not produce severe withdrawals.
However, in cases where Strattera withdrawal does occur, symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Some major factors that affect the nature and duration of Strattera withdrawal include dosage, frequency of use, duration of use, and the individual’s overall health.
Is Strattera Addictive?
Because most ADHD medications are addictive, it’s common for people to wonder whether Strattera has any potential for dependency. However, since Strattera is a non-stimulant drug, it does not produce any feelings of euphoria or well-being as other stimulants would, meaning it does not produce a high.
Also, considering dopamine’s role in addiction, this medication does not currently have a known risk for addiction. Strattera is also not scheduled as a controlled substance in the U.S., meaning it is not recognized to have a potential for abuse or addiction by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
This further supports the unlikeliness of physical dependence on Strattera. However, tolerance is possible. If a person takes Strattera in higher doses or for longer periods than prescribed, the individual may eventually become accustomed to its effects and eventually require a higher dose to experience them.
Drug-taking behavior like that mentioned above can increase the risk of overdose. What’s more, prescription drugs that are not necessarily addictive can act as gateway drugs when abused. In other words, a person who abuses Strattera to get high may turn to more addictive and hardcore medications or illicit substances instead.
Strattera (Atomoxetine) Withdrawal Treatment
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience Strattera withdrawals, and in cases where they do, the severity and duration may vary from person to person. Additionally, these symptoms are usually short-lived and tend to improve over time as the body adjusts to the absence of the medication.
If you’re considering stopping Strattera or are experiencing withdrawals, consult a healthcare professional. They can guide how to safely cease Strattera use and may recommend alternative treatments or strategies for managing ADHD symptoms.
For anyone searching for Strattera withdrawal treatment, our Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab can help. We offer medically assisted detox, during which clients work with our medical team to slowly taper off the medication. Our patients can receive 24-hour care and medical assistance as they experience symptoms, reducing their risk of complications.
If you or someone you know is battling an addiction to a prescription drug, call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 or contact us online to learn more about our substance abuse programs.