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.
How Does Strattera Work?
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 better as stimulant medications with fewer side effects.
Even so, it is important to understand how Strattera works and the potential risks it comes with. For one thing, Strattera works by blocking the brain from reabsorbing neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine to help regulate mood and behavior associated with ADHD symptoms. 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. This is because instead of impacting dopamine or serotonin, Strattera specifically affects the norepinephrine neurotransmitter. Therefore, withdrawals are much less severe than those of stimulant medications.
Therefore, withdrawal from Strattera is unlikely to occur as withdrawal would with medications that impact neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, a crash is often associated with ADHD medication withdrawal, but this symptom also does not apply to Strattera.
In cases where the individual experiences a crash from stimulant medication, the crash is caused by the drug’s effects on dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine impacts learning, attention, and mood, and when taken normally, it increases dopamine levels to control attention, focus, and behavior. As the drug wears off, dopamine levels suddenly decrease, and a crash occurs.
Strattera, on the other hand, is a non-stimulant medication, meaning it does not impact dopamine in the same way. Norepinephrine has lesser effects on attention and mood, and since this medication is not as severe on the CNS as other stimulants, it does not cause a crash.
So, how long do Strattera withdrawal symptoms last? In most cases, Strattera experiences 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.
Is Strattera Addictive?
Additionally, many people also wonder whether Strattera is addictive. Because 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.
This type of drug-taking behavior 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
Although Strattera does not produce severe withdrawals, it is important to receive medical supervision instead of suddenly quitting this medication. Although some medications are more addictive and withdrawal-prone than others, undergoing medically supervised detox for any form of drug withdrawal is much safer than attempting to do so at home.
If you or someone you know is battling an addiction to a prescription drug, our Massachusetts inpatient drug rehab can help. Call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 to learn more about our addiction treatment or residential mental health care.