Substance Use

Citalopram Use Disorder Treatment

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Citalopram Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options

Citalopram is the generic form of brand-name medications such as Celexa. Medically, citalopram is prescribed to treat patients with depression because it can lift the mood and increase energy. However, because of its effects on the body, citalopram can be addicting.

Some people use citalopram recreationally to experience its mood-boosting effects. In high doses, citalopram can lead to feelings of elatedness. It’s important to take misuse seriously, especially for those who have been prescribed citalopram.

If you or a loved one are currently taking citalopram and you believe an addiction has formed, or is in the process of forming, it’s crucial to reach out to a trusted provider to discuss your treatment options. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 or use our contact form to learn more.

What Is Citalopram?

Citalopram is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This means that citalopram interacts with the body to increase the amount of serotonin that’s available.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that naturally occurs in the body. It’s responsible for delivering messages in the central nervous system, and it is believed to regulate many core functions including mood, sleep, digestion, and wound healing.

Depression is often associated with low levels of serotonin, which can make it difficult for people to regulate their sleep cycles. It can also lead to poor mood and low appetite, among other things. So, by increasing the amount of serotonin in the body, citalopram can help improve the symptoms of depression.

Citalopram is also prescribed for:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)
  • Anxiety, bipolar, and panic disorder
  • Binge eating disorder

In the context of medical treatment, citalopram is considered safe and effective. However, citalopram has a moderate risk of abuse because some people take it believing it will produce a “high” feeling in large doses. This is inaccurate, but it can lead individuals to take a dangerously large dose trying to achieve this effect.

What Is Citalopram Tolerance?

The FDA recognizes that citalopram has certain health benefits, which is why it is sometimes prescribed for people with depression. However, antidepressants in themselves can be addicting.

Someone taking citalopram for depression may find themselves taking a higher dose or taking it more often in order to experience the same effects as they did with their first dose. This happens as the body begins to become tolerant to a medication, which happens naturally with regular use.

For someone who is working with their doctor to take citalopram (aka Celexa) for depression, they won’t necessarily develop a Celexa addiction just because they’ve become tolerant. Instead, healthcare providers are trained to taper dosages, change medications, and provide additional therapies to prevent and manage the effects of Celexa.

However, if someone decides to self-medicate by taking more than the prescribed dose, or if a person begins taking it without a prescription, Celexa abuse could be dangerous.

Is Citalopram Addictive?

Unlike opioids and some other drugs, citalopram is not considered highly addictive, and it is not a controlled substance. However, this does not mean that taking citalopram recreationally is safe.

The biggest risks associated with taking citalopram is that it is cheap and easy to get ahold of, which is why so many college students and young professionals begin experimenting with it.

Because citalopram interacts with serotonin, it does lift the mood and increase energy, which can be addicting in and of itself. However, citalopram does not produce the euphoric high that some drugs, such as marijuana, have become associated with.

Those who use citalopram are often chasing that “high” feeling, so they often take citalopram in very large doses, which is dangerous in and of itself. Over time, continuing to use citalopram can lead to an addiction, especially if someone is taking citalopram in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

What Causes Citalopram Addiction?

Citalopram is not considered highly addictive, but it can still be addicting. Knowing the difference between tolerance, misuse, and dependence is important to getting the help you need.

Of course, addiction is a complex condition that impacts the mind and body. There are actually five stages of drug abuse that culminate in addiction and they are:

  1. First use: You might first use citalopram when it is prescribed by your doctor. If you’re experimenting with drugs, you might take citalopram for the first time at a social gathering.
  2. Continued use: If you continue using citalopram, whether or not you have a prescription, you may quickly find yourself falling into a routine of taking it. Because it impacts your serotonin levels, you will find that it feels very rewarding to take citalopram.
  3. Tolerance: It will not take long for your body to become tolerant to your citalopram dose. Tolerance can develop even when taking citalopram as prescribed, and it is not dangerous, so long as you work with a healthcare provider to manage tolerance and prevent misuse. However, without the input of a healthcare provider, many people who become tolerant to citalopram will begin taking more of it to experience the same effects. This can lead to physical dependence even faster.
  4. Dependence: Physical dependence forms the foundation for addiction. Physical dependence is marked by chemical changes in the structure of your brain. This means that if you suddenly stop taking citalopram, you will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can even be life-threatening, especially if you stop suddenly after taking citalopram for some time.
  5. Addiction: While physical dependence is marked by physical changes in your brain and body, addiction is marked by psychological changes. For instance, you might begin combining it with alcohol and other medications to increase its effects. Once someone begins experimenting with new, stronger drugs, the cycle starts over and moves much more rapidly.

Once addiction forms with any drug, quitting “cold turkey” can be dangerous (and very difficult). However, because citalopram directly impacts mood, those who take it without medical supervision or suddenly stop taking it could be at a higher risk of dangerous symptoms like suicidal thoughts.

In order to protect your health and well-being, it’s important to get help in overcoming your citalopram addiction. Call our team today at (855) 430-9439, or use our contact form to learn more about your treatment options.

Side Effects of Citalopram Abuse

Even when taken as prescribed, citalopram can produce dangerous side effects. When taken without a prescription, especially for someone who has not been diagnosed with one of the associated conditions, citalopramside effects can be severe.

Some of the many symptoms of citalopram abuse include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, and insomnia
  • Irritability, aggressiveness, and hostile behavior
  • Tremors, convulsions, and flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, dizziness, and frequent urination
  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Hallucinations and vivid dreams
  • Suicidal thoughts

In addition to these short-term side effects, which generally only take hold while someone is actively using citalopram, abusing this drug can also lead to long-term side effects.

Some of the long-term consequences of taking citalopram include chronic headaches, muscle/joint pain, changes to the menstrual cycle, erectile dysfunction, and weight gain. These side effects can also worsen co-occurring disorders, and they should be considered during your treatment plan.

Symptoms of Citalopram Withdrawal

If your body has become dependent on a prescription drug like citalopram, you will have to go through a period of withdrawal (also known as drug detox). The withdrawal period generally lasts 10-14 days.

During the withdrawal period, you may experience worsening symptoms as your body adjusts to not having citalopram in its systems. This is when the chemical changes to your brain and body start to reverse.

The more frequently you take citalopram and the higher the dose, the more likely you are to experience a rough withdrawal process.

Usually, the withdrawal symptoms you will experience when you stop taking a drug are similar to the side effects associated with high doses, except much more intense. These symptoms might include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, headaches, and changes in appetite
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and worsened depression
  • Mood swings, irritability, and aggression
  • Cravings, especially if you are also being treated for alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-destructive behavior

The common side effects of citalopram withdrawal are worse for those experiencing co-occurring disorders such as panic disorder, mood disorders, and anxiety disorder.

In the event that you’re suffering from any of these conditions, it is of the utmost importance that you participate in a medical detox to ensure that the symptoms of withdrawal (i.e., anxiety) do not worsen your other conditions.

Treatment for Citalopram Abuse

Citalopram abuse rarely occurs on its own. If you are misusing citalopram, it’s important to seek advice from medical professionals.

Getting help from a qualified treatment center is especially important for:

  • People who combine citalopram with alcohol or other medications to experience more intense effects.
  • People who are suffering from co-occurring disorders, such as mood disorders, as this puts you at a higher risk of harm.

However, all cases of drug addiction require specialized care, which is why you should not hesitate to reach out to a recovery center for assistance if you have been taking citalopram or any other substance.

Once you are in touch with a team of treatment professionals, you can get answers to your specific questions about the process and therapies that might be incorporated into your treatment plan.

There are multiple levels of care that may be offered to you for citalopram addiction. Intensive inpatient care (i.e., hospitalization) may be necessary if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or suffering from disorders that might put you at a higher risk of self-harm.

Otherwise, many people who seek help with addiction choose a residential facility where they can reside in a home-like setting surrounded by 24/7 support staff. This type of environment is ideal because it minimizes triggers and provides you with the therapies and specialists you need to identify the causes of addiction and overcome them.

You may also discuss two other types of care with your treatment coordinator: outpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment. Both of these options allow you to continue living at home, which is helpful for people who want to keep attending work or school with minimal interruption.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all plan for addiction treatment, so it’s essential that you get help diagnosing your conditions and are guided down the path to a custom recovery plan.

Seeking Treatment

Are you ready to take the next step to overcome your addiction? At Zinnia Healing, we take a tailored approach to every individual, ensuring that you get the support you need to thrive in mind, body, and spirit. We even offer life skills programs and similar options that will help you transition into the healthy lifestyle of your dreams.

With an emphasis on goal setting, behavior changes, and long-term recovery, we believe we are well-equipped to help individuals from all walks of life overcome addiction. At the same time, we will address any co-occurring disorders to ensure your comfort and safety.

Are you ready to learn more about how Zinnia Healing can support you in your recovery journey? Call us today at (855) 430-9439 or use our contact form to learn more.