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Unlocking Seroquel: Uses, Side Effects, and Risks of Abuse Unveiled

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Welcome to the California Prime Recovery blog, your trusted source for insightful information on various aspects of addiction and mental health. In this detailed post, we will thoroughly explore the topic of “Seroquel Abuse: Signs, Side Effects, and Treatment.” As a leading addiction treatment center situated in Fountain Valley, CA, our commitment to raising awareness about substance abuse is unwavering. This article is crafted to provide valuable information to our audience, whether you are seeking knowledge for yourself or someone you care about. Let’s delve into the complexities of Seroquel abuse, covering its definition, reasons for misuse, signs, side effects, associated risks, and available treatment options.

What is Seroquel?

Seroquel, also known as Quetiapine, is a prescription medication primarily designed to treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Classified as an atypical antipsychotic, it plays a pivotal role in managing symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, and mood disturbances by balancing specific chemicals in the brain.

Seroquel Types and Dosages

Seroquel (quetiapine) is available in different formulations, including immediate-release (IR) tablets and extended-release (XR) tablets. The dosages can vary based on the specific condition being treated, the individual’s response to the medication, and the form of Seroquel prescribed. It’s important to note that dosages should be determined and adjusted by a healthcare professional based on the individual’s needs. Here are the common types and dosages:

1. Immediate-Release (IR) Tablets:

  • Seroquel IR tablets are typically taken two or three times a day. They come in various strengths, including:
    • 25 mg
    • 50 mg
    • 100 mg
    • 200 mg
    • 300 mg
    • 400 mg

2. Extended-Release (XR) Tablets:

  • Seroquel XR tablets are formulated for once-daily dosing. They are available in strengths such as:
    • 50 mg
    • 150 mg
    • 200 mg
    • 300 mg
    • 400 mg
    • 600 mg
    • 800 mg

Dosage Considerations:

  • The appropriate dosage of Seroquel depends on the specific mental health condition being treated (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder).
  • For schizophrenia, the typical starting dose might be lower, and the dose can be gradually increased based on response.
  • In bipolar disorder, the dosage may vary depending on whether it is used for acute manic episodes or as maintenance therapy.
  • The choice between immediate-release and extended-release formulations depends on the healthcare provider’s recommendation and the patient’s preferences.

Individualized Treatment:

  • Treatment with Seroquel should be individualized, and healthcare providers may adjust dosages based on the patient’s response and any side effects experienced.
  • It’s important to follow the prescribed dosage and not to make changes without consulting a healthcare professional.

As dosages and formulations may vary, individuals prescribed Seroquel should always follow their healthcare provider’s instructions and report any concerns or side effects promptly.

Seroquel Dosage Guidelines

Seroquel, also known by its generic name quetiapine, is an antipsychotic medication commonly used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. The appropriate dosage of Seroquel can vary depending on the individual’s condition, medical history, response to treatment, and other factors. It’s essential to follow the dosage guidelines provided by a healthcare professional, typically a psychiatrist or prescribing physician. However, here are some general dosage guidelines for Seroquel:

  1. Schizophrenia:

    • Starting dose: The usual starting dose for schizophrenia is 25 mg twice daily (or 50 mg once daily).
    • Maintenance dose: The maintenance dose typically ranges from 150 to 750 mg per day, divided into two or three doses.
    • Maximum dose: The maximum recommended dose is 750 mg per day.
  2. Bipolar Disorder (Mania):

    • Acute manic episodes: The recommended starting dose is 50 mg twice daily on the first day, followed by 100 mg twice daily on the second day. The dose may then be adjusted based on response and tolerability.
    • Maintenance dose: The maintenance dose typically ranges from 400 to 800 mg per day, divided into two or three doses.
    • Maximum dose: The maximum recommended dose is 800 mg per day.
  3. Bipolar Disorder (Depression):

    • The recommended starting dose for bipolar depression is 50 mg once daily at bedtime.
    • The dose may be gradually increased by 50 mg per day up to a maximum of 300 mg per day, based on response and tolerability.
  4. Major Depressive Disorder (Adjunctive Treatment):

    • The recommended starting dose when used as adjunctive treatment in major depressive disorder is 50 mg once daily at bedtime.
    • The dose may be gradually increased by 50 mg per day up to a maximum of 300 mg per day, based on response and tolerability.

Seroquel Onset and Duration

The onset and duration of action for Seroquel (quetiapine) can vary based on the specific formulation (immediate-release or extended-release) and individual factors. Here are some general considerations:

1. Immediate-Release (IR) Tablets:

  • Onset: The onset of action for immediate-release Seroquel is relatively rapid, with effects typically starting within 1 to 2 hours after administration.
  • Duration: The duration of action for immediate-release Seroquel is shorter, and it may be taken two or three times a day depending on the prescribed dosing schedule.

2. Extended-Release (XR) Tablets:

  • Onset: The onset of action for extended-release Seroquel is also relatively rapid, with effects usually starting within a few hours after administration.
  • Duration: Extended-release Seroquel is formulated for once-daily dosing, providing a more sustained release of the medication over a longer period.

Individual Variability:

  • The onset and duration can vary among individuals based on factors such as metabolism, individual response to the medication, and the presence of other medications or medical conditions.

Factors Influencing Duration:

  • The duration of Seroquel’s effects is influenced by the specific formulation and dosage prescribed. Extended-release formulations are designed to provide a more prolonged effect, helping individuals maintain a steady concentration of the medication in their system.

Medical Uses of Seroquel

Seroquel (quetiapine) is used primarily in the treatment of certain mental health conditions. Here are the primary uses of Seroquel:

  1. Schizophrenia:

    • Seroquel is approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder characterized by distorted thinking, hallucinations, and social withdrawal. It helps alleviate symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disturbances.
  2. Bipolar Disorder:

    • Seroquel is used in the management of bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterized by episodes of mania (elevated mood) and depression. It is prescribed for:
      • Acute Manic Episodes: Seroquel can be used to treat acute manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.
      • Maintenance Treatment: It is also used as maintenance treatment to help prevent the recurrence of mood episodes.
  3. Major Depressive Disorder (Adjunctive Treatment):

    • In some cases, Seroquel may be prescribed as an adjunctive treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) when other antidepressant medications have not been fully effective.
  4. Off-Label Uses:

How Long Does Seroquel Stay in Your System?

The half-life of Seroquel (quetiapine) can vary depending on factors such as age, liver function, and other individual characteristics. In general, the half-life of immediate-release Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) ranges from approximately 6 to 7 hours in healthy adults. This means that it takes about 6 to 7 hours for half of the medication to be eliminated from the body.

Extended-release formulations of Seroquel, such as Seroquel XR, have a longer half-life compared to immediate-release formulations. The half-life of Seroquel XR is approximately 6 to 12 hours.

It’s important to note that the elimination half-life is just one factor that determines how long a medication stays in the body. The effects of Seroquel may continue beyond its half-life due to its active metabolites and individual variations in metabolism.

Seroquel Efficacy

The efficacy of Seroquel (quetiapine) varies depending on the condition being treated and individual patient factors. Seroquel is primarily used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Here’s an overview of its efficacy for each condition:

  1. Schizophrenia: Seroquel has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia, including hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and emotional withdrawal. Clinical studies have demonstrated that Seroquel can help improve overall functioning and quality of life in individuals with schizophrenia. It is often used as a first-line treatment for schizophrenia.

  2. Bipolar Disorder (Mania): Seroquel is FDA-approved for the treatment of acute manic episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, either as monotherapy or as adjunctive therapy with lithium or divalproex. Clinical trials have shown that Seroquel can help reduce the severity of manic symptoms, including elevated mood, irritability, and agitation.

  3. Bipolar Disorder (Depression): Seroquel is also used off-label for the treatment of bipolar depression. While clinical evidence supporting its efficacy in bipolar depression is somewhat limited compared to other treatments, some studies have suggested that Seroquel may be beneficial in reducing depressive symptoms and preventing relapse into depressive episodes.

  4. Major Depressive Disorder (Adjunctive Treatment): Seroquel is sometimes used off-label as an adjunctive treatment for major depressive disorder, particularly in cases where standard antidepressant medications have been ineffective. Clinical studies have shown mixed results regarding the efficacy of Seroquel in treating major depressive disorder, and more research is needed to fully establish its effectiveness in this indication.

Overall, the efficacy of Seroquel can vary from person to person, and it may take some time to find the right dose and treatment regimen that works best for each individual. It’s important for patients to work closely with their healthcare providers to monitor their symptoms, adjust their medication as needed, and explore other treatment options if Seroquel is not providing sufficient relief or if side effects become problematic.

How Does Seroquel Work in the Brain and Body?

Seroquel (quetiapine) is an antipsychotic medication that works by affecting various neurotransmitter systems in the brain. While the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, Seroquel is believed to primarily act as an antagonist (blocker) of certain neurotransmitter receptors, particularly dopamine and serotonin receptors. Here’s how Seroquel works in the brain and body:

  1. Dopamine Receptors: Seroquel blocks dopamine receptors in the brain, particularly dopamine D2 receptors. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood, motivation, pleasure, and movement. By blocking dopamine receptors, Seroquel helps to reduce the activity of dopamine in certain brain regions, which can help alleviate symptoms of psychosis and mania.

  2. Serotonin Receptors: Seroquel also blocks serotonin receptors, particularly serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, anxiety, and sleep. By blocking serotonin receptors, Seroquel modulates serotonin activity in the brain, which can help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and promote sleep.

  3. Histamine Receptors: Seroquel blocks histamine H1 receptors in the brain. Histamine is involved in regulating wakefulness and arousal. By blocking histamine receptors, Seroquel has sedative effects, which can help promote sleep and reduce agitation in individuals with psychiatric disorders.

  4. Alpha-adrenergic Receptors: Seroquel blocks alpha-adrenergic receptors in the brain and body. Alpha-adrenergic receptors are involved in regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and vascular tone. By blocking these receptors, Seroquel can cause orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure upon standing) and other cardiovascular side effects.

Overall, Seroquel’s ability to block dopamine, serotonin, histamine, and alpha-adrenergic receptors contributes to its therapeutic effects in treating conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. By modulating neurotransmitter activity in the brain, Seroquel helps to alleviate symptoms of psychosis, mania, depression, and anxiety, and promote overall stability and well-being. However, it’s important to note that Seroquel can also cause side effects, and its use should be closely monitored by a healthcare provider.

Seroquel Controlled Substance Classification

Seroquel (quetiapine) is not classified as a controlled substance in most countries, including the United States. Controlled substances are drugs that are regulated by the government due to their potential for abuse and dependence. They are categorized into different schedules based on their perceived risk level and medical usefulness.

While Seroquel is not a controlled substance, it is still a prescription medication that should be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider. This is because Seroquel can cause significant side effects and adverse reactions, especially when used improperly or in combination with other substances.

Seroquel Storage and Disposal

Storage:

  • Store Seroquel at room temperature (around 68°F to 77°F or 20°C to 25°C).
  • Keep the medication away from moisture, heat, and light.
  • Store Seroquel in its original packaging.
  • Keep Seroquel out of reach of children and pets.

Disposal:

  • Do not flush unused or expired Seroquel down the toilet or pour it down the drain.
  • Remove Seroquel from its original packaging.
  • Mix unused or expired Seroquel with an undesirable substance like used coffee grounds or cat litter.
  • Place the mixture in a sealed container or bag.
  • Dispose of the sealed container or bag in the household trash.
  • If available, consider participating in a drug take-back program or using a medication disposal service offered by pharmacies or community organizations.

Following these guidelines helps ensure the safe storage and disposal of Seroquel, minimizing the risk of accidental ingestion or environmental contamination.

 

Seroquel Side Effects and Risks

Here are some common short-term and long-term side effects associated with Seroquel:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Sedation: Seroquel can cause drowsiness and sedation, particularly when initiating treatment or adjusting the dosage.
  2. Dizziness: Some individuals may experience dizziness, especially when standing up quickly.
  3. Weight Gain: Weight gain is a common side effect of Seroquel, and it may occur relatively quickly after starting the medication.
  4. Dry Mouth: Seroquel can cause dry mouth, which may contribute to an increased risk of dental issues.
  5. Constipation: Constipation is another gastrointestinal side effect associated with Seroquel use.
  6. Orthostatic Hypotension: Sudden changes in posture may lead to a drop in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness.
  7. Increased Blood Sugar Levels: Seroquel may lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which can be a concern, especially for individuals with diabetes or at risk for diabetes.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Metabolic Effects: Long-term use of Seroquel is associated with metabolic changes, including an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  2. Tardive Dyskinesia: This is a potentially irreversible movement disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements of the face and body. It can occur with long-term use of antipsychotic medications.
  3. Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS): Although rare, NMS is a serious condition that can occur with antipsychotic medications, including Seroquel. It is characterized by hyperthermia, muscle rigidity, altered mental status, and autonomic dysfunction.
  4. Cardiovascular Effects: Long-term use may be associated with changes in cardiovascular parameters, and regular monitoring may be necessary.

Other Considerations:

  • Seroquel may be associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in younger individuals. Close monitoring by healthcare providers is crucial, especially during the early stages of treatment.

Is Seroquel Addictive?

Seroquel (quetiapine) is not considered to be highly addictive in the same way that substances like opioids or stimulants are. However, like many medications that affect the central nervous system, Seroquel has the potential for misuse, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms, particularly when used inappropriately or at high doses.

Here’s what to know about Seroquel and addiction:

  1. Physical Dependence: With prolonged use, the body can develop a physical dependence on Seroquel, meaning it becomes accustomed to the presence of the medication and may experience withdrawal symptoms if the medication is suddenly stopped or the dose is significantly reduced. Withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, nausea, headache, sweating, and agitation.

  2. Psychological Dependence: While Seroquel is not typically associated with intense cravings or compulsive drug-seeking behaviors seen with substances like opioids or cocaine, some individuals may develop a psychological dependence on the medication. This can occur if the individual relies on Seroquel to cope with stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues.

  3. Misuse and Abuse: Seroquel can be misused for its sedative effects, particularly when taken in higher doses than prescribed or in combination with other substances. Some individuals may abuse Seroquel to induce relaxation, sleep, or euphoria. However, misuse of Seroquel is less common compared to other drugs of abuse.

  4. Tolerance: With prolonged use, some individuals may develop a tolerance to the effects of Seroquel, meaning they require higher doses to achieve the same therapeutic effects. Tolerance can contribute to the risk of misuse and dependence if individuals escalate their dosage without medical supervision.

  5. Risk Factors: Certain factors may increase the risk of developing dependence or experiencing adverse effects from Seroquel, including a history of substance abuse, concurrent use of other psychoactive substances, and mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Reasons for Seroquel Abuse

People may abuse Seroquel for various reasons, including seeking sedative effects for sleep aid or relaxation. Some may use it to self-medicate or alleviate symptoms related to mental health conditions. However, it’s essential to recognize the serious consequences of Seroquel abuse, emphasizing the need for proper medical supervision.

Signs of Seroquel Abuse

Physical Signs:

  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Slurred speech and impaired coordination
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Dry mouth and blurred vision

Behavioral Signs:

  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using Seroquel
  • Neglecting responsibilities and social activities
  • Changes in mood, behavior, or social relationships

Can You Overdose on Seroquel?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Seroquel (quetiapine). An overdose occurs when someone takes a larger amount of the medication than prescribed or recommended, leading to toxic effects on the body. Overdosing on Seroquel can result in serious medical complications and may be life-threatening if not promptly treated.

Symptoms of a Seroquel overdose may include:

  1. Extreme drowsiness or sedation
  2. Confusion
  3. Agitation or restlessness
  4. Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  5. Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  6. Fainting or loss of consciousness
  7. Seizures
  8. Respiratory depression (slowed breathing)
  9. Coma

If you suspect that someone has overdosed on Seroquel, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. Contact emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room right away. Be prepared to provide information about the amount of Seroquel ingested, when it was taken, and any other relevant details.

Treatment for a Seroquel overdose may involve:

  1. Stomach pumping (gastric lavage) or administration of activated charcoal to absorb the medication in the stomach and prevent further absorption into the bloodstream.
  2. Monitoring of vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate.
  3. Supportive care to address symptoms, such as intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and medications to stabilize heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. Observation in a hospital setting until the effects of the overdose have resolved and the individual’s condition has stabilized.

Seroquel and Alcohol

Combining Seroquel (quetiapine) with alcohol is not recommended due to the potential for harmful interactions and increased risk of adverse effects. Both Seroquel and alcohol affect the central nervous system, and combining them can intensify the sedative effects of each substance, leading to excessive drowsiness, impaired judgment, and loss of coordination.

Here are some reasons why it’s best to avoid combining Seroquel and alcohol:

  1. Increased Sedation: Both Seroquel and alcohol have sedative properties, meaning they can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive function. When taken together, the sedative effects can be significantly intensified, potentially leading to extreme drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and slowed reaction times.

  2. Impaired Judgment: Alcohol can impair judgment and decision-making abilities. When combined with Seroquel, which can also affect cognition and perception, the risk of impaired judgment is further heightened. This can increase the likelihood of accidents, falls, and other injuries.

  3. Respiratory Depression: Both Seroquel and alcohol can depress respiratory function, meaning they can slow down breathing. When taken together, especially in large amounts, respiratory depression can become more pronounced, leading to breathing difficulties or even respiratory arrest in severe cases.

  4. Increased Risk of Overdose: Combining Seroquel and alcohol increases the risk of overdose, as both substances can have additive effects on the central nervous system. An overdose of Seroquel can be dangerous and may require immediate medical attention.

  5. Worsened Mental Health Symptoms: Alcohol can exacerbate symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. When combined with Seroquel, which is often prescribed to manage these conditions, alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication and worsen mental health symptoms.

Seroquel and Pregnancy

The use of Seroquel (quetiapine) during pregnancy is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and consultation with a healthcare provider. While there is limited data on the safety of Seroquel use during pregnancy, it is generally recommended to avoid using the medication unless the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks to the fetus.

Here are some important points to consider regarding Seroquel use during pregnancy:

  1. Potential Risks: Limited studies have suggested a possible association between Seroquel use during pregnancy and an increased risk of certain adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and neonatal withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s important to note that the available data is limited, and more research is needed to fully understand the risks associated with Seroquel use during pregnancy.

  2. Individualized Risk Assessment: Healthcare providers will typically conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine the potential risks and benefits of Seroquel use during pregnancy for each individual patient. Factors such as the severity of the mother’s psychiatric condition, the risks of untreated mental illness during pregnancy, and the availability of alternative treatment options will be taken into account.

  3. Potential Benefits: In some cases, the potential benefits of continuing Seroquel treatment during pregnancy may outweigh the potential risks. Untreated psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder can pose significant risks to both the mother and the fetus, including an increased risk of relapse, self-harm, or suicide. Maintaining stable mental health during pregnancy is important for the well-being of both the mother and the baby.

  4. Fetal Monitoring: Pregnant individuals who are taking Seroquel may require closer monitoring during pregnancy to assess fetal growth and development and to detect any potential adverse effects. This may involve regular prenatal visits, ultrasound examinations, and other tests to evaluate the health of the fetus.

  5. Breastfeeding Considerations: Seroquel is excreted in breast milk, and there is limited information available on the potential risks of breastfeeding while taking Seroquel. Healthcare providers will weigh the potential benefits of breastfeeding against the potential risks of Seroquel exposure to the infant and may provide guidance on the safest approach for each individual.

Ultimately, the decision to use Seroquel during pregnancy should be made in collaboration with a healthcare provider who can provide personalized guidance and support based on the individual’s medical history, psychiatric condition, and pregnancy-related concerns. It’s important to openly discuss any questions or concerns about Seroquel use during pregnancy to make informed decisions that prioritize the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby.

Can Seroquel Cause Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)?

Yes, Seroquel (quetiapine) can potentially cause tardive dyskinesia (TD), although the risk appears to be lower compared to some other antipsychotic medications. Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements, typically involving the face, tongue, lips, or other parts of the body. These movements may include grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, or rapid blinking.

The exact cause of tardive dyskinesia is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to prolonged exposure to certain antipsychotic medications that affect dopamine receptors in the brain. Tardive dyskinesia can develop gradually over time, sometimes after months or years of treatment with antipsychotic medications, and it may persist even after the medication is discontinued.

While the risk of tardive dyskinesia with Seroquel appears to be lower compared to older antipsychotic medications, such as haloperidol or chlorpromazine, it is still a potential side effect that should be monitored for during treatment. Risk factors for developing tardive dyskinesia include older age, longer duration of treatment, higher doses of medication, and a history of previous exposure to antipsychotic medications.

Seroquel Abuse Treatment Options

Detoxification and Withdrawal Management:

The initial step in treating Seroquel abuse often involves detoxification. This process ensures the safe removal of the drug from the body while managing withdrawal symptoms under medical supervision.

Residential Treatment Programs:

Residential programs offer comprehensive care in a structured environment, incorporating various therapies, counseling sessions, and support to address underlying causes of addiction and develop effective coping strategies.

Outpatient Treatment Programs:

Providing flexibility for those not requiring 24-hour supervision, outpatient programs offer counseling, therapy sessions, and support while enabling individuals to maintain daily responsibilities.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

 

FAQs

Yes, when used as prescribed and under medical supervision, Seroquel can be safe and effective in treating certain psychiatric conditions.

The duration of detoxification from Seroquel can vary depending on individual factors such as dosage, duration of use, and overall health. It is best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

Seroquel has a potential for abuse and dependence, especially when misused or taken without medical supervision. It is essential to use Seroquel only as prescribed by a healthcare provider.

Yes, there are alternative medications available for specific conditions. A healthcare provider can assess an individual’s needs and determine the most suitable treatment options.

Therapy, including individual counseling and group therapy, can play a significant role in the treatment of Seroquel abuse. It can help individuals address underlying issues, develop coping mechanisms, and build a strong support network.

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