Individuals suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may be prescribed Seroquel to treat symptoms of their condition. As an antipsychotic, this substance can help individuals who are experiencing psychotic symptoms of a medical condition. Off-label use of Seroquel, however, can develop into a substance use disorder (SUD). Long-term misuse of the substance can lead to health problems, as well as put the individual at risk of Seroquel overdose.
What Kind of Drug is Seroquel?
Seroquel, also known by its generic name quetiapine, belongs to a group of substances known as antipsychotics, or neuroleptics.
While opioids typically treat pain and stimulants may be prescribed to treat conditions like ADHD, neuroleptics are typically employed by medical professionals to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Specifically, symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or frantic thoughts can be helped with a neuroleptic prescription.
Though both have similar effects, neuroleptics fall into two main categories: One type (typical) affects dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain, while the other type (atypical), affects both dopamine and serotonin receptors.
In the brain, these chemicals are responsible for several aspects of life, including mood, appetite, and reward responses. While it might seem counterproductive to inhibit these chemicals in the brain, individuals who suffer from psychotic symptoms often have an overabundance of serotonin and dopamine, which means this method of action can have a balancing effect to help treat the individual’s symptoms. Quetiapine affects both dopamine and serotonin transmission, so it classifies as the second type of neuroleptic.
Seroquel Half Life
The 6-hour-long Seroquel half life is somewhat short for prescription medications. This means that it typically takes six hours for the human body to chemically eliminate half of a given dose of quetiapine.
So, if a patient were to have a dose of 200mg, there would be 100mg left in their body after six hours had passed. In another 6 hours, there would be only 50mg. This process would repeat every six hours until the entire dose is eliminated from the body. Since the Seroquel half life is short, individuals with a prescription may need to take it daily in order to experience its effects continually.
Individuals who have a prescription for Seroquel may experience several side effects. Most of these effects are mild, but some serious effects can manifest by consuming Seroquel and alcohol simultaneously. The most common side effects of Seroquel include:
- Sore Throat
- Muscle Weakness
- Weight Gain
Some individuals may also use the drug to self-medicate, or to treat an off-label condition that the FDA has not recognized quetiapine to treat. For instance, an individual may take advantage of the tiredness that often comes with taking Seroquel for sleep. However, using the substance for non-prescription purposes can lead to dangerous consequences or an unexpected interaction with another substance.
Risks for Seroquel Overdose and Abuse
Quetiapine has had a history of abuse, but these reasons differ from the usual motivations for misuse. While some individuals may abuse a substance to experience euphoric effects or pleasant symptoms, abuse of this drug is usually the result of individuals consuming Seroquel for sleep loss or anxiety symptoms.
Seroquel for Sleep
Though more “innocent” than other reasons for prescription drug abuse, any inappropriate use of prescription medications can have uncomfortable consequences. Misuse also often forms a dependent relationship with the drug.
Individuals with a history of substance abuse may seek Seroquel as an alternative to their former addiction. Long-term use of the drug, however, can have detrimental effects on metabolism, weight gain, and blood fat content.
True addiction potential for Seroquel has yet to be measured. There have been multiple cases of individuals abusing or misusing Seroquel, but scientists have not yet determined if the substance can be physically addictive.
Notably, nearly all of the cases in which individuals misused Seroquel had previously suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Due to the nature of quetiapine abuse cases up to this point, it seems unlikely for someone to suddenly develop a Seroquel misuse problem. Rather, individuals who have had a history with substance abuse are most at risk of abusing the prescription drug.
Seroquel may, therefore, be low-risk in terms of addictive potential, and Seroquel overdose is also relatively low-risk. When compared to other similar neuroleptics, the list of Seroquel overdose symptoms is short.
While still potentially life-threatening for some individuals, the most dangerous Seroquel overdose symptoms recorded manifested as a high heart rate. Other symptoms included drowsiness and a weakened heart beat.
When compared to the life-threatening overdose symptoms of many other substances, quetiapine’s effects are relatively mild, even in high concentrations. However, these symptoms may be more serious when combined with other substances.
Since Seroquel abuse often occurs in individuals suffering from another substance abuse disorder, the potential for dangerous interactions may be more likely than normal.
Steps Toward Recovery
While Seroquel abuse is unlikely to develop by the drug alone, individuals who have a history with prescription drug abuse may be at risk of abuse. Though the side effects and Seroquel overdose symptoms may appear to be mild, substance misuse or abuse should always be taken seriously and addressed quickly.
If you think a loved one is suffering from Seroquel abuse or any other kind of SUD, contact us today. Reaching out can be one of the first and most crucial steps to take to help a suffering loved one.