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Antipsychotic Addiction

This entry was posted in Addiction, Antipsychotic on by .

Last Updated on May 30, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus Published Nov 12, 2019
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

We know at Alternative to Meds Center that there are proven techniques to overcome antipsychotic addiction and achieve freedom from relying on prescription drugs.

For many people suffering from psychoses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, etc., feeling normal and balanced by taking antipsychotics is a wonderful change of pace. However, the problem with this is that the antipsychotics are being relied on to fix their problems instead of individuals fixing the problems on their own.

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Antipsychotic Addiction

Newspapers and exposes reporting on antipsychotic addiction just do not exist. Yet, the problem is no less ruinous than addiction to other substances.2 Just like a person who is feeling sad and decides to smoke marijuana or shoot heroin to feel better, a person who is feeling agitated, psychotic, or “crazy” turns to a fix too. And, just like smoking marijuana or shooting heroin, the problems are still there once you come down from the high. In fact, not only all of the original problems re-emerge, but some new ones might appear. Antipsychotic medication masks symptoms while the drug is active in your body but doesn’t really fix anything. These invasive drugs may even make things worse, as shown in various studies about the risks of tardive dyskinesia 3,4 that have been linked to antipsychotics. There are many potential problems down the line when it becomes necessary to withdraw from a drug that was taken long-term.

When you have been consuming a psychiatric medication that changes chemicals — dopamine — in your brain, including Risperdal (risperidone), Abilify (aripiprazole), Zyprexa (olanzapine), or Lamictal (lamotrigine), your body transitions. A person’s neurology starts to rely on — and develop a dependence on — the effects of the substance. These antipsychotic drugs act on certain chemicals and receptors in the brain, changing how we feel and how we behave. When the drugs are not present, the adverse reactions of withdrawal emerge.

Choosing Treatment that Does Not Lay in Addiction to Antipsychotics

antipsychotic withdrrawal symptomsMissing or forgetting a dose, reducing the dosage, or discontinuing use completely can induce not only antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms but a worsening state of mental health. If the plan is to keep your psychoses under control solely through the use of these medications, you would have to take them for the rest of your life. Fortunately, though, there are extremely effective antipsychotic alternatives to psychiatric medication options. You may not have had these described to you. No one has to struggle with Abilify addiction, Risperdal addiction, Zyprexa addiction, or Lamictal addiction. There is help.1

Most people do not want to take these drugs for the rest of their life and this is not what most people have in mind when first prescribed. You start taking them and as time goes by, you may become more and more dependent upon them and you need them to feel “normal.” This is what most people describe during heroin or other developing addictions: “I don’t want to take heroin for the rest of my life, but I don’t want to be in withdrawal and I want to feel normal. I will have to deal with my problems if I stop doing heroin.”

Proper antipsychotic tapering can help eliminate some of the problems associated with the process of recovering from medication dependence. Being able to deal with your problems without psychiatric medications can feel very rewarding. No one has to settle for antipsychotic addiction or dependence. Individuals are, more often than not, put on these medications during psychotic episodes or after other medications have failed to work. Perhaps a person was put on antipsychotic meds before other options were adequately explored. We can help you find a better pathway.

Antipsychotic Addiction After Long-Term Use

Though antipsychotic drugs may appear effective at the onset, they are not typically tolerated well in the long-term. Individuals using these medications usually feel like they cannot function in life as they desire to, and find difficulty in setting goals and perceiving reward. These serious side effects are often deemed as better than having to deal with visits to hospitals, or an inability to sleep in the case of insomnia, so many individuals continue taking the drug.2

However, other options in treatment exist under the umbrella of natural mental health, not relying on a continuing addiction to antipsychotics for the management or reduction of symptoms.5

The staff at Alternative to Meds Center includes over 40 medical professionals to offer effective antipsychotic addiction treatment.

Our caregivers are dedicated to the safety and comfort of our clients. We have been in similar situations as you and we understand how important it is to be both attentive and compassionate. Clients are consulted daily and weekly with their care teams to ensure that the micro-changes that are needed are put in place in a fluid, responsive fashion.

Alternative to Meds Protocols

To successfully end antipsychotic addiction we employ the following techniques:

  1. We use lab tests to find what may be the causes of the original symptoms. Toxicity is frequently found as the culprit. Genetics or the environment could be the source.
  2. We then aim to clear the person of these toxins.
  3. Restricting the use of stimulants found in processed foods, caffeine, and sugars.
  4. Supplements to stabilize the inhibitory part of neurochemistry are given.
  5. Our program for antipsychotic withdrawal is supported by nutrition, exercise, and cleansing protocols for a comfortable and very gradual process.
  6. Natural substances are prescribed such as amino treatment and other forms of orthomolecular medicine.
  7. Adjunctive therapies are abundantly given, such as individual counseling, peer support, acupuncture, massage, yoga, trainer-led exercise, nebulized glutathione treatments, and other alternative mental health treatments to provide comfort and stability.

antipsychotic addiction treatment sedona arizonaWhen the individual begins experiencing the sedative and stabilizing effects of these therapies, their medication can be slowly and gradually reduced. It may take longer than 60 days to complete a withdrawal program, especially where the medication was taken long-term. A person is welcome to lengthen their in-patient stay, or we can set up aftercare support to continue their program under medical supervision from their local MD when they return home.

You are invited to call and speak with us to obtain a more complete understanding of the types of antipsychotic addiction help that are available to you or a loved one at Alternative to Meds Center.


1. Samaha AN, “Can antipsychotic treatment contribute to drug addiction in schizophrenia?,” CNS Research Group, The University of Montreal [Internet] June 2013 and 2014 PMID 23793001 [cited 2020 Nov 4]

2. Bogart G, Ott C, “Abuse of Second-Generation Antipsychotics: What Prescribers Need to Know.” [PDF] Current Psychiatry 2011 May [cited 2020 Nov 5]

3. Wyatt R, “Risks of Withdrawing Antipsychotic Medications.” Journal of American Medicine [1995 Mar] Internet [cited 2020 Nov 5]

4. Margolese H, Ferreri F, “Management of conventional antipsychotic-induced tardive dyskinesia.” Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience [Internet] PMID 17245473, 2007 Jan [cited 2020 Nov 5]

5. Framingham J, “Psychotherapy and Other Non-Medication Treatments for Schizophrenia.” Published by PsychCentral [Internet] 2018 Oct 8 [cited 2020 Nov 5]



This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Antipsychotic Addiction
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