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Thorazine Withdrawal Symptoms, Chlorpromazine Side Effects, Treatment Help

This entry was posted in Antipsychotic on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on August 4, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr John Motl MD

Did you know that doctors are not trained at all in medical school in how to do a proper Thorazine withdrawal? It’s much easier to find a doctor who will put someone on a drug than it is to find a doctor skilled in titration or weaning off drugs.

Thorazine and other antipsychotic drugs alter, and some would say disable normal brain activity. Long term, this can spell trouble. A lifetime of taking antipsychotics is not necessarily the best way forward. There may be safer, milder, and more effective options to consider.

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Thorazine (chlorpromazine) Withdrawal Symptoms

Perhaps the most concerning chlorpromazine or Thorazine withdrawal symptoms would be the return of symptoms that were unmanageable and that preceded the choice of Thorazine treatment in the first place. Chouinard et al found that 85% of a cohort of 26 patients who were switched over periods as long as 2 years, from 15 years on Thorazine to a different antipsychotic medication experienced withdrawal symptoms of concern.7

More encouraging, are the results of a 2013 clinical trial involving withdrawing 98 patients across an age range of 15-66 years of age, who had been taking antipsychotics for one year or longer. 43 of 98 patients successfully discontinued their prescribed antipsychotic drug without significant behavioral worsening and most experienced actual improvements in behavioral functioning as a result.12

Thorazine withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking, tremors
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Return of psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tensional restlessness
  • Return of, and sometimes intensification of, original symptoms including deep depression, mania, rage, excitability, and aggressive or violent behavior

What Is Thorazine?

Thorazine dampens emotionsThorazine, generic chlorpromazine, is classified as an antipsychotic medication prescribed for schizophrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and in children aged 1 to 12 years of age with severe behavioral problems. Thorazine is a drug from 1951 and was the first medication ever to be named an “antipsychotic” drug. Today it is described as a “low-potency cholinergic” medication.7 The brand name “Thorazine” is no longer used, but chlorpromazine is still very much in use. The drug provided a welcome change from earlier protocols for treating or subduing symptoms of psychoses and schizophrenia which mainly centered on heavy sedation, medical restraints to keep the patient tied to their bed, electroconvulsive shock treatment, insulin-induced coma style “treatment,” or lobotomy and the patients were quietly kept locked away for decades in old musty buildings.1

Even today, drugmakers and regulators clearly state they have no clear understanding of the mechanism of action of antipsychotic drugs, but a widely discussed theory is that all antipsychotic medications bind to certain dopamine receptors. Unfortunately, over the long-term, constant blockade of these receptors causes a deterioration of the patient’s health.15

In a practical sense, these drugs do have the capacity to effectively subdue or dampen violence or other behaviors that are difficult to manage. In our modern age, more attention is beginning to be placed on psychosocial treatments, using non-drug treatments where possible, and shorter treatment with neuroleptics and a more compassionate context has developed in the overall field of mental health. With insights from modern researchers and holistic psychiatrists such as the remarkable Dr. Peter Breggin and many others, this certainly looks like a positive evolutionary step.2

Today chlorpromazine is sold under other trade names such as Largactil, and others around the globe. Since the drug has been around for three-quarters of a century, a considerable body of data has accumulated on chlorpromazine. Below is an outline of various topics of information that might be considered recommended reading for anyone considering starting or stopping Thorazine or similar drugs.

What Is Thorazine (chlorpromazine) Used For?

Over the years and decades, there have been various uses and brand names of chlorpromazine approved by the FDA. Chlorpromazine was a derivative of drugs used in insecticide and deworming research, for their toxic effects. At its inception, chlorpromazine was mostly considered a candidate for anesthesia for surgical use. Psychiatrists however took a keen interest in experimenting with it on psychiatric patients, and the subject of psychopharmacology was born. Now we see the thousands of drugs that this branch of “medicine” has birthed because of an ongoing infatuation with drug-therapy-based mental health treatment.13

In 1989 an oral suspension version of chlorpromazine called Versacloz© was FDA approved for 2 specific uses:  “treatment-resistive” schizophrenia, and reducing suicidal behavior in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. A tablet form of chlorpromazine and its injectable counterpart gained FDA approval in 2013 as a major tranquilizer for short-term use to manage violent, overexcited, or dangerous behavior. It also gained approval to treat persisting hiccups, and for managing nausea and vomiting in terminal illnesses if no other drugs could be found to work. Chlorpromazine also gained approval to treat childhood autism and childhood schizophrenia. There were no clinical trials prior to FDA’s initial approval for chlorpromazine, which was not unusual for the 1950s. This perhaps left the door pretty wide open for experimental use and the number of reasons for prescribing it “off-label”. Off-label uses do not require testing, or clinical or safety trials before implementation.4,8,9

Off-label uses for chlorpromazine include:
  • Bipolar episodes of mania
  • ADHD
  • Behavioral problems in children aged 1 through 12
  • As an augmentative medication in the treatment of tetanus
  • As an adjunct treatment for serotonin syndrome
  • To prevent migraine-related nausea
  • As a pre-surgical tranquilizer
  • To prevent nausea and vomiting during surgery
  • For treating a group of diseases called porphyria. Acute porphyria is thought to be genetic in origin, involving imbalances of red blood cells, causing blisters, rash, fever, abdominal pain, and other symptoms.

Thorazine (chlorpromazine) Alternative Names and Slang

Thorazine (discontinued), Largactil©, Megaphen©, Omazine©, Thorazine Spansule©, and others are all brand or trade names for the generic drug chlorpromazine.

Sometimes antipsychotic drugs are nicknamed “drool drugs” as they can induce profuse salivation, and decrease the ability to swallow as the throat may become constricted. Drug-based therapy, especially long-term, can, unfortunately, cause the patient to become prone to this characteristic.

Thorazine, et. al, did not develop a known street presence as a drug of recreational use, although there is never a guarantee against the possibility of diversion-sourced drugs being covertly trafficked in the illicit or non-medical market. Freedom of Information materials released in 1977 and reported in the 1977 Washington Post, revealed that CIA-led experiments of the 50s and 50s used chlorpromazine reportedly under the brand name “Chlorapromise” and other drugs on students in top-secret operations at an estimated 80 private and public universities and schools in the United States.10

Despite its cloudy history, chlorpromazine remains on the WHO’s list of “essential” medications today.11

Thorazine (chlorpromazine) Side Effects

Thorazine, or chlorpromazine, produces a number of side effects. Weight gain is a rather notorious one for this drug, thought to be related to changes in glucose levels in the blood. However, this side effect usually reverts back to normal once the drug is stopped, though it may take several years for weight to normalize again.1

Other side effects of chlorpromazine include:
  • Motor movement disorders, i.e., tardive dyskinesia, tongue rolling, shuffling walk, tics, etc.
  • Swelling in body parts, face, eyes, extremities
  • Breast enlargement and discharge
  • Menstrual changes
  • Impotence, loss of libido, Anorgasmia
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Tachycardia
  • An allergic rash that can be fatal
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin, indicating possible liver dysfunction
  • Itching or hives
  • Sweating profusely
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep
  • Drowsiness
  • Vision difficulties, i.e., blurring or inability to see in dim lighting
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing (constricted throat)
  • Muscle stiffness or rigidity
  • Slow motor movement

Discontinuing/Quitting Thorazine (chlorpromazine)

Quitting chlorpromazine should be discussed with your physician to look at other possible alternatives, but in any case, stopping chlorpromazine never be abrupt. A gradual taper would be a safer and milder approach if the decision were made to stop the long-term use of antipsychotic medications.

In today’s world of growing options for drug-free mental health treatment, there are many psycho-social and even nutritional protocols that might also be considered in overall treatment planning.2,3

Thorazine Withdrawal:  FAQs

Thorazine, generic chlorpromazine, has been quite well-studied over the 70+ years since it was first marketed. Following are a number of topics that are frequently researched for more information on important health matters such as drug effects, overdose, diseases linked to Thorazine, and more.

What Does Thorazine Do to You?

Chlorpromazine is a member (derivative) of a group of chemical compounds termed “phenothiazines.” Phenothiazine drugs have the capability of influencing or acting upon the chemicals in the human brain and central nervous system, and the same systems in animals and insects.14

In the 1940s, phenothiazine and its derivatives were used as insecticides and for deworming due to their remarkably effective toxicity characteristics. As research continued, there were many derivatives produced, like chlorpromazine (untested on humans, tested on rats and other animals, in clinical trials, and to investigate negative effects on fertility/sterility).5 The drug became widely used for mental health treatment.

Can You Overdose on Thorazine?

Yes. Chlorpromazine is used to treat schizophrenia and manic or mixed episodes in bipolar disorders. The drug can interact with other drugs, and also can change the metabolism of the body.

When too much of the drug is taken, either purposefully or accidentally, it can result in an overdose. Signs of overdose require immediate medical intervention, and may include the following:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tachycardia (racing heartbeat)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Parkinsonism (slowed or restricted muscle movement, rigidity)
  • Severe extrapyramidal dyskinesia (motor movement compulsive and repetitive spasms)

Thorazine Withdrawal and General Information on Antipsychotics

Are there any diseases linked to antipsychotics?

Thorazine or chlorpromazine is linked with numerous diseases or conditions.4 Some of these are described below and include:

  • Dementia
  • AAI (acute alcohol intoxication)
  • CD or cardiovascular disease
  • CNS depression (central nervous system depression)
  • Head injury from falls
  • Breast cancer
  • Dystonic reactions:  twisted spasmodic or fixed unusual body postures or motions.
  • Anticholinergic effects, where a drug aggressively blocks the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine resulting in dry mouth, dental problems, lung disease, digestive, and many other systemic dysfunctions, can lead to death.
  • Hematology toxicity, toxic changes to the blood platelets, etc.
  • Liver disease
  • NMS or neuroleptic malignant syndrome, symptoms including tremor, extreme (lead-pipe) muscle rigidity, high fever, drop in blood pressure, tachycardia, and increased rate of breathing. NMS is a potentially fatal condition.
  • Parkinsonism:  a drug-induced condition resembling the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as shuffling walk, rigid muscles, slowed or impaired movements, etc.
  • Respiratory illness or dysfunction
  • Seizures
  • Tardive dyskinesia:  a typically irreversible condition characterized by rolling or spasmodic muscle motions of the face, tongue, lip-smacking, limbs hands feet twisting, etc.

What does chlorpromazine do to the brain?

Over nearly 20 years of observation and genetic testing and analysis, we have seen an association between impaired catecholamine methyltransferase and certain conditions linked to features of low and high moods, psychosis and mania.

antipsychotics and dopamineA possible explanation resides in the manner in which the biological pathways of certain neurotransmitters function. We know that certain catecholamines perform an excitatory response to the part of the brain called the limbic or emotional region of the brain. These natural chemicals include dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline.

A person with a low sense of reward may be drawn to using stimulants. Whereas, a person with an overly elevated sense of reward may appear manic. Therefore, where a person is genetically inhibited in the breakdown of dopamine, it would seem to follow that the person could be suffering from excessive dopamine levels. Thorazine may be de-escalating the expression of dopamine or other excitatory chemicals, which will, as a result, dampen the manic symptoms.

Unfortunately, the body does have the capacity to adapt, so this may not be a permanent solution. More research needs to be done in genetics, nutrition, environmental toxins, and related subjects to get a more complete understanding of psychosis, schizophrenia, and other disorders and better ways to treat these conditions successfully.

Treatment for chlorpromazine abuse and addiction?

nutritional orthomolecular therapyThe treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar symptoms, etc. has mostly centered on pharmaceutical drugs to sedate the patient. While drug-based therapy may prove beneficial for some, for others, there may come a time when the decision is made to discontinue antipsychotic medications and seek other holistic drug-free therapies.

A mild and gentle taper program, supported by holistic, psycho-social, and nutritional protocols may provide an excellent choice to consider. At Alternative to Meds Center, we have helped many patients to come off medications gently and gradually, along with these types of methods, genetics testing, targeted supplementation, etc., with much success.

Thorazine, chlorpromazine Withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center

The center tests for and gently removes chemicals, environmental neurotoxins, heavy metals, and other sources of accumulated harmful toxins as a rudimentary step. Some of the methods used include orthomolecular medicine, nebulized glutathione, sauna, bentonite clay packs, and many other supportive actions.

drug treatment facility sedona azOften, clients report a significant improvement in overall wellness from these procedures, such as improved sleep and appetite, improved mood, and higher energy levels. Beginning a taper at such a point allows for a more efficacious, enjoyable, and stable experience.

Perhaps you or a loved one are considering a change in focus and a more natural approach to mental health treatment.

There are many alternatives and a wide range of holistic protocols used in our program to improve and support drug-free, natural mental health.

We invite you to contact us for more information about the Thorazine withdrawal programs and protocols offered at our inpatient, retreat-style facility, Alternative to Meds Center in Sedona, Arizona.

1. Haddad P, Kirk R, Green R, Chlorpromazine, the first antipsychotic medication: history, controversy and legacy. BAP 2016 [cited 2022 Aug 3]

2. Hoenders H, Bartels-Velthuis A, Vollbehr N, Bruggeman R, Knegtering H, deJong J, Natural Medicines for Psychotic Disorders. J Nerv Ment Dis 2018 Feb [cited 2022 Aug 3]

3. Levine B, Anti-authoritarians and Schizophrenia: Do Rebels Who Defy Treatment Do Better? Mad In America, 2012 May 4 [cited 2022 Aug 3]

4. FDA Label Thorazine (approval 1989, revised 2015) [cited 2022 Aug 3]

5. Zamani Z, et al., “The Effects of Chlorpromazine on Reproductive System and Function in Female Rats.” International Journal of Fertility and Sterility [Internet] 2015 Oct [cited 2022 Aug 3]

6. Chokhawala K, Stevens L. Antipsychotic Medications. [Updated 2022 Mar 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 Aug 3]

7. Chouinard G, Bradwejn J, Annable L, Jones BD, Ross-Chouinard A. Withdrawal symptoms after long-term treatment with low-potency neuroleptics. J Clin Psychiatry. 1984 Dec;45(12):500-2. PMID: 6150030. [cited 2022 Aug 3]

8. Mann SK, Marwaha R. Chlorpromazine. [Updated 2022 May 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2022 Aug 3]

9. FDA label Largactil (chlorpromazine) published 2013 [cited 2022 Aug 3]

10. Richards B, Jacobs J, 3 Area Colleges Used by CIA in Behavior Testing Washington Post August 18, 1977 [cited 2022 Aug 3]

11. WHO model list of essential medicines 2021-22nd list [cited 2022 Aug 4]

12. de Kuijper G, Evenhuis H, Minderaa RB, Hoekstra PJ. Effects of controlled discontinuation of long-term used antipsychotics for behavioural symptoms in individuals with intellectual disability. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2014 Jan;58(1):71-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2012.01631.x. Epub 2012 Oct 10. PMID: 23046144. [cited 2022 Aug 4]

13. Braslow JT, Marder SR. History of Psychopharmacology. Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2019 May 7;15:25-50. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050718-095514. Epub 2019 Feb 20. PMID: 30786241. [cited 2022 Aug 4]

14. Mitchell SC. The toxicity of phenothiazine. Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 1994;11(3):201-35. doi: 10.1515/dmdi.1994.11.3.201. PMID: 12371440. [cited 2022 Aug 4]

15. Amato D, Vernon AC, Papaleo F. Dopamine, the antipsychotic molecule: A perspective on mechanisms underlying antipsychotic response variability. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018 Feb;85:146-159. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.027. Epub 2017 Sep 29. PMID: 28970021. [cited 2022 Aug 4]

Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

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

Dr. John Motl, M.D.

Dr. Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine.  Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.

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Thorazine Withdrawal Symptoms, Chlorpromazine Side Effects, Treatment Help
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