Strattera (Atomoxetine) Addiction And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022

Strattera (atomoxetine) is a nonstimulant ADHD medication that is generally non-addictive but can be misused. People who misuse Strattera may be recommended drug abuse treatment to support their full recovery.

Strattera (Atomoxetine) Addiction — Abuse And Treatment Options

Strattera is the brand name for the generic drug atomoxetine, which is prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, teenagers, and adults.

Strattera may be prescribed as part of a full treatment program for ADHD. Compared to other common ADHD medications, Strattera is less likely to be abused.

People with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be at risk for misusing or becoming addicted to Strattera.

If you suspect someone you know is misusing Strattera, here’s what you should know about Strattera and drug abuse treatment options.

What Is Strattera?

Strattera, also known as atomoxetine, is a prescription drug used to treat ADHD.

It belongs to a class of prescription medications known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Other common ADHD drugs include:

  • Ritalin
  • Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • Focalin
  • Adderall (amphetamine)
  • Dexedrine
  • Quillivant

Unlike most other common ADHD medications, Strattera is not a stimulant drug. It has a low potential for abuse.

This means that children, teens, and adults who are prescribed Strattera are less likely to use it in ways other than prescribed, due to its chemical properties.

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What Does Strattera Do?

Strattera works in the body by acting on the brain chemical, norepinephrine, which is associated with behavior regulation. When taken, Strattera increases the levels of norepinephrine in the brain.

Taking Strattera can:

  • improve attention span
  • decrease hyperactivity
  • decrease impulsivity

Over time, taking Strattera may cause drug tolerance.

This can require that you increase your dose of the drug over time to feel the desired effects. Talk to your healthcare provider before adjusting your drug dosage.

Side Effects Of Strattera (Atomoxetine)

Strattera doesn’t cause the same stimulant side effects as some other common ADHD medications. However, it can still lead to some physical and mental side effects.

Side effects of Strattera may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • constipation
  • increased blood pressure
  • heartburn
  • gas
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • sweating
  • stomach pain
  • muscle pain
  • unusual dreams
  • burning or tingling of the arms, legs, hands, and feet

Strattera may cause serious adverse reactions in some people.

Talk to your doctor if you experience fast or irregular heartbeat, chest pain, flu-like symptoms, or difficulty breathing after taking Strattera.

Strattera can also cause erectile dysfunction, painful menstrual periods, and cause unusual changes in mood and behavior.

Strattera Abuse: Signs And Symptoms

One of the primary benefits of prescribing Strattera for ADHD is that it has a much lower potential for abuse compared to other common ADHD drugs.

Even so, Strattera can be abused by itself, or in combination with other drugs, including alcohol.

Drug abuse refers to a pattern of drug misuse, whereby someone may repeatedly use a drug in ways other than prescribed by a doctor.

Signs of Strattera abuse may include:

  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking it more often
  • taking it for longer than prescribed
  • taking it for reasons other than prescribed
  • taking it with other drugs to get high

People who are abusing drugs like Strattera may act or behave differently than normal. They may eat less, have difficulty sleeping, and appear more depressed or irritable than usual.

Drug abuse can also cause people to become more secretive, isolate from friends, and show less interest in activities previously enjoyed.

Is Strattera Addictive?

Addiction is uncommon with Strattera. Strattera is believed to be a drug that is unlikely to be misused, and unlikely to become psychologically addictive by itself.

Unlike other addictive drugs, Strattera does not increase levels of dopamine—one of the neurotransmitters associated with addiction and some mental health disorders.

People who are abusing multiple drugs, including Strattera, may feel reliant on these drugs to get through the day, which can be a sign of physical dependence or addiction.

Dangers Of Strattera

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that Strattera may increase the risk of severe depression and thoughts of suicide in children and young adults who take Strattera.

Signs of suicidal ideation in children and teens include:

  • changes in appetite or sleep
  • flat emotional affect
  • decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • new or worsening depression
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • talking about harming themselves
  • making plans to kill themselves
  • social isolation

Abusing Strattera can risk additional health dangers, including drug overdose and addiction.

Overdose may be life-threatening in severe cases, especially if Strattera has been taken with other drugs, including alcohol.

Drug addiction can be a chronic, dangerous struggle without substance abuse treatment. People who become addicted to Strattera may experience difficulties in school, work, relationships, and behave in ways that are reckless and impulsive.

Strattera Overdose: Signs And Symptoms

Taking excessive amounts of Strattera can lead to drug overdose. Overdosing on Strattera can be dangerous, especially if someone has taken Strattera with other drugs or alcohol.

Signs and symptoms of overdose include:

  • sleepiness
  • hyperactivity
  • dilated pupils
  • agitation
  • stomach problems
  • fast heart rate

Drug overdose can also cause seizures, difficulty breathing, and unconsciousness. Call your doctor or 911 if someone you know is experiencing an adverse reaction after taking Strattera.

Can Strattera Cause Withdrawal?

Generally, people who take Strattera aren’t at risk for experiencing withdrawal symptoms after they’ve stopped taking it.

Any withdrawal symptoms that do emerge are likely to be mild in nature, and may include irritability, rebound ADHD symptoms, and changes in sleep, appetite, or mood. Detox is not usually necessary.

If someone is abusing Strattera with other drugs, withdrawal may occur as a result of dependence on other substances.

Dependence on benzodiazepines, alcohol, prescription stimulants, and other common drugs of abuse may cause serious withdrawal symptoms with stopped drug use.

Treatment For Strattera Abuse And Addiction

Substance use disorders affect millions of individuals and families in the United States. While Strattera is not a common drug of abuse, it can be misused.

Talking to a doctor about your drug use, or that of a loved one, can help you determine an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment for Strattera abuse may include:

  • inpatient rehab
  • dual diagnosis treatment
  • outpatient rehab programs
  • behavioral therapy
  • recovery support groups
  • aftercare programs

Reach Out For Help With A Strattera Addiction

Recovering from drug abuse and addiction is possible. Many drug rehab centers in the United States offer specialty programs for people with ADHD, teenagers with drug abuse issues, and people with co-occurring mental illness.

Call our helpline today to learn more about Strattera abuse and how to find addiction treatment programs near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022
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