Hydroxyzine Abuse

Estimated reading time: 24 minute(s)

Hydroxyzine abuse poses a concerning public health issue, requiring awareness and understanding. Hydroxyzine, or Atarax, is an antihistamine medication commonly prescribed to manage many health conditions. However, its potential for abuse has garnered attention.

Misuse of Atarax involves taking the medication excessively or without a prescription for recreational purposes. Individuals may seek its sedative effects, leading to feelings of calmness and relaxation. The medication’s accessibility and perceived safety compared to controlled substances can make it an appealing choice for experimentation.

People who abuse the medicine are at a higher risk of experiencing multiple side effects, including potentially fatal situations. Knowing signs of Atarax abuse and treatment options is vital for people using the medicine and their loved ones to avoid Hydroxyzine-related complications.

Atarax Abuse – Mechanism of Action and the Path To Misuse

Hydroxyzine functions by antagonizing histamine receptors in the body. Histamine is a compound released during allergic reactions and plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle. By blocking histamine receptors, Hydroxyzine reduces allergic symptoms like itching and hives. Furthermore, it exerts a soothing effect by interacting with neurotransmitters in the brain, mainly by binding to receptors for neurotransmitters like serotonin and acetylcholine.

Hydroxyzine’s sedative and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects appeal to some individuals seeking relaxation or relief from anxiety-related symptoms. Hydroxyzine can provide a sense of calmness and tranquillity when taken in prescribed doses. However, these same effects can become a source of abuse. Generally, people may misuse the medicine for the following purposes:

  • Euphoria-seeking: Some individuals may discover that higher doses of Hydroxyzine produce a mild euphoria or a sensation of “floating.” This pleasurable feeling can motivate repeated and escalating use.
  • Self-Medication: Those experiencing emotional distress may misuse Hydroxyzine to self-medicate, attempting to alleviate anxiety or insomnia without consulting a healthcare professional.
  • Lack of Awareness: Unlike substances with clear addictive potential, Hydroxyzine is often perceived as safe due to its non-addictive classification. This perception can lead to underestimating its risks when used outside of medical guidelines.
  • Accessibility: Hydroxyzine is relatively easy to obtain, as it is a prescription medication. The accessibility can tempt individuals looking for alternatives to controlled substances.

To prevent abuse, healthcare providers must educate patients about the proper usage of Hydroxyzine, its potential side effects, and the importance of adhering to prescribed doses.

Is Hydroxyzine Addictive? – Use And Abuse Of The Medicine Explained

Hydroxyzine is renowned for its therapeutic benefits in managing anxiety, allergies, and sleep disturbances. However, the medicine’s potential for abuse should not be underestimated. While Hydroxyzine is not inherently addictive in the same way as substances like opioids or stimulants, it can be easily misused.

Unlike certain substances that induce euphoria or intense cravings, Atarax does not create a strong physiological dependence. It does not activate the brain’s reward pathways like addictive drugs, but some individuals may develop a psychological reliance on the medicine’s calming effects. The dependence can lead to an increasing belief that the medication is necessary for managing emotional discomfort, ultimately fostering a pattern of misuse.

Once individuals start misusing the medicine, they may experience several signs of psychological dependence, including:

  • Escalating Doses: Individuals abusing Hydroxyzine may progressively increase their dosage to achieve heightened sedative effects, as tolerance can develop over time.
  • Altered Mental State: Individuals might display excessive drowsiness, confusion, or disorientation due to the medication’s sedative properties.
  • Isolation and Secrecy: Those misusing Atarax may withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves to conceal their substance misuse.
  • Neglected Responsibilities: An important sign is neglect of personal, professional, or academic responsibilities due to the preoccupation with obtaining and consuming Hydroxyzine.
  • Multiple Prescribers or Pharmacies: Individuals seeking to obtain larger quantities of Hydroxyzine may doctor-shop or visit multiple pharmacies to avoid suspicion.
  • Combining with Other Substances: Some may combine Hydroxyzine with alcohol or other drugs to intensify its effects, which can have dangerous consequences.
  • Failed Attempts to Quit: Unsuccessful efforts to cut down or quit using Hydroxyzine despite recognizing its negative impact on health and life.

What Happens When You Discontinue Atarax – The Risk Of Hydroxyzine Withdrawal Symptoms

Many individuals try to stop taking the medicine to manage Hydroxyzine abuse. However, the medicine’s prolonged or abrupt discontinuation can be dangerous and cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Some of the withdrawal effects of Atarax are:

Rebound Anxiety

When Hydroxyzine is suddenly stopped after prolonged use, individuals might experience a resurgence of anxiety symptoms. This rebound effect can be more pronounced if the medication was initially prescribed to manage anxiety.


Discontinuing Hydroxyzine can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling or staying asleep. This can contribute to increased irritability and fatigue.

Agitation and Restlessness

Withdrawal from Hydroxyzine may trigger feelings of restlessness, making it challenging for individuals to remain calm and composed.

Gastrointestinal Distress

Nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset are typical withdrawal symptoms. These gastrointestinal disturbances can contribute to discomfort and unease.

Mood Swings

Abruptly stopping Hydroxyzine can lead to mood fluctuations, including increased irritability, moodiness, and even episodes of depression in some cases.

Physical Discomfort

Muscle aches, headaches, and general physical discomfort can emerge during withdrawal, potentially affecting daily functioning.

Dizziness and Lightheadedness

Some individuals may experience dizziness or a sensation of being lightheaded, which can impact their balance and coordination.

Abruptly discontinuing Hydroxyzine can significantly amplify the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, a carefully planned tapering process, conducted under the guidance of a healthcare professional, is crucial to minimize discomfort and potential risks. Gradual reduction of the medication allows the body to gradually adjust to lower doses, mitigating the shock that can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms.

Individuals considering discontinuing Hydroxyzine should consult their healthcare provider before changing their medication regimen. A healthcare professional can assess the individual’s medical history the reasons for discontinuation, and tailor a suitable tapering schedule. The approach ensures a smoother transition and reduces the likelihood of experiencing debilitating withdrawal symptoms.


Can Hydroxyzine Get You High?

Atarax is not known for producing a euphoric “high” like other substances. It primarily functions as an antihistamine and anxiolytic, meaning its effects focus on reducing allergic reactions and anxiety symptoms. While some individuals might experience relaxation or mild sedation from therapeutic doses, seeking a recreational “high” from Hydroxyzine is unlikely and potentially harmful due to side effects.

Is Hydroxyzine Dependency Completely Treatable?

Dependency on Hydroxyzine is generally treatable, especially when recognized early. Hydroxyzine is not classified as an addictive substance in the same way certain medications are. However, psychological dependency can still develop, where a person feels they need the medication to manage their anxiety or discomfort. Treating dependence involves gradually reducing the dosage under medical supervision and addressing the underlying reasons for misuse.

How Can I Manage Hydroxyzine-Related Mood Swings?

Mood swings can sometimes occur when using or discontinuing Hydroxyzine. To manage these mood fluctuations:

  • Taper Gradually: If you are discontinuing Hydroxyzine, do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional to minimize withdrawal symptoms, including mood swings.
  • Communication: If you are experiencing mood swings while taking Hydroxyzine, discuss them with your doctor. Adjustments to your dosage or treatment plan might be needed.
  • Alternative Strategies: Learn and practice stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation to help manage mood swings.
  • Therapy: Consider therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to address the root causes of mood swings and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Ensure you are getting enough sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity, as these factors can impact mood stability.
  • Medication Evaluation: If mood swings are persistent or severe, consult your healthcare provider to explore whether an alternative medication or treatment approach might suit your needs.

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