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Recently we have seen an increase in the number of patients coming to Novus Medical Detox Center who have been prescribed Antipsychotics: Seroquel, Geodon, Abilify or Zyprexa. For many, these are prescribed for sleep. For others, they are prescribed for anxiety, mood swings and even ADHD. Our patients are always surprised, as they learn more about the side effects, that none of these uses have actually been approved by the FDA. This general class of drugs is labeled antipsychotics and they are sometimes referred to as neuroleptics.
In the 1950’s, antipsychotic drugs were developed to treat schizophrenia and psychosis. People diagnosed as schizophrenic or suffering from psychosis often experience delusions, hallucinate and act in a bizarre and erratic manner.
Because it was speculated that too high a level of a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger instructing the cells to take certain actions) called dopamine in the brain can lead to psychosis, the drug companies worked to develop drugs that would reduce the amount of dopamine present in the brain. The antipsychotic drugs attempt to block dopamine receptors in the brain and thus reduce the amount of dopamine.
Dopamine is believed to influence many of the body’s functions, including the way we move, think, sleep and respond to rewards and pleasurable sensations. The dopamine receptors are protein molecules that, when stimulated, produce more dopamine. Cocaine also stimulates the production of dopamine and while it can give feelings of pleasure, it can produce abnormal and erratic behavior.
The first antipsychotics developed are called typical antipsychotics. Some of the more common typical antipsychotics are:
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Loxapine (Loxitane, Loxapac)
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
- Perphenazine (Trilafon)
- Thioridazine (Mellaril)
- Molindone (Moban)
- Trifluoperazine (Stelazine)
- Mesoridazine (Serentil)
- Thiothixene (Navane)
- Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
There are four pathways (channels) in the brain that lead to dopamine receptors. In the medical literature it is speculated that these typical antipsychotics work on the dopamine receptors, but it is not known on which of the four pathways will be followed.
The group of antipsychotics developed after the typical antipsychotics are called atypical antipsychotics. They are called atypical because they differ in their actions in the brain from the typical antipsychotics. Many attempt to block not only dopamine but also serotonin—a neurotransmitter thought to increase feelings of well-being in most of us. Here are the most common atypical antipsychotics:
- Clozapine (Clozaril)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon)
- Amisulpride (Solian) (Approved in other countries, not approved by FDA)
- Paliperidone (Invega)
- Aripiprazole (Abilify)
Antipsychotic Side Effects
Dr. Peter Breggin, author of numerous books and articles and a practicing psychiatrist, describes the effect of antipsychotics as being like chemical lobotomies. This is because antipsychotics often create a numbing of emotions and make one lose interest in most things. If your purpose is to create people who function more like mindless zombies, then antipsychotics often accomplish this purpose.
The following are some of the more common side effects associated with antipsychotics:
- Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms
- Pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas)
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Agranulocytosis (a decrease in white blood cells that can be dangerous)
- Tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the face or limbs that often continue after the use of the antipsychotic is stopped)
- Tardive akathisia (extreme restlessness that often continues after the use of the antipsychotic is stopped)
- Tremors and shaking
- High or low blood pressure
- Tachycardia (increased heart rates)
- Dysphoria (sadness and depression)
- Disturbing dreams
Because of the way that antipsychotics affect brain chemistry, many of the antipsychotic side effects continue even after stopping the antipsychotic drug.
As we said earlier, antipsychotics are being used for many purposes for which they are not approved. While it is illegal for a drug company to promote a drug for a use that has not been approved by the FDA, many believe that this is just what has been done. However, much of this promotion of the drug to other doctors has been done by medical doctors on the payroll of the drug companies.
While it is not illegal for a doctor to prescribe antipsychotics for unapproved uses, it is highly risky to use a drug to treat a symptom when there have been no real medical studies done to evaluate the effectiveness or safety of the drug for that unapproved use. In fact, the damage to people taking these drugs has been so horrible that Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Zyprexa, has already paid an estimated $1.6 billion to settle lawsuits from individuals. Many states are also suing the makers of these dangerous drugs, and it is estimated that a final settlement will cost the manufacturers of these antipsychotics several billion dollars more.
However, it is disturbing that 50 years after they were developed, there is still no valid medical test to determine if the antipsychotics are truly effective or even how they work in the treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia. In fact, some like Dr. Thomas Geenens have said that blocking more than one of the four dopamine pathways (routes in the brain) may actually be harmful, but no one knows which or how many of the pathways will be blocked by an antipsychotic drug.
Yet these dangerous drugs continue to be given and increasingly for uses not approved by the FDA or validated by independent medical testing. One of the groups to which these drugs are being given is to foster children as young as two years old. This is an outrage.
If your doctor attempts to prescribe an antipsychotic or any other psychoactive drug, demand that your doctor show you the medical studies on which he or she is relying. Also ask if there is an alternative that has less dangerous side effects. If your doctor is relying not on science but the anecdotal evidence provided by a drug company representative or doctor on the payroll of the drug companies, refuse to take the prescription and find another doctor.
At Novus Medical Detox Center, we have developed protocols to help people detox from addictions/dependence on opioids, alcohol, benzodiazepines and psychoactive drugs. Please call us if we can help.
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
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