National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Ask the Psychiatric Pharmacist #3

Image   Written by Julie Dopheide, Pharm.D., BCPP

Will I become addicted to the medication?  I don’t want to become addicted?

This is a commonly asked question.   Addiction involves taking more and more of a drug and craving it, despite having negative consequences from taking it. For some people who are addicted, much time is spent making sure that there is always an available supply of the drug. Common addictions are for drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.  Addicted individuals may crave these drugs but sometimes taking them makes them feel paranoid and even hallucinate. 

Most medications for severe brain disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar illness do not pose a risk of addiction.  These medications alleviate symptoms and improve your health but there is no craving and the outcome of use is positive.  For example, sleep is improved and concentration is better when people having schizophrenia take an antipsychotic like risperidone (Risperdal®), quetiapine (Seroquel®), aripiprazole (Abilify®), olanzapine (Zyprexa®), ziprasidone (Geodon®), iloperidone (Fanapt®), asenapine (Saphris®), lurasidone (Latuda®), paliperidone (Invega®), clozapine (Clozaril®), or haloperidol (Haldol®).

Some prescription medications to relieve anxiety and improve sleep, for example, lorazepam (Ativan®), alprazolam (Xanax®), clonazepam (Klonopin®) and diazepam (Valium®) can pose a risk of addiction in persons prone to addictions.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the risk of addiction with your specific medications.

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NAMI Wishes to thank the College of Psychiatric and Neurological Pharmacists for their participation in writing our medication fact sheets and for writing our "Ask the Psychiatric Pharmacist" questions and answers.