Lexapro (generic name escitalopram) is an antidepressant known to treat both depression and anxiety. Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Serotonin, known as the “happy” neurotransmitter, signals an increase in feelings of happiness or well-being. It’s released into the spaces between your brain cells (synapses) in order to transmit this “happiness” signal through your brain and central nervous system.
Your brain cells eventually reabsorb the serotonin, removing it from the synapses and ending the signal. By preventing this “reuptake” of serotonin, SSRIs bolster these “happiness” signals and are therefore considered one of the most effective pharmaceutical treatments for depression.
While antidepressant misuse is less common than other substance addictions, it still occurs, especially in cases of dual diagnosis (when more than one mental disorder is identified in a patient). It’s also most common in teenagers.
If you or someone you know has been affected by escitalopram misuse, there are resources to help you recover.
Treatment plans vary for each individual. For occasional substance misuse, occasional counseling may be enough to help a person recover. For more serious cases, time at a rehabilitation facility may be the best option. The only way to truly determine the correct treatment plan for each person is to see a qualified treatment professional.
According to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), an individual with two of the following symptoms may officially be diagnosed with a substance misuse disorder:
- Taking more of the substance than intended or for a longer period of time
- Unsuccessful desire to control substance use or unsuccessful attempts to stop using the substance
- Substance cravings
- Obsession with the substance
- Substance use interferes with work, school, or family obligations
- Cessation of recreation or social events previously enjoyed due to substance use
- Interpersonal relationship damage from substance use and continued use regardless
- Using substance repetitively in physically dangerous situations or circumstances
- Tolerance to substance
- Withdrawal symptoms when a substance is removed
- Continued use despite negative physical and emotional consequences
The symptoms of SSRI misuse specifically (including escitalopram misuse) include confusion and seizures as well as psychosis-like symptoms (hallucinations, delusions, lack of self-awareness).
The medical detox methods for Lexapro involve gradually lowering the dosage over weeks/months. Each individual detox process will be different, depending on the person.
In cases of misuse, however, medical detox can cause severe withdrawal symptoms like fever, nausea, headaches, panic attacks, and more. When detoxing from Lexapro, individuals may experience a higher likelihood of suicidal thoughts, so a doctor should always be consulted. Detox programs range from in-patient, hospitalized settings to outpatient clinics. Publicly funded programs can be very affordable, while others accept health insurance or out-of-pocket payment.
The Recovery Village has addiction treatment centers all over the United States, with qualified professionals trained to help lead struggling individuals towards recovery. Rehab programs come in a variety of settings, ranging from hospitalization to daytime treatment. It’s important to speak to a qualified medical professional to assess which option is best for you.
Inpatient settings involve 24-hour monitoring and care for patients. This option is best suited for more involved cases of drug misuse, in which patients may need special care or may experience severe withdrawal symptoms while detoxing.
This option holds many other advantages over other types of rehab due to its intensive nature. Most inpatient settings provide options for some of the commonly coexisting disorders that accompany addiction, such as depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. The inpatient setting allows for constant monitoring and is often the best choice for those who are dependent on a substance and are unable to go days (or even hours) without it. Inpatient stays usually range from 30-45 days, and sometimes longer, depending on the patient’s needs.
Out-patient rehabilitation programs allow patients living at home to be monitored during business hours based on their level of progress and need for support. This type of program is best suited for motivated individuals who consistently arrive for their appointments. It allows an individual to continue working or keep up with home responsibilities while also receiving the help they need.
Meetings can range from daily sessions to once a week, and outpatient programs usually last between 30 and 90 days. This is a critical period in the rehabilitation process, in which individuals are most likely to experience a recurrence of use. The benefits of an outpatient program lie within the greater autonomy that individuals receive. Since the hours are flexible, the treatment can also be made more private so that patients can keep up with their daily lives.
To find the right rehabilitation center for each individual scenario, a qualified medical professional must be consulted. Doctors will often have recommendations for specific facilities. Once the intensity of the program (inpatient vs. outpatient) has been established, research must be done to find a facility that suits your financial, social, and medical needs.
The Recovery Village’s website includes a feature to locate the closest rehabilitation facility to you, as well as a toll-free addiction hotline number and a real-time chat service to help you determine what will best suit your or your loved one’s needs.
Lexapro (Escitalopram) Addiction/Abuse
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.