Abruptly stopping a high-dose Thorazine regimen can make a person quite nauseous and dizzy. However, this can be avoided with a weaning process.
Does Thorazine Cause Dependence?
The drug does not cause dependence. Multiple academically accepted and peer-reviewed sources have determined that Thorazine is not associated with physical or psychological dependence. Additionally, taking the drug does not seem to produce any tolerance for it.
While a patient may wish to remain on the drug to avoid symptoms associated with the condition it is treating, this is only out of a rational desire to avoid troubling symptoms. The vast majority of patients will not be drawn to abuse Thorazine for any reason.
Thorazine is a fairly serious drug but only because it can have many adverse side effects if its use is not properly monitored. Always take Thorazine as prescribed.
Thorazine is not associated with any negative withdrawal symptoms, with only one notable exception. High-dose therapy, nearing the 1,000 mg (milligrams)/day recommended maximum, can cause some negative symptoms if use is abruptly stopped.
For this reason, it is recommended that a doctor wean the patient off high-dose Thorazine therapy with increasingly smaller doses or by continuing concomitant antiparkinsonian agents for several weeks after Thorazine withdrawal.
Abrupt Thorazine withdrawal is associated with the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and slight trembling
- Gastritis (stomach inflammation)
RxList, a source that has examined Thorazine, does note that these symptoms are reflective of symptoms of physical dependence. However, as they are associated with particularly high doses of the drug and can be avoided with either a gradual decline of dose or several weeks of related drugs, the drug is still considered resistant to abuse.
Why Go Off Thorazine?
There are a few reasons one might stop a course of Thorazine.
Perhaps most seriously, Thorazine can cause a condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD). This condition causes uncontrolled movement, and it can even be irreversible. For some, TD is an unfortunate outcome of needed treatment. For most though, a doctor will immediately alter treatment to cause the tardive dyskinesia to remit.
Generally, this condition is associated with chronic use — something doctors increasingly are careful about with Thorazine — but it can, in rare cases, happen with even short or mild regimens.
If you have serious concerns about tardive dyskinesia, or if you notice involuntary movements, ask a doctor as soon as possible about your symptoms.
Thorazine also is not for everyone. Some other drugs or conditions can have a negative or dangerous reaction with Thorazine. For example, Thorazine can reduce the cough reflex. This has the potential to cause serious issues if the patient vomits, although Thorazine can also suppress such nausea.
Sometimes drug interactions are not immediately clear, or they might only appear when the patient has a new condition or starts taking a new medication. Additionally, a doctor might just make a mistake and incorrectly prescribe Thorazine without realizing the risk of interactions.
Finally, some people might react poorly to Thorazine. Some of its more common side effects include:
- Breast swelling, with a potential for discharge
- Menstrual irregularity
- Dry mouth
- Stuffy nose
- Blurred vision
- Impotence and trouble orgasming
- Many additional side effects
Thorazine can be a serious aid to many people, but it is not without its drawbacks. Very few people who take it will experience every symptom.
If a drug dramatically affects a person’s quality of life, a doctor will usually recommend stopping the treatment and finding an alternative.
Alternatives to Thorazine
Chlorpromazine hydrochloride, or Thorazine, is most broadly considered an antipsychotic even if it has other uses, such as to help with extreme nausea as an antiemetic.
Registered English charity Mind, a mental health advocacy group, has compiled a list comparing a few dozen antipsychotics to inform people about their options. Mind’s list of alternatives includes benperidol, flupentixol, haloperidol, levomepromazine, and pericyazine.
Some examples of alternatives explored in an older 1993 study were haloperidol, levomepromazine, trifluoperazine, and thioproperazine, which were met with moderate success. The data in that study seem to conform to Mind’s more recent recommendations.
Is Thorazine Safe?
Thorazine can have serious side effects, especially after chronic use. However, a doctor who prescribes it is likely aware of these risks and can explain them to you if you have concerns for yourself or a loved one who is on Thorazine.
In addition to tardive dyskinesia, some patients on antipsychotics experience neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). This condition is life-threatening, causing very high fever, muscle rigidity, altered mental status, and heart problems.
“Unless the antipsychotic is absolutely necessary for treatment, a person will be taken off Thorazine if they experience NMS. The condition can be fatal and requires constant monitoring. ”
Thorazine should not be prescribed arbitrarily, but withdrawal is not a major concern.
The potentially serious side effects it can have are going to be the primary concern of a prescriber and a user. The nausea it can cause is easily avoided and will not be a major obstacle for most users.
Antipsychotics can improve the quality of life for a person, allowing them to live a calmer and more stable life. They also can be very important for stopping dangerous acute manic or psychotic episodes before someone is seriously hurt.
This is all in addition to the temporary relief it can provide for other problems.