The Duffy Blog

Mental & emotional wellness for today's youth & families

Hey Duffy! Is It Possible For Me To Be Physically Dependent On My Medication?

With the opioid crisis and the rise of benzodiazepine abuse, this is a general concern of most patients.

Many of our patients are not on medication.

We generally do not recommend medication unless symptoms are severe and the patient has experienced little progress in talk therapy. The most common medications we see are anti-depressants (SSRI’s) and stimulant medications (Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse etc.).

When anti-depressants are taken, it’s common for patients to discontinue the medication when they start to feel better.

When symptoms subside and patients report a more stable mood they will titrate (slowly take smaller doses) off of their medication under the supervision of their psychiatrists. Unfortunately, patients who abruptly discontinue taking their medication can experience depressive symptoms more pervasive than before.

With stimulant medications, side-effects are the most common complaint. Lack of appetite, poor sleep, and flat mood are commonly reported.

While patients cannot become physically dependent on these medications, they can be abused.

Taking more than prescribed, taking medications in a manner that is not recommended (snorting, in conjunction with another substance) can be extremely dangerous. These medications are to be taken ONLY as prescribed and discontinued immediately if adverse effects frequently occur.

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for treatment of pervasive anxiety.

These medications can be dangerous when taken in large amounts or over long periods of time.

This class of drugs is commonly abused and overdose or use with another substance can result in a medical emergency. Individuals can become physically dependent on this drug, suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms that can result in a medical emergency.

In general, if you are on any type of medication you must take it as prescribed.

If you experience adverse side effects or feel that the medication is not working, tell your doctor.

Doing so will help you come off of the medication in a safe way and provide your doctor with valuable information as they aim to prescribe the best medication for you.

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Write to the Duffy Counseling team at HeyDuffy@duffycounseling.com. Get the Hey Duffy! column delivered to your inbox twice a month. The column includes helpful tips, interesting stats, answers to frequently asked patient questions, therapy-trends inspired illustrations, and more!

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