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Thinking about stopping your medicines without talking to your doctor? Think again!

Posted: October 28th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Pet-Medications-Without-Perscription-770148You know that taking too much medication is dangerous. But did you realize that abruptly stopping a medication after taking it regularly can be just as dangerous?


The form of withdrawal that many people have heard about is alcohol withdrawal. It can cause serious reactions like headache, cloudy thoughts, agitation, loss of appetite, shakes, sweating and even seizures.  What you may not know is that some routine medications can cause these same uncomfortable, unsafe, and unsettling side effects if you suddenly stop taking them.

Below, you will find some examples of these medications. This is not an all-inclusive list, but will give you a good idea of those that can result in dangerous side effects if you stop taking them too suddenly.

Of course, no matter which medications you take regularly, you should always ask your doctor before you stop taking them. 

Examples of Medications and Their Associated Withdrawal Effects

Medication Name(s) Withdrawal   Effects

Examples: dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall), methylphenidate (Ritalin)



Depression,   sluggishness, changes in heart rhythm

Antidepressants- SSRIs

Examples: fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft)


Nausea,   vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, shaking, fatigue,   trouble sleeping, vivid dreams, anxiety, irritability, confusion, difficulty   concentrating



Examples: quetiapine (Seroquel), clozapine (Clozaril)



Nausea,   vomiting, trouble sleeping, lightheadedness, excessive sweating, headache, diarrhea, anger


Examples:   lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax)



Anxiety,   fever, vomiting, seizures


Examples: Metoprolol (Toprol XL), atenolol


Increased   heart rate, chest pain, heart attack

Clonidine Quickly   increased heart rate and blood pressure, shaking
Muscle Relaxants

Examples: Baclofen, Carisoprodol (Soma)


Baclofen:   Fever, agitation, seizures, muscle breakdown that can lead to kidney damageCarisoprodol:   Difficulty sleeping, vomiting, headache, shaking, losing balance,   hallucinations


Opioid Pain Killers

Examples:  Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco), oxycodone (Oxycontin)



Runny   nose, goose bumps, diarrhea, nausea, trouble sleeping, yawning, agitation


Examples:  prednisone, dexamethasone


Fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, weight loss,   abdominal pain, dizziness when standing up, craving salty foods, low blood   pressure, shock


Bonus medication:  while they do not technically cause a withdrawal effect, stopping antibiotics before you have finished the course can result in other problems for your health: rebound infection and antibiotic resistance, which means the medicine may not work the next time.  Antibiotic examples include amoxicillin and azithromycin (Zithromax).

Remember, if you think your medications are causing unwanted side effects or are just not working, talk to your doctor or pharmacist ASAP.

If you think that you or someone you know is having an adverse reaction to a medication, call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We have trained pharmacists, physicians and nurses who can help.  Check out this blog post or visit the IPC website for more tips on medication safety.


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