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Promethazine Abuse: Side Effects, Withdrawal, and Treatment

PromethazinePromethazine is used in medical applications for sedation, as a sleeping pill and for treating allergic reactions. It is an antihistamine, which can treat nausea and vomiting as well as motion sickness. It is given to patients before and after surgery to make them feel more relaxed.

Promethazine is available over the counter and is an ingredient in cough syrups. There has been growing concern over the abuse of Promethazine especially by users of Opioids trying to manage chronic pain and abusers who use it for its euphoric effects. Whether used by itself or with opioids it can have adverse mental and physical side effects for the user.

How Promethazine is Abused

It is often used with opiates to enhance the euphoria in an attempt to achieve Promethazine high. To addicts, this reduces the dosage needed to get high. It also reduces nausea associated with opiates. Even though there are no statistics that clearly indicate the extent of the abuse of these two drugs, research shows promethazine use to be extensive among methadone users.

Another common pattern of abuse is mixing Promethazine with codeine. Codeine is an ingredient in many cough syrup products. This combination provides effects such as relief from tension and anxiety, relief from physical pain and a general sense of euphoria.

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Side Effects

The side effects of abusing these drugs can be quite severe. The risk of dependency is high and it can have serious cardiovascular and nervous system complications.

One of the reasons abuse of the drug can cause dependency also has to do with the way it is consumed. For example, purple drank is a mixture of soda or cough syrup with codeine and Promethazine. The use of soda and other flavors makes it harder for people to keep track of how much they are consuming. Coupled with the euphoric effects of the drug, this means it is easy for users to accidentally overdose.

Because the drug is used to treat a wide range of health issues such as allergies, nausea and motion sickness, its widespread availability has caused its own problems. For example, a 2014 report indicated that the abuse of the drug by teenagers and young adults was rising. This was compounded by easy access of the drug online as well as unprofessional advice on how to use it.

Despite the ease of access and its widespread availability, the drug is not without risks. As a first-generation antihistamine, Promethazine has a greater potential for toxicity than other antihistamines. Some of the common side effects of promethazine are:

Common Side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Euphoria
  • Confused thinking
  • Skin swelling
  • Involuntary movements

Less Common Side Effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Yellow eyes
  • Swollen yellow skin
  • Rigid Muscles
  • Heart palpitations

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Treatment of Promethazine Abuse

The treatment of Promethazine abuse requires detoxification to reduce the side effects associated with withdrawal. Some of the side effects of withdrawal may include Insomnia, headaches, depression, and nausea amongst other symptoms.

As the addict begins to abstain from the drug, they may experience symptoms that affect them physically and mentally. Detox at a rehab facility may require at least eight days of treatment and observation before the substances can be eliminated from the body.

It is also advisable to check into an outpatient or inpatient facility for dual diagnosis, counseling and even vocational placement. Dual diagnosis addresses the mental alongside the substance addiction issue. Aftercare includes vocational training amongst other programs, to help addicts readjust and avoid relapsing in the future. The bottom line is that an evidence-based professionally run rehabilitation program is your best bet to beat addiction and avoid the health complications it may cause.

Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-371-4198 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.