November 14, 2023

Abilify Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

A man sits on his laptop, learning about Abilify addiction and the withdrawal symptoms

Abilify (aripiprazole) is a widely prescribed antipsychotic that works by altering the actions of specific neurotransmitters – chemical messengers – in the brain. The medication is effective in addressing the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s, and autism. The medication may be taken alone or in combination with antidepressants.

Help for you or a loved one is only one call away.

Like all antipsychotics, it is inadvisable to quit using Abilify cold turkey. Discontinuing use under medical supervision will streamline the intensity of Abilify withdrawal. Supervised medical detoxification also provides emotional support to reduce the chance of relapse derailing early recovery.

Many people who are prescribed this medication have questions, such as “Is Abilify addictive?” or “Is Abilify dangerous?” We address these issues and more in this guide to the misuse of prescription medications.

Is Abilify Addictive?

Abilify is not considered addictive in the traditional sense. It does not produce the euphoric high or the intense cravings associated with addictive substances like opioids or benzos, and it is not associated with increasing dopamine levels in the brain. That said, a known side effect of Abilify is its ability to trigger the development of physical dependence, especially when used for an extended period. 

Despite not being conventionally addictive, when someone who is dependent on Abilify suddenly stops taking the medication, withdrawal symptoms may manifest. The severity and intensity of Abilify withdrawal symptoms can be alleviated by a tapered reduction in dosage, ideally performed under medical supervision.

Communicate openly with your healthcare provider regarding any concerns about dependence or withdrawal when using this medication. Understanding the intricacies of Abilify use can promote a safer and more informed approach to its management and discontinuation.

An image of a woman effected by abilify addiction.

Abilify Addiction Signs

While Abilify is not generally associated with addictive behaviors, some people may still misuse the medication, leading to dependence developing. Some signs that may indicate problematic usage of antipsychotics like Abilify include:

  • Compulsive use or taking higher doses than prescribed.
  • Constant preoccupation with the medication or a fear of not having access to it.
  • Neglecting responsibilities or activities in favor of using Abilify.
  • Continuing to use the medication despite adverse outcomes or advice from medical professionals.

If you or someone that you care about exhibits these signs, seek guidance from a healthcare provider. Open communication and regular follow-ups with a medical professional can ensure that the use of Abilify remains within safe and appropriate parameters. Understanding the signs of potential misuse can aid in the early detection and management of any issues related to Abilify use.

Abilify Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people undergoing Abilify withdrawal may encounter withdrawal symptoms. The abrupt cessation of this medication without gradual tapering under medical supervision can lead to more aggravating side effects.

Common Abilify withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety: Sudden cessation of Abilify can trigger anxiety or panic attacks, necessitating various therapeutic approaches to manage these symptoms effectively.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty in sleeping and an inability to maintain sleep patterns are frequently reported during Abilify withdrawal.
  • Depression: A decline in mental well-being and feelings of despondency are common experiences during withdrawal, potentially leading to suicidal thoughts and treatment for managing depression.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Some people may encounter adverse reactions such as nausea or vomiting during the withdrawal phase, especially after extended periods of high-dose usage.
  • Headaches or migraines: Headaches, ranging from mild discomfort to severe migraines requiring medical attention, are associated with sudden discontinuation of this medication.

Other possible symptoms may include:

  • Agitation or irritability: Prolonged use of Abilify can lead to feelings of agitation or irritability upon discontinuation, as the calming effect on brain chemistry is abruptly removed. Appropriately taper down Abilify before completely ceasing its use to mitigate these symptoms.
  • Cognitive impairment: Memory issues, difficulty concentrating, and confusion may arise as potential cognitive impairments resulting from the sudden cessation of Abilify.

Additionally, instances of tardive dyskinesia – a condition characterized by muscle spasms and tremors – have been observed in a minority of cases after sudden discontinuation of this antipsychotic drug. Although these symptoms are rare, they can potentially result in further complications if left unaddressed. Seeking immediate assistance from a healthcare professional is imperative if you experience withdrawal dyskinesia or any other abnormal physical changes while discontinuing the use of Abilify.

Abilify Addiction Treatment

Abilify abuse or the prolonged therapeutic use of the medication may lead to dependence and withdrawal when coming off Abilify.  If you want to know how to help Abilify withdrawal, engaging with a supervised medical detox is the optimal approach for most people.

Addressing Abilify addiction often involves a combination of behavioral therapies, support groups, and medical oversight. Medical professionals work closely with individuals to develop personalized treatment plans that aim to address the underlying factors contributing to the addiction. Gradual tapering off Abilify under the guidance of healthcare providers may be necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms and streamline the recovery process. Here’s how you can get help in Southern California.

An image of the Gratitude Lodge facility in Southern California, where treatment for Abilify addiction is available

Get Treatment for Abilify Withdrawals at Gratitude Lodge

Have you or a loved one developed an addiction to antidepressants? If so, we can help you fight back at Gratitude Lodge in Newport Beach or Long Beach, California.

Our welcoming and pet-friendly facilities offer supervised medical detox programs to help you taper off antidepressants like Abilify and avoid the intense withdrawal symptoms associated with abruptly discontinuing medication. After a week or so, you can move into an ongoing inpatient treatment program. All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs blend the following interventions:

Call 888-861-1658 when you are ready to live unconstrained by antidepressant addiction.


What is Abilify prescribed to treat?

Abilify is indicated to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Russe MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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