November 7, 2023

Lexapro Addiction: Do People Abuse Lexapro?

A woman drinking coffee, gazing out the window, wondering if Lexapro addiction is possible

Lexapro (escitalopram), is widely prescribed to treat symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. While it is not typically associated with physical addiction, prolonged use of Lexapro can lead to psychological dependence. Consequently, abrupt discontinuation of the medication can trigger withdrawal symptoms in some people.

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This guide to Lexapro abuse examines the following key issues:

  • Is Lexapro an addictive medication?
  • Can Lexapro be addictive when used as prescribed?
  • Can you get addicted to Lexapro quickly?
  • Is Lexapro an opioid?
  • How to safely stop using Lexapro.

Is Lexapro Addictive?

Lexapro functions is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant that helps regulate serotonin levels in the brain, promoting improved mood and emotional stability.

Escitalopram is not classified as a controlled substance under the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) in the United States. It is often prescribed to individuals struggling with substance abuse issues or episodes of depression, proving effective in managing alcohol cravings, generalized anxiety, and primarily depressive disorders. Is Lexapro addicting, then?

While the medication is considered non-addictive in terms of physical dependence, anecdotal instances of psychological addiction generally occur when Lexapro is misused or taken in excess of prescribed guidelines.

A man taking notes after learning about Lexapro abuse symptoms

Do People Abuse Lexapro?

Can you abuse Lexapro, then? Lexapro is generally not a drug that is abused for recreational purposes due to its limited potential for inducing a euphoric high or altering consciousness. The medication does not create a noticeable intoxicating effect, making it an unlikely candidate for abuse. That said, some people who are struggling with other substance use disorders or mental health issues may misuse Lexapro to self-medicate or manage symptoms in a way that deviates from the prescribed guidelines. This misuse can lead to the development of psychological dependence, emphasizing the importance of using the medication under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Lexapro Abuse Symptoms

When someone abuses or becomes addicted to Lexapro, certain behavioral and physical signs may become apparent. These indicators may include:

  • Overconsumption of Lexapro, exceeding the prescribed dosage.
  • Feigning symptoms of depression or anxiety to acquire more Lexapro from healthcare providers.
  • Engaging in doctor shopping to obtain multiple Lexapro prescriptions.
  • Exhibiting drastic mood swings.
  • Experiencing disruptions in sleep patterns.
  • Displaying signs of sedation or appearing unusually intoxicated.
  • Pretending to misplace prescriptions to obtain early refills.
  • Developing a tolerance to Lexapro, requiring higher doses for the same effect.
  • Withdrawing from social interactions, isolating from friends and family.
  • Concealing Lexapro usage from loved ones.
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed hobbies and activities.

Individuals with a history of substance abuse or those who misuse other prescription drugs or illegal substances may have an increased tendency to misuse Lexapro. Recognizing these signs and symptoms can help address potential issues with Lexapro use and inform appropriate intervention or support.

Treatment for Lexapro Addiction

Although Lexapro itself is not considered addictive, some people may experience difficulties when discontinuing the medication due to the presentation of withdrawal symptoms. Addiction and dependence are distinct phenomena, though. Addiction is defined by a compulsive need for a substance regardless of adverse outcomes, while dependence is characterized by the body’s adaptation to a substance and its subsequent withdrawal upon cessation.

Treatment for potential Lexapro dependence usually involves a gradual tapering process under the supervision of a healthcare provider to minimize the likelihood and severity of withdrawal symptoms. This may be accompanied by the introduction of alternative medications or therapies to manage any lingering symptoms and support the person’s overall mental health. Additionally, psychotherapy and counseling may be incorporated to address any underlying psychological factors contributing to the dependence and promote long-term emotional well-being.

Get Effective Treatment for Lexapro Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you or someone that you care about requires assistance tapering off antidepressants like Lexapro, we can help you at Gratitude Lodge. We have welcoming and inclusive treatment centers located in Long Beach and Newport Beach, CA.

Following supervised detoxification, you can transition into a 30-day inpatient treatment program at one of our pet-friendly treatment centers. Here, you can access and individualized blend of treatments like:

Call 888-861-1658 for help breaking dependence on prescription medications like Lexapro.

An image of the Gratitude Lodge facility where treatment for drug addiction is available, including Lexapro addiction


Can Lexapro be abused?

While Lexapro is not typically abused for recreational purposes due to its limited euphoric effects, some people may still misuse it to alleviate anxiety or to induce a temporary mood lift.

Is Lexapro habit forming?

Lexapro is not considered habit-forming, and the risk of developing a physical dependence on it is relatively low compared to other substances. However, abrupt discontinuation may lead to withdrawal symptoms or a worsening of the condition that it was initially prescribed for.

Is escitalopram addiction treatable?

Escitalopram addiction is not commonly reported as the drug does not produce a significant euphoric effect that leads to compulsive use. In cases of misuse or over-reliance, though, addiction-like behaviors may arise, and treatment typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, support groups, and sometimes medication management.

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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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