What Is Haldol? How Is It Abused?

What is Haldol?

Haldol is the brand name for an antipsychotic medication, haloperidol.

This prescription drug treats schizophrenia, acute psychosis, and some mood disorders that present with delusions, hallucinations, or psychosis. The drug can also manage some symptoms of Tourette’s disorder.  

Haloperidol helps reduce aggression, the desire to harm someone or oneself, and other negative thoughts. Haldol is often administered in the emergency room to reduce dangerous symptoms from drug-induced psychosis, acute psychosis from a mental illness, or another sudden presentation of this serious condition.  

This medication can be prescribed as an oral tablet or liquid taken every day as directed by a psychiatrist of physician; it can also be prescribed as an intravenous injection, which is administered at a clinic once every four weeks.

Side Effects of Haldol

Because Haldol is a potent medication, it can cause many side effects, even when taken as directed. These side effects include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Increased salivation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Reduced or no facial expressions
  • Restlessness, agitation, or nervousness
  • Other mood changes
  • Feeling unsteady or dizziness

Abuse of Haldol

It is very rare for this drug to be abused for recreational purposes, although some people do self-medicate under the false belief that Haldol will alleviate symptoms from other mental health conditions.

Haldol is not a “cure all,” and it should not be used to treat conditions that a doctor has not diagnosed. Some people acquire this drug through illicit means and attempt to medicate themselves. This can lead to other forms of drug abuse, or it may be associated with other drug abuse; for example, cocaine abuse may cause extreme aggression and feelings of self-harm, which Haldol may alleviate temporarily.

People who take Haldol because of a prescription may stop taking the drug when they feel better because they believe they are better. This is also a problematic form of misuse because people who have psychotic symptoms need consistent medication and psychotherapy to treat their mental illness. Psychotic disorders require a lifetime of treatment, although keeping people diagnosed with these conditions in treatment can be difficult.

Some people may take this drug in an attempt to get high because Haldol can relax anxiety, aggression, and physical shaking associated with psychotic disorders.

However, Haldol will not get a person high, unlike central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and benzodiazepines. Abusing haloperidol when one does not have a psychotic disorder may actually lead to symptoms like psychosis, including negative thoughts, hallucinations, physical stiffness, and symptoms that are similar to those involved with Parkinson’s disease.

Haldol is not widely prescribed, so it is not at the same risk for diversion as drugs like OxyContin, Xanax, or Adderall. It may be abused by those who struggle with polydrug abuse since they often compulsively consume substances to induce different effects. Abusing several different drugs is dangerous, as mixing substances can lead to overdose. Haldol, especially, interacts poorly with several substances, including antidepressants, alcohol, and illegal drugs.

Ending abuse of these substances is very important.

Treatment through a medically supervised detox program, followed by an evidence-based rehabilitation program, is the best way to overcome serious risks associated with addiction and drug abuse.

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