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What is Paroxetine? Paxil Addiction, Abuse Signs, and Treatment

Last Updated: February 14, 2022

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Paxil medication, under the generic name Paroxetine, is one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressant drugs in the United States. Although this antidepressant drug was mainly created for the treatment of depression, there are other Paxil uses as well. In 2019, it was reported that around 2 million patients in the United States used this medication for the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder. In this article, information about Paxil generic and brand names, Paxil dosage forms and strengths, Paroxetine addiction and abuse, signs and symptoms of Paxil abuse and addiction, who is most at risk of Paxil abuse, and getting help in case of Paxil addiction will be provided.

A woman pours Paxil pills in her hand.

What Is Paroxetine?

Paroxetine was first approved for commercial use by the US government in 1992 and offered by GlaxoSmithKline. Since then, it has become one of the most widely prescribed medications in the U.S. This antidepressant drug can also be used for the treatment and management of generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, social anxiety disorder with co-occurring alcohol use disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Furthermore, this medication belongs to the drug class selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI for short. With regards to Paxil half-life, it will take around 21-24 hours for this drug’s concentration to go down to 50%.

Is Paxil a Controlled Substance?

For those who might be wondering: is Paxil a controlled substance? The answer is no. This antidepressant is not a controlled substance under the US Controlled Substances Act just like the other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, this does not mean that the drug can be procured anytime.

Paxil Generic And Brand Names

Paxil is the brand name of Paroxetine HCl. It also has some other generic/trade names which will be discussed in this section. Take note that any Paroxetine trade name denotes the same medication manufactured by different manufacturers. It is possible to consider any of these drugs as merely another name for Paxil.

Some of These Brand/Trade Names Include:

  • Paxil CR (Paroxetine hydrochloride)– This trade name is being manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved by the FDA in February 2002
  • Pexeva (Paroxetine mesylate)– This brand is sold as an orange tablet for oral consumption. The drug was approved on July 3, 2003, and the company SEBELA IRELAND LTD manufactures it
  • Aropax (Paroxetine HCl)– This trade name is being manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and was approved in April 2001
  • Deroxat (Paroxetine HCl)– This medicine brand is found in France and other assorted countries. In Switzerland, Deroxat is found to contain the compound Paroxetine hydrochloride hemihydrate while it contains Paroxetine HCl in France. The company GlaxoSmithKline also manufactures the drug
  • Daparox (Paroxetine mesylate)– The company Synthon BV manufactures this oral medication brand
  • Brisdelle (Low-dose Paroxetine mesylate)– This trade name was manufactured by Noven Pharmaceuticals and was approved in July 2013
  • Seroxat (Paroxetine HCl)– SmithKline Beecham manufactured this brand and it has also been approved to treat panic disorder

Other Paxil generic identities include Paxtine, Paxetin, and Paroxat. While this antidepressant drug is considered safe, its use comes with a significant number of Paxil side effects. Approximately 20 percent of all users will experience at least one notable side effect. Additionally, it is more closely associated with suicidal thoughts and actions than many other antidepressants. However, over 72 percent of patients using Paroxetine saw some improvements. Still, many would say that further research is needed.

Paxil Dosage Forms And Strength

The Paroxetine antidepressant medication comes in different dosage forms and strengths. Depending on the health condition of the patient, a certain dose will be prescribed by a medical doctor.

Take a Look at the Information Below for References:

  • 10 mg – this tablet is colored in yellow and its shape is oblong. It is a scored tablet with the imprint “1” on the left and “0” on the right. On the other side of the tablet, the brand “PAXIL” is imprinted.
  • 12.5 mg – this tablet is yellow and its shape is round. It is a film-coated tablet and it is not scored. On the one side of the tablet, the letters “GSK” are imprinted and on the other side, the dosage “12.5” is imprinted.
  • 20 mg – this tablet is pink and its shape is oblong. It is a scored tablet with the imprint “2” on the left and “0” on the right. On the other side of the pill, the brand “PAXIL” is imprinted.
  • 25 mg – this tablet is pink and its shape is round. It is a film-coated tablet and it is not scored. On the one side of the tablet, the letters “GSK” are imprinted and on the other side, the dosage “25” is imprinted.
  • 30 mg – this tablet is blue and its shape is oblong. It is a scored, film-coated tablet with the imprint “30” in the middle. On the other side of the tablet, the brand “PAXIL” is imprinted.
  • 37.5 mg – this pill is blue and its shape is round. It is a film-coated tablet and it is not scored. On the one side of the tablet, the letters “GSK” are imprinted and on the other side, the dosage “37.5” is imprinted.
  • 40 mg – this tablet is green and its shape is oblong. It is a scored, film-coated tablet with the imprint “40” in the middle. On the other side of the tablet, the brand “PAXIL” is imprinted.
A medical doctor gives paxill pills to a patient.

Paxil Addiction and Abuse Overview

According to manufacturers, Paroxetine is not addictive. However, this assertion is based on a legal lawsuit that is hotly debated. Many argue that even if Paxil addiction is not the correct term, Paroxetine is habit-forming. This means that when patients abuse the use of this antidepressant substance, dependence and withdrawal may occur.

While manufacturers and doctors tout the benefits of this medication, many are raising a concern about the risks. In some cases, they have taken the matter to court. Nearly 500 lawsuits have been filed regarding the medication, covering everything from undisclosed side effects and withdrawal effects to the manufacturers manipulating studies to downplay the risk of suicide. While many of the cases are ongoing or settled out of court, it is estimated that GlaxoSmithKline, the company that makes Paroxetine, has paid out over $300 billion in compensation as of 2012. Summing up, because there has been no published study about Paxil being addictive, it is safe to say that just like the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs in general, Paroxetine is not addictive but it is habit-forming.

Signs and Symptoms Of Paxil Addiction And Abuse

Although Paroxetine addiction is rare, patients who abuse and become dependent on this antidepressant medication may display some signs and symptoms of addiction especially when they have been using the drug for a long period and out of the prescribed recommendation of a medical doctor. Like the other antidepressants, Paroxetine abuse, addiction, and dependence may affect both the physical and psychological health of the patient.

Physical Signs and Symptoms of Paxil Addiction and Abuse

Physical Paroxetine abuse and addiction may present differently than what society is taught to expect. More often, these physical signs and symptoms of Paxil addiction and abuse are closely related to withdrawal signs, and these increase the need for recovery.

Some of These Include:

  • Lethargy
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Reduced physical interactions with family members and friends
  • Frequent headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual problems
  • Appetite changes causing severe weight fluctuations

Because Paxil addiction is not infrequent, a user may not have intense cravings for the drug but they may feel an absolute emptiness once they get past the half-life of Paxil but cannot take another dose yet. Once the body notices a lack of the drug, there can be a crash that results in things such as sluggishness, nervousness, and sleeplessness.

Psychological Signs and Symptoms of Paxil Addiction and Abuse

Aside from the physical signs and symptoms of Paxil addiction and abuse, psychological signs and symptoms may also be observed. Because Paroxetine is meant to help patients treat mental disorders, it is understandable that the risk of psychological addiction would be higher. Some of the Psychological Signs and Symptoms of Paxil Abuse and Addiction Include the Following:

  • Feat to stop the use of the drug
  • Crave more than the prescribed dose
  • Thoughts that life would be easier with Paroxetine in it
  • Resisting medication change
  • Stockpiling drugs

Take note that the longer the patient uses the drug out of its recommended use, the more societal consequences might be observed. In case any of these signs are seen in a Seroxat user, it is highly advised to seek immediate medical help or consider resources such as rehab centers to avoid dangerous health events.

Who Is Most at Risk of Paxil Abuse?

Anyone who is taking the drug is at risk of dependence and Paxil withdrawal, even if they are taking it exactly as prescribed. Becoming dependent on the drug is one of the more well-known side effects of Paroxetine. However, not everyone who uses the drug is at risk of Paroxetine abuse.

Specific Populations Are More Likely To Engage in Paxil Abuse Than Others. These Include:

  • Those who are seeking Paroxetine without a prescription are at the highest risk, including those attempting to treat their depression without the expense of doctors
  • Anyone with a mental illness
  • People who abuse other drugs
  • A family history of addiction
  • Various genetic factors

Ultimately, while not everyone is at risk of becoming addicted to the medication, it is impossible to screen for the risk perfectly. Thus every user should exercise caution when discussing the medication choice with a doctor. For some patients, in Paxil vs Celexa choice, the latter would be a better fit.

Getting Help With Paxil Addiction

Paroxetine addiction treatment is not only possible but necessary. As Paxil weight changes may occur, the prospect can be scary for users, especially if they feel the drug is benefiting them in some way. Does Paxil cause weight gain? In short – yes, but it is not the worst adverse reaction to this drug. However, the potential adverse effects of ongoing abuse are far worse, especially when combined with other substances, for example, Paroxetine and alcohol are a very dangerous mix. Mixing this medication with alcohol may increase the nervous system side effects of the drug. 

Treatment and safe recovery are available through drug rehabilitation centers across the United States. There, trained professionals can help users detox from paroxetine and get clean safely. Paroxetine abuse can cause significant problems, up to and including death. Anyone who is misusing the drug for its high should seek help and consider safe recovery through resources such as rehab centers before it is too late.

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Page Sources

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Published on: May 23rd, 2019

Updated on: February 14th, 2022

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.