Viibryd (Vilazodone): Abuse Potential & Addiction

Last Updated: February 25, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Viibryd is a prescription medication sold in the United States. Also known as vilazodone, numerous individuals take the medication on a daily basis. Yet there is a lot these users might be unaware of, from its drug classification to the existence of Viibryd abuse.

What Is Viibryd?

Viibryd is a medication designed to treat major depressive disorder. It was approved by the FDA for use in January 2011. Vilazodone HCl (the Viibryd generic name) is available only by prescription. It is manufactured by Allergan.

The FDA considers vilazodone to be a safe medication; however, that does not mean that all patients can use it. The FDA does not suggest it be used by pediatric or geriatric patients. There are also risks with its use even within recommended populations. Viibryd side effects can be highly problematic, and it does come with a black box warning for suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

Vilazodone’s popularity is relatively high. This is because it is a newer depression medication and associated with fewer problems than older options. However, it is not well-known outside of those who need it for depression treatment, lacking the brand name recognition of medications like Wellbutrin and Prozac.

is Viibryd generic available

Is There A Generic For Viibryd?

At the moment, Allergan — the only vilazodone manufacturer in the US — holds the exclusive rights to the medication. They have not released a Viibryd generic of their own, and other companies do not yet have the right to create one as Allergan has exclusivity.

Viibryd Drug Class

The vilazodone drug class is something every user should understand. Not only does it make it clear what the medication is meant to treat, but it also reveals how the medication works and how it is accessed. Given vilazodone is a relatively new antidepressant, many do not fully understand it.

Is Viibryd A Controlled Substance?

One concern users might have is if vilazodone is classified as a controlled substance. If using the term to refer to drugs on the DEA schedule, the answer is no—it is not a controlled substance. However, if what is meant by the term is that access is restricted, it could be thought of as a controlled substance. This is because no matter the Viibryd dosage, the medication is only available by prescription.

Is Viibryd An SSRI Or SRI?

Vilazodone falls into the class of antidepressant medications called serotonin modulators. Specifically, it is a partial serotonin agonist and reuptake inhibitor. The Viibryd mechanism of action is to stop the body from fully reuptaking serotonin in the brain, leaving more of the feel-good chemical present, while also functioning as an activator of the 5-HT1A receptor. This differs from SRIs, which are not selective in the manner in which they prevent reuptake and do not interact with the 5-HT1A receptor.

Viibryd in one's system

How Long Does Viibryd Stay In One’s System?

For those using vilazodone, especially those engaging in abuse, it is important to know how long the drug remains in the system. The vilazodone half-life is shockingly long when compared to other antidepressants. While most have a half-life of around a day or so, even less, vilazodone does not hit half-life for 140 hours in the average patient. Those with slow metabolisms or impairment of the hepatic or renal systems may take even longer to reach this point.

Viibryd High

Vilazodone recreational use is not common. However, that is not to say that it never occurs. Some users will attempt to chase a vilazodone high, even to the detriment of their health.

The majority of users, even those who have attempted to get high on vilazodone, report that it has little to no euphoric effects. The few who maintain that it does report feelings of extreme relaxation and calmness, similar to a reduced version of a cannabis high. However, experiencing this sensation requires taking a large amount of the drug, and many will mix it with other substances, putting the user at risk of an overdose.

Viibryd Abuse

Vilazodone is not considered a drug of abuse. However, that does not mean someone couldn’t abuse vilazodone. Doing so means taking it without a prescription or misusing it. This can mean taking it in larger than recommended amounts or ingesting it in a way other than swallowing the pills, such as crushing and snorting them.

Viibryd Addiction

Vilazodone is not considered to be an addictive substance. However, what this means is that it has not shown to cause physical vilazodone addiction. People who abuse it, or even take it as directed, might feel a mental dependence on the drug. This can manifest in thinking about it often, worrying about not being able to access it, and having fear over one day needing to stop the drug.

Although it is not considered physically addictive, the body can become dependent upon it to the point that if it is stopped, the user can experience problems.

difficulties with stopping Viibryd

Stopping Viibryd

It is common for users to want to stop vilazodone at some point in their use. This could be due to negative side effects, feeling addicted, or just wanting to try living life medication free. Users should speak with a doctor before stopping vilazodone to discuss whether they should try cold turkey or taper off the medicine.

Cold Turkey

Stopping Viibryd suddenly, also known as going cold turkey, is a dangerous method of quitting the medication. This can trigger a condition called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. In most cases, the physical symptoms are mild, but the major concern is with the mental health of the patient.

Tapering

Tapering off vilazodone is considered the safer option. This means that the patient will slowly reduce their doses, and possibly space them out further until they are no longer taking the drug. While this can still trigger antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, it is less likely to, and when it does, the effects tend to be milder. Users should still be monitored, though, as some side effects, especially those related to mental health, are still possible.

Viibryd Withdrawal

Vilazodone withdrawal is another way users might refer to antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Assuming that the patient opted to taper instead of going cold turkey, this should be mild at most. However, anyone taking the medication should be aware of the symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Vilazodone withdrawal symptoms can mimic a relapse in depression, so users should be carefully monitored after stopping or reducing the drug. Among the vilazodone withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vivid dreams
  • Nightmares
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Vertigo
  • Burning and tingling sensations
  • Electric sensations, such as brain zaps
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Mania

If someone has stopped taking the medication and has begun experiencing these symptoms, they should notify a doctor. 

withdrawal symptoms of Viibryd

How Long Does Viibryd Withdrawal Last?

The symptoms of vilazodone withdrawal should stop within one to two weeks of onset. In rare cases, symptoms can persist for up to a year. Generally speaking, they will stop sooner if the drug was tapered off of than if it were stopped cold turkey. Medical intervention can also ease or stop the symptoms sooner. In most cases, starting a new antidepressant will stop withdrawal within days. However, users should never do this on their own, as starting another antidepressant too close to stopping vilazodone could result in serotonin syndrome, which can be deadly.

How Can Withdrawal Be Managed

While there are supplements and prescription medications that might help reduce or eliminate symptoms, users should not seek out these “cures” on their own. Drug interactions can be deadly, and even seemingly safe supplements can interact with vilazodone and other medications someone might be taking.

Viibryd Interactions

Compared to older types of antidepressants, Viibryd interactions are not particularly numerous. However, they still exist, and they can be deadly. Anyone taking the medication needs to know what to avoid and what the risks are.

Viibryd And Alcohol

Technically, there is not a direct vilazodone interaction with alcohol. The concern is that both can make the side effects of each substance worse. This means a user will feel very drunk off of less alcohol, and the side effects of the medicine, such as lethargy, will become greater. As a result, users should avoid drinking while on the medication, as it can compromise their safety.

Viibryd And Marijuana

The vilazodone interaction with marijuana is similar to that of alcohol. The marijuana can amplify the side effects of the medicine, and the medicine can worsen the symptoms of cannabis use. This can leave the patient more impaired than expected and might make them vulnerable to injuring themselves or being taken advantage of.

Viibryd interactions

Other Drug Interactions With Viibryd

There is also a strong risk of interactions between Viibryd and certain other drugs. The most frequent include:

  • Wellbutrin – Viibryd and Wellbutrin are both antidepressants
  • Adderall – Adderall and Viibryd are two different kinds of drugs but both impact serotonin
  • Vyvanse – Viibryd and Vyvanse are both drugs that impact serotonin
  • Xanax – Xanax and Viibryd change the amount of serotonin in the brain

The primary risk of taking vilazodone with above-mentioned medications is the development of a condition called serotonin syndrome. While rare, it can have significant consequences, including the risk of death.

Viibryd Alternatives

Individuals looking to end vilazodone use or abuse might want to consider alternatives to the medication. Suitable vilazodone alternatives will depend on the condition the medication was treating. While major depressive disorder treatment is the only FDA-approved use, there are off-label uses. Some alternatives include:

  • Trintellix: Both are SSRI drugs. When looking at Trintellix vs. Viibryd, the main difference is Trintellix can be taken without food.
  • Lexapro: Both medications are SSRIs. The primary difference between Viibryd vs. Lexapro is that Lexapro can also treat anxiety.
  • Zoloft: Both are antidepressants of the SSRI class. Looking at Viibryd vs. Zoloft, there is no significant difference.
  • Prozac: Prozac is also an antidepressant of the SSRI class. When comparing Viibryd vs. Prozac, the former is generally considered the better medication due to fewer side effects.
  • Pristiq: Both medications are antidepressants but from different classes. This is the primary difference when considering Pristiq vs. Viibryd: the former is an SRI, while the latter is an SSRI.
  • Cymbalta: Cymbalta is an SNRI. When looking at Viibryd vs. Cymbalta, this and the fact that the latter can treat anxiety are the primary differences.
  • Wellbutrin: Wellbutrin is an antidepressant of the aminoketone class. When considering Viibryd vs. Wellbutrin, it is important to note that the latter has fewer side effects.
  • Celexa: Celexa is also an SSRI. When examining Viibryd vs. Celexa, there are no major differences of note.
  • Paxil: Paxil is also an SSRI. The main advantage when considering Viibryd vs. Paxil is that the latter is not known to cause stomach irritation.
  • Effexor: Effexor is an SNRI. In addition to this, the primary difference between Viibryd vs. Effexor is that the latter is less likely to cause stomach problems.

Getting Help With Stopping Viibryd

No matter what motivates a person to stop vilazodone, they should do so with medical help. If there is Viibryd abuse or addiction present, drug addiction rehab centers will offer the best care. These facilities know how to manage withdrawal, as well as underlying conditions, such as depression. With their help, addictions treatment will pass easier to ensure long-standing results and live a sober life.


Page Sources

  1. Cruz MP. Vilazodone HCl (Viibryd): A Serotonin Partial Agonist and Reuptake Inhibitor For the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. Physical Therapy. 2012; 37(1): 28–31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278186/.
  2. Viibryd: Highlights Of Prescribing Information. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/022567s000lbl.pdf.
  3. Gabriel M, Sharma V. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2017; 189(21): E747. doi:10.1503/cmaj.160991. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449237/.
  4. Drug Scheduling. The United States 
Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling.

Published on: February 25th, 2020

Updated on: February 25th, 2020

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.

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