Abilify (Aripiprazole) Withdrawal: Signs, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Abilify withdrawal symptoms and treatment

Abilify is the name brand for a medication known as aripiprazole. This medication is used to treat the symptoms of mental health conditions like bipolar, schizophrenia, Tourette’s, and irritability associated with autism disorder. People who take Abilify may also take anti-depressant medication. 

Aripiprazole is an anti-typical antipsychotic drug that helps restore the balance of neurotransmitters in a person’s brain. This medication is known to decrease hallucinations, improve concentration, decrease mood swings, and lessen feelings of nervousness. Additionally, Abilify can help people think more positively about themselves and take a more active part in their everyday life.

Because Abilify is a psychiatric medication, it is never recommended for someone to stop taking it cold turkey. Quitting this medication abruptly could result in the development of withdrawal symptoms. The Abilify withdrawal timeline and symptoms can range greatly from one person to the next depending on how long they have been taking the medication and personal health factors.

What are the Side Effects of Abilify (Aripiprazole)?

Like every medication, Abilify may cause individuals to experience side effects. This medication’s commonly reported side effects typically resolve after a short time. However, if someone experiences side effects for a prolonged period, they should consult with their doctor, as this could signal an inability to tolerate the medication. 

The commonly reported side effects associated with Abilify include:

  • Impaired driving 
  • Agitation 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Low white blood cell count 
  • Heatstroke 
  • Weight gain 
  • Symptoms of high blood sugar 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Indigestion
  • Irritability 
  • Heartburn
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Rash 
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors 
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Cold-like symptoms 
  • Dizziness 
  • Shakiness 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sore throat 
  • Anxiety 
  • Headaches 
  • Blurred vision 

Oftentimes, people who experience some of the side effects of aripiprazole decide to stop taking the drug altogether. Unless a person’s doctor recommended quitting cold turkey, doing so could be dangerous. Individuals who quit this drug abruptly could experience Abilify discontinuation syndrome, otherwise known as withdrawal. 

Does Abilify Cause Withdrawal?

In addition to side effects, if the use of Abilify (Aripiprazole) is suddenly stopped individuals may experience withdrawal syndrome. It is recommended that people refrain from quitting aripiprazole cold turkey, and instead allow their doctor to taper them off of the drug safely. 

The symptoms of Abilify withdrawal include:[1]

  • Akathisia (inability to sit still)
  • Tardive dyskinesia and other involuntary movement disorders 
  • Psychosis, delusional thoughts, and paranoia 
  • Nausea 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Tachycardia 
  • Anxiety 
  • Diaphoresis (excessive sweating of the whole body)
  • Insomnia 
  • Headaches 
  • Tremors and shakiness 
  • Flu-like symptoms 
  • Decreased concentration 
  • Irritability and agitation 
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia 
  • Depression 

According to a study by the School of Psychology University of East London, 72% of individuals who were taking antipsychotics experienced withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopping the medication.[2] With that being said, anyone who suddenly stops taking aripiprazole will likely experience some or all of the symptoms of withdrawal listed above.

Factors that Influence How Long Abilify Withdrawal Lasts 

As with any drug withdrawal, some factors influence the abilify withdrawal timeline. For starters, the amount of time a person was taking the medication will play a role in how long and how severe the withdrawal process is. Someone who was taking the medication for a while will experience worse symptoms for a longer time than a person who just began taking the drug. 

The dosage a person was taking will also play a role in the length of withdrawal. A person may take somewhere between 2 to 30 mg depending on their needs. Someone who was taking 2mg will have a shorter period of withdrawal than a person who was taking 30mg. 

Additionally, everyone’s body is different. Each person has a unique nervous system and physiological response to medication. This means that while one person may experience mild withdrawal symptoms, others may deal with overwhelming symptoms that are long-lasting. 

Lastly, the method of detoxification matters. If someone were to quit using aripiprazole cold turkey, they would experience longer and more severe symptoms of withdrawal. However, someone who followed a tapering process should receive lesser symptoms and have a shorter withdrawal process.

How to Prevent Abilify Withdrawal Symptoms 

Some people find it easy to come off of antipsychotic medications like Abilify, while others find it extremely difficult. There is no way to tell who will experience withdrawal symptoms. Anyone who is considering stopping their aripiprazole should consult with a doctor to avoid experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. 

The best ways to prevent withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Coming off of Abilify slowly and gradually (tapering)
  • Avoid stopping the medication suddenly, if possible
  • Getting support from trusted people

The best way to prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring when quitting Abilify is to follow the tapering process. It is important to note that this should only be done under the direction and supervision of the medical professional that prescribed the medication. When tapering off of Abilify, the process could take weeks to months depending on the individual’s dosage. 

Finding Help for Addiction 

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. Addiction is a serious condition that can cause an array of issues, including fatal overdoses. As a result, it is of the utmost importance that you receive prompt and effective substance abuse treatment. 

Moving Mountains Recovery has close relationships with trusted detox facilities in New Jersey and across the country. When medical detoxification is recommended, we can help you get admitted to the best facility for your needs. Following the completion of detox, we can also help make the transition to our outpatient treatment programs simple and easy.

Call now to get started.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3719459/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352853222000165
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