Few medicines may be dangerous to stop abruptly. Not only would your medical condition worsen, but you could also have dangerous side effects. With few medications like antidepressants, stopping the cold turkey could be risky the longer you take them.
You need to lower a few medications gradually. You can use health care provider’s help to make a taper plan for this. In other words, they can help you slowly lower the dose over some time.
Below are 7 medications that may lead to serious problems if you stop them abruptly.
Clonidine (Catapres, Catapres-TTS)
If you take blood pressure medicine, you may wonder if you can stop it. If you want to stop the intake, it depends on the medication and dose intake. Clonidine is a medication that treats high blood pressure. However, it is not the first option. It is also used off-label for conditions like opioid withdrawal, nicotine dependence, or even tic disorder.
Stopping clonidine may lead to a surge in stress hormones, especially norepinephrine (noradrenaline).
Propranolol (Inderal) and other blood pressure medicines
Propranolol (Inderal) treats many heart conditions. These include atrial fibrillation, chest pain, and high blood pressure. It may also help in protecting the heart after it suffers from a heart attack. Other FDA-approved uses for propranolol that do not relate to the heart include tremors. In addition, it is a specific adrenal gland tumor (pheochromocytoma) along with migraine prevention.
Propranolol is a part of the medication group known as beta-blockers. Stopping the beta-blockers may cause withdrawal symptoms which include:
- Heart attack
- Fast heartbeat
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR)
Venlafaxine belongs to the group of medicine called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It may also help treat panic disorders, anxiety, and depression.
Venlafaxine has a shorter half-life compared to other antidepressants. It means that the medication leaves your body quickly compared to the others. Because of this, stopping venlafaxine suddenly may shock your body leading to withdrawal symptoms, like:
- Tingling sensation on skin (paresthesia)
Make sure you talk to your health care provider before you stop the intake of venlafaxine.
Paroxetine (Paxil) belongs to the part of the medicine group called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It helps treat the following conditions:
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Benzodiazepines – like diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and alprazolam (Xanax) are helpful for panic attacks and anxiety symptoms. They are also used off-label for many medical conditions, including alcohol use disorder and insomnia.
It would help if you did not stop the intake of Benzodiazepines abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms that include seizures may occur if you stop taking these medicines suddenly. Seizures may happen soon after you stop the benzodiazepine but may also occur days later.
Other benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Muscle stiffness, pain, and aches
- Panic attacks or anxiety
- Concentration and memory problems
- Agitation or irritability
- Nightmares and trouble sleeping
- Heart palpitations
The FDA approves Topiramate (Topamax, Trokendi XR, Qudexy XR) for treating epilepsy and helps prevent migraines. It is one of the two medicines Qsymia (topiramate and phentermine) useful in weight loss. It is also used off-label in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.
The withdrawal symptoms of Topamax are likely to occur when you stop the medication abruptly instead of tapering it. The greatest risk is that it could lead to worsening seizures.
Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an FDA-approved medication for treating nerve pain and seizures. In addition, it is useful off-label in treating withdrawal symptoms and alcohol use disorder.
However, it would help if you did not stop the intake of gabapentin suddenly. This is because the withdrawal symptoms may start as soon as 12 hours after you stop it.
The symptoms of this medication may occur more commonly in people who take it at a higher dose or in those who take it for a longer time. These include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sensitivity to light
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
People who use gabapentin for seizures, stopping its intake may worsen, or the seizures may return. Therefore, it is better to consult your health care provider before you stop the intake of gabapentin.
You should not stop a few medications suddenly as they may have dangerous withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are often more severe if you take medicine at a higher dose for a long time. Opioid medications, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications are just a few examples of medications that you need to taper carefully instead of stopping abruptly.
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