Monday, November 2, 2009

The Black Market for Seroquel


Speed freaks, coke heads, and antipsychotics.

Last week, writing on the Daily Beast web site, reporter Jeff Deeney profiled a startling underground market for the antipsychotic medication Seroquel (quetiapine). Deeney described street transactions in North Philadelphia for Quells or Suzie-Qs, as the drug is sometimes called. Seroquel, a drug developed for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, has developed an additional reputation as a “comedown” drug for stimulant abusers.

Seroquel, a so-called atypical antipsychotic, works by altering levels of dopamine. While some addicts have claimed that the drug is perfect for a cocaine or speed comedown, Seroquel has also been studied for its anti-craving properties when used for cocaine abstinence.

Why would a speed freak or a coke addict want to take a drug that might decrease their desire for their stimulant of choice? For the same reason that ecstasy users often take a morning-after dose of Prozac in a misguided attempt to compensate for possible damage to serotonin receptor arrays. Or because the drug is mildly sedating for some users. However, there may be more to it. Perhaps Seroquel is an effective anti-craving medication for cocaine and methamphetamine addicts, who misuse it as a drug to ease them through enforced periods of detox or lack of availability.

One high-traffic drug discussion site has shut down a long-standing thread on Seroquel with the warning: “Do not use Seroquel for a cocaine comedown.”

The fact that prescription Seroquel is available as a street drug, at least in some parts of the country, demonstrates the likelihood that physicians and psychiatrists are increasingly using it for off-prescription purposes—like drug detox. Deeney strongly suggests that this is the case: “Drug dealers, mandated to treatment as a condition of their probation or parole, are given off-label prescriptions for Seroquel, then sent right back to the street, where the pills can be sold for cash to users and other dealers.”

Increasing its appeal is Seroquel’s reputation for combining well with cocaine in a mixture known as a Q-Ball, or Rosemary’s Dolly—a variation on the heroin/cocaine mix known as a Speedball, to which Seroquel can also be added. An anonymous med student on a medical blog noted that “certain people say they love Seroquel when doing a speed-ball. Makes sense, think about it. It heightens the high of the heroin, it eases the crash of the cocaine.”

Seroquel’s ability to modulate the effect of illegal drugs means that the medication can possibly find a market both as a detox drug for stimulant abusers, and as an ingredient in the very stimulants they abuse.

By itself, Seroquel is not considered addictive. Some addicts told Deeney that the drug simply put them to sleep more quickly after a long meth run. Indeed, Seroquel is considered to be more sedating than similar antipsychotics such as Olanzapine and Aripiprazole. The larger issue, as the Daily Beast post makes clear, is that “Seroquel can have serious side effects including diabetes, a permanent Parkinson’s-like palsy called tardive dyskinesia, and sudden cardiac death.”

All of this confusing and sometimes contradictory input is coming well ahead of the clinical data, although a study in 2001, presented at the 4th International Conference on Bipolar disorder, found that quetiapine caused a significant reduction in cocaine use among a small group of cocaine-dependent subjects who also suffered from bipolar disorder. A report last year in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology also showed positive results with cocaine users. Studies of quetiapine for the reduction of cocaine use are currently being undertaken by the Seattle Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Research.

21 comments:

Frugal Dougal said...

As somebody with bipolar disordar who used prescribed Quietabine, I'm surprised but unfortunately not disappointed. I remember we had something of the same thing when people were trying to get hold of Olanzapine because of its slight "buzzy" effect.

subliminal said...

What a cool post, thanks for sharing.

PMFAddictionTreatmentCenter said...

thanks for the post.
Yes, the abuse of this drug has continued to climb. As with any almost drug out there, there is always a market.
Do you think regulating the drug so that it is only avail for inpatient drug withdrawal would be a good idea?

Everything Addiction said...

I was the guardian for two years to an aunt with Alzheimer's who was becoming increasingly aggressive. She was prescribed Seroquel even before I became guardian. The drug is so powerful I had to get a special addendum by the judge to even continue it (Roger's Monitor). It helped her enormously with anxiety, but the fact they monitor this so closely is certainly indicative of how powerful this drug is. They weren't interested in any of the other drugs she was taking.

I think your blog is terrific by the way!

Joe19107 said...

As a former meth user I can attest to the fact- yes, fact- at the end of a long run, having been awake for 4 days, when the high is gone and youre just sketched out and paranoid and need to sleep but can't- Seroquel works. It just does. Takes away the paranoia and knocks you out- wham! Nothing "mildly sedating" about the effect, nor are we "misguided" in our perceptions about what Seroquel is good for. Addicts know what drugs are good for better than anyone- we are connoisseurs- sadly. As for the rest of the article: pish posh- Stimulant addicts don't use Seroquel for a buzz on our off-hours. Have you spoken to any addicts about this? Maybe hold off on producing further musings on the subject until you have.

Blessed said...

This is such an incredible post. I'm searching every single day for seroquel detox information. I've gotten the names of a couple of blogs but finding support/chat/forums had been difficult. Thank you for this article. I am detoxing from Seroquel. It is a living nightmare. I detoxed from benzos, ambien, wellbutrin, and alcohol and did not feel this bad.

I'm working with diet,exercise,meditation,sound and light therapy, positive affirmation,chinese herbs, acupuncture, education, ayurveda(not all at the same time lol) and so on and so forth.

This pain is nothing I have ever imagined.

Thanks again
Lili

Blessed said...

Oh and to Joe-I don't know how long you've been on Seroquel as I know from family experience that meth is horrific-but go ahead and stay on the seroquel. You'll think detoxing meth is a walk in the park.

Neuroskeptic said...

Eminem's latest album confirms this:

"Creep up to her mansion in stilettos and just
Climb the gate and ring the bell, like "hello my love"
I just picked your prescription for Seroquel up
Now would you like to share a pill or two with me?
I'll share my Valium with you cos I'm feeling you Britney
I'll trade you a blue one for a pink one ever since at schoolgirl juvenile delinquent
I've been feeling you ooh ooh girl you sexy little girl
You hold that pill any longer it'll get sentimental value
Come on toots give me the Valium... (continues in the same vein)"

B.gibson said...

Wow I guess this thread is oldern this seraquil scrip butdamn if it ain't exactly everything I needed to know this mornin after a rugged night and way too much shit to do today.... Signing off an passin the fuck out!

Nik said...

I can't be 100% positive on this but I've been on saraquel for 2 1/2 years ranging from 1200mg a day in-hospital dosage to treat psychosis, down to 100mg a day out-patient daily dosage. In my case, I don't crave saraquel like I would crave a cigarette, HOWEVER if I sleep a night without taking it I feel like I got hit by a freight train. It feels like I never slept (although clock says 8 hrs sleep), and a lot of negative symptoms develope due to this. (Anxiety, bad nerves, easily irritated) Now if I stay up the whole night without taking saraquel, I feel how I normally would after staying up that long, but nothing like how I would feel if I slept and woke up. I quit saraquel for 6 months and during that time I felt horrid every morning. After my last hospitalisation they tried adding Valproic Acid as a stabalizer since anti-depressants (meant for anxiety) would cause me to go mentally ill. Now I get a good sleep at night ONLY if I take my medication. So for me anyway, I'm not mentally addicted to it like a narcotic, but my body seems to be dependant on it to sleep properly.
Sadly, a good sleep means feeling like you slept 48hrs every morning. Nothing for energy, nothing for motivation but after 4-6 hrs I start to fell better so I can at least get stuff done around the house. I would love to try something that could replace saraquel but after a 10 year nightmare with Haldol, Rispiridone, Olanzapine, Welbutrin, Zanax. Id rather not play around with others... Guess I'll let saraquel kill me. TAKE NOTE: I have experienced perscription drug addiction with Lorazapam. I would physicly crave that pill and we had to discontinue it back when I suffered from a bad Anxiety Disorder that would develop after hospital treatment for psychosis. So to wrap it up, I think that there is some truth into the belief that saraquel is not a hard core addiction, HOWEVER I think there's more to this as a problem with the body depending on that drug to sleep properly. More studies must be done without hard-headed shrinks that think they know everything about the drug. There could be a lot more to this than we know.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nik. Great information but there is one thing that didnt make sense. When u said that anti depressants will make u mentally ill is totally wrong. They are designed to treat mental illness. On another note i do agree that ur body craves seroquel to go to sleep. Im a current seroquel user and only need 100mg a nite for it to help me sleep but if i dont take it then i mite get 3 hours of sleep a nite if im lucky. This is my second go round with the drug and after the first time i abused it badly. I used to crush it up an snort up to 1200mg a day but it isnt as hard as you all think to come off it. Make sure u have a few days off work and dont take it until ur brain is mentally drained and then u have no choice but to sleep. I dont abuse it anymore and i only use it sleep. Thanks everyone for ur life stories!!!

Anonymous said...

I take it for bi polar disorder. 400mg every night. I wake up refreshed and I'm in a relatively good mood all day. When I don't take it - I'm horrible. But I was horrible anyway and that's why I sought treatment in the first place. Being stable ALL DAY, EVERY DAY... is unreal. For my disorder - it's a freaking GODSEND. A real life-changer.

Anonymous said...

I have just started taking this 2 nights ago, started with 50mg felt ok, then 100mg last night and today I feel like I have had a stroke, my limbs are swollen and have slurred speech and feel drunk. The doctor wants me on 300mg by the end of next week but I dont think my body can take this, I feel so weak. I have Bipolar and BPD I really need them to work, will I feel like this for a long time ?? does anyone know how long I will feel like crap for ?? Many thanks Em x

Anonymous said...

Hmm well my doctor gave me a prescription for Seroquel just yesterday, 25 mg an hour before bed, for insomnia an anxiety. I haven't taken it yet because I had concerns about addiction, and after reading this article and the comments I REALLY don't want to take it. There must be some other ways to be calmer and sleep better... I'll put off taking the drug until nothing else has worked and I'm literally starting to fall apart... am hopeful it doesn't come to that of course. Great post.

Anonymous said...

When I was on seroquel, I hallucinated before I went to sleep. I couldn't figure out why they would prescribe a drug that caused hallucinations. Anybody else have this problem on seroquel??? I believe it was at a 100 mg to 150 mg when I first started taking it. in the end, I wad at about 500 mg. . What would be wrong with me to experience that when nobody else does?

Anonymous said...

Seroquel made me hallucinate before falling asleep. Why did this happen to me and nobody else has experienced it. I was a meth addict and was put on seroquel cause I had symptoms of schizophrenia from the meth use. I had no other hallucinations, only after taking my sequel dose before bed. It freaked me out. I no longer take it regularly, only in times of severe stress does the paranoia comes back.

Anonymous said...

I hallucinate before I sleep too. I saw a red/black lizard shaped thing crawling around my partner's pillow and underneath it. Another time just very large eyes... yeah. Taking it to stop the hallucinations, was going to go to the doctors to come off it and try something else but the calm effect is so addictive I've cancelled my morning appointment. I've put on 8lbs in a week.

Anonymous said...

I am on seroqueal and i agree.i cannot sleep well without it. I never in my town heard of it being abused or sold. If u need it so be.....

Anonymous said...

SeROquel 300er qd causes all over body twitching and jerking ! Then profound memoryloss. I was showing signs of TD. My neurologist was ruling out ALS, when I went to the Internet and type in seroquel I was surprise to find all my signs and symptoms there!!! I taper my self down and the old me came back. No withdrawals. Now I'm in a hypomanic state and my pysch is look at maybe antiseizure med for me.

Anonymous said...

A family member's girlfriend OD'd 3 years ago, but today finally asked about the details and was shocked it was Seroquel...and they had both been in rehab and developed this habit in addition to alcohol. I came to this site looking for how it could have been abused...I was prescribed this for sleeping along with Abilify. I am now off all prescription drugs...it was a long road of experimenting with the top 20...the ones we all hear about. I regret having done so, because I think they have hurt my ability to have a full range of emotions. I am much more mature and have more life experience and I think some of what I was trying to treat then are hard knocks...I've only learned now I could have gotten through things in other ways, like I am now. I am much smarter and more creative and can recognize I am benefiting from living a purposeful life that is not centered on pleasing others. Thanks for this post to every one else putting it out here.

Ramsay Sallis said...

I think that Seroquil is a very safe and effective drug especially for those with psychosis/bipolar. Initial doses may need to be as high as 1200mg but weight gain will only occur if used for more than a week.
Maintenance dose is between 25-300mg. Take earlier or less if u r very sleepy. Apart from these two SEs, seroquil SEs are very rare

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