Risks of Hydroxyzine Addiction

Risks of Hydroxyzine Addiction

Hydroxyzine is commonly prescribed for various conditions such as anxiety, allergies, and insomnia. It is likely that a family or friend has access to it in their cupboard. While hydroxyzine is considered to have a low potential for addiction and abuse, it is important to be aware of the risks and treatment options associated with hydroxyzine addiction in the case that it does arise. This article will discuss the nature of hydroxyzine addiction, its signs and symptoms, potential side effects, and available treatment options.

What is Hydroxyzine?

What is hydroxyzine and how does it work?

Hydroxyzine, known by its brand names Vistaril, Atarax, and Qiana, is an antihistamine medication that belongs to the diphenyl methanes class of drugs. It is primarily used to treat various conditions such as itchiness from allergies or eczema, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Hydroxyzine works by suppressing activity in the subcortical area of the brain, resulting in sedative effects. This is why it is often administered before surgical procedures.

Medical uses of hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine is prescribed for a range of medical conditions. It is commonly used for managing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), premedication before medical procedures, and relieving allergy symptoms such as itchiness, hives, and swelling. Additionally, hydroxyzine can promote sleep and is sometimes used as a mild sedative for short-term management of insomnia.

Addiction Potential of Hydroxyzine

Is hydroxyzine addictive?

While hydroxyzine is not considered highly addictive like narcotics or benzodiazepines, it can still lead to psychological dependence and abuse. The drug's anxiolytic and sedative effects can be misused, leading to larger doses than necessary and potential dependence. However, compared to other drugs, hydroxyzine has a lower addictive potential, making it a popular choice for medical professionals.

Psychological dependence on hydroxyzine

Psychological dependence on hydroxyzine can develop when individuals feel that they need the medication to function normally. Over time, the body may build a tolerance to the drug, leading to an increased dosage. However, it is important to note that hydroxyzine does not have the same level of addictive potential and physical dependence as other substances.

Signs and Symptoms of Hydroxyzine Abuse

Common signs of hydroxyzine abuse

Signs of hydroxyzine abuse can vary from person to person but may include extreme sedation, nausea, vomiting, fever, severe skin reactions, trembling, convulsions, stupor, insomnia, anxiety, cravings for the drug, and abdominal pain. If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms while taking hydroxyzine, it is important to seek professional help.

Physical and psychological symptoms

Hydroxyzine abuse can manifest in both physical and psychological symptoms. Physical symptoms may include drowsiness, dryness in the eyes and mouth, headaches, blurry vision, constipation, and potential heart problems. Psychological symptoms may include changes in mood, increased anxiety, and cravings for the drug.

Risks and Side Effects of Hydroxyzine

Potential risks associated with hydroxyzine use

While hydroxyzine is generally safe when used as prescribed, there are potential risks associated with its use. These risks include drug interactions with substances such as alcohol, gabapentin, amphetamines, antidepressants, opioids, and sedatives. It is important to consult with a medical professional before taking hydroxyzine to ensure it does not interact with any other medications or pre-existing health conditions.

Common side effects of hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine may cause side effects, which can vary from person to person. Common side effects include sedation, nausea, dryness in the eyes and mouth, drowsiness, fatigue, headaches, blurry vision, constipation, and potential heart problems. It is important to discuss any persistent or severe side effects with a healthcare provider.

Hydroxyzine Addiction Treatment

Seeking professional help for hydroxyzine addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with hydroxyzine addiction, it is essential to seek professional help. Treatment options for hydroxyzine addiction may include inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs, detoxification, therapy, counseling, and support groups. A healthcare professional will assess the individual's specific needs and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.

Detoxification process and withdrawal management

The detoxification process for hydroxyzine addiction involves gradually reducing the dosage under medical supervision to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from hydroxyzine is generally less severe compared to other substances, but it is still important to manage the process in a controlled environment to ensure the individual's safety and comfort.

Therapeutic interventions for hydroxyzine addiction

Therapeutic interventions play a crucial role in the treatment of hydroxyzine addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individual counseling, group therapy, and holistic approaches can help individuals address the underlying causes of addiction, develop coping strategies, and establish a strong foundation for recovery.

Support and Recovery Programs

Importance of support in hydroxyzine addiction recovery

Support is a vital component of hydroxyzine addiction recovery. Support can come from various sources, including family, friends, support groups, and addiction recovery programs. The encouragement and understanding of loved ones can provide the necessary motivation and accountability during the recovery process.

Outpatient treatment options

Outpatient treatment programs offer flexibility for individuals seeking recovery from hydroxyzine addiction. These programs provide therapy, counseling, and support while allowing individuals to maintain their daily responsibilities. Outpatient treatment can be an effective option for those with mild to moderate addiction.

Aftercare programs and relapse prevention strategies

After completing a treatment program, individuals can benefit from participating in aftercare programs and relapse prevention strategies. These programs offer continued support, education, and guidance to help individuals maintain their sobriety and avoid relapse.

Dual Diagnosis: Hydroxyzine and Co-occurring Conditions

Link between hydroxyzine addiction and mental health disorders

Hydroxyzine addiction can often be accompanied by co-occurring mental health disorders. Common mental health conditions associated with hydroxyzine addiction include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is essential to address both the addiction and the underlying mental health issues for successful recovery.

Addressing co-occurring conditions in treatment

Treatment for hydroxyzine addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions often involves an integrated approach. This approach combines addiction treatment with mental health therapy, allowing individuals to address both aspects of their well-being simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment can provide comprehensive and holistic care.

Prevention and Harm Reduction Strategies

Education and awareness about hydroxyzine addiction are essential for prevention. Healthcare professionals should provide clear information about the potential risks, side effects, and addictive potential of hydroxyzine to patients. Additionally, individuals should be educated about responsible medication use and the importance of following prescribed dosages.


Recognizing the risks and seeking help for hydroxyzine addiction is crucial for individuals struggling with substance abuse. Hydroxyzine, while considered less addictive than other substances, can still lead to psychological dependence and misuse. By understanding the signs and symptoms of hydroxyzine addiction, accessing appropriate treatment options, and receiving ongoing support, individuals can embark on a path to recovery and lead healthier, fulfilling lives. Remember, recovery is possible with the right resources, support, and determination.


National Academies Press- 3 Data Needs for Monitoring Drug Problems

EMCDDA- Monitoring Drug Use in Recreational Settings

Trimbos- Drugs: Monitoring, Research, and Prevention

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