Seroquel Ruined my Life

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel and behave normally. It is usually characterized by symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, unusual behaviors and disoriented thinking. Schizophrenia can also present within those who suffer from alcohol or substance use disorders. This is often referred to as having a co-occurring mental health condition. In order to treat every aspect of a person’s addiction, the substance use disorder as well as the mental health disorder must be treated simultaneously through therapies and approved medications. Today, second generation antipsychotic medications such as Seroquel are often prescribed to help those who are diagnosed with a co-occurring condition such as schizophrenia.

A cabinet of file folders labeled with a few labeled schizophrenia and diagnosis represent studies for clients on how Seroquel ruined their lives.

Like any drug that has the ability to affect dysregulation of mood and behavior, addiction to Seroquel is possible, though not very common. However, in comparison to other drugs in this category, Seroquel is the most commonly abused antipsychotic medication. This is due to it being so frequently prescribed by physicians. Therefore making it more readily available for use. It is mostly abused for its sedative effects as a form of self medication in off-label uses to help treat conditions of insomnia or anxiety. 

What is Seroquel?

Quetiapine is the generic name for Seroquel. It is an FDA approved second-generation antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia in people ages 13 and over. It is also approved to treat manic episodes and long-term maintenance of bipolar disorder and acute treatment of depressive episodes and major depressive disorder. Today, the drug is also used off label for a variety of conditions including insomnia, PTSD and agitation in patients with dementia.

Seroquel works by rebalancing dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. These are hormones that affect functions such as thinking, overall mood and behavior. When taken as prescribed by a medical professional symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations can improve within the first 1-3 weeks. Other symptoms such as motivation and the desire to be around other people can take about 1-2 weeks until improvements are seen. Overall, it could take about 2-3 months of continued use of medication to see results and the full benefits of the medication.

Seroquel is not a controlled substance. However, research has found that quetiapine abuse is most often associated with a dependence on other substances such as benzos. Seroquel was created by the drug company AstraZeneca. Over the years Seroquel has had a long and complicated history with promoting off label usage of the drug, which has led to reports of abuse and misuse.

Infograph showing different signs of seroquel abuse.

Seroquel Ruined my Life

In 2010, an estimated 520 million dollar civil settlement was made by the company AstraZeneca to resolve allegations of the drug manufacturer illegally marketing the antipsychotic for uses not approved by the FDA as well as for making payments to doctors. They have also been accused of allegedly failing to disclose the metabolic side effect of the drug in its continued off-label marketing. 

According to recent findings from the FDA’s adverse Event Reporting System, in the first quarter of 2017, an estimated 200,000 cases found Seroquel or a generic equivalent were listed as the primary or secondary causes of an adverse event. This included 1754 deaths as the primary suspect. Overall, about 93% of the drugs usage were a result of off label prescribing of the drug. Many have claimed that usage of the drug for off label purposes has caused adverse reactions and side effects. Despite the high numbers, the Event Reporting System is completely voluntary and the actual number of people experiencing these negative side effects can be significantly undercounted and underrepresented. 

In some reported cases, patients were prescribed Seroquel for treating conditions such as insomnia and other sleep related disorders. These patients began developing high blood sugar levels, gaining weight and developing an irregular heart beat. Some patients weren’t even aware that it was an antipsychotic medication because they had been using it for treating their sleeping and anxiety disorders. 

In other Seroquel horror stories, users describe abusing the medication while in sober living, and did so in order to chase a “high”. This was due to its effects on serotonin and dopamine levels the medication could induce in the brain. Users would use the drugs and attempt to stay awake for long periods of time in order to achieve the euphoric feelings. One of the major side effects of the drug is fatigue, so as users fought off the fatigue from the drug, it would often lead to hallucinations. 

Some medical experts also weigh in on the adverse side effects saying it can cause other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart arrhythmia and the potential for movement disorders. Despite these alarming finds, the medication is still being prescribed to many Americans for off label uses. Off-label usage of the medication causes higher risks for adverse effects and a higher risk of dependence and addiction to Seroquel. 

Infograph showing the side effects of seroquel and its impact on different parts of the body.

Symptoms of Seroquel Misuse and Addiction

  • Hallucinations (adverse symptom associated with schizophrenia)
  • Delusions (adverse symptom associated with schizophrenia)
  • Disorganized thinking (adverse symptoms associated with schizophrenia)
  • Little desire to be around other people
  • Trouble speaking
  • Heavy brain fog and poor judgment 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drowsiness, fatigue and adverse insomnia making it difficult to sleep without the medication. Users may also experience symptoms of sleep disorders such as sleepwalking.
  • Headache
  • Seizures 
  • Agitation
  • Cholesterol abnormalities 
  • Changes to metabolism – weight gain, hyperglycemia, high glucose levels, increased appetite. Many users found the increases in appetite often lead to other medical conditions such as the development of diabetes.  
  • Orthostatic hypotension – a condition in which a person’s blood pressure suddenly drops when standing and can cause dizziness and fainting. 
  • Tardive dyskinesa (TD) – a movement condition that develops with prolonged use of antipsychotics. Symptoms of TD include the abnormal movements of the jaw, lips and tongue that you cannot control such as grimacing, sucking, smacking of the lips, puckering or pursing the lips, rapid eye blinking, tongue protrusion and wormlike tongue movements.
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome – a rare and life threatening reaction to antipsychotic drugs that damage the nerves that control involuntary body functions. This could lead to fever, rigid muscles, excessive sweating, changes in blood pressure and confusion. 
  • Risk for blood disorder such as neutropenia – low level of white blood cells
  • Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid gland
  • Development of depressive episodes 
  • Development of suicidal thoughts and behaviors 

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Abilify vs Seroquel

Abilify and Seroquel are second generation antipsychotic medications often prescribed to treat symptoms of schizophrenia. 


  • Generic name aripiprazole 
  • Prescription medication that works by rebalancing dopamine and serotonin chemicals in the brain to help improve thinking, mood and behavior
  • FDA approved to treat acute manic or mixed episodes of bipolar disorder, maintenance of bipolar disorder, treatment for major depression, irritability associated with autistic disorders and tourette syndrome
  • Symptoms include sedation, dizziness, orthostatic hypotension and trouble sleeping
  • Dangerous side effects include neuroleptic malignant syndrome, high blood sugar, impulse control and difficulty controlling movements
  • Risk for developing TD, but much lower compared to other antipsychotic medications


  • Generic name quetiapine
  • Prescription antipsychotic medication used to improve mood, thoughts and behaviors for people with symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder
  • Comes in immediate relief and extended relief forms. Extended relief forms are used to treat depression
  • Side effects of misuse include higher risk for dementia, risk for worsening depression, weight gain, risks of infections and seizures
  • Can improve symptoms as early as within a week
  • Half life is about six hours and can stay in the body for about 30 hours after first dose. Takes about five half lives for the medication to be eliminated from the body

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We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Treatment for Seroquel Abuse and Co-Occurring mental health disorders

Seroquel and other second generation antipsychotics are often prescribed to help alleviate and manage symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Due to its effect on major brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, the medication has the potential for misuse. However, seroquel addiction is most often associated with a co-dependence on another mind altering substance. At Hotel California by the Sea, our substance use disorder program and specialization in co-occurring mental health disorders, provide clients with the best opportunities to overcome their addiction. 

Through different levels of care including detox, residential and outpatient programs, clients can receive rigorous one on one treatment tailored to their unique needs. Our programs provide a combination of medication assisted treatments as well as cognitive behavior therapies. This dual action treatment method allows clients to learn the root causes of their addiction and learn effective coping skills to help them manage triggers to their addiction. Seroquel addiction is not common, but can be dangerous if left untreated. Hotel California by the Sea is ready to help clients overcome their addiction and live a healthier lifestyle.