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Recreational Use of SSRIs and Other Antidepressants
A Partial Review
by R. Andrew Sewell, MD
v1.1 - Aug 8, 2007
Celexa (citalopram) has been used in combination with moclobemide (an MAOI) to produce euphoria.1 [Erowid Note: Combining MAOIs with other psychoactive drugs carries serious medical risks and can result in extremely unpleasant side effects, overheating, nausea, confusion, heart problems, and even death. Please see Erowid's MAOI Vault.]

Prozac (fluoxetine) has been abused in several different ways. Two cases have been described in the medical literature in which street drug users used high doses for its amphetamine-like effect.2 The first discovered this effect with 80 mg (four pills) and two cans of beer on an empty stomach, which produced "increased energy, talkativeness, mood elevation and slight jitters but she reported that it was unlike 'speed' because she also felt numb and calm". The second took 80-140 mg (four to seven pills) a day but later increased this to "a handful". He experienced an amphetamine-like effect and needed trazodone and later diazepam (Valium) to sedate him at night. The lives of both patients became dominated by taking the drug, each requiring hospital admission, but neither experienced withdrawal on discontinuation (probably because of fluoxetine's long half-life).

One case is reported of an anorexic who took 120 mg (six pills) of Prozac a day for the appetite-suppressing effects, but did not report any psychoactive effects.3

There are several formal reports of abuse of amitriptyline (Elavil). One study described 86 patients in a methadone maintenance program who abused amitriptyline for its "sedative type of high".4 Another case of amitriptyline abuse (750 mg/day) became apparent when it caused seizures,5 as did a second at 800 mg/day.6 A third took up to 2000 mg/day.7 All three (all women) claimed a calming or euphoric effect.

Dothiepin is the most popular antidepressant in Ireland. One study in which a questionnaire was given to 83 attendees at a Dublin drug treatment center revealed that 38 had taken dothiepin at doses of 150-600 mg for the purposes of euphoria, sedation, and various auditory and visual hallucinations.8

References #
  1. Neuvonen PJ, Ohjola-Sintonen S, Tacke U, et al. "Five fatal cases of serotonin syndrome after moclobemide-citalopram or moclobemide-clomipramine overdoses (letter)". Lancet. 1993;342:1419.
  2. Tinsley JA, Olsen MW, Laroche RR, Palmen MA. "Fluoxetine abuse". Mayo Clin Proc. 1994;69:166-8.
  3. Wilcox JA. "Abuse of fluoxetine by a patient with anorexia nervosa". Am J Psych. 1987;144:1100.
  4. Cohen MJ, Hanbury R, Stimmel B. "Abuse of amitriptyline". J Am Med Assoc. 1978;240:1372-1373.
  5. O'Rahilly S, Turner TH, Wass JAH. "Factitious epilepsy due to amitriptyline abuse". Ir Med. 1985;78:166-7.
  6. Wohlreich MM, Welch W. "Amitriptyline abuse presenting as acute toxicity". Psychosomatics. 1993;34:191-193.
  7. Delisle JD. "A case of amitriptyline abuse (letter)". Am J Psych. 1990;147:1377-1378.
  8. Dorman A, Talbot D, Byrne P, O'Connor J. "Misuse of dothiepin (letter)". Br Med J. 1995;311:1502.
Revision History #
  • v1.1 - Aug 8, 2007 - Published on with permission of author.