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Antidepressants are not drugs of abuse or dependence.
  1. F. J. Lichtigfeld,
  2. M. A. Gillman
  1. South African Brain Research Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa.


    There is a view among both the lay and medical audience that antidepressants are addictive. Non-compliance may arise as a result, with fatal consequences in some cases. In spite of the fact that anti-depressants have not proved to be drugs of abuse or dependence, confusion exists in the literature, particularly regarding the definition of the terms misuse and abuse in opioid addicts. Here, antidepressants are used to treat the depressive component of the addictive syndrome and have proved effective. In some instances, however, misuse of antidepressants has been found in methadone-treated addicts, which may be due to an enhancement of the effects of methadone. These effects have led some people to believe, wrongly, that antidepressants are substances of abuse. Our findings, from a review of the literature, show that such use of antidepressants by methadone patients is by definition misuse and not abuse. Further, the known withdrawal symptoms which occasionally follow cessation of anti-depressant therapy are not, on their own, an indication of addictive potential. We therefore conclude that antidepressant drugs are not substances of abuse and dependence.

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