What Is Paxil & What Can Happen If You Take It Recreationally?

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear What Is Paxil & What Can Happen If You Take It Recreationally?,

what is paxil and what are the effects if you take it recreatinally?

Dear What Is Paxil & What Can Happen If You Take It Recreationally?,

What is Paxil?

Paxil is a brand name for the drug paroxetine. This prescription medication is in the class of drugs called SSRIs (serotonin-reuptake inhibitors) that work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance.

Paxil can be used to treat:

  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Extended-release tablets have also been used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Paxil should only be taken as directed by a prescribing doctor (such as a primary care physician or psychiatrist). Paxil is generally not prescribed for people under 18 years of age.


General risks associated with prescription drug abuse:

Prescription drug abuse is the use of a medication without a prescription or using it in a way other than how it was prescribed.

Prescription drug abuse is highest among young adults ages 18-25. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.

As a general rule, prescription medications should not be taken recreationally. There is a misconception, especially by teens, that prescription drugs are “safer” than illegal drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor. However, when taken in different quantities than prescribed or when taken even though the symptoms aren’t present that would warrant taking a certain medication, prescription drugs may affect the brain in ways very similar to illicit drugs.

Here are some of the concerns with abusing prescription medications:

  • If a doctor is not prescribing the medication for you, there is nobody to determine whether this medication is appropriate for you in terms of possible problematic interactions with other medications you might be taking or medical/mental health conditions.  
  • If a doctor is not prescribing the medication, there is nobody to monitor side-effects. There are various adverse reactions a person may experience when taking any kind of medication. This may occur if the medication is being taken as prescribed, and will easily occur if a medication is being abused.
  • Prescription drugs can be especially dangerous when taken in high doses, when combined with other prescription medications, or when taken with alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Abusing some drugs can lead to addiction. You can develop an addiction to narcotic painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizers, and stimulants.
  • Depending on the type of prescription medication being abused (the most dangerous would include opioid painkillers, sedatives and tranquilizers, and stimulants), some serious side effects can include loss of menstrual periods and infertility, slowed breathing rate and potential for breathing to stop, memory problems, abnormal body temperature, seizures, tremors, hallucinations, increased risk of stroke, and overdose which can lead to coma or death.  
  • Prescription drug abuse can lead to sedation and poor judgment. Further consequences to this can range from motor vehicle accidents to decreased academic performance to failure to use safer sex practices resulting in unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STDs.
  • Youth who abuse prescription medications are also more likely to report use of other drugs. Many studies have shown associations between prescription drug abuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking, heavy episodic drinking, and marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drug use among teens, young adults and college students in the U.S.

There are many reasons people abuse prescription drugs:

  • To feel good or get high
  • To relax or relive tension
  • To reduce appetite
  • To experiment
  • To be accepted by peers or be social
  • To be safe – it is a false belief that prescription drugs are safe than street drugs
  • To be legal – it is a mistaken thought that taking prescription drugs without a prescription is legal
  • To feed an addiction

Given this list, another problem with prescription drug abuse is that an underlying problem is often getting neglected. For example, what is going on with a person that they are looking to get high, that they have no healthier alternatives to relaxing, or that they are having such difficulty socializing that it is difficult to do so without using some kind of substance? Prescription drug abuse can be a problem in and of itself, but it can also be masking other issues that need to be addressed.


Specific problems related to abusing Paxil:

As for some specific issues with taking Paxil recreationally, one major problem is that there is not a prescribing doctor to make sure that this medication is safe for you to take, to monitor any problematic side-effects from taking this medication, and to monitor problems that may occur from stopping this medication.

  • A small number of children, teens and young adults (up to age 24) who took antidepressants such as paroxetine during clinical studies became suicidal.
  • Paxil is generally not recommended for those under 18 years of age.
  • Side-effects of taking Paxil can include mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, impulsivity, irritability, aggressiveness, restlessness, hyperactivity, depression, or suicidal thoughts.
  • Serious side-effects can include unusual bone pain or tenderness, swelling or bruising; unusual bleeding (mouth vagina, rectum), coughing up blood; agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination, fainting; rigid muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors; headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops; severe skin reactions that can include swelling, burning, rash, and blistering or peeling skin.
  • Less serious side-effects can include mild headache, drowsiness, dizziness, sleep problems, feeling restless or nervous, mild nausea, constipation, weight changes, decreased sex drive, dry mouth, yawning, ringing in the ears.
  • Paxil should not be taken with various medications used to treat medical and mental health issues. For example, certain medications may add to the sleepiness caused by Paxil. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin, ibuprofen and more) can cause you to bruise or bleed more easily.
  • Paxil should not be taken for people dealing with various medical and mental health issues, such as liver or kidney disease, blood clotting disorders, seizures, bipolar disorder, a drug abuse history, or those experiencing suicidal thoughts.
  • Withdrawal symptoms may occur after your stop taking Paxil, such as agitation, dizziness, numbness, ringing in the ears, confusion, or other behavioral changes.
  • It is possible to have an allergic reaction to Paxil which could cause skin rash or hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat.  

Abusing Paxil may also result in the following:

  • Crushing, chewing, or breaking a Paxil CR extended release tablet may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time. This could cause various problematic side-effects, including overdose.
  • An overdose of Paxil can be FATAL. Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, vomiting, tremor, confusion, decreased urination, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, aggression, seizures or coma. If there is any concern a Paxil overdose has occurred, seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
  • Drinking alcohol can increase some of the problematic side effects of Paxil.
  • Paxil may impair your thinking or reactions and could adversely affect anything you are doing that requires you to be alert, including driving.


For more information on prescription drug abuse, go to TeensHealth and NIDA for Teens. Go to PubMed Health for more information on Paxil.

If you are abusing prescription medication and need help talk to your parents/guardians about the problem and then make arrangements to meet with your doctor and/or a mental health professional as soon as possible:

  • If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
  • If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.