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What Is Haloperidol Decanoate?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Haloperidol decanoate is a drug prescribed to treat schizophrenia. It may provide relief for patients who suffer from hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and aggression. Those taking this drug may find that it lessens their negative thoughts and allows them to engage in daily life more readily. This medication is an antipsychotic that works on the neurotransmitters in the brain to help restore mental balance. When beginning this therapy for schizophrenia, patients will likely continue to take other medication for a brief period of time to allow the new drug to take effect.

A doctor will usually administer each dose of haloperidol decanoate. This antipsychotic is a long-acting drug, which is ideal for patients who may forget to take their medication regularly. An injection will be administered into a muscle, such as the buttocks. It is usually given every three to seven weeks. Patients who are just beginning treatment will likely have a smaller dosage administered in a few separate injections, which should be given a few days apart.

Certain precautions must be followed while using haloperidol decanoate. Patients will likely undergo periodic lab tests to ensure that they are not experiencing adverse reactions from the drug. Those who are diabetic must check their blood sugar levels regularly, because haloperidol decanoate may interfere with glucose levels. Patients will also be more susceptible to heatstroke and sunburn. Alcohol consumption must be avoided during treatment.

Some side effects may occur with the use of haloperidol decanoate, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become bothersome. Constipation, stomach upset, and nausea may occur. Patients have also reported experiencing loss of appetite, insomnia, restlessness, headache, drowsiness, and dizziness.

More serious side effects require immediate medical attention. Patients should go to the emergency room directly if they experience trouble breathing, chest pain, or severe vomiting. Drooling, a blank facial expression, and muscle spasms, along with involuntary muscle movements like lip smacking may also occur. Rarely, haloperidol decanoate may increase prolactin levels in the body which can cause enlarged breasts and lowered sperm count in men, as well as missed menstrual periods and unwanted breast milk in women.

Before using haloperidol decanoate, patients should discuss their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements with their doctors. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this drug. Other conditions that can preclude its use include heart problems, seizures, and high or low blood pressure. Medications such as blood thinners, antifungals, and certain antibiotics may interact with this antipsychotic drug.

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