Is Imitrex a Controlled Substance?

By Alexandra Livezey

Imitrex is the brand name for sumatriptan succinate, a prescription medication used to treat acute migraine headaches. It is not a controlled substance, and no risk of dependency has been observed.

Imitrex is the brand name for sumatriptan succinate, a prescription medication used to treat acute migraine headaches. It is not a controlled substance, and no risk of dependency has been observed.

Function

Imitrex is classified as a triptan drug, and its chemical structure is similar to serotonin. Migraine pain is thought to be caused by dilation of the cerebral arteries. Triptans activate receptors in the brain to counter this process, causing vasoconstriction, a narrowing of the blood vessels.

Dosage

Imitrex is normally administered orally, in 25, 50, or 100 mg tablets, though it is also available as an injection and a nasal spray. The dosage varies based on the frequency and severity of migraine pain, but no one should take more than 200 mg in a 24-hour period. Controlled clinical trials have suggested that doses higher than 50 mg aren't significantly more effective at relieving pain, anyway.

Effects

Imitrex is most effective when taken before the migraine fully begins or as soon as possible after the onset of pain.

As with many medications that work on serotonin receptors, patients should be alert for possible drowsiness or dizziness and should avoid operating machinery or drinking alcohol until one's reaction to the medication is determined.

Misconceptions

Imitrex is not a controlled substance, and is not found to have addictive properties. However, sumatriptan is part of a class of drugs that works with receptors in the brain. While it won't get you high, it is nonetheless potent.

Vasoconstrictors, in some cases, may cause pupil dilation and increased blood pressure. While this occurs mostly with antihistamines or ADHD stimulant medication, rare cases of these side effects with Imitrex may account for the misconception that it is a controlled substance.

Warning

Patients taking SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) should discuss with their doctor before taking Imitrex or any other medication that works on serotonin.

Recurrent migraines and clinical depression often go hand-in-hand. So it is no surprise that Imitrex, like Zoloft or Paxil, works with the same receptors as an antidepressant would. Combining these medications may increase the risk for developing Serotonin Syndrome, and such patients should be closely monitored under the counsel of a physician.

References

About the Author

Alexandra Livezey has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and philosophy. She studied cultural journalism at Emerson College, and is now working towards a Master in Liberal Arts degree in journalism at Harvard. She was fortunate enough to have several creative nonfiction pieces published in campus literary magazines, and an undergraduate paper published in Georgetown University Critical Theory Journal.

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