woman taking a pill
assorted medication tables and capsules

In 2020, the CDC reported that 13% of Americans1 had either started or increased their substance use. Among military veterans2, psychotherapeutic drugs are the most misused. Xarelto, also known by its generic name, rivaroxaban, is a medication prescribed for blood thinning.

Rivaroxaban misuse can include:

  • Taking higher doses than medically necessary or prescribed
  • Taking for longer than a doctor has authorized
  • Taking doses outside of the dosing schedule
  • Crushing and snorting the powder form of rivaroxaban

Misusing Xarelto poses the risk of internal bleeding and hemorrhage that isn’t reversible. It can even permanently paralyze the user. Rivaroxaban and other anticoagulants are considered high-risk and pose drug safety problems3 Use of Xarelto can increase the risk of life-threatening complications and increase addiction risk.

Are you or a loved one struggling with rivaroxaban misuse? Reach out — Windward Way Recovery can help.

What Is Rivaroxaban?

Also known by its brand name, Xarelto, rivaroxaban is an NOAC, or novel oral anticoagulant. It is a prescription blood thinner. The FDA approved Xarelto in 2011 for the treatment of DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, for individuals who’ve had a knee or hip replacement.

Another intended prescription use is for those with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation or pulmonary embolism as a way to reduce stroke risk. Xarelto helps stop blood clotting for people in which clotting could pose a significant risk.

When used as intended and under strict medical supervision, rivaroxaban is beneficial. But these types of medication are often misused in a manner not called for on the label. As a blood thinner, rivaroxaban carries a significant risk of excessive bleeding. It can increase the risk of internal brain and gastrointestinal bleeding and increase the potential of permanent spinal paralysis.

The most dangerous aspect of rivaroxaban is that there’s no antidote that can reverse these effects once they’ve occurred. Internal bleeding causes lasting damage and can even result in death.

The Dangers to Older Americans

Over 80% of patients aged 57 to 854 take at least one daily prescription medication, and 50% take a combination of five or more prescriptions or dietary supplements each day. Without proper caution, this can lead to taking medications that shouldn’t be taken together or other unintentional misuses that can have harmful side effects. Intentional misuse also occurs.

For older individuals, higher rates of multiple chronic conditions occur, such as drug metabolism differences and the potential for drug interactions due to multiple medications, which can create the potential for substance misuse. Older populations tend to also supplement their diets with herbal remedies, some of which have not been thoroughly tested or evaluated for potency, interaction, or other potential threats.

Rivaroxaban misuse could be both intentional or accidental when coupled with the above information. Xarelto misuse can prove deadly because of its side effects when not taken exactly as prescribed.

If you’re an older adult struggling with the effects of rivaroxaban misuse, we can help. Windward Way Recovery can help you take control again.

What Are the Common Side Effects of Rivaroxaban?

In treatment groups studied, 60% to 80% of participants5 experienced at least one harmful reaction that required a trip to the emergency room. Aside from bleeding, rivaroxaban can also cause:

  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Bruising
  • Extremity pain
  • Nosebleed
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Bloody stools
  • Swelling of the abdomen

Even taking Xarelto exactly as your doctor prescribed is risky, but misuse greatly increases adverse reactions.

It is possible to overdose on rivaroxaban, even fatally, because there’s no antidote. Excessive bleeding is the riskiest of adverse rivaroxaban reactions.

Can You Spot the Signs of Xarelto/Rivaroxaban Misuse or Addiction?

Using this medication poses several side effect risks, such as those mentioned above. The internal bleeding side effect has several warning signs that should be viewed as an immediate need for an emergency room visit:

  • Pale skin
  • Skin that bruises easily
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen abdomen

Any of the side effects mentioned above can occur whether you’ve used the medication as prescribed or not. Some of the signs of rivaroxaban misuse include:

  • Looking for multiple rivaroxaban prescriptions from multiple physicians
  • Staying on the medication even after the medical need for it has subsided or is no longer occurring
  • Doubling up on doses
  • Empty Xarelto bottles in the garbage
  • Pills kept in unmarked bottles or in easy-to-access locations
  • Moodiness
  • Changes in sleeping, eating, and social habits or patterns
  • Secretive nature
  • Relationship strains
  • Financial constraints possibly due to paying for medications on the street
  • Potential illegal behavior
  • Loss of productivity at work
  • Grades dropping at school
  • Acting out of character
  • Mixing Xarelto with other drugs or with alcohol, which significantly increases all side effects and risks

Addiction causes a person to lose control of their drug usage. A doctor will diagnose addiction if two or more of the following substance use disorder symptoms are present:

  • Using a drug for longer than prescribed or in larger doses
  • Physically dependent on the substance
  • Withdrawal symptoms of Xarelto use are present, such as heart palpitations, leg weakness, or nausea
  • Unable to stop using the medication
  • Cravings throughout the day
  • Spending time using rivaroxaban, going through withdrawals, then looking for more
  • Using the drug even though you know it will cause social or emotional problems
  • Continuing use even after you know its physical and psychological dangers
  • Unable to fulfill your regular obligations, either at home, school, or work
  • Using rivaroxaban in hazardous situations
  • Loss of interest in items, activities, or events that once held meaning

Even if you’ve been prescribed rivaroxaban for medical reasons, use can become misuse. Misuse of Xarelto over time can turn into an addiction.

Are you or a loved one experiencing Xarelto side effects, misuse, or addiction? Windward Way Recovery wants to help.

Xarelto Misuse and Older Adults

According to the American Heart Association’s Journal (JAHA), the majority of Xarelto patients are over 656 This demographic is vulnerable to misuse of prescription drugs and falling into addiction — but this is often overlooked in older populations.

As you age, your metabolism slows. When taking any medication or supplement, the substance can remain in your bloodstream for longer periods of time, enhancing its effects and resulting in greater impact overall. Also, social isolation is much more common in older populations, as younger family members have grown up and moved away, older family members may have passed on, and overall living situations simply change.

According to NCADD, around 2.5 million seniors cope with addiction7 Drug use and addiction are typically either misdiagnosed in older adults or missed entirely — by doctors and family members. Symptoms might mimic a different disorder, and because older adults are prescribed multiple medications, it’s more difficult to spot the signs of misuse.

But taking the time to look a little deeper is important because rivaroxaban misuse could be life-threatening. This isn’t a medication that you can stop taking cold turkey, because withdrawals are just as threatening and potentially fatal. Rather than stopping Xarelto use suddenly, it’s better to enter a program that offers medically assisted detox. Afterward, substance use addiction treatment is the best way to find long-lasting recovery.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Rivaroxaban?

Prolonged use of any medication can lead to dependence. Prolonging your use of medications like rivaroxaban can lead to an inability to control its use. This can turn into addiction. When you take rivaroxaban for a long time, your brain gets used to how it interacts with your own chemical balance. Stopping suddenly is ill-advised. In fact, one of the most life-threatening situations that can occur from immediately ceasing Xarelto is blood clot-induced stroke. Additional withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Backaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty falling asleep or waking up
  • Potential nerve damage

Treatment for Rivaroxaban Addiction

If Xarelto needs to be stopped, it should be done under the care of a physician or Xarelto treatment center. When stopping rivaroxaban, it’s necessary to begin taking a different anticoagulant. Treatment for rivaroxaban misuse involves detoxing the body of this medication as you slowly wean yourself in a controlled atmosphere. Your specific treatment schedule may include tapering off dosage as you’re monitored by a treatment professional.

Medically detoxing offers additional medication that can help you mitigate negative reactions or withdrawals. This way your body has time to adjust to no longer receiving the chemicals it had gotten used to. In a professional Xarelto detox program, physicians will constantly monitor your progress, making sure your vital signs remain stable as the drug safely leaves your body.

Do you want to stop using rivaroxaban and need a safe space to do so? Windward Way Recovery can help you detox professionally and safely, monitoring you every step of the way.

Once you’ve completed the detox process, the next step is a rivaroxaban addiction treatment program. Some of the benefits of treatment include round-the-clock support, medication education, and best of all — encouragement. You can take part in support groups filled with others going through similar life changes. You’ll also learn how to modify your behavior in the future and prevent a relapse from happening.

Xarelto treatment offers individually designed care, catering to your specific needs and your life’s circumstances. Substance use treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are even programs designed for specific demographics, such as age- or gender-based. Being in a supportive environment with people who have similar circumstances can help all involved begin to heal and move forward.

Some of Xarelto’s physical damages aren’t entirely reversible — but you can manage misuse and the addiction’s side effects by detoxing properly and following up with a complete rivaroxaban program in a licensed Xarelto treatment center.

You are not alone. Windward Way Recovery believes in you, and you deserve the help you desire. We can help you get — and stay — drug-free while learning how to lessen the chances of relapse. It’s okay to press the “pause” button on life while you get better, so you can get back to living.

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