Thorazine (chlorpromazine) is a conventional or typical antipsychotic medication belonging to a class of drugs called phenothiazines. It works by interfering with dopaminergic transmissions and reducing excitement in the brain. This medication is only available with a doctor or psychiatrist’s prescription.
Thorazine is used to manage and reduce hallucinations, delusions, extreme emotions, and other related symptoms that generally accompany schizophrenia. It may also be used to reduce symptoms of mania experienced by people diagnosed with bipolar. Children ages one to 12 years who display severe behavioral issues may benefit from taking this medication. While this medication does help to manage associated symptoms, it is not intended to be used as a cure for schizophrenia, bipolar, or behavioral issues. People taking this drug for mental health concerns often also pursue other psychological treatment such as psychotherapy.
Thorazine is sometimes prescribed to treat excessive and prolonged cases of hiccups, nervousness before surgical operations, nausea and vomiting, acute intermittent porphyria, and may be used as part of a course of treatment for tetanus.
- What can I do to get the most out of my treatment with this drug?
Mental health treatment with psychotropic drugs may help a person experiencing debilitating associated symptoms. Schizophrenia, for example, may be accompanied by symptoms that make any lasting mental health treatment difficult to achieve. The use of psychotropic medication may allow a person to seek additional methods of treatment, such as a type of psychotherapy, when they otherwise might not be able to even leave their house. Drugs like Thorazine help many people in this regard, but supplementing drug treatment with psychotherapy may help a person achieve better, longer-lasting mental health outcomes. If you are prescribed an antipsychotic drug, consider finding a therapist or counselor to learn more about what you are experiencing in a safe place while addressing behaviors, emotions, and conditions associated with your symptoms.
- How should I take this medication?
Thorazine comes in oral tablet form and may be used in several ways. To treat nausea or vomiting, the medication may be taken every four to six hours until the symptoms stop. For persistent hiccups, the medication may be taken three to four times per day, for up to three days. If hiccups have not subsided after three days, an alternative treatment should be used. For long-term relief of behavioral, schizophrenic, and bipolar symptoms, this medication may be taken several times a day, with the dose determined on an individual basis.
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If you miss a dose of your prescription, take the missed dose as soon as you are able. However, if it will soon be time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose altogether. You may put yourself at risk for an overdose if you take too much of this medication too quickly. Never take a double dose of this medication to make up for a missed dose.
- What should I do if I overdose on this medication?
Call a poison control helpline or call your healthcare advisor right away. Do not try to throw up unless instructed to do so by your doctor or emergency responders. Symptoms of overdose include erratic heartbeat, drowsiness, restlessness, convulsions, agitation, dry mouth, fever, body movements that are unusual and difficult to control, and coma.
Do not use this drug if you have allergic reactions to chlorpromazine or other drugs in the phenothiazine family. This medication may increase the risk of death for elderly people experiencing dementia. Excessive or long-term use of this drug may lead to the development of a severe and sometimes irreversible condition called tardive dyskinesia.
Talk to your doctor before you start taking this drug, especially if you have a history of asthma, emphysema, glaucoma, breast cancer, heart disease, liver disease, enlarged prostate, adrenal gland tumors, kidney disease, problems with your blood cells or bone marrow, or lung infections. Tell your doctor if you plan to become pregnant during treatment, or if you will be exposed to extremely hot or cold conditions. If you work with organophosphorus insecticides, you should not take this drug.
Thorazine may interact with other medications or supplements, including antihistamines, anticoagulants, barbiturates, diuretics, anti-anxiety medications, herbal products, vitamins, minerals, and more. If you are taking other prescription drugs or supplements, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking this medication.
Using this drug may increase your risk for injury, accidents, and may complicate pregnancy. If you are prescribed this drug, your doctor or pharmacist should cover the following warnings:
- This medication may cause inaccurate readings on home pregnancy tests. If you become pregnant while you are being treated with this medication, you should talk to your doctor about other therapeutic options for your condition. This drug may cause irritability, difficulty breathing, feeding issues, shaking, limp or rigid muscles, and withdrawal symptoms in newborns if taken during the third trimester of pregnancy. Chlorpromazine, the active ingredient in Thorazine, may pass into breast milk and harm a nursing baby. Do not stop taking this medication unless advised to do so by your doctor.
- This drug may make you very tired; avoid potentially dangerous activities such as driving, climbing, or operating heavy machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
- You may experience episodes of dizziness if you stand up quickly after lying or sitting down. Stand up slowly to minimize potential injury.
- Avoid using alcohol as it may make side effects more severe and more frequent.
- Thorazine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Avoid spending excessive amounts of time in the sun and avoid the use of tanning beds. Use sun block and wear protective clothing if you need to spend time outside.
- Your surgeon or anesthesiologist needs to know that you are taking this medication if you are having any type of surgery, including oral surgery.
If you experience serious or severe side effects after using this medication, you should call your doctor. Serious side effects may include:
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever, sweating, chills, or sore throat
- Irregular or quick heartbeat
- Excessive tightness in the throat, which may impair swallowing or breathing
- Development of severe rash, itching, blisters, or hives
- Yellowed eyes or skin
- Swelling of face, eyes, or extremities
- Uncontrollable tongue movements or the tongue protruding from the mouth
- Swollen tongue
- Bleeding or bruising
- Trouble seeing at night or in dim lighting
- Muscle stiffness or neck cramps
Less serious side effects may include:
- Drowsiness or tiredness
- Sleep disturbances or insomnia
- Dry mouth
- Anxiety, restlessness, or excitement
- Changes in appetite or rapid weight gain
- Upset stomach
- Increased skin sensitivity to sunlight
- Breast enlargement or breast milk production
- Missed menstrual periods
- Changes in pupil size
- Blank expression, shuffling walk, or unusual, uncontrollable body movements
It is important to taper off of this medication slowly to avoid severe withdrawal reactions, even if you are replacing Thorazine with another medication. Talk to your doctor about the best way to lower and eventually stop your dosage. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or shakiness
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Return of psychotic or manic-phase symptoms
- Drugs.com. (2014). Thorazine. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/mtm/thorazine.html
- Medline Plus. (2011). Chlorpromazine. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682040.html
- RxList. (2008). Thorazine. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/thorazine-drug.htm
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND.
Last Update: 04-08-2015
IMPORTANT: The best person to discuss medication with is your health care provider. GoodTherapy.org is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. For information on GoodTherapy.org's position on psychotropic medication, click here..