Atormoxetine (Strattera) is an antidepressant used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults. This drug is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), acting on the norepinephrine neurotransmitter. Strattera also affects the dopaminergic system and effects are seen within the first few weeks of therapy.

Strattera’s chemical structure is quite similar to tricyclic antidepressants, but it is classed as a phenylpropanolamine derivative. This drug has a direct effect on norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain (behind the eyes). This is the area associated with working memory, inhibitory impulsivity, and mental responses.

Benefits of Strattera

Not addictive – Stimulant medications are Schedule II narcotics with high potential for abuse. Strattera is not controlled, and does not have this associated risk.

  • No euphoria – The full effects of Strattera are not felt for weeks, so it cannot be used to produce a “high.” For many people with substance abuse disorders, this is a better alternative.


  • 24-hour effects – Strattera provides relief from ADHD symptoms for 24 hours, and the child is able to complete homework in the evening without the need for a daily power struggle because the medicine is not working.


  • Works as an antidepressant – This drug relieves depression symptoms, and can be used for a person who has co-occurring disorders.


  • Good for bed wetters – Because Strattera causes urinary retention, it is often used for children who are bed wetters.

Disadvantages of Strattera

  • Side effects – Strattera has many side effects, as with many antidepressants. The prescription has a warning of the potential risk for suicide. Other side effects include loss of appetite, drowsiness, mood swings, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.


  • Not immediately effective – Another disadvantage to this drug is that it takes up to four weeks for Strattera to reach its full benefits. This drug is not an option for people who require immediate results.

Atmoxetine Abuse

Strattera appears to have minimal abuse potential when compared to other drugs used to treat ADHD. These medications are stimulants, which inhibit sleep and appetite. Since Strattera does not do these things, it is not likely a drug chosen for recreational use. Although the compound of atomoxetine is quickly metabolized, the clinical effects are long lasting, so it does not usually produce a rebound effect. This drug is also more subtle than stimulants, with a gradual onset. The dose must be increased gradually. Atomoxetine is metabolized in the cytochrome P-450 2D6 pathway, and the major metabolite is active. The effects of this drug vary from person to person due to the metabolism of a person varying. Because of this, liver functions are monitored in patients who are prescribed Strattera.

Atomoxetine is a good drug for treatment people with co-morbid substance abuse and mood problems. While it has a weak antidepressant effect, many people with mild depression and ADHD do well on it. Also, it can easily be refilled because it is not controlled.