MEDICINES INFORMATION HALOPERIDOL decanoate injection Pronounced: hal-o-per-ee-dol de-can-o-ate What is haloperidol injection used for?
others need to stay on medication longer. Taking medication regularly may
Haloperidol belongs to a group of medicines cal ed antipsychotics,
prevent you from becoming unwel . Your doctor should regularly review
which are usual y used to help treat people with schizophrenia and
your medication to check whether you are experiencing any unwanted
similar conditions such as psychosis. Medicines are often used to treat
ef ects and make sure that your dose is stil right for you. Speak with your doctor before stopping haloperidol. Your original symptoms may return
more than one condition, so if you are not sure why you have been
after three to six months of stopping. Check with your doctor for advice
prescribed haloperidol, you should discuss this with your doctor. Your
about this. Haloperidol is not addictive.
medicine may also have a trade or brand name. This is the name that
the manufacturer gives to the medicine, for example Haldol® is a brand
What are the side effects of haloperidol injection?
name for haloperidol injection. It is a slow-release injection known as a
As with al medicines there is a risk of side effects. Unfortunately, you
‘depot’ injection because it releases the medicine slowly over several
might get some of these side ef ects before you start to feel better.
Most are temporary and should go away after a few days or weeks.
What are the benefits of taking haloperidol?
Not everyone wil get side effects, and many people experience them
to different degrees. If you feel that you have some side effects which
People with schizophrenia or psychosis may have a range of symptoms
are causing you discomfort, discuss this with your doctor, pharmacist,
that are often thought of in two groups – ‘positive’ and ‘negative’
nurse or carer. The table on the fol owing page lists some of the main
symptoms. Positive symptoms include hal ucinations and delusions, which
recognised side effects of haloperidol.
can include symptoms such as hearing voices, or experiencing ‘strange
things’ such as seeing or feeling things that may not be real or having
What about alcohol and ‘street’ drugs?
mistaken beliefs. People may also feel suspicious or paranoid, or feel that
Both alcohol and haloperidol can af ect the brain so it is not
other people can read their thoughts. Negative symptoms are less
recommended that you drink alcohol while taking haloperidol. Drinking
noticeable than positive symptoms, and include tiredness, lack of
alcohol can make psychosis worse and in combination with haloperidol
concentration and lack of energy. People may become quite inactive and
can cause severe drowsiness. Once you are used to the medication
withdrawn from normal everyday activities.
and know the effects of taking alcohol you may be able to drink alcohol
Haloperidol can help to treat some of these symptoms and keep them
occasional y and in smal amounts. It is good to be cautious because
under control in the long term. Treating these symptoms should help
alcohol affects people in dif erent ways, especial y when taking
people feel less confused, anxious and restless, and help them to think
more clearly. This wil help them to cope bet er with the stresses of
everyday life, and help them to return to normal activities such as work or
Do not stop taking your medication because you feel like drinking
hobbies. Haloperidol may also help people engage better with other kinds
alcohol. If you drink alcohol, drink only smal amounts. Never drink
of therapies such as psychological treatments and therefore al ow for a
alcohol and drive while taking medication.
‘Street’ drugs (for example, cannabis, ecstasy, speed, heroin and
How quickly does haloperidol injection work?
cocaine) can also often make psychosis worse. People taking ecstasy
whilst on haloperidol are more likely to experience movement
Haloperidol works over a period of weeks. People may find that they
disorders (see side effect list). There is very little information on taking
feel calmer soon after starting treatment, but it may take a few months
haloperidol with other ‘street’ drugs and so the effect and safety of
until it has a ful effect. Not everybody benefits from haloperidol, but
doing this is unknown. It is best if you do not take ‘street’ drugs whilst
most people do. If you do not feel any benefit or improvement in your
taking haloperidol. You may need to get advice and support to help
symptoms after two to four months, you should discuss this with your
What about other medicines? What is the usual dose of haloperidol and how is it given?
If you take any other medicines or herbal remedies including any that
Haloperidol is given as an injection deep into the muscle
have been newly prescribed or bought, it is important to check with
(intramuscular or ‘IM’). If you have not previously had an antipsychotic
your doctor or pharmacist that they are safe with haloperidol. You must
intramuscular injection before you wil be given a ‘test dose’ of
take particular care when taking drugs that lower your blood pressure
between 25mil igrams (mg) and 50mg to check if the medicine is
suitable for you. The usual dose of haloperidol injection is between
When should I be cautious?
50mg and 300mg every four weeks. The maximum dose is 300mg
It is usual y safe to take haloperidol regularly, as prescribed by your
What should I do if I miss an injection?
doctor, but it is not suitable for everyone. If any of the fol owing
situations apply to you, you should tel your doctor immediately:
You wil get the most out of your medication when taken correctly and
1 If you are al ergic to haloperidol (if you have had it before and
regularly. If you miss or forget to have an injection, speak to your
developed a rash or itching, or a swol en mouth or throat);
doctor, pharmacist, nurse or carer as soon as possible as this injection
2 If you have epilepsy (or have had a fit in the past), Parkinson’s
should be given regularly. If you do not have another injection for a few
disease, suffer from kidney, liver or heart disease;
weeks or months, your original symptoms can return. If you find it
difficult to remember taking medication speak to your pharmacist or
5 If you have phaeochromocytoma (a tumour of the adrenal gland);
For how long wil I be given haloperidol injections?
6 If you are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant; or
Your doctor wil discuss with you how long you wil need to take
medication for, which wil vary depending on the type of il ness you have.
Some people may need to take medication for a number of years and
Side effect What is it? What should I do if it happens to me?
This is most common at the start of treatment. It should set le
after a couple of weeks. If this continues after a couple of
Feeling restless or wanting to move al the time.
weeks, or gets worse, speak to your doctor at your next appointment. Try relaxation methods. Speak to your doctor over the next few
days if this does not go away or gets worse.
Do not drive. Speak to your doctor over the next few days if this
continues or gets worse. Make sure you drink plenty of fluid. Eat more fibre for example
Dif iculty going to the toilet or opening the
bran, fruit and vegetables and take regular exercise. If this does
not help speak to your doctor over the next few days. Do not stand up too quickly. Try and lie down when you feel
dizzy. Do not drive. If this continues after a couple of weeks
speak to your doctor over the next few days. Do not drive or use machinery. This is most common at the start
of treatment. If this continues for more than a couple of weeks speak to your doctor over the next few days. This is most common at the start of treatment. Frequent sips of water, sugar-free boiled sweets, chewing gum or citrus fruits wil
often help. Speak to your doctor at your next appointment if it continues after a few weeks.
A low blood pressure. You may feel faint or dizzy Try to stand up slowly. If you feel dizzy, do not drive. Speak to
your doctor over the next few days if this does not stop.
Symptoms may include tremor, shaking, muscle
Speak to your doctor over the next few days. Your doctor may
stif ness, pain, weakness or spasms, problems
be able to give you something for it or change the medicine to
Swel ing and smal lumps may develop around where the
This occurs where the needle goes into the skin.
injection was given. This may last for a few days. Speak to the
doctor or nurse at your next appointment if it does not go away.
Rises in prolactin levels (prolactin is a natural y occurring hormone in the body) may af ect
You may need to have your dose or medicine changed. Speak
‘periods’ in women. It may also cause milk
to your doctor at your next appointment.
secretion, breast tenderness or enlargement in
This is a serious condition and occurs rarely. Contact your
Change in sex drive or sexual ability eg lack of
orgasm, abnormal erection and ejaculation.
Speak to your doctor at your next appointment.
High body temperature, sweating, increased
heart rate, confusion, muscle stif ness and
Unusual movements of the body (usual y the
This may be associated with long-term treatment. Speak to your
tongue and face) that cannot be control ed.
. Please refer to the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet that comes
Whilst every care has been taken in the compilation of this leaflet, CNWL
with your medicine for more information and the full list of side effects
is not responsible for any loss or damage howsoever caused as a result
and precautions. If you have any questions or concerns about your
of any inaccuracy or error contained in this leaflet, including (for the
medicines, or if you are worried about anything you think might be a side
avoidance of doubt) in relation to breach of contract, misrepresentation
effect, ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.
or negligence whether of CNWL or any other person; but nothing in this
This leaflet gives you some information about this medicine. It does not
leaflet shall exclude or restrict liability for death or personal injury
replace the expertise or judgement of a doctor, pharmacist or other
healthcare professional. It is not a manufacturer’s patient information
The information given in this leaflet is current as at the publication date.
leaflet and is not to be taken as a substitute for, or an endorsement of,
This leaflet has been written by Central and North West London NHS
the manufacturer’s information or advice in respect of any medicine
Foundation Trust, Greater London House, Hampstead Road, London
referred to in this leaflet. You might find more information in other leaflets
or books, or on the internet but remember, the internet is not always
Publication Number: CNWL/MM004 Publication Date: May 2007
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