Haloperidol is an antipsychotic medication. Discovered in 1958, it is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system.

Haloperidol typically works within thirty to sixty minutes. A long-acting formulation may be used as an injection every four weeks in people with schizophrenia or related illnesses, who either forget or refuse to take the medication by mouth.

Haloperidol Medical Uses

Haloperidol is used in the control of the symptoms of:

  • Acute psychosis, such as drug-induced psychosis caused by LSD, psilocybin, amphetamines, ketamine, and phencyclidine, and psychosis associated with high fever or metabolic disease. Some evidence, however, has found haloperidol to worsen psychosis due to psilocybin.

  • Adjunctive treatment of alcohol and opioid withdrawal

  • Agitation and confusion associated with cerebral sclerosis

  • Alcohol-induced psychosis

  • Hallucinations in alcohol withdrawal[1]

  • Hyperactive delirium (to control the agitation component of delirium)

  • Hyperactivity, aggression

  • Otherwise uncontrollable, severe behavioral disorders in children and adolescents

  • Schizophrenia

  • Therapeutic trial in personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder

  • Treatment of intractable hiccups

  • Treatment of neurological disorders, such as tic disorders such as Tourette syndrome, and chorea

  • Treatment of severe nausea and emesis in postoperative and palliative care, especially for palliating adverse effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy in oncology

Haloperidol comes as a tablet and concentrated liquid to take by mouth. It is usually taken two or three times a day.

[1] Schuckit, MA (27 November 2014) Recognition and management of withdrawal delirium (delirium tremens). The New England Journal of Medicine. 371 (22): 2109–13. doi:10.1056/NEJMra1407298

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