Is fluvoxamine a narcotic? (+3 differences)

In this article, we will discuss whether fluvoxamine belongs to the class of narcotic analgesics. We will also discuss the key differences between fluvoxamine and narcotics including their mechanism of action, therapeutic uses, and side effects.

Is fluvoxamine a narcotic?

No, fluvoxamine is not a narcotic drug. It belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medications that work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Fluvoxamine does not resemble any of the medications belonging to narcotic analgesics and it is not a controlled substance like narcotics.

Narcotics are a class of drugs that can be used as both prescription medications and illegal substances. Narcotic analgesics or opioids are derived from the opium poppy plant or synthesized to produce similar effects. These drugs are known for their ability to relieve pain but also carry a high risk of dependence and addiction (1).

On the other hand, fluvoxamine and other SSRIs do not cause any dependence or addiction in individuals. However, the sudden discontinuation of fluvoxamine can lead to withdrawal effects such as nausea, vomiting dizziness, headaches, and fatigue (2).  

How is fluvoxamine different from narcotics?

Fluvoxamine is an entirely different medication from narcotics. The major differences between fluvoxamine and the drugs belonging to narcotic analgesics may include their mechanism of action, therapeutic benefits, and side effects.

Mechanism of action

Fluvoxamine is an SSRI antideressant medication. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for the regulation of mood and behavior. Fluvoxamine, to a lesser extent also affects the levels of dopamine in the brain but this is not its primary mechanism of action. The elevation of these neurotransmitters by fluvoxamine helps in the management of various mental disorders such as depression and anxiety (2). 

On the other hand, narcotic drugs primarily work by binding to the specific mu (μ) receptors found in the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. These drugs are associated with the inhibition of pain perception and subsequent analgesic effects (3). 

Therapeutic uses

The therapeutic uses of fluvoxamine and narcotics are different from each other. Fluvoxamine is primarily prescribed for the management of various mental disorders including:

  • major depressive disorder
  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • panic disorders
  • premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • social anxiety

Whereas, in low doses, narcotics have the following therapeutic benefits (4):

  • management of severe and resistant pain
  • chronic pain
  • induction of sleep
  • anesthesia adjuvant 
  • cough suppression
  • postoperative pain management

It is essential to note that while narcotics can be effective for managing pain, they also carry risks, including the potential for addiction, tolerance, and overdose. 

Side effects

Side effects associated with the use of fluvoxamine include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, agitation, xerostomia, weight changes, appetite changes, and serotonin syndrome.

On the other hand, narcotics may cause miosis, respiratory deression, confusion, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, constipation, and vomiting. Additionally, long-term treatment with narcotics may lead to serious consequences resulting in dependence and addiction.

The misuse of narcotics is a significant public health concern. Individuals using narcotics for pain management should do so under the careful supervision of a healthcare professional, and the potential risks and benefits should be thoroughly discussed.

Can you take fluvoxamine with narcotics?

It is advisable to avoid the combination of fluvoxamine with narcotic drugs due to the risk of potentially serious side effects including serotonin syndrome.

If you are prescribed both fluvoxamine and opioids, your healthcare provider will carefully monitor your response to the medications and adjust the doses as needed. It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and report any unusual or concerning symptoms promptly.


Based on my knowledge and research, I conclude that fluvoxamine is not a narcotic drug. It belongs to a class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant medications. The key differences between fluvoxamine and narcotics are related to their mechanism of action, therapeutic benefits, and side effects.


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Teeple E Jr. Pharmacology and physiology of narcotics. Crit Care Clin. 1990 Apr;6(2):255-82. PMID: 2160852.


Figgitt DP, McClellan KJ. Fluvoxamine. An updated review of its use in the management of adults with anxiety disorders. Drugs. 2000 Oct;60(4):925-54. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200060040-00006. PMID: 11085201.


Bovill JG. Mechanisms of actions of opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Eur J Anaesthesiol Suppl. 1997 May;15:9-15. doi: 10.1097/00003643-199705001-00003. PMID: 9202932.


France RD, Urban BJ, Keefe FJ. Long-term use of narcotic analgesics in chronic pain. Soc Sci Med. 1984;19(12):1379-82. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(84)90027-3. PMID: 6152361.

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