How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Chlorpromazine belongs to the class of medications known as phenothiazines. It is used to treat mania and disorders with psychosis, such as schizophrenia. It is also used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting. Chlorpromazine works by affecting the balance of chemicals in the brain.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

25 mg
Each white, round, biconvex, film-coated tablet, engraved "2|5" on one side and modified "N" on the reverse, contains chlorpromazine 25 mg (as hydrochloride). Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, hypromellose, isopropyl alcohol, magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polydextrose, pregelatinized starch, sodium lauryl sulfate, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

50 mg
Each white, round, biconvex, film-coated tablet, engraved "N|N" on one side and "C50" on the other side, contains chlorpromazine 50 mg (as hydrochloride). Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, hypromellose, isopropyl alcohol, magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polydextrose, pregelatinized starch, sodium lauryl sulfate, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

100 mg
Each white, round, biconvex, film-coated tablet, engraved "100" over score line on one side and modified "N" on the reverse, contains chlorpromazine 100 mg (as hydrochloride). Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, hypromellose, isopropyl alcohol, magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polydextrose, pregelatinized starch, sodium lauryl sulfate, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

How should I use this medication?

Adult dosage: The recommended adult dose of chlorpromazine for psychosis varies from 25 mg to 75 mg daily divided into 2 to 4 doses. It may take some time (weeks or months) to show the full effect of this medication. The usual maximum recommended daily dose of chlorpromazine is 1,000 mg.

To relieve nausea and vomiting, the recommended adult dose of chlorpromazine is 10 mg to 25 mg every 4 hours.

Children's dosage: For children 6 months of age or older, the dosage is based on body weight. The recommended dose is 0.5 mg per kilogram of body weight to 1 mg per kilogram of body weight every 4 to 6 hours. The recommended maximum dose if a child weighs less than 22.7 kg is 40 mg per day, and if they weigh between 22.7 kg and 45.5 kg the recommended maximum dose is 75 mg per day.

To relieve nausea and vomiting, the recommended children's dose of chlorpromazine is 0.5 mg per kilogram of body weight to 1 mg per kilogram of body weight every 4 to 6 hours. The recommended maximum dose if a child weighs less than 22.7 kg is 40 mg per day, and if they weigh between 22.7 kg to 45.5 kg the recommended maximum dose is 75 mg per day.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light, and keep it out of the reach of children.

This medication is available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms listed here. The forms available for the specific brand you have searched are listed under "What form(s) does this medication come in?"

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Chlorpromazine should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to chlorpromazine or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • is allergic to other phenothiazines
  • is in a coma
  • has a blood disorder
  • has brain damage
  • has decreased functioning of bone marrow
  • has severely decreased functioning of the central nervous system (e.g., brain, spinal cord) due to taking certain medications
  • has severely decreased liver function

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • agitation
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth or dry eyes
  • nausea or vomiting
  • skin sensitivity to the sun
  • trouble sleeping
  • weight gain

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • confusion
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty urinating
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • involuntary movements
  • low blood pressure
  • muscle stiffness
  • sexual difficulties
  • skin rash
  • symptoms of an infection (e.g., sore throat, fever, or weakness)
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • changes in vision
  • signs of an allergic reaction (e.g., shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fainting; hives; swelling of the eyes, mouth, lips, or throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Blood cells: Chlorpromazine may lower white blood cell levels in the body. This usually occurs with longer treatment and appears about 4 to 10 weeks after starting treatment. If you have symptoms of an infection (e.g., sore throat, fever, weakness), contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Blood pressure: Chlorpromazine may lower blood pressure leading to dizziness. To help prevent this effect, get up slowly from a sitting position, or dangle your legs over the side of the bed when getting up from a lying down position. People taking medication to lower blood pressure should have their blood pressure checked regularly.

Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Chlorpromazine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Do not operate machinery or drive a car if the medication affects you in this way.

Glaucoma: People with glaucoma should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Heart disease: People with heart disease should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Lab tests: While taking chlorpromazine, you will need to have your blood counts checked regularly by your doctor.

Liver disease: People who have impaired liver function or alcoholic liver disease should be closely monitored by their doctor while they are on this medication.

Lung disease or breathing problems: People with lung disease or breathing problems should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Prostate enlargement: People with an enlarged prostate should be closely monitored by their doctor while taking this medication.

Seizures: People with a history of seizures should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition, how their medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Stopping the medication: Chlorpromazine is not addictive, but side effects may occur if stopped suddenly after taking high doses. Do not stop the medication without checking with your doctor first.

Sunlight: Chlorpromazine may make you more sensitive to sunlight. Protect your skin with clothing and a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 before going out into the sun.

Pregnancy: Chlorpromazine can be used during pregnancy if necessary to treat psychosis. However, chlorpromazine should not be used close to term because of the possible dangers to the mother and the infant.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking chlorpromazine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children under 6 months of age.

Seniors: Due to the increased risk of low blood pressure and other side effects, seniors should be closely monitored by their doctor if they take chlorpromazine. Lower doses may be needed.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between chlorpromazine and any of the following:

  • alcohol
  • amiodarone
  • antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine)
  • atomoxetine
  • atropine
  • barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital)
  • benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam, lorazepam)
  • bromocriptine
  • bupropion
  • cabergoline
  • carbamazepine
  • celecoxib
  • chloroquine
  • cigarette smoking
  • cimetidine
  • clarithromycin
  • disopyramide
  • domperidone
  • duloxetine
  • erythromycin
  • fluoxetine
  • imatinib
  • indapamide
  • kava kava
  • ketoconazole
  • levodopa
  • lithium
  • MAO inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
  • medications used to treat high blood pressure (e.g., hydrochlorothiazide, metoprolol)
  • metoclopramide
  • moxifloxacin
  • opioid pain relievers (e.g., codeine, oxycodone, morphine)
  • other medications used to treat psychosis (e.g., fluphenazine, perphenazine)
  • paroxetine
  • phenytoin
  • pimozide
  • pramipexole
  • procainamide
  • propranolol
  • quetiapine
  • quinidine
  • ritonavir
  • ropinirole
  • sedatives (e.g., lorazepam)
  • St. John's wort
  • tamoxifen
  • tamsulosin
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyine, desipramine, imipramine, nortriptyline)
  • valerian
  • ziprasidone

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.