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Trazodone and Alcohol Interactions

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What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is an FDA-approved prescription medication for depression, insomnia, and alcohol dependence. Its effects on the body include:

  • Relaxation
  • Tiredness
  • Sleepiness
  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy
  • Improved appetite

Trazodone has some adverse side effects. These include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Blurred vision

Trazodone blocks chemicals in the brain that interact with serotonin. This is why trazodone is prescribed as a sleep aid even though its initial intent was not sleep-related.

Trazodone can also be prescribed for alcohol withdrawal. It should never be taken while drinking because the combination can be severe and even deadly.

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Dangers of Mixing Trazodone and Alcohol

Mixing alcohol with any type of antidepressant medication, including trazodone, can be fatal. Trazodone can amplify the effects of alcohol, leading to dangerous levels of intoxication, and alcohol can worsen the depressive symptoms trazodone is meant to treat.

Even if the consequences are not as severe as death, there is still a risk of developing central nervous system (CNS) complications. This is because both alcohol and trazodone are both CNS depressants, which means together, they can lead to severe impairment and sedative symptoms.7

Common adverse effects that can occur from mixing trazodone and alcohol include:

  • Delayed reaction time
  • Compromised motor skills
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Impaired decision making
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Increased depression or anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Is Trazodone Addictive?

Trazodone is not addictive. However, you can become dependent on it. You may experience withdrawals if you stop taking it suddenly after extended use.

Symptoms of trazodone withdrawal include:

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty walking
  • Trouble focusing
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Symptoms of Trazodone and Alcohol Overdose

While it’s possible to overdose on trazodone or alcohol individually, the risk is much higher when taken together. This risk is further increased if other CNS depressants are also taken.

The symptoms of trazodone and alcohol overdose include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Slowed or stopped breathing

Call for emergency assistance and seek immediate medical attention if you suspect an overdose is occurring.

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Treatment for Polysubstance Use 

Trazodone and alcohol dependence is also known as polysubstance abuse. Treatment for this dependence should be done simultaneously.

Given the strain that consumption of both drugs puts on the CNS, treatment should be multifaceted and tailored to each person. Physical alcohol dependence is often treated with medical detox followed by group therapy, such as a 12-step program or counseling.

Trazodone is one of the drugs used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, a person suffering from alcohol addiction may be told to take trazodone, as it aids in dealing with alcohol withdrawal.

Ultimately, a person’s treatment plan should be decided by licensed healthcare professionals, not the patient. There are many treatment options available if you or a loved one is struggling with trazodone and alcohol addiction. Speak to a medical or healthcare professional to find help.

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Updated on October 31, 2022
7 sources cited
  1. Shin JJ, Saadabadi A. “Trazodone.” StatPearls Publishing, 2021.
  2. Jaffer, et al. “Trazodone for Insomnia: A Systematic Review.” Innovations in clinical neuroscience. 2017.
  3. Generali, J. A.,  Cada, D. J. “Trazodone: Insomnia (Adults).” Sage Journals. 2015.
  4. Roth, et al. “Cognitive, psychomotor and polysomnographic effects of trazodone in primary insomniacs.” Journal of sleep research. 2011.
  5. Borras, et al. “Successful treatment of alcohol withdrawal with trazodone.” Pharmacopsychiatry. 2006.
  6. Friedmann, et al. “Trazodone for Sleep Disturbance After Alcohol Detoxification: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2008.
  7. Trazodone and Alcohol: The Risks You Need to Know”. Long Island Interventions.

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