Trazodone is an FDA-approved antidepressant to treat depression. Today, trazodone alone is very rare to use by itself since newer-generation medications might prove more effective. However, the drug has some potential to manage insomnia too. Unfortunately, many people using antidepressants start combining them with other substances without realizing the dangers. For example, trazodone and alcohol is a popular combination with potentially deadly consequences.
What is Trazodone?
Trazodone is believed to increase serotonergic activity in the central nervous system (CNS) by biding to serotonin receptors. When it increases serotonin levels in the brain, it’s believed they can help reduce major depressive disorder symptoms. However, the theory that low serotonin levels are to blame for depression has been questioned in recent years.
Sometimes, trazodone is used off-label to treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, schizophrenia, bulimia, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, and even substance abuse.
Luckily, trazodone has minimal potential for abuse when used as prescribed. This is primarily because this medication doesn’t cause any euphoric high, like most prescription drugs of abuse. Some clinical studies found no evidence of drug-seeking behavior in participants, and there are no published cases to provide enough evidence to point to an abuse of trazodone.
How Dangerous is Mixing Trazodone and Alcohol?
Though trazodone alone can be harmless, mixing trazodone and alcohol can be very dangerous. First of all, alcohol can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. Combining trazodone may amplify the effects of alcohol, possibly leading to dangerous levels of intoxication, overdose, and death.
While trazodone alone isn’t habit-developing, mixing trazodone and alcohol can result in physical dependence. Both substances cause withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, sleep problems, and more. Notably, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can lead to hallucinations, delirium, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.
Some of the adverse effects of mixing trazodone and alcohol include:
- Increased dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and sleepiness.
- Heightened side effects of trazodone, including vomiting, difficulty breathing, confusion, numbness, sweating, and chest pain.
- Impaired thinking and judgment.
- Overdose and potentially death.
Of course, when you’re mixing an antidepressant (trazodone) with a depressant (alcohol), both substances fight against each other and can cause unpredictable and dangerous side effects in different users. Interestingly enough, trazodone should not be mixed with grapefruit juice or any grapefruit-containing foods. This combination can cause dangerous side effects and a change in heartbeat or heart rhythm.
Trazodone and Alcohol Overdose
On its own, trazodone rarely causes overdose, but trazodone and alcohol can result in a fatal overdose. Because the combination of these substances slows down breathing and affects the central nervous system’s functionality, it can lead to dangerous consequences.
Another common danger of mixing trazodone and alcohol is the risk of serotonin syndrome. This occurs when serotonin levels are too high in the brain. Serotonin syndrome can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including shivering and diarrhea, muscle rigidity, fever, and seizures. Without treatment, serotonin syndrome can lead to death.
What Would Overdose Look Like?
Most likely, overdose symptoms will resemble those of alcohol overdose. However, because trazodone also affects the central nervous system, expect symptoms such as:
- Delayed reaction time
- Decreased motor skills
- Extreme dizziness or drowsiness
- Impaired judgment
- Dramatic mood swings
- Worsened feelings of depression and anxiety
Trazodone and Alcohol Withdrawal
Though minimal, trazodone withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, agitation, and insomnia. However, it is the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous. Acute withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, and rapid pulse. However, left unmanaged, these symptoms can worsen, and people often experience complications like hallucinations, delirium, and seizures.
Polysubstance Addiction Treatment
Anyone mixing trazodone and alcohol struggling with drug abuse needs to seek treatment at a dual diagnosis recovery center. If someone has a valid prescription for trazodone, odds are they have an existing condition that requires further treatment. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in creating comprehensive addiction treatment options that address every aspect of our patient’s addiction.
The first step toward recovery is detox. When people start mixing trazodone and alcohol, attempting to quit independently, they can experience side effects that can be life-threatening. To avoid overdose and fatal withdrawal symptoms like seizures, checking into a detox rehab center is paramount. With supervision from a medical professional, recovering drug addicts can have a better chance of sobriety.
After detox, most patients will move either to an inpatient treatment program that offers structure and support 24/7. Others, mostly those with less severe addictions, might be able to choose an intensive outpatient program that provides more flexibility so that they can continue daily responsibilities like work, school, and family.
Part of most drug and alcohol rehab programs incorporate group therapy sessions. The setting is meant to encourage support, a sober-friendly network, and to offer a safe space to voice struggles, concerns, and hopes. Through group therapies, patients also attend 12-step programs to continue their path to sobriety.
Unfortunately, addiction is a life-long condition. Aftercare recovery programs offer continuing support once people leave a rehab facility. Here, patients focus on building life development skills that help them integrate back into society. Most people keep working on relapse prevention coping mechanisms that allow them to sustain long-term sobriety.
Seeking Addiction Help Today
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse disorders, please contact us today. Whether that involves a complete drug and alcohol detox process, intensive outpatient treatment, or continuous aftercare support, we’ll do everything in our power to help you beat this chronic disease.
If you know someone who’s mixing alcohol and trazodone or other prescription drugs, reach out to them and see if they’re ready to get help for their addiction. If you need help setting up an intervention, our addiction specialists can offer counsel and guidance.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction specialists can help you find the best treatment program for your unique needs. We don’t believe in cookie-cutter treatment plans, which is why we look at each case on an individual basis and do our absolute best to accommodate your needs to help your recovery journey.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This is meant to serve as educational content. If you or your loved one struggles with mental health, addiction, or any other medical condition, please immediately seek medical attention.