Trazodone and Alcohol

Estimated reading time: 33 minute(s)

Depression continues to affect millions of people every year. While many people eventually recognize it and seek help through prescription medications like Trazodone, others resort to self-medication, such as with alcohol. But what happens to people that take on both types of measures simultaneously?

Trazodone remains one of the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat depression across the United States. The medication holds FDA approval and has evidence-based research confirming its depression-fighting effects. In addition to managing depression, some people also use it as an off-label remedy for other issues, such as insomnia. Combining it with alcohol has become a common practice as many people believe that both work better together for the alleviation of depressive symptoms. However, the risks of consuming Trazodone and alcohol are very high, so experts strongly recommend not combining them. If you or someone you know has been taking this antidepressant medication, knowing about these risks is imperative for protection against unwanted, potentially dangerous harms.

An Overview of Trazodone

Trazodone is a popular antidepressant medication in a class called serotonin receptor antagonist. The term “antagonist” means a substance that attaches itself to opioid receptors to stop their activation. This way, antagonists like Trazodone blocks the body from experiencing opioid-like effects. The medication also works as a reuptake inhibitor, which stops serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter, from reabsorption and keeps its levels high within the brain. These high levels of serotonin, in turn, help alleviate depressive symptoms.

In addition to managing depressive episodes, Trazodone can also help treat the following conditions:

Is Trazodone Risky On its Own? The Potential Side Effects

As mentioned above, Trazodone works as a serotonin receptor antagonist and reuptake inhibitor, increasing the serotonergic activity in the nervous system. By increasing the serotonin levels across the brain, the medication is expected to control the symptoms of major depression. However, many experts have questioned the theory that low serotonin levels cause depression.

In addition to the suspicions raised over Trazodone’s efficacy and mechanism of action, the medication has also been associated with several side effects, such as the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sedation/somnolence
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue

In some people, this presumably safe medication may lead to more serious and rare side effects, such as the following:

  • A high risk of suicide
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Motor impairment
  • Long-lasting, painful erections
  • Low sodium levels in the blood

Anyone experiencing any of the side effects mentioned above must contact a doctor immediately and enquire about how to proceed.

What Happens if You Mix Trazodone With Alcohol?

Alcohol is a very common drink that people consume throughout the world without any specific safety risks. However, it remains highly notorious for causing severe interactions when combined with certain drugs. This list of drugs that can wreak havoc on health when combined with this beverage includes Trazodone.

Using Trazodone 50 mg and alcohol together can lead to several severe interactions and potential side effects. Some of these side effects and risks are explained below:

Alcohol can amplify the effects of Trazodone

Both Trazodone and alcohol are depressants of the central nervous system with very similar impacts. So taking them together can greatly increase the intensity of these effects, sometimes making them a threat to health. These side effects may include the following:

  • Increased intoxication
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Impairment in thinking and judgment
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fainting
  • Increased depression or anxiety
  • Dramatic mood swings

Alcohol worsens what Trazodone treats

Many people use Trazodone to regulate their sleep cycles. However, combining the medication with alcohol can result in the opposite of why a person takes it, i.e., more severe insomnia. Drinking has always been associated with a shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality. Not only can alcohol make it difficult for a person to fall asleep but also lead to frequent sleep disruptions. So combining Trazodone and alcohol can only make the former ineffective in sleep regulation.

Alcohol can worsen a person’s depression despite being on Trazodone

Thousands of people rely on trazodone to manage depression on a day-to-day basis. However, combining the medication with alcohol can neutralize its efficacy and counteract its benefits. Research has linked alcohol to depression in different ways, eventually leading to this psychiatric issue’s worsening. Many people turn to alcohol in hopes of relieving the depressive symptoms or escaping them; however, the beverage only exacerbates them. Moreover, drinking also increases the risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm in people with depression.

Alcohol increases the risk of Trazodone dependence

Combining alcohol with Trazodone can lead to many long-term issues, dependence being one of them. In general, Trazodone and other similar medications do not lead to euphoria or pleasureful feelings normally associated with opioid drugs or stimulants. Hence, these medications are very unlikely to cause any dependence on their own. When combined with alcohol, the risk of physical dependence on the medication becomes sky-high as the combination can lead to a powerful high that many people become habitual of and may crave sooner or later.

Once Trazodone dependence sets in, it eventually leads to addiction. A person who becomes addicted to Trazodone may find it difficult to get off the drug safely even when their underlying depression has been cured. They may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms every time they try to quit using the medication. These withdrawal symptoms can include some or all of the following:

  • depression
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • sleep disturbances
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • flu-like symptoms
  • tremors

The combination increases the risk of serotonin syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is a condition triggered by very high levels of serotonin in the brain. Because both Trazodone and alcohol aim to increase the levels of this neurotransmitter to induce sedation, the combination can sometimes trigger serotonin syndrome, characterized by symptoms such as diarrhea, hypertension, and agitation. If not treated in time, it may prove life-threatening.

Alcohol and Trazodone may lead to an overdose

Because of a similar mechanism of action, alcohol, and Trazodone affect the brain in a similar way, leading to sedation. Both substances may deliver severely amplified results, raising the risk of an overdose. Some symptoms of an overdose may include the following:

  • Labored breathing
  • Over-sedation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Poor responsiveness
  • Uncontrolled vomiting or nausea
  • Uncoordinated movements

If you suspect that you or someone around you has overdosed on alcohol and Trazodone, call emergency helplines at once.

Treating Trazodone and Alcohol Addiction

If you have been trying to treat your depression with a combination of Trazodone and alcohol but have eventually developed a polysubstance addiction, remember that help is available. Using alcohol alongside ongoing depression or insomnia treatment with Trazodone can be extremely dangerous and can negatively impact mental and physical health. Joining a professional rehab can be the best way to beat these addictions safely and effectively through the following in-depth programs:

Detoxification Program

Detoxification is the initial phase of treatment to manage alcohol and trazodone abuse. Most rehabs offer a medically-supervised detox to their clients, which means they remain under the supervision of a medical team with doctors and other detox experts throughout the program duration. These qualified experts monitor their vital signs and may provide certain medications to control any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and minimize the risk of a relapse.

Most people fully recover within 5 to 7 days, while others may need up to 12 days in a detox program. Remember that the purpose of a detox program is to help users get over their physical addiction. While some rehabs may allow patients to participate in behavioral therapy side by side, most of them usually encourage this in the next stage of addiction.

Dual Diagnosis Rehabilitation Program

Following the completion of a successful detox program, most people with Trazodone and alcohol addiction move to a dual diagnosis inpatient or outpatient program, depending on personal needs. The purpose of this next treatment stage is to prepare patients to abstain from reverting to their addictions. A typical dual diagnosis program involves a combination of different psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavioral therapy, to help patients identify and overcome all triggers feeding their addictions. They remain under the supervision of an expert team and learn to overcome their issues in one-to-one private sessions and group therapies. Many rehabs also include different experiential and recreational therapies to help patients discover alternative ways to keep them happier without involving any alcohol or Trazodone use. The duration of these programs may vary from patient to patient, but the minimum duration is usually around 28 days for best outcomes.


How does Trazodone work?

Many experts believe that depression occurs due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. This imbalance is primarily seen in the four most important neurotransmitters, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Trazodone works by stopping the reabsorption of serotonin into the receptor and ensuring that it remains in the synapses of nerves. It helps conduct stronger communications between nerve cells to strengthen the brain cycles and improve mood.

Is it possible to die by consuming Trazodone and alcohol?

Unfortunately, scientists are not sure if combining Trazodone with alcohol can lead to death as there is little data on this topic. However, both substances have been linked to death when used individually in very high doses. Trazodone in a high dose can depress the central nervous system, cause problems in the heart rhythm, or may trigger a potentially dangerous condition called serotonin syndrome. Similarly, alcohol poisoning may depress the central nervous system and make breathing difficult for a user. For this reason, experts warn people to be extra careful while using Trazodone, with or without alcohol, as a risk of overdose is always there.

What does the long-term mixing of Trazodone and alcohol do to the body?

In addition to the usual physical side effects, such as nausea and sedation, the combination of Trazodone and alcohol can eventually make the body habitual of feeling sedated and relaxed. With time, this feeling becomes permanent, and the body starts craving it when it is not there, leading to dependence. If you decide to leave the issue unattended, dependence quickly turns into an addiction which may trigger a withdrawal when you do not use Trazodone and alcohol together.

Is it possible to get high off Trazodone alone?

For most people, Trazodone is not capable of causing any feelings of high, while others report feeling mildly sedated with it. Even if it does make you high, the euphoric feelings secondary to Trazodone are not the same as those experienced with illegal drugs, such as marijuana. This is one of the reasons why people often like mixing Trazodone with alcohol or other similar agents to intensify the euphoria.

How much Trazodone and alcohol is fatal?

In general, most experts recommend a dose of 150 mg of Trazodone every day for depression management. This amount may increase to 600 mg on a need basis for people with more severe depressive treatments. According to guidelines, consuming more than 600 mg of this medication is officially declared an overdose. However, it may not be enough to cause a fatality on its own. Most mortality cases associated with antidepressant overdose usually involve mixing it with other substances, such as alcohol. In such instances, calculating the amount of alcohol that may potentially cause death is not possible as it may vary from one person to another depending on factors like body weight, gender, etc.

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