Although becoming addicted to trazodone is relatively common, it does still occasionally occur. Trazodone is commonly prescribed for anxiety, depression, and to treat symptoms of insomnia. However, the calming effects of this prescription medication can lead to abuse in some cases and the need for rehab for those who do.
What Is Trazodone?
Trazodone is a popular prescription medication that has been around since the 1960s. The primary use of this medication is as an antidepressant. In some instances, a doctor may prescribe it to treat anxiety or depression. More recently, thanks to the drowsiness it causes, doctors have started using it to treat insomnia and sometimes migraine headaches.
Trazodone, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, is the most commonly prescribed sleep aid for those recovering from alcohol or drug dependency. Trazodone is sold under brand names Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, Oleptro, Trazodone D.
Trazodone works by blocking serotonin receptors in the brain and prevents neurons from reabsorbing this neurotransmitter and essential chemical. As a result, the brain accumulates an increased amount of serotonin, which is, in turn, responsible for feelings of relaxation and reward. In fact, the amount of serotonin in an individual’s brain has many effects and can alter mood, appetite, sexual desires and function, learning, memory, social behavior, and sleep.
Trazodone is prescribed in pill form. Common dosages in 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 300mg. There are also extended-release tablets available in 150 mg and 30mg forms.
Common Side Effects Associated with Trazodone
The list of common side effects that this prescription medication may cause include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Confusion or memory problems
- Dry mouth
- Digestive issues
- Numbness or tingling
This is only a partial list but includes the most common side effects. The best way to find out all potential side effects is to consult a health provider or pharmacist. Please note that each individual may react to this medication differently.
Severe Side Effects Associated With Trazodone Abuse
When a person becomes dependent upon or addicted to trazodone, there is an elevated risk of severe side effects, including breathing difficulties, drowsiness, vomiting, and seizures. If the individual neglects to address these side effects with a doctor and continues to use this medication, this should be considered a possible sign of addiction. At this point, professional substance abuse treatment is recommended.
Potential Drug Interactions
Whenever a person starts taking a new prescription medication alongside those already being used, there is the potential for adverse drug interactions. Before taking trazodone, you should talk to your health provider about your medical history. In particular, you need to inform your doctor if there is a history of any of the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Liver disease
- Heart disease or other related conditions
- Heart attack
- Suicidal ideations or attempts
These are only a few of the many potential risks associated with using trazodone. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor and let him or her know about all the medications you are currently on and your health history.
More Risks of Abusing Trazodone
While the above listings are the common and potentially severe side effects of trazodone abuse, there are other risks of which to be aware. For example, trazodone includes a black box warning indicating an increased risk of children and young adults under age 25 experiencing suicidal thoughts. Depression levels can increase rather than decrease, and any person taking it should be closely monitored.
While rare, a person can develop a condition known as serotonin syndrome in which there are excessive levels of serotonin accumulating in the brain. For example, when co-administered with MAO inhibitors, there is an increase of developing serotonin syndrome, which can lead to severe problems, including the following:
- Tremors and seizures
- Rapid heartbeat
- Muscle rigidity
- Lack of coordination
Severe cases of serotonin syndrome should be met with swift emergency medical intervention and can result in death if left untreated.
About Trazodone Addiction
Although the number of individuals reported as having become addicted to trazodone is relatively small, some choose to use it recreationally. Trazodone is not typically taken by persons seeking a euphoric high. Instead, they use it for its sedating and calming effects and, in some instances, the mild cognitive impairment it can produce.
One of the main reasons trazodone is used to treat anxiety symptoms is the speed with which it helps the individual suffering recover from anxiety attacks. However, like many other psychoactive prescription medications, over time, a person’s tolerance level will likely increase, leading to the need for higher amounts to be as effective. And although relatively low, trazodone still has some potential for abuse.
Using it in combination with alcohol or other drugs increases the likelihood of encountering severe health risks. Abusing it in this way can intensify known side effects, increase any current health dangers, and in certain instances become life-threatening. For anyone dealing with co-existing disorders, mental and physical health issues can prove increasingly challenging to surmount.
What Treatments Aare Recommended for Trazodone Addiction?
Like any drug that impacts brain chemistry, reducing or eliminating the supply of trazodone to the brain can lead to unwanted side effects. When withdrawing from an antidepressant, these symptoms are just as real, and the withdrawal process should be done under medical supervision. In most cases, the health provider will gradually taper off the dosage until the person can stop using the drug altogether with few adverse effects.
Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms
- Agitation and irritability
Steps to Enjoying a Successful Recovery
The first step in the rehab process is for health or addiction professionals to determine an individual’s severity of addiction and any other co-occurring physical or mental health disorders they might be dealing with. After this, a complete detox and rehab plan can be developed.
The treating health professional will prescribe medications that can help reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Doing this will make the process safer and more comfortable for the individual undergoing detox and recovery.
After completing a rehab program, the person may need to continue therapy and counseling on an outpatient basis. They are also encouraged to attend meetings in one of the many 12-step programs, such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous), to garner support and learn the additional skills required to return to a fruitful and successful life free from addiction.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers a multifaceted, integrated approach to each individual’s health and wellness. In addition to treatment for substance abuse, we seek to address co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Evidence-based services and activities we offer include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and family counseling
- Group support
- Relapse prevention
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events and activities