What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a drug often prescribed to treat the major depressive disorder, anxiety, and insomnia. It falls under the serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitor class of antidepressants (SARI) and works by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps your brain cells communicate with each other and influences activities such as sleep, the pattern of thought, mood, appetite, and behavior. Trazodone is available generically and is an effective, lower-cost option for treating the disorders listed above, particularly problems with sleep. 

Trazodone Effects

As is the case with many antidepressant medications you may experience negative side effects, including drowsiness. The mild sedative qualities of trazodone make it popular among physicians who prescribe trazodone as an off-label treatment for sleep problems. Other side effects commonly experienced with trazodone include dizziness, sweating, dry mouth, blurred vision, changes in weight, changes in sexual function or drive, and diarrhea. More unusual side effects include prolonged, painful erections and suicidal ideations.  

Signs of Trazodone Abuse and Addiction

Although the recreational use of trazodone is less likely when compared to other sleep aids or anxiety medications, such as Ambien or benzodiazepines, the risk of abuse is still present due to the sedative nature of the drug on the central nervous system. Users will often crush the pills into powder and snort them, enhancing the drug’s sedative effect. It is often abused alongside other drugs and can enhance the effects of alcohol as well. Simply put, if someone is abusing other prescription or street drugs, they might also abuse trazodone. Signs of trazodone abuse will be similar to the signs of other drug dependencies, such as acquiring the drug outside of the medical and pharmacy system, shirking family or work obligations to use trazodone, and experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug. Other signs of drug abuse are changes in appetite, physical appearance, sleep patterns, decreased personal hygiene, and changes in personality and behavior.


Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Using trazodone creates a dependency, even if prescribed by a doctor. Stopping or decreasing your dose may give you discontinuation syndrome, characterized by nausea, insomnia, dizziness, vertigo, sensory symptoms such as brain zaps, and increased anxiety. The longer you have been taking trazodone the more likely you are to experience withdrawal and discontinuation syndrome. It is important to have medical supervision when stopping trazodone use. A doctor can slowly and safely wean you off to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. 

Long-Term Side Effects of Trazodone Abuse

The most serious side effect of abusing trazodone is the risk of developing serotonin syndrome, a dangerous and sometimes fatal condition characterized by high fever and blood pressure, confusion, and rapid heart rate. This risk develops as your tolerance increases, requiring you to use more and more to get the sedating effect. Trazodone can also cause heart rhythm abnormalities and increased bleeding risks when combined with an over-the-counter drug like Ibuprofen. Trazodone can worsen depression symptoms for those with depression and activate mania in people who have bipolar disorder. It can increase suicidal ideations in those who are already struggling with those thoughts. Abusing trazodone long-term can impair cognition, making it hard to have conversations or understand what others are saying.

Trazodone Addiction Treatment

Although withdrawal from trazodone is not considered dangerous, the symptoms can cause moderate to severe discomfort, which may interfere with your ability to work or support your family. It is important to stop using trazodone in a safe and monitored environment, under the care of counselors and medical professionals. People abuse drugs for various reasons, and it is critical to address the underlying issues that drive a person to do so in the first place. A counselor or other professional experienced with cognitive behavioral therapy can help you understand what drives you to abuse drugs. Group therapy is also known to be highly beneficial for those struggling with addiction. As trazodone is now in the top 20 categories of most abused drugs, with over 25 million active prescriptions in the United States, you are not alone. Reach out for help if you are living with trazodone addiction.