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What Happens When You Take Trazodone and Alcohol Together?

What Happens When You Take Trazodone and Alcohol Together?

What Happens When You Take Trazodone and Alcohol Together?

Also known as Lopetro and Desyrel, trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) that’s approved to treat major depressive disorder or depression. Although trazodone is rarely used alone anymore to treat depression symptoms, it has a reputation for working well in combination with other antidepressants for the treatment of various conditions that co-occur with depression as well as off-label use for treating insomnia. Unfortunately, a growing trend among antidepressant users is combining them with alcohol to create a particular sedative or relaxing effect. Today we’re going to look into the effects of trazodone and alcohol use to determine whether this combination is safe. 

What Is Trazodone?

As a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI), trazodone works by inhibiting the reuptake or reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. SARIs act as agonists to inhibit a particular serotonin receptor called the 5HT2a receptor and block the function of the serotonin transporter protein in the brain. When this happens, trazodone prevents excess serotonin from being reabsorbed and instead allows it to accumulate to improve mood in people with depression. 

At low doses, trazodone can promote and sustain sleep without causing sleepiness or increased tolerance, mostly because it has a short half-life. On the other hand, trazodone’s antidepressant effects are most prominent when taken at doses of 150 mg to 600 mg. Additionally, while effective for treating depression symptoms, undesirable side effects of trazodone may also present themselves, including:
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue or excessive tiredness 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Constipation
  • Priapism 
  • Fainting
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
Serotonin syndrome is also another possible side effect of trazodone. This condition occurs when too much serotonin accumulates in the body, producing uncomfortable side effects like hallucinations, agitation, nausea, vomiting, and more. Serotonin syndrome can be life-threatening if it’s not treated in time. 

Taking higher doses of trazodone or mixing it with other depressants or antidepressants also increases your risk of developing this condition. Therefore, it’s important to take trazodone exactly as prescribed and reach out to your doctor if you ever experience any adverse side effects. 

Can You Take Trazodone with Alcohol?

No, you should not take trazodone with alcohol for several reasons. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that acts on various systems and neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly GABA. GABA is an inhibitory transmitter that blocks or inhibits communication between neurons in the brain, promoting relaxation, calm, and sedation. 

As one of the most abused substances in the world, many are familiar with the adverse effects of alcohol intoxication, such as impaired judgment and reaction time, blurred vision, poor coordination, and decreased alertness. So, when combined, trazodone and alcohol recreational use can lead to severe sedative symptoms and impairment because both drugs are working in the brain to produce similar effects. 

Side Effects of Trazodone with Alcohol

Since both drugs depress the central nervous system, a trazodone interaction with alcohol can be risky due to additive sedative effects. One will boost the effects of the other, creating an even stronger reaction than what would’ve occurred if trazodone or alcohol were taken individually. 

Side effects of trazodone with alcohol include:
  • Increased intoxication
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Fainting
  • Mood swings
  • Increased depression or anxiety

Alcohol can also prevent trazodone from working properly, worsening the things it’s meant to treat. For instance, if you take trazodone for insomnia, alcohol can worsen your symptoms. Although heavy drinking is associated with heavy sleep, alcohol is linked to poor sleep quality and shorter periods of sleep. Drinking can also make it more difficult for you to fall asleep despite feeling sleepy, particularly because it impairs the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. 

Additionally, if you take trazodone for depression, alcohol can worsen your mood and contribute to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Self-harm and suicide are also more common in those who struggle with alcohol abuse, so those who have depression or who are taking antidepressants like trazodone should not drink. 

Is Trazodone and Alcohol Death Possible?

Although specific data concern a fatal overdose or intoxication of trazodone and alcohol because both substances can be fatal when taken excessively on their own, it’s safe to assume that trazodone and alcohol death or fatal overdose is possible. 

When taken in extremely high doses, trazodone can lead to extreme central nervous system depression, causing problems with heart rate, breathing, and cognition. Serotonin syndrome can also occur because of trazodone abuse. Similarly, heavy drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning and central nervous system depression, leading to problems with breathing and heart rate, as well. 

All these incidents can be deadly, and despite the few studies that exist on the possibility of dying from a trazodone and alcohol overdose, those who are taking trazodone or struggle with drinking should be aware of the overdose risks of each substance. 

Help for Polysubstance Abuse

If you struggle with alcohol and trazodone abuse, you may feel overwhelmed, helpless, and lost. Especially if you take trazodone for depression or insomnia, the added struggle of alcohol abuse can affect your mental health. The good news is that our Central Texas drug rehab is here to help. 

Our addiction specialists at Banyan Treatment Center are specially trained in helping people quit drugs and alcohol safely as they develop the necessary life skills, they’ll need to sustain a sober lifestyle. As an addiction treatment and detox center in Texas, we offer medically assisted withdrawal treatment as well as individual and group therapy options where patients can learn how to identify relapse triggers, manage cravings, and create a routine that’s conducive to their recovery. 

For more information about our inpatient drug addiction treatment in Texas, call Banyan today at 888-280-4763. Our specialists are here and ready to help. 

Related Reading: How to Stop Stress Drinking Why Does Alcohol Make Me Angry?
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.