Cornerstone of Southern California Drug and Alcohol Rehab
Trazodone Addiction: Is Trazodone Addictive?
Author: Cornerstone of Southern California
Published: August 11, 2022
Trazodone Addiction: Is Trazodone Addictive?

Trazodone is a prescribed antidepressant medication that is typically used in the treatment of a major depressive disorder or specific sleep disorder. When taken as instructed by a medical professional, the drug is effective and generally safe; however, if misused, there is a high risk of dependency and addiction.

If you have been prescribed trazodone, you may be worried about the risk of dependence and therefore trazodone addiction. This blog post will explore what trazodone is, the effects, withdrawal symptoms, and treatment options available for trazodone addiction.

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What is Trazodone ?

Trazodone is a prescription medication that is most commonly used to aid in the treatment of major depressive disorders. Some healthcare professionals will also prescribe trazodone off-label to treat insomnia or alcohol addiction.

Trazodone falls under the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This is a class of drugs that work by increasing the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter found within the brain that is associated with emotions. This aids in improving symptoms of depression and specific forms of anxiety.

SSRIs, including trazodone, stop serotonin from being absorbed by blocking serotonin receptors found in the brain, increasing the amount of the chemical in the brain. This increase of serotonin helps regulate the chemical imbalance and therefore improves symptoms of depression and anxiety. The drug has also been found to promote sleep and is sometimes prescribed to aid individuals with sleep disorders.

Trazodone, also known as Oleptro, Dividose, and Desyrel, comes as a tablet that is to be taken orally in both immediate and extended-release. A trazodone dosage typically starts at 150 mg and, according to response and individual differences, it has the possibility of being increased by 50 mg increments.

If taken as prescribed, trazodone is a safe and effective drug. However, like many other drugs, it has a high risk of misuse and therefore dependence. You should only take the drug if you have been prescribed it by a medical professional.

How Does Trazodone Treat Depression?

Many medical professionals and researchers suggest that depression involves a chemical imbalance in neurotransmitters found within the brain, such as norepinephrine, acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin.

Trazodone works by increasing some of these neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, and in turn, helps in restoring the natural balance of chemicals. Serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters, helps regulate mood, digestion, appetite, memory, and sexual functions.

Trazodone Substance Abuse and Addiction

Trazodone is a typically long-term medication, which means that taking it for a long period of time can result in physical dependence on the drug. A dependency is recognized if an individual experiences withdrawal symptoms when not taking trazodone or if they simply need the drug to feel normal.

Otherwise, individuals may recreationally use the drugs for their sedating effects. Although trazodone does not induce the same high as other drugs, such as stimulants or opioids, it does have sedative effects that are accompanied by feelings of relaxation and calm.

People who abuse trazodone for the purposes of getting high are likely to take the immediate release form in a crushed version. Individuals may abuse the drug by:

  • Adding crushed trazodone to marijuana or a cigarette to smoke it
  • Adding crushed trazodone to an alcoholic drink
  • Snorting the crushed trazodone

Signs and Symptoms of Trazodone Addiction

If someone is developing a trazodone addiction, then they will first experience short-term physical effects that have been described as a similar experience as a hangover, such as nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness. It is important to not ignore these symptoms or the continuation of the misuse of the medication as a person is at risk of developing physical dependence.

It is important to detect substance abuse as early as possible. Some trazodone addiction symptoms to look out for include:

  • Neglecting responsibilities, both professional or personal
  • Taking visits to multiple doctors in order to get a trazodone prescription
  • Taking more trazodone when the prescription is no longer needed
  • Faking symptoms to try and get a prescription
  • Needing a higher dosage in order to feel the same original effects
  • Experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when the drug isn't being used
  • Continuing to use trazodone despite negative consequences to the individual's life

Side Effects of Trazodone Abuse

As with any drug abuse, when a person abuses trazodone, it is likely they will experience a series of side effects. It is important to consider that side effects are common with all antidepressant medications, however, these do not last for a long period of time. Some common side effects of trazodone include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbing or tingling sensation in hands, legs, or arms
  • Achy muscles
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry mouth

The long-term effects of trazodone abuse are the potential of experiencing physical dependence, withdrawal, and in extreme cases, an overdose.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Trazodone

When an individual, who has been taking trazodone for an extended period of time stops taking the drug, then it is likely that they will experience withdrawal symptoms. When a person wants to quit, it is not uncommon for individuals to get trapped in an abuse cycle. This is when more of the drug is consumed to avoid any severe symptoms of withdrawal. While there are a series of common symptoms, the duration and intensity of these are dependent on personal factors, such as the duration of the abuse or the dosage.

Common side effects of trazodone withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pains
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Rapid mood swings

Withdrawal from trazodone can also result in antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Symptoms of this are similar to those of depression and anxiety started when the medication has stopped being used.

With the right help and support, these withdrawal symptoms can be easily managed in order to make the recovery process as smooth sailing as possible.

Symptoms of Overdose

While it is possible to overdose on trazodone, it is not always life-threatening and the effects can be reversed. Similar to other drugs that increase serotonin, if too much serotonin is present in the body, there is the potential risk of developing serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is categorized by a set of symptoms that can range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shivering

If trazodone is mixed with other substances, then the chance of experiencing an overdose is much higher.

Trazodone Addiction Treatment

Trazodone abuse does not result in the same high that is expected from other commonly misused drugs. Instead, it creates sedating effects that are desirable for some individuals. However, the drug is still psychologically addictive, meaning that therapy and further treatment, after a detox, would be needed in order to sustain sobriety.

Substance abuse treatment is offered by a range of treatment locations that can provide services for detox, therapy, and after-care plans. Effective trazodone addiction treatment should include all of these.

The first stage of any treatment program is detox. This is where an individual is slowly tapered off of the drug under medical supervision. This allows the body to clear itself of any remaining toxins and aids in overcoming a physical dependence. Here, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms may be felt, but there are ways to effectively manage these.

The second stage of treatment should consist of some type of therapy to help address any underlying issues of the substance abuse disorder. At this point, individuals will get to the root of their problems and are taught coping mechanisms that they are able to practice in the real world.

There are a number of options for how the treatment is received. Treatment centers may offer treatment programs on either an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Outpatient treatment is where the individual lives in their own environment while attending therapy sessions and any other additional support groups multiple times a week.

Inpatient treatment requires the client to live in residential housing for the length of their program. Here they will have round-the-clock care where they are monitored and assessed throughout their stay. They will typically follow a structured schedule that includes different treatment options.

Treatment at Cornerstone of Southern California

At Cornerstone, we offer affordable mental health and addiction treatment where we aim our treatment programs at healing the entire person. Our team of medical experts will provide individual treatment plans for all clients in order to achieve a successful recovery.

Our treatment facility treats a range of substance use disorders on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. We believe that your rehabilitation process should be a place where you are able to re-discover yourself, in an environment that encourages you to set healthy goals to live a happy and healthy life.

Some treatment options we provide include:

  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Relapse prevention therapy
  • Extended care program
  • Life skills

If you believe that you or a loved one is living with a trazodone addiction or any other substance abuse disorder, then contact us today to discuss more. We are here to help you begin your journey to recovery.