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Is Trazadone Addictive?

by Landmark Recovery

October 16, 2020
A woman thinking and wondering if trazodone is addictive

Trazodone is an antidepressant, in the category of SSRIs – in other words, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This class of medications targets the body’s neurotransmitters, which are essentially the chemicals in your brain that help you feel good. These neurotransmitters carry messages between your brain cells, communicating feelings of wellbeing, a healthy appetite, and regulated sleep-wake cycles.

Understanding SSRIs

A woman thinking and wondering if trazodone is addictive

SSRIs affect the neurotransmitter serotonin, often referred to as ‘the happy chemical.’ Your body releases a certain amount of serotonin every day. Those who experience depression usually have too much serotonin in their system, causing them to experience low mood. SSRIs work by blocking your system’s reuptake of serotonin.

This may sound like the medication is preventing your brain from receiving the serotonin, when, in fact, it’s just the opposite. When the brain’s receptors can’t control reuptake or absorb the serotonin, there’s more available for the rest of your brain, allowing the neurotransmitter to do its daily duties.

To make a long story short, when you’re suffering from depression, your brain chemicals are imbalanced. SSRIs like trazodone restore that balance, helping boost your mood, appetite, and energy level, while easing the anxiety and insomnia often associated with depression.

Using Trazodone

Trazodone is the generic name for a prescription medication that sells under the brand names Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, and Oleptro. Although it is most commonly prescribed for depression, it is also prescribed for insomnia.

Unlike drugs such as Ambien, trazodone is not explicitly formulated as a sleep aid and is not FDA-approved as a sleep medication. Despite that, it is often prescribed for patients recovering from alcohol abuse who are experiencing sleep disorders. However, some doctors prefer to prescribe trazodone for sleep instead of drugs like Ambien or barbiturates. The philosophy is that it is not a controlled substance and is less likely to become addictive or cause severe side effects.

Can You Abuse Trazodone?

The short answer is – yes. Although trazodone is not believed to be addictive, it is possible to misuse or become dependent on it. Trazodone misuse or abuse occurs when the body builds up a tolerance to the medication, and the user begins to increase the dosage and frequency of use.

Misuse of trazodone over an extended period can cause behavioral changes, including:

  • Impeded speech
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Loss of interest or effort in hobbies/work

Abusing trazodone also makes the user more vulnerable to overdose. An overdose on trazodone includes symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Arrhythmia
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

In severe cases, users may even stop breathing or become comatose.

In addition to an increase of serotonin, you may also experience drowsiness and lack of coordination/motor function, which could be dangerous or even deadly in certain circumstances.

Withdrawal From Trazodone

After prolonged use, you may experience withdrawal if or when you stop using the medication. During withdrawal, you can experience uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Worsening depression
  • Tightness in the chest

If you or a loved one are experiencing dependency or are misusing trazodone, help is here for you. Landmark Recovery can support you on your journey to wellness and sobriety, and taking the first step is as simple as a phone call. Connect with us today to learn more. We’re here for you, and we genuinely care.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.