Trazodone and Alcohol: The Risks You Need to Know

Trazodone and Alcohol

What Is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor, so it prevents the brain from reabsorbing serotonin. It acts as an agonist that inhibits a serotonin receptor by the name of “5HT2a.” It also keeps the serotonin transporter protein from functioning in the brain. As this occurs, the trazodone prevents the serotonin from being reabsorbed so that it can accumulate within the brain. This has the effect of relieving the negative moods that people suffering from depression often experience.

Trazodone has a short half-life, so it can ease people’s insomnia and maintain their sleep without causing them to feel drowsy, and it doesn’t cause the user to develop a tolerance for the medication. When people take doses of trazodone between 150 milligrams and 600 milligrams, the antidepressant effects are very apparent.

How Does Trazodone Work?

Trazodone increases the presence of noradrenaline and serotonin in the brain, and this has the effect of improving a person’s mood. The levels of these chemicals are lower when you are feeling sad, but when you take trazodone, your levels of noradrenaline and serotonin go up, and this makes you feel better.

Can You Mix Trazodone and Alcohol?

You must not mix trazodone and alcohol, and there are several reasons for this. Alcohol depresses your central nervous system, and the brain’s neurotransmitters and other systems are affected by this. One neurotransmitter that is particularly affected is “GABA.” GABA blocks the communication between neurons, and this has the effect of causing sedation, calmness and relaxation.

More people abuse alcohol than any other substance in the world, so most people are aware that alcohol causes you to become intoxicated. Some of the effects include decreased alertness, poor coordination, blurred vision, impaired judgment and impaired reaction time. When you take trazodone when you are drinking alcohol, this can lead to severe impairment and sedative symptoms. That is because both trazodone and alcohol produce similar effects in the brain.

Other Dangerous Interactions

In addition to the above, the mixture of trazodone and alcohol can also cause an overdose. This isn’t likely to happen, but it can happen when these substances are mixed. Trazodone has elements that have a high potential for causing you to become intoxicated, and it may increase the effects that alcohol causes, so there is an increased possibility that you can overdose on these substances.

If you ingest these two substances over a long period of time, you can become dependent upon them, and you can experience trazodone withdrawal symptoms. These include anxiety and poor sleeping habits.

Mixing trazodone and alcohol can also lead to death. When you consume these substances together, they cause extreme drowsiness, and this can lead you to experience a serious accident. Both trazodone and alcohol contain intoxicating elements that may interfere with your nervous system and respiratory system if you have ingested these substances in large doses.

Interactions between trazodone and alcohol can also cause you to experience serotonin syndrome. When you have serotonin syndrome, your serotonin levels are too high for your brain to tolerate, and it can cause death.

What Are the Side Effects?

Trazodone can cause the effects that alcohol creates to intensify. After all, they are both central nervous system depressants, so when you take them together, you can experience even greater side effects. Examples of these include the following:

  • Increased anxiety or depression
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Fainting
  • Impaired judgment or thinking
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased intoxication

More Interactions

In addition to the trazodone side effects listed above, the alcohol can cause things to get much worse for you.

If you are taking trazodone for insomnia, alcohol can make your insomnia worse. Studies have shown that alcohol caused study subjects to have poor sleep quality and the inability to sleep for long enough periods of time. The alcohol in the mixture makes you feel sleepy, but it also makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep. When you do manage to go to sleep, the alcohol causes sleep disturbances. This prevents you from being able to enter into rapid eye movement or REM sleep.

In the event that you are taking trazodone for depression, the alcohol in the mixture can cause you to experience negative moods. Sometimes, people will drink alcohol to medicate themselves when they are experiencing depressive symptoms. However, when you drink alcohol, it affects your brain chemistry so that your risk of depression increases. It is more common for people to hurt themselves or commit suicide when they have been drinking alcohol, so if you have a history of depressive symptoms, you must not drink alcohol.

Can You Die from Mixing Trazodone and Alcohol?

We don’t have a lot of research on death rates from mixing trazodone and alcohol. We do know that if you drink large amounts of trazodone and alcohol, you are very likely to die from the combination. When you take a high dose of trazodone, you can experience problems with your heart rhythm and central nervous system depression. Also, you can experience serotonin syndrome as was mentioned above. You may even experience alcohol poisoning that can cause extreme central nervous system depression. This can lead to difficulties with breathing.

Each substance has a potential risk of causing death by overdose, so if you are going to mix trazodone and alcohol, you must be aware of each substance’s risk of overdose.

Taking Trazodone for Alcohol Withdrawal

When people are going through alcohol withdrawal, they can experience insomnia. Physicians often prescribe trazodone for insomnia, but this is done while you are in a medical detoxification program at a drug treatment center. You will have 24-hour supervision, so the treatment center’s staff will take very good care of you, and you will not be in any danger while you are there.

The Need for Treatment for Trazodone and Alcohol Abuse

If you have been mixing trazodone and alcohol for several years, it is likely that you are dependent on these two substances. Because you are dependent, you cannot stop ingesting trazodone and alcohol without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, when you enter a substance use treatment center, you will enter the medical detox program. In this program, the medical staff will administer medications that will ease your withdrawal symptoms so that you can tolerate the withdrawal process as comfortably as possible.

What Is the Treatment?

If you are struggling with trazodone and alcohol abuse, there is treatment for this condition. If your physician prescribed trazodone for you to treat depression or insomnia, an alcohol use disorder can cause your mental health to suffer. At Long Island Interventions, we can help you conquer your addiction to alcohol and also treat you for your misuse of trazodone.

Alcohol Withdrawal

The first part of your treatment for trazodone and alcohol use is the “detoxification program.” You will experience physical alcohol withdrawal and behavioral alcohol withdrawal, and we will treat you for both. This is a highly dangerous time for you because alcohol withdrawal can cause death, so it is very important that you enter our detoxification program so that we can ensure that you tolerate the process in the best manner possible.

Behavioral alcohol withdrawal has several symptoms, including anxiety, hallucinations, confusion, irritability, restlessness and agitation. As your body realizes that it isn’t receiving any alcohol, it makes it so that you cannot focus, and you begin to experience anxiety. Behavioral withdrawal makes it impossible for you to go to work or school or take care of your family.

You would also experience physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and they are particularly disturbing. Seizures can cause you to experience delirium tremens. The symptoms include fever, severe tremors, irregular heartbeat, sweating, hallucinations, rapid heart rate and confusion. You may also be very shaky and have gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea and vomiting.

Dual Diagnosis

The detoxification process is just the beginning of the treatment for a trazodone and alcohol use disorder. After you are finished in the detoxification program, you will need to treat the psychological addiction to substances that can make it as difficult to refrain from using your substance of choice as your physical symptoms do.

In addition to your substance use disorder, it is very possible that you have a mental health disorder as well. In the United States, 7.7 million adults have mental health and substance use disorders that are both active simultaneously. If you have a mental health disorder, this complicates matters for you because you may be indulging in substance use to self-medicate your mental health disorder. At Long Island Interventions, we can diagnose your mental health disorder and treat both disorders simultaneously.


An inpatient treatment program is the best option if you have been experiencing a long-term addiction or believe you have a co-occurring mental health disorder. This is even more important for you if you have been diagnosed with depression and have difficulties with a substance use disorder. As mentioned above, these two disorders do not mix, so contact us at Long Island Interventions if you are ready to learn more and get help today.

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