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The Dangers of Mixing Trazadone with Alcohol

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D

While trazodone has been successful in treating the symptoms of depression in some individuals, it does not come without risk. For some, trazodone can have a negative effect on their mood and overall outlook, even worsening the symptoms of depression in certain cases. Trazodone can also be exceptionally dangerous when combined with other drugs, especially alcohol.

For as commonly diagnosed as depression is in the United States, relatively little is known about the disease. Fortunately, enough is known that some successful medications have been brought to market to help relieve some of the symptoms of depression. Trazodone is one of those medications and has helped countless people live normal lives without having to suffer from some of the symptoms of depression. This medication comes with many risks and taking it with alcohol greatly increases those risks.

What Is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a powerful antidepressant prescribed for patients who suffer from a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain that is believed to cause depression, specifically major depressive disorder. Trazodone is commonly sold in the United States under the brand names Oleptro, Deprax, Desyrel, and Desyrel Dividose.

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Trazodone is a type of antidepressant known as a ‘serotonin uptake inhibitor’. There are three other commonly prescribed types of antidepressants; tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The differences in each type of antidepressant lie in the way it interacts with the neurotransmitters in your brain.

When first prescribing antidepressants, doctors may try several different prescriptions before landing on one that can consistently produce positive results for their patients. This process can seem grueling, as some antidepressants can actually have a reverse effect on certain patients, causing their symptoms of depression to feel worse. Often they will start a patient off on a low dose and gradually increase the dose if no adverse effects occur.

How Does Trazodone Work?

Many experts agree that depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Specifically, this imbalance originates from interactions among the brain’s four primary neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine. Trazodone can inhibit serotonin receptors in order to allow serotonin to remain in the synapse of the nerve before being reabsorbed into the receptor. In theory, this allows for stronger communication between nerve cells which can strengthen the cycles in the brain that regulate mood.

Trazodone is prescribed as an oral drug that is intended to be a part of a daily medication routine. This is significant because it needs to be taken around the same time each day and on a regular basis in order to be effective. Missing a dose or doubling up on a dose can be extremely dangerous, as it can cause an even greater imbalance of the neurotransmitters in the brain which can cause mood swings, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide.

Alcohol And Trazodone: A Dangerous Combination

As a general rule, mixing alcohol with most prescription medications is a bad idea. When you have prescribed medication, your doctor is taking into account the vital signs, symptoms, and current state of health you are exhibiting at the time of your appointment. When you drink alcohol, however, many of these factors can change. Your blood pressure, for example, can increase dramatically with as few as two drinks in one sitting.

All of these factors can cause the prescription drug you are taking to have different effects on your body than what is expected. Alcohol can also increase some of the side effects associated with trazodone such as drowsiness or dizziness, which can impair things like driving or even standing up from the couch. Alcohol can also further impair your judgment when combined with trazodone, which can lead to poor decisions such as taking recreational drugs or choosing to drive while impaired.

Side Effects Of Trazodone And Alcohol

Combining alcohol with trazodone can greatly increase its effects on your nervous system, which can become serious very quickly. Some common side effects reported when combining trazodone and alcohol include:

  • Delayed reaction time
  • Decreased motor skills
  • Extreme drowsiness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Impaired judgment and decision making
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Increased feelings of depression and anxiety

In some reactions, patients reported dramatic increases in their depression or anxiety, and even having thoughts of suicide. Antidepressants are not a fix-all for depression, and they will not have the same effect for everyone. If you are taking trazodone and it is not the right antidepressant for you, adding alcohol to the mix can actually make your depression even worse. It can be a very dangerous combination.

Get Help Today

Do you know someone on antidepressants who tends to add alcohol to the mix? Has their behavior worried you in the past? Do you worry alcohol has made their depression worse? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to get your loved one professional help. Depression can be a scary and difficult disorder to cope with, especially when combined with drug or alcohol abuse. -

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National Institute of Health -

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison, Pharm.D
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