Trazodone hydrochloride (known as “trazodone”) is an FDA-approved antidepressant and sleeping pill developed in the 60s. It was initially not favored by the medical community because it had side effects such as dizziness, fainting, irregular heartbeat, and priapism (prolonged, painful erections) in men.
Over time, however, medical professionals learned of its benefits, primarily when provided in lower dosages. In this article, we’ll explore what trazodone is, what it’s used for, whether it is addictive, and how to take it safely.
What Is Trazodone Used For?
Trazadone is not a controlled substance, but it still requires a prescription. It was developed as an antidepressant, but medical professionals have applied it to other conditions. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder with or without anxiety. Some doctors will also prescribe it for insomnia and alcohol dependence.
It increases your brain’s serotonin and noradrenaline levels to make you feel better. It helps people with low moods, trouble sleeping, and poor concentration.
Is Trazodone Habit-Forming? Can You Become Addicted To Trazodone?
Whether trazodone and other antidepressants are addictive is debated. Overall, there’s no evidence that trazodone causes addiction.
Also, its FDA label claims that even though there are no systemic preclinical or clinical studies on trazodone’s abuse potential, there’s also no indication of drug-seeking behavior in the clinical studies that involved trazodone. That’s why it’s not a controlled substance in the U.S. because people who use it are not commonly inclined to become addicted to it.
Despite the lack of evidence, that doesn’t mean that trazodone isn’t habit-forming.
Since trazodone is a long-term medication used continuously for months and years, the body may develop dependence over time. Some people who use trazodone may need to take higher doses to feel the effects of the drug. Additionally, stopping trazodone use overnight may lead to withdrawal symptoms in those dependent on it.
If you are taking trazodone and want to stop, your doctor will likely recommend reducing the dosage gradually over time rather than stopping cold turkey.
Side Effects & Withdrawal Symptoms Of Trazodone
If you are dependent on trazodone, interrupting its use may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Dizziness, nausea, vertigo, difficulty walking, and vomiting
- Chills and shock-like sensations
- Suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty focusing
Keep in mind, Trazodone’s FDA label includes a “black box warning.” Black box warnings are potentially serious or life-threatening side effects caused by a medication enclosed within black lines on the FDA label. Trazodone use may also cause suicidal thoughts in children and young adults. Therefore, trazodone is not FDA-approved for pediatric use.
Other side effects include sleepiness, tiredness, headaches, constipation, dry mouth, and nausea.
How Long Does Trazodone Withdrawal Last
Traozondone’s half-life lasts between 5 and 9 hours, and it takes about 5 times a drug’s half-life to completely abandon your system. So, in theory, withdrawal symptoms should last up to 45 hours, but factors like liver health and the amount of time you’ve used it play a role in its actual duration.
Long-term Side Effects Of Trazodone
Being a drug commonly used for months or years, it’s normal to be concerned about long-term effects. Fortunately, trazodone is safe for a long time, with no evidence of long-term harmful effects. Some people may need it for anxiety, insomnia, or depression that keeps coming back. Those people can rest assured that there’s no need to worry about its long-term use, provided they don’t suffer any common side effects.
How To Take Trazodone Safely?
This is what you should keep in mind to take trazodone as safely as possible:
- Do not mix it with alcohol or other recreational drugs. Mixing it with certain drugs, such as buspirone and fentanyl, may cause a potentially deadly condition called serotonin syndrome. It’s the result of excessive serotonin buildup in your body.
- Do not drive or use machinery under its effects.
- If you are a young adult, you may suffer more severe side effects. Discuss side effects with your doctor.
- Create a list of all medications, supplements, and over-the-counter drugs you regularly take and share it with your doctor.
- If it makes you sleepy, but you don’t want to stop using it, try taking it in the evening or before you go to bed.
Beware of Habit-Forming Signs
Trazodone is habit-forming but not addictive. It’s an antidepressant to treat major depression, anxiety, insomnia, and sometimes alcohol abuse. However, it may cause dependence on people who use it continuously for months or years since your brain will become used to its presence in the system. Most doctors recommend gradually reducing the dosage rather than interrupting it cold turkey to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Nonetheless, if you or someone you know is experiencing habit-forming signs while taking Trazadone, it’s best to talk to a specialist. People taking habit-forming medications often combine them with other drugs to enhance their effects, which could lead to addiction.