Trazodone – also known by the brand names Desyrel, Dividose, Oleptro and Desyrel – is an antidepressant used for major depressive disorder. It classifies as an atypical antidepressant; therefore, it’s not related to SSRIs, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or tricyclic antidepressants. It’s categorized as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor, also known by the acronym SARI.
Trazodone is said to affect a person by elevating the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is produced naturally in the body, and it’s necessary for normal brain and nervous system function. It also has an impact on a person’s mood.
Trazodone is available as a liquid or in tablet form. The drug may be prescribed by a psychologist or a primary care physician. Oftentimes, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center will prescribe it to clients who are under treatment for co-occurring disorders in order to treat depression and insomnia. It works as an anti-anxiety medication as well.
How Common Is Trazodone Abuse?
In the US, there’s been an increase in all prescription drug abuse, including abuse of antidepressants. According to the 2012 National Survey for Drug Use and Health, about 2.4 million people 12 years or older had used some type of psychotherapeutic drug nonmedically for the first time in the prior year. Ultimately, this statistic represents how common it is for people to abuse any substance that has an effect on the brain. While most people don’t misuse trazodone, it does happen
Those who abuse the substance are more likely to become addicted than someone who uses it as prescribed. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine states individuals with mood disorders are more likely to abuse antidepressants than those who don’t have any form of mental health condition. With more people seeking out “downers” for their recreational effects, people sometimes turn to drugs with a sedative effect that’s more cost-friendly than other options.
Is Trazodone Mentally or Physically Addictive?
Those who become addicted to trazodone feel as though they can’t live normally without it, which stems from the fact that the drug’s purpose is to elevate mood. That’s why it can even be addictive to those who use it as prescribed.
Additionally, since it has a sedative effect when used as a sleep aid, a person may rely on it to fall asleep and suffer from insomnia when not taking the drug.
Like other antidepressants, trazodone has the potential to produce a mild physical dependence in users. Hence, the drug can be both physically and psychologically addictive.
What Are the Symptoms of Trazodone Withdrawal?
Individuals may experience a general unwell feeling when abruptly stopping trazodone. The symptoms tend to be worse for those who take more than the recommended dose. It’s not meant to be taken via any other route than orally, so those who snort or inject the drug often experience more discomfort during withdrawal than those who use it as intended. Duration of use plays a role in how uncomfortable the withdrawal symptoms are as well, with those who use the drug for longer generally experiencing more intense symptoms.
Because it’s used to treat depression, depression symptoms will more than likely return after stopping the drug. Sometimes, this depression is worse than before the person began using the medication.
What Are the Long-Term Dangers of Trazodone Use?
A study cited by the Partnership for a Drug-Free World indicated that 50 percent of teens believe prescription medications are much safer than illicit drugs. Despite this popular belief, the consequences of prolonged exposure to medications approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) can be severe, especially when abused.
Those who abuse trazodone over prolonged periods of time place themselves at risk for long-term effects. It’s even possible for the drug to lead to death since it increases a person’s risk of suicidal thoughts and actions.
When someone abuses trazodone for extended periods of time, they may experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, and abdominal pains. They may have trouble concentrating and experience memory issues. Nightmares, excessive sweating, blurred vision, and itchy eyes are also possible. Although these symptoms are similar to withdrawal symptoms, these unpleasant side effects generally last longer with long-term abuse. When a person abuses trazodone in high doses on a long-term basis, they can experience mental instability, and this can lead to panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, irritability, and extreme worry.
Does Medical Detox Help?
During medical detox, staff members monitor clients to ensure their safety and comfort during withdrawal. Staff members can provide emotional support throughout the process to create a solid foundation for the rest of the recovery process. With this support available, clients are more likely to complete the detox process and continue into more comprehensive addiction therapy.
During medical detox, clients may be prescribed medications to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. For instance, a client who didn’t abuse the substance as a sleep aid may be prescribed a medication to help them sleep. Anti-anxiety medications may be given to address panic attacks. Those who have physical withdrawal symptoms may be prescribed an anti-nausea medication.
Relapse is less likely with medical detox. When someone doesn’t have a support system in place during detox, it is more likely that they will resume using trazodone just to ease the symptoms of withdrawal.
In some instances, medical staff members may prescribe a taper to slowly wean the person off the medication. A tapered approach helps to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, making it easier to get off the drug and less likely for a person to relapse. A tapered schedule varies from person to person. Factors like the dosage taken and whether it was abused or used as intended are vital to how long the taper lasts.
The supervising medical professional will slowly reduce the dosage until the client is no longer taking the medication at all. For instance, a professional will prescribe a lower dosage and give the person time to adjust to the new dosage level. Then, the professional will lower the dosage once again, and the client will take that amount for a set amount of time. This continues until the client is no longer reliant on the drug. During the entire process, the client is monitored to ensure the symptoms of withdrawal are manageable, and the person is progressing nicely in recovery.
While withdrawal is a crucial part of the recovery process, therapy is needed to address the issues related to substance abuse. If the person only goes through detox without participating in therapy, it is likely that they will return to substance abuse after withdrawal.