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Trazodone in Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Navigating recovery from addiction is a journey filled with challenges, triumphs, and the pursuit of wellness on multiple fronts. For individuals in recovery, managing co-occurring conditions such as depression and insomnia presents unique hurdles that demand careful consideration and tailored approaches to treatment. Among the options available, trazodone, a medication commonly prescribed for depression and insomnia, emerges as a potential aid in this complex landscape. However, the decision to incorporate trazodone into a recovery regimen is not without its complexities and considerations. In this blog, we delve into the question: Can you safely use trazodone while in recovery from addiction? We explore the nuances, benefits, risks, and essential factors to help individuals make informed decisions in pursuit of holistic well-being on their recovery journey.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a prescription medication primarily used to treat major depressive disorder. It falls under the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs), which means it impacts neurotransmitter activity in the brain. By preventing the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin and blocking certain serotonin receptors, Trazodone helps to balance the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. This mechanism can have a profound effect on improving mood, reducing anxiety, and aiding sleep, making Trazodone an invaluable tool in the arsenal of treatments for depression and, by extension, in supporting individuals in recovery from substance abuse and addiction.

Trazodone Types

Trazodone is available in several forms to suit different treatment needs and preferences. These include:

  • Immediate-release tablets: These tablets release Trazodone into the body right after ingestion and are usually taken multiple times a day.
  • Extended-release tablets: Known as Trazodone ER, these tablets release the medication gradually over time and are typically taken once a day. This form is designed to maintain a steady level of medication in the body throughout the day.

Trazodone Brands and Street Names

Trazodone is marketed under various brand names, with Desyrel being one of the most well-known. Other brand names include Oleptro and Trialodine. As for street names, Trazodone is not commonly associated with recreational use, so it lacks the variety of street names seen with more commonly abused substances. However, it’s crucial to use Trazodone under the guidance of a healthcare provider and be aware of the medication’s legitimate names to ensure proper treatment and avoid confusion.

Trazodone Dosages

The appropriate dosage of Trazodone varies significantly depending on the individual’s needs, the condition being treated, and the form of Trazodone being used. Generally, dosages for depression start low, around 150 mg per day for adults, and can be adjusted up to 600 mg per day based on the patient’s response and tolerance. For the treatment of insomnia or other off-label uses like anxiety, lower doses are typically prescribed, sometimes starting as low as 25 to 50 mg at bedtime.

Trazodone Dosage Guidelines

When prescribing Trazodone, healthcare professionals follow specific guidelines to ensure safety and effectiveness:

  • Start with a Low Dose: To minimize side effects, treatment often begins with a low dose, gradually increasing until the desired effect is achieved.
  • Monitor Closely: Regular follow-ups are important to assess the medication’s effectiveness and adjust the dosage as needed.
  • Adjust According to Response: Dosage adjustments are made based on the individual’s response to the medication and any side effects experienced.
  • Consider Health Conditions: The presence of other medical conditions may affect Trazodone dosing, requiring adjustments to avoid complications.

Trazodone Uses

While the primary indication for Trazodone is the treatment of major depressive disorder, its ability to improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety has led to a variety of off-label uses, particularly relevant in recovery settings:

  • Depression: Trazodone is effective in treating symptoms of depression, including sadness, hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Insomnia: Its sedative effects are beneficial for individuals struggling with insomnia, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
  • Anxiety: Trazodone can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, providing a sense of calm and well-being.
  • Chronic Pain Syndromes: There is some evidence to suggest Trazodone can help manage certain types of chronic pain.
  • Substance Abuse Recovery: By addressing underlying issues like depression and insomnia, Trazodone can support the recovery process, making it easier for individuals to focus on their rehabilitation.

How Long Does Trazodone Stay in Your System?

Understanding how long Trazodone remains in your system is crucial for patients managing their recovery and for healthcare providers to tailor treatment plans effectively. Trazodone’s half-life—the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body—ranges from approximately 5 to 13 hours. However, this can vary based on factors such as metabolism, age, liver function, and overall health. Generally, it can take approximately 42 hours to 5 days for Trazodone to be almost entirely cleared from the system. However, for certain drug tests, Trazodone metabolites may be detectable for a longer period.

Trazodone Onset and Duration

The onset of Trazodone, or how quickly you can expect to feel its effects, typically occurs within one to two hours after taking it orally. This rapid onset makes it particularly useful for individuals struggling with insomnia as part of their recovery process. The duration of its effects can last anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, depending on the dosage and the individual’s metabolic rate. Patients need to time their medication properly, especially if they are using it to aid sleep, to ensure they do not feel drowsy during the daytime.

How Long is Trazodone Detectable?

The detectability of Trazodone in the body depends on the type of drug test used. In urine tests, Trazodone can generally be detected for up to three days after the last dose. Blood tests have a shorter detection window, typically up to 24 hours. Hair follicle tests, which are less common for Trazodone, can detect the drug for much longer periods, up to several weeks or even months after the last dose, reflecting use over time rather than recent intake.

Trazodone Efficacy

Trazodone’s efficacy in treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia in the context of recovery from substance abuse has been well-documented. It works by balancing serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood, anxiety levels, and sleep patterns. Patients often report significant improvements in sleep quality and duration, reduced anxiety, and an overall better mood. However, it’s essential to note that the effectiveness of Trazodone can vary among individuals, and it may take several weeks to notice the full therapeutic benefits.

How Does Trazodone Work in the Brain and Body?

Trazodone is a medication primarily prescribed for the treatment of depression, but it is also commonly used off-label to treat insomnia. While the exact mechanism of action of trazodone is not fully understood, it is believed to work through multiple neurotransmitter systems in the brain. Here’s how trazodone works in the brain and body:

  1. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibition: Trazodone is classified as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI). It works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood, emotions, and sleep-wake cycles. By increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, trazodone helps to enhance mood and promote relaxation, which can be beneficial for treating depression and anxiety.

  2. Alpha-1 Adrenergic Blocking Activity: Trazodone also has alpha-1 adrenergic blocking activity, which means it blocks the action of certain receptors in the brain and peripheral nervous system. This action may contribute to its sedative effects and help promote sleep by reducing arousal and increasing relaxation.

  3. Histamine Receptor Antagonism: Trazodone acts as an antagonist at histamine receptors in the brain, particularly H1 receptors. By blocking these receptors, trazodone may contribute to its sedative and hypnotic effects, helping to induce and maintain sleep.

  4. Noradrenergic Effects: Trazodone has some effects on the noradrenergic system in the brain, although the significance of these effects in its overall mechanism of action is not fully understood. Some studies suggest that trazodone may modulate the release and activity of norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter involved in regulating arousal, attention, and mood.

  5. GABAergic Effects: While trazodone is not a direct agonist of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, some research suggests that it may indirectly enhance GABAergic neurotransmission in certain brain regions. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, and its activation promotes relaxation and reduces neuronal excitability, which may contribute to trazodone’s sedative and anxiolytic effects.

Overall, trazodone’s mechanism of action involves modulation of various neurotransmitter systems in the brain, including serotonin, norepinephrine, histamine, and possibly GABA. By targeting these systems, trazodone helps to alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia, making it a versatile medication for individuals struggling with these conditions. However, it’s essential to use trazodone under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as it can have side effects and interactions with other medications.

Trazodone Safe Storage and Disposal Practices

Safe storage and disposal of Trazodone are vital to prevent misuse, accidental ingestion, or environmental harm. Storage should be in a cool, dry place, out of reach of children and pets, and away from direct sunlight. The medication should remain in its original packaging until use to avoid confusion and ensure that expiry dates are adhered to. Disposal of unused or expired Trazodone should be done responsibly. Many communities offer take-back programs or medication disposal kiosks at pharmacies. If these are not available, mixing the medication with an unpalatable substance such as dirt or cat litter and placing it in a sealed plastic bag before disposing of it in the trash is recommended. Flushing medication down the toilet should be avoided unless specifically instructed by the packaging or a healthcare provider.

Side Effects and Risks of Trazodone

Trazodone is a medication primarily used to treat depression, but it is also commonly prescribed off-label to treat insomnia. Like all medications, trazodone can cause side effects, both in the short term and with long-term use. Here are some short-term and long-term side effects associated with trazodone:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Drowsiness and Sedation: One of the most common side effects of trazodone is drowsiness or sedation, which can occur shortly after taking the medication. This effect can impair cognitive function and motor skills, making activities such as driving or operating machinery unsafe.

  2. Dizziness and Lightheadedness: Trazodone can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or feelings of faintness, especially when standing up quickly from a sitting or lying position. This effect may be more pronounced during the initial stages of treatment or when the dosage is increased.

  3. Dry Mouth: Trazodone can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, which may be accompanied by thirst or difficulty swallowing. Sipping water or using sugar-free lozenges may help alleviate this side effect.

  4. Blurred Vision: Some individuals may experience blurred vision or changes in visual acuity while taking trazodone. This side effect may be temporary and typically resolves with continued use of the medication.

  5. Constipation: Trazodone can slow down gastrointestinal motility, leading to constipation in some individuals. Increasing fluid intake, dietary fiber, and physical activity may help prevent or alleviate constipation.

  6. Nausea and Vomiting: Trazodone may cause nausea or vomiting, particularly when first starting the medication or when the dosage is increased. Taking trazodone with food or dividing the dose throughout the day may help reduce gastrointestinal upset.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Weight Changes: Long-term use of trazodone may be associated with weight changes, including weight gain or weight loss. Changes in appetite, metabolic factors, and lifestyle habits may contribute to these effects.

  2. Cardiovascular Effects: Trazodone may affect heart rhythm in some individuals, leading to an increased risk of arrhythmias, particularly in those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions or other risk factors. Regular monitoring of cardiac function may be necessary in individuals at risk.

  3. Endocrine Effects: Long-term use of trazodone may affect hormonal balance in the body, leading to changes in thyroid function, cortisol levels, or sexual dysfunction, including decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, or delayed ejaculation.

  4. Withdrawal Symptoms: Abrupt discontinuation of trazodone after long-term use may lead to withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, agitation, dizziness, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. Tapering off the medication under medical supervision can help minimize the risk of withdrawal.

  5. Serotonin Syndrome: In rare cases, long-term use of trazodone may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by excessive accumulation of serotonin in the body. Symptoms may include agitation, confusion, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, fever, sweating, tremors, and muscle stiffness.

  6. Bone Health: Some studies suggest that long-term use of trazodone may be associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures, particularly in older adults or individuals with pre-existing risk factors for bone loss.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and the severity and frequency of side effects may vary from person to person.

Trazadone and Pregnancy

Trazodone is classified as a Pregnancy Category C medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that animal reproduction studies have shown adverse effects on the fetus, but there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women, or animal studies have shown no adverse effects on the fetus, but there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Therefore, the use of trazodone during pregnancy should be carefully considered, and the potential risks and benefits should be weighed.

Here are some important points to consider regarding trazodone use during pregnancy:

  1. Consultation with Healthcare Provider: Pregnant individuals who are taking trazodone or considering its use should consult with their healthcare provider to discuss the potential risks and benefits. It’s essential to have an open and honest discussion about the individual’s medical history, the severity of their condition, and alternative treatment options.

  2. Risk of Birth Defects: While there is limited data on the use of trazodone during pregnancy, some studies have suggested a potential risk of birth defects, particularly when the medication is taken during the first trimester when fetal organ development is occurring. However, the overall risk appears to be low.

  3. Neonatal Effects: Trazodone can cross the placenta and reach the fetus, potentially affecting fetal development and health. Some studies have suggested that exposure to trazodone during pregnancy may be associated with neonatal complications, such as low birth weight, respiratory distress, and withdrawal symptoms in newborns.

  4. Potential Maternal Risks: Pregnant individuals who are taking trazodone should be monitored closely for potential maternal risks, including exacerbation of depression or anxiety symptoms, changes in mood or behavior, and medication side effects. It’s essential to balance the potential risks of untreated mental health conditions with the risks of medication exposure during pregnancy.

  5. Alternative Treatments: In some cases, alternative treatment options may be considered for pregnant individuals with depression or anxiety, such as psychotherapy, lifestyle modifications, or other medications with a more established safety profile during pregnancy. However, the decision to discontinue or switch medications should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.

  6. Breastfeeding Considerations: Trazodone is excreted in breast milk, so breastfeeding while taking trazodone may expose the infant to the medication. Healthcare providers may advise against breastfeeding while taking trazodone or recommend close monitoring for potential adverse effects in the infant.

Overall, the use of trazodone during pregnancy should be approached cautiously, and pregnant individuals should work closely with their healthcare provider to weigh the potential risks and benefits. It’s essential to prioritize the health and well-being of both the pregnant individual and the developing fetus while making treatment decisions.

Alcohol Use and Trazodone

Mixing Trazodone with alcohol is highly discouraged due to the potential for dangerous interactions. Both substances can depress the central nervous system, leading to exacerbated effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, this combination can result in respiratory distress, unconsciousness, or even coma. Alcohol consumption can also negate the benefits of Trazodone, particularly in treating depression, making recovery more challenging. Individuals taking Trazodone are advised to avoid alcohol to ensure the safest and most effective treatment outcome.

Trazodone Controlled Substance Classification

Trazodone is not classified as a controlled substance in the United States, meaning it is considered to have a lower potential for abuse compared to controlled substances like opioids or benzodiazepines. However, this does not imply that Trazodone is without risks or potential for misuse. Its prescription and use are regulated to ensure it is used safely and effectively, under the guidance of a healthcare provider. The non-controlled status of Trazodone emphasizes its importance as a therapeutic tool rather than a focus on its abuse potential.

Statistics on Trazodone Use

Trazodone is among the commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of major depressive disorder, with its usage extending to off-label applications such as insomnia due to its sedative effects. Trazodone prescriptions have seen a steady increase over the years, reflecting its versatility in treating various conditions associated with depression and anxiety disorders. Despite its widespread use, the rate of misuse remains relatively low compared to other sedatives or antidepressants, underscoring its efficacy and safety profile when used as directed.

Can You Get Addicted to Trazodone?

Trazodone is generally not considered addictive in the traditional sense, especially when compared to substances like opioids or benzodiazepines. However, psychological dependence can occur, particularly in individuals with a history of substance abuse. While physical dependence is rare, discontinuing Trazodone suddenly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, suggesting a need for a carefully managed tapering process under medical supervision. Patients must use Trazodone as prescribed and communicate openly with their healthcare providers about all aspects of their treatment plan.

Can You Overdose on Trazodone?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on Trazodone. An overdose can occur when the medication is taken in significantly higher doses than prescribed or recommended. Symptoms of an overdose may include extreme drowsiness, vomiting, rapid heart rate, seizures, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, an overdose can be fatal. It’s imperative to follow prescription guidelines and consult with a healthcare provider if there are questions or concerns about the prescribed dosage. If an overdose is suspected, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial to ensure the best possible outcome.

Can You Safely Use Trazadone in You're in Addiction Recovery?

The use of trazodone in individuals recovering from addiction should be approached with caution and carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. While trazodone is not considered to be addictive in the same way as substances like opioids or benzodiazepines, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Potential for Misuse: Trazodone is not typically considered to have a high potential for misuse or addiction. However, individuals in recovery from addiction may have a history of substance misuse and may be more susceptible to misusing or abusing medications, including trazodone. It’s essential for healthcare providers to assess the individual’s risk factors for substance misuse before prescribing trazodone.

  2. Interactions with Other Medications: Individuals in recovery from addiction may be taking other medications to manage withdrawal symptoms, mental health conditions, or other health issues. It’s important to consider potential interactions between trazodone and other medications, including opioids, benzodiazepines, or other central nervous system depressants. Combining trazodone with certain medications may increase the risk of sedation, respiratory depression, or other adverse effects.

  3. Potential for Relapse: Some individuals in recovery from addiction may be at increased risk of relapse when taking medications that affect mood or behavior. Trazodone is primarily used to treat depression and insomnia, and changes in mood or sleep patterns may trigger cravings or increase the risk of relapse in some individuals. Close monitoring and support from healthcare providers, counselors, or support groups may be necessary to mitigate this risk.

  4. Alternative Treatments: Depending on the individual’s specific needs and circumstances, alternative treatments for depression or insomnia may be considered. Non-pharmacological interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based techniques, or lifestyle modifications, may be effective in managing symptoms without the use of medications.

  5. Potential Benefits: Despite the potential risks, trazodone may offer benefits for individuals in recovery from addiction who are struggling with co-occurring depression or insomnia. Properly managed and monitored, trazodone may help improve mood, alleviate sleep disturbances, and support overall well-being in some individuals.

Ultimately, the decision to use trazodone in individuals recovering from addiction should be made collaboratively between the individual and their healthcare provider. It’s essential to weigh the potential risks and benefits of trazodone use, consider alternative treatment options, and establish a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the individual’s unique needs and circumstances. Close monitoring and ongoing support are crucial to ensure the safe and effective use of trazodone in individuals recovering from addiction.

The Role of Prescription Medication in Substance Abuse

Prescription medications play a complex role in the landscape of substance abuse. On one hand, they offer critical benefits for managing medical and psychological conditions. On the other hand, they can sometimes lead to misuse and addiction, particularly if not used as directed by a healthcare professional. The pathway from legitimate use to abuse is often gradual, beginning with the prescribed use, followed by increased dosage without medical guidance, and potentially leading to the use of the medication for non-medical reasons. Recognizing the thin line between use and misuse is vital for patients and healthcare providers alike to prevent the transition from therapeutic use to substance abuse.

Recognizing the Signs of Trazodone Abuse

Recognizing the signs of Trazodone abuse is crucial for early intervention. Signs may include:

  • Taking higher doses than prescribed or using Trazodone without a prescription.
  • Obsessive thoughts about obtaining and using the drug.
  • Continuing to use Trazodone despite negative physical or psychological consequences.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to drug use.
  • Isolation from friends and family.

Awareness of these signs can prompt individuals or their loved ones to seek the necessary help before the problem escalates.

Seeking Professional Help for Trazodone Misuse

If you or someone you know is misusing Trazodone, seeking professional help is a critical step toward recovery. Professional help can range from consulting a primary care physician or a mental health professional to discussing concerns and exploring treatment options. These professionals can provide a comprehensive assessment, including the extent of the misuse and any underlying issues that may contribute to the behavior, and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses both the substance use and any co-occurring disorders.

Treatment Options for Trazodone Addiction

Treatment for Trazodone addiction may involve several components, tailored to the individual’s needs. Options include:

  • Detoxification: Safely managing withdrawal symptoms under medical supervision.
  • Behavioral Therapies: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and other therapies can help change the thought patterns and behaviors related to drug use.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): While primarily used for opioid, alcohol, and nicotine addiction, MAT can sometimes be adapted to manage withdrawal symptoms and support recovery in other substance use disorders.
  • Support Groups: Peer support groups provide a community of individuals who share similar experiences and challenges, offering a network of support and accountability.

Supporting Loved Ones through Recovery from Trazodone Misuse

Supporting a loved one through the recovery process can be challenging but incredibly rewarding. Here are ways to offer support:

  • Educate yourself about addiction and recovery to better understand what your loved one is going through.
  • Encourage treatment and offer to help with the logistics, such as finding treatment programs or attending appointments.
  • Practice open and non-judgmental communication, ensuring your loved one feels supported and understood.
  • Set healthy boundaries to protect your well-being while supporting your loved one’s recovery journey.
  • Seek support for yourself, whether through therapy, support groups, or community resources, to manage the emotional toll of supporting someone in recovery.

In supporting loved ones through recovery, it’s essential to remember that recovery is a journey with ups and downs. Patience, understanding, and self-care are key components of providing effective support.

Prevention and Education on Trazodone Use

Understanding the proper use of Trazodone and recognizing the signs of misuse are essential first steps in preventing dependency and promoting safe treatment outcomes. Education on Trazodone focuses on its benefits in treating depression, anxiety, and insomnia, especially in individuals recovering from substance abuse, while also highlighting the importance of adherence to prescribed guidelines.

Risks of Adjustment Disorder

  • Consult Healthcare Providers: Always discuss with healthcare professionals before starting Trazodone. They can provide personalized advice based on your health history and recovery needs.
  • Follow Prescription Guidelines: Take Trazodone exactly as prescribed, avoiding any adjustments in dosage without medical advice.
  • Monitor Side Effects: Be vigilant about side effects, both common and severe. Promptly report any adverse reactions to your healthcare provider.
  • Educate on Misuse Risks: Understanding the risks associated with misuse, including potential dependency and withdrawal symptoms, can deter improper use.
  • Support Systems: Encourage the development of a strong support system, including family, friends, and support groups, to provide emotional support during treatment.

Risks of Adjustment Disorder

  • Access to literature and online resources that explain Trazodone’s role in recovery.
  • Workshops and seminars led by healthcare professionals on managing mental health with medications like Trazodone.
  • Personal stories from individuals who have successfully incorporated Trazodone into their recovery, highlighting the benefits and challenges.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider, we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390


Trazodone is not generally considered addictive in the traditional sense, especially when used as prescribed for its intended purposes such as treating depression or insomnia. However, misuse or off-label use can lead to dependency.

Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and sometimes gastrointestinal issues. Most side effects are mild and manageable but always report persistent or severe symptoms to your healthcare provider.

Trazodone can be used for long-term treatment under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Ongoing assessment of its effectiveness and any side effects is crucial for long-term management.

Trazodone can aid in recovery by treating underlying mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, as well as helping to improve sleep patterns, which can be significantly disrupted in individuals recovering from substance abuse.

If you suspect you’re misusing Trazodone, it’s important to seek help immediately. Contacting a healthcare provider or a specialized treatment center like California Prime Recovery can provide you with the support and guidance needed to address misuse and adjust your treatment plan as necessary.

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