Trazodone is a popular antidepressant medication commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Many people are not aware that combining trazodone with alcohol can have serious adverse effects and should be avoided. This article explores what can happen when trazodone and alcohol are mixed.
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How Trazodone and Alcohol Work in the Body
Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) that works by increasing serotonin activity in the brain. It helps regulate mood, anxiety, and sleep patterns. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that binds to GABA receptors, relaxing the body and brain.
Both trazodone and alcohol depress the central nervous system and slow brain function. Combining the two enhances these effects, leading to intoxication and potentially dangerous interactions.
Sedation and Drowsiness
One of the most common and noticeable effects of mixing trazodone and alcohol is extreme sedation and drowsiness. Both substances cause relaxation and sleepiness on their own. Taken together, the effects are significantly amplified.
Some people combine them in an attempt to increase trazodone’s sedative properties. However, this can lead to excessive drowsiness, an inability to stay awake, loss of coordination, and accidents or injuries. The combination also negatively impacts concentration, cognition, and reaction time.
Excessive sedation from mixing alcohol and trazodone can also lead to respiratory depression or slowed breathing. Both substances suppress the central nervous system’s control of respiration so the combination intensifies this effect.
Respiratory depression can decrease oxygen levels in the body and brain, resulting in organ damage, coma, or even death in severe cases. This life-threatening reaction warrants immediate medical attention.
Impaired Judgment and Coordination
Another consequence of combining them is impaired judgment and motor coordination. Trazodone can cause blurred vision, dizziness, and unsteadiness. Alcohol also reduces coordination and inhibitions.
Together, these side effects are amplified, impacting a person’s ability to walk, drive, or perform other activities safely. The loss of judgment also increases the likelihood of accidental injury or dangerous behavior.
Nausea, Vomiting, and Headaches
Some additional side effects that may occur when trazodone is mixed with alcohol include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and severe headaches. Both trazodone and alcohol irritate the gastrointestinal tract, increasing the risk of these symptoms.
Vomiting also poses a risk of aspiration and choking for someone excessively sedated. The dehydration resulting from vomiting and diarrhea could require medical treatment.
Increased Risk of Overdose
The synergistic effects of these central nervous system depressants amplify their ability to slow critical bodily functions like breathing, heart rate, and temperature regulation. Signs of overdose include extreme drowsiness, lightheadedness, cold or clammy skin, bluish lips or nails, unresponsiveness, seizures, or coma. Overdose can lead to permanent organ damage or death if not treated promptly.
Avoiding Dangerous Interactions
The numerous adverse effects make it clear that mixing trazodone and alcohol should be avoided. It is unsafe to drink any amount of alcohol while taking trazodone. Check with your doctor about occasional light drinking, but abstinence is the safest approach. Also, addressing any underlying mental health or substance use disorders with professional treatment can help prevent the urge to mix these substances.