ClickCease Dangers of Mixing Trazodone and Alcohol | Granite Recovery Centers

Dangers of Mixing Trazodone and Alcohol

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021

James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Trazodone is a tetracycline antidepressant. It isn’t prescribed as much in the current day because there are newer antidepressants known as “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” or SSRIs. Physicians may prescribe it if the newer antidepressants are not working for a particular patient. In some cases, doctors prescribe it to relieve insomnia.

When people mix trazodone and alcohol, they increase the effects that they would experience if they were to take just one of these substances, and this includes feeling extremely drowsy. It can also increase their risk of overdosing on the substances or dying because of them. If people mix trazodone and alcohol for a long period of time, they will be at risk of becoming dependent on both of them and will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them.

About Trazodone

Trazodone is a “serotonin receptor antagonist.” An antagonist is a substance that binds to opioid receptors and keeps them from being activated. In this way, antagonists prevent opioids from becoming attached to the receptors, and this prevents the user from experiencing any of the opioid effects.

Trazodone is also a reuptake inhibitor. This means that the medication prevents the serotonin from being reabsorbed by the neurons so that messages can continue to be sent from neuron to neuron. When a medication increases the amount of serotonin activity, it has the result of reducing symptoms of depression, although many people doubt that people’s serotonin levels affect whether or not they experience depression.

In addition to depression, trazodone also treats the following:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bulimia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance abuse
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Other medical conditions that are attributed to trazodone use include hyponatremia, a condition that occurs when the sodium level in your blood is extremely low. In addition to that, you are also subject to an increase in the risk of excessive bleeding, irregular heart rhythms, and serotonin syndrome. This is a condition in which serotonin is allowed to accumulate in your body and causes symptoms, such as agitation, hypertension, and diarrhea.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Using trazodone is especially dangerous if combined with alcohol. After only one or two alcoholic drinks, people begin to experience the following:

  • Impaired memory
  • Slower reaction times
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulties walking

In 2019, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, or NSDUH, discovered that nearly 15 million people are experiencing an alcohol use disorder. In addition to that, approximately 6.9% of the men 18 years of age and older in this survey received treatment for their alcohol use disorders in the past year, and 7.9% of the females also received treatment in the past year.

Antidepressants and Their Potential for Abuse

Trazodone is not known as a drug that causes people to experience euphoria like the prescription opioids cause. Therefore, people are not abusing trazodone and other antidepressants as much as benzodiazepines and opioids. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence to support the belief that trazodone causes people to go in search of the drug more than their doctors prescribe it.

For the most part, if people receive prescriptions for trazodone, they are not abusing them. In addition to that, not many people have suffered an overdose because of trazodone, but it has occurred in some limited cases. When this happens, the victim has been someone with a history of substance use disorder or a history of a mood disorder.

Addiction and Dependence

Although people are not generally abusing trazodone, they may develop a physical dependence on the drug. These people may require increasing doses as time goes by because they are developing a tolerance to the drug. They will be advised not to stop taking trazodone on their own because, if they do, they may experience several withdrawal symptoms.

Trazodone withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Trouble falling asleep or difficulty remaining asleep
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety

Because of the withdrawal symptoms, the medical community advises people on trazodone to allow their doctors to slowly lower their dosages until they can stop taking the medication entirely.

What Happens When You Combine Alcohol and Trazodone?

If you drink alcohol with trazodone, the alcohol will make trazodone’s side effects worse. These side effects include the following:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Itchy, red, or tired eyes
  • A loss of coordination
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Low libido
  • Sweating
  • Rash
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle pain
  • Bad dreams
  • Confusion
  • The inability to concentrate
  • The inability to walk steadily
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • Differences in eating habits
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Headache

The following side effects are much more severe and require that you notify your physician immediately:

  • Bleeding or bruising that is unusual
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Passing out
  • Falling into a coma
  • A heartbeat that is irregular, fast, or pounding
  • Pain in the chest
  • Priapism, or an erection that lasts a very long time

Among the serious side effects listed above, priapism deserves to be singled out in this list. Priapism is when an erection lasts for a very long time, and it is also very painful. This condition may require surgery, but it may also cause permanent damage.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

When you abuse alcohol, another thing that can occur is alcohol withdrawal syndrome. These are the symptoms that manifest themselves when a heavy drinker stops drinking alcohol suddenly. Symptoms appear six hours to two days after the person last took a drink.

People usually experience at least two of the following withdrawal symptoms, and they include hypertension, bad dreams, sleeplessness, confusion, irritability, sweating, rapid heart rate, headache, vomiting, nausea, anxiety, and tremors. These symptoms may begin in as little as six hours after you take your last drink. After 12 to 24 hours, you may begin to see, hear, or feel things that aren’t really there. After about two days, you may experience seizures. In the two to three days that people experience these symptoms, they may get worse. If the symptoms are mild, they might last for several weeks.

What Is Delirium Tremens?

Delirium tremens is the very severe version of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and it includes visual or auditory hallucinations, feeling as if your skin is burning, itching or numb, seizures, fever, extreme agitation, and confusion. Grand mal seizures are also a possibility with these conditions, but all of these symptoms require immediate medical attention.

What Happens When You Combine Alcohol and Trazodone?

Mixing trazodone with alcohol is extremely dangerous. Alcohol increases the side effects that trazodone causes, but trazodone will also have this effect on alcohol’s side effects. This can cause the person to become extremely intoxicated and may even lead to an overdose or death.

When these substances are taken together, they can cause the users to become very sleepy. Also, alcohol has the potential to make anxiety and depression much worse.

Long-Term Mixing of Alcohol and Trazodone

Using alcohol and trazodone over long periods of time can lead to physical dependence on both substances. When people try to stop ingesting either substance, they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Other Medications That Also Interact Negatively With Trazodone

Alcohol is not the only substance that you must concern yourself with when you are taking trazodone. Several other medications may also interact negatively with trazodone to cause dangerous symptoms.

For example, serotonin syndrome is a condition that medications cause. It occurs when the medications cause serotonin to accumulate in the body. The brain and the body need serotonin for proper functioning, but if there is too much, it can cause symptoms such as diarrhea and shivering. The worst symptoms can be very serious and even lead to death. These symptoms include seizures, fever, and muscle rigidity.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are medicines that physicians prescribe to treat depression. Your physician may have prescribed other medications as treatments for your depression along with trazodone. If you are taking trazodone with other monoamine oxidase inhibitors, it can increase the likelihood of experiencing serotonin syndrome.

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the medications that we take to relieve aches and pains and fevers. These are the over-the-counter drugs that we are all familiar with, and they include aspirin, ibuprofen or Advil, and naproxen sodium, or Aleve. When you take any of these drugs with trazodone, they can increase your risk of bleeding.


A prothrombin time test measures the amount of time that your blood plasma needs to take to clot. People whose blood clots too easily may be prescribed warfarin to reduce the risk of embolism. If you take warfarin at the same time that you take trazodone, your prothrombin time may be altered.

Granite Recovery Centers

If you or a loved one have been drinking heavily or ingesting other substances for a long time, it is imperative for you to check into Granite Recovery Centers so that you can enter into our drug detox program. The possibility of grand mal seizures makes the time right after you quit a substance very dangerous, so you must not go through the withdrawal process on your own. This could lead to death. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Our drug detox program is a medication-assisted program in which our medical staff will administer medications that will ease the discomfort that the withdrawal symptoms cause. Most importantly, you will be in a safe place where our staff can monitor you and ensure that you receive immediate medical treatment if a medical emergency were to take place. This process has to take place first so that your mind can concentrate solely on your recovery when it is time to begin therapy.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we will treat you for your psychological dependence on alcohol, trazodone, and any other medications. After detox, our treatment program of cognitive-behavioral therapy begins. People who have been using for a long time or who do not have a stable living situation often benefit most from our inpatient treatment where they will live at the facility. Our therapists will guide you in group sessions and individual sessions and will even invite your family members to join you in family therapy.

Those who cannot make an inpatient rehab program work with their schedule can take part in our intensive outpatient program where they will come to the facility for part of the day. After treatment, patients have access to our variety of aftercare programs that include sober living arrangements, an alumni program, and more.

If you or a loved one are ready to obtain treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder, contact us today. It is time to get your life back.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.