Trazodone and Alcohol
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The estimated number of trazodone prescription in the US for the past decades are more than 23 million. It has been used by mental health, and primary care provides to treat multiple psychiatric and mental conditions. It is primarily used to help people with depression and anxiety to improve their sleep quality. Today, trazodone is prescribed under the brand name Oleptro.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.5% of adults between 18 and older reported using alcohol.
Some studies have claimed that having one or two drinks a day is linked to better health than avoiding alcohol altogether. However, alcohol is one of the most abused drugs in the US.
Both trazodone and alcohol are common drugs people take to help them with depression and anxiety.
What Is Trazodone?
First approved by the FDA in 1981, trazodone is an FDA-approved anti-depressant drug to treat depression, anxiety, or a combination of both. Trazodone is not a controlled substance, that’s why doctors consider it safer than other alternatives for insomnia and anxiety.
Trazodone works by boosting the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline, chemicals that enhance mood, in the brain. Naturally, the levels of both serotonin and noradrenaline will drop whenever you feel sad.
Trazodone helps to control depressions but does not cure them. Keep taking trazodone for two weeks or more to get the full benefit of trazodone. It is advisable to continue taking trazodone even after you feel well.
If you and your doctor decide to take you off trazodone, your doctor will probably recommend reducing your dose gradually to help prevent extra side effects.
Despite its primary uses, off-label uses for trazodone are often prescribed for people with a sleep disorder because it improves sleep quality.
Trazodone is sometimes used to treat schizophrenia, which causes disturbed or unusual thinking, hallucination and interprets reality abnormally. Trazodone is also sometimes used to control abnormal, uncontrollable movements that may be experienced as side effects of other medications.
For depression, the doctor usually will start with 150mg daily. It can then be increased to a max dose of 600 mg daily, split across multiple doses in a day.
For some cases, your doctor may start with a lower dose to reduce the chance of side effects. For anxiety, the doctor usually will start with 75mg. However, your dose may go up depending on how it affects you.
It is not advisable to stop taking trazodone without talking to your doctor. Stop taking trazodone might cause withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, or difficulty in sleeping. Your doctor most likely will decrease your dose gradually to minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms.
Even at lower doses, trazodone can make you feel relaxed, tired, and sleepy. Trazodone blocks the chemicals in the brain interacting with serotonin and other neurotransmitters, such as 5-HT2A, alpha1 adrenergic receptors, and H1 histamine receptors.
The side effects vary from people, and some even do not experience any side effects at all. Here are some common side effects of taking trazodone:
- Feeling sleepy or tired
- Feeling sick
- A dry mouth
Some people (about 1 in 1000) experience some severe side effects, including:
- a long-lasting and painful erection that lasts longer than 4 hours, even when you’re not having sex.
- A fast, slow, or abnormal heartbeat
- A seizure
- Yellow skin
- Self-harming or suicidal thoughts
- Severe constipation causing stomach pain
- More bruising than usual
- Sore throat
- Skin infections
It is uncommon to abuse trazodone because it is a long-term medication, but it can occur. Anyone who uses anti-depressant medication for more than six weeks may develop a physical dependence on the drug. Anti-depressant medication abuse is more common as a secondary drug of abuse mixed with other drugs of abuse rather than being a primary drug of abuse.
To avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms, a person might continue to use trazodone. Those with a dependency or addiction might come to different doctors for more prescriptions or purchase them illegally.
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What About Alcohol?
There are four types of alcohol for different uses. Besides grain alcohol or ethyl – the most commonly known kind of alcohol – that we can find in drinks, there are denatured, Isopropyl and rubbing.
Grain alcohol is produced when yeast ferments the sugar from grains, vegetables, and fruits. Different grains will make another type of drink. For example, sake -the most famous drink in Japan- is made from fermented rice, while vodka is made from fermented potatoes.
Denatured alcohol is ethyl alcohol that is mixed with one or more chemicals (denaturants). The purpose is to make this type of alcohol unfit for human consumption. Some of the products of denatured are cleaning agents and fuels.
You can easily find Isopropyl Alcohol in hospitals. It has a mild effect on human skin, making it also used for cosmetics such as hand lotions. Isopropyl can be used to clean electronic components.
The primary use of rubbing alcohol is disinfecting and cleaning solutions. It is a mix between Isopropyl and water.
Alcohol is a drug and categorized as a depressant, meaning that it slows down our vital functions.
The higher dose of depressants is known for short-term effects such as impairment of memory, judgment and coordination, irritability, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. As for the long-term effect can produce depression, chronic fatigue, breathing difficulties, sexual problems, and even sleep problems.
In the United States, a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:
- 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
- 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
- 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
- 5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).
There are a lot of reasons why do people drink, and biological and social factors influence it. This explains why some people avoid it; some can control their amount of drink while others have difficulty telling themselves when to stop.
Different Types of Alcohol by Alcoholic Drinks
Consuming alcohol is legal in the majority of the United States for adults ages 21 and older. The standardized types of alcohol drinks in the United States are beer, wine, and liquor. There are subcategories to beer, wine, and liquor to help define and regulate the production of specific alcoholic beverages.
This is the list of alcohol percentage or alcohol by volume in drinks:
- Vodka | ABV: 40-95%
- Gin | ABV: 36-50%
- Rum | ABV: 36-50%
- Whiskey | ABV: 36-50%
- Tequila | ABV: 50-51%
- Liqueurs | ABV: 15%
- Fortified Wine | ABV: 16-24%
- Unfortified Wine | ABV: 14-16%
- Beer | ABV: 4-8%
- Malt Beverage | ABV: 15%
Taking Alcohol with Other Drugs
The danger of mixing alcohol with other medicines is real, especially among older people. It can cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, or loss of coordination. To a certain point, it can also put you at risk of internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing. This happens because alcohol might amplify or make other medicines less effective or even useless by interfering with their absorption in the digestive tract.
Can You Mix Trazodone and Alcohol?
Some people use alcohol to improve their mood. When they are also prescribed trazodone to help improve their sleep quality, depression, and anxiety, they may be tempted to mix the two.
In some cases, alcohol will magnify and amplify the other medication’s effects and come to a dangerous level.
In other cases, alcohol will partially or even entirely negate the impact of the other drug. Alcohol might also create results that are completely different from either of the original substances.
Alcohol can also counteract the effect of trazodone and possibly limiting the success of the medication. This combination might also cause unexpected and extreme emotions. Mixing alcohol and trazodone can also cause severe side effects that mainly affect the nervous system.
The Consequences of Mixing Alcohol and Trazodone
Trazodone may amplify the effects of alcohol, resulting in dangerous levels of intoxication, overdose, and even death.
Using trazodone and alcohol for the long term can also lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Trazodone withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, agitation, and sleep problems.
Other reasons why you should be careful in mixing trazodone and alcohol are:
- Both agents are central nervous system depressants. When you take them together, it will put you at risk due to additive side effects from the drug interaction of both.
- Trazodone might help you better sleep, but alcohol might worsen: drinking has been linked to poor sleep quality and short sleep duration. Alcohol can cause sleep disruptions which will make it harder to sleep despite making you feel sleepy. It can also interfere with the REM stage of sleep.
- If you take trazodone for depression, alcohol will make your mood worse: Alcohol is linked to depression in different ways. At first, some people with low moods will drink in the hope that they will relieve their depressive symptoms. However, the alcohol impact’s on brain chemistry might increase the risk of depression. It is important to be careful about drinking if you have a history of low mood because self-harm and suicide are more common in those struggling with drinking.
Due to its high level of intoxicating elements, trazodone may increase some of the effects of alcohol, leading to an overdose. The use of alcohol and trazodone can also lead to substance dependence and trazodone withdrawal for an extended period.
Trazodone and alcohol have intoxicating elements that may affect the respiratory and nervous systems when taken in large doses. Mixing trazodone and alcohol can cause extreme drowsiness, which can lead to severe and life-threatening accidents.
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Being Safe while Taking Prescrption Drugs
Medication error commonly happens in healthcare settings. To avoid unwanted effects and other adverse reactions, here are some keys to taking your medications responsibly:
- Write down all the medicines you take. The list should include the name of each medicine, the amount you take, the time(s) you take it. If it’s a prescription, it will be great to write the doctor who prescribed it and why it is prescribed. It would be best if you kept it in a safe place, and you might want to carry one in your pocketbook or wallet.
- Check expiration dates on bottles. Although your doctor will tell you whenever you need a refill, it will do you no harm in taking notes of the expiration dates of your prescription
- Keep your medicine safe for young children. You might want to avoid taking medicines in front of children, as they will try to copy you. Get one of those child safety caps because they are hard to open. Be careful about where you put your medicines. You might want to consider buying a small safe or lockbox where you can safely put all of your medications and drugs. Do not ever refer to medicines as “candy” or other appealing names, as they might confuse or tempt them to try your medicines while you’re not watching.
- Dispose of your medications safely. Many pharmacies will accept expired medicines for safe disposal. Flushing your medicines down to the toilet or sink can be handy if you don’t have time to go to a pharmacy.