What Is Trazodone?

With the devastating effects of opiate and opioid epidemic continuing, there has been an increased focus on medications and treatment options that could help people to quit using these drugs. One potential treatment for trazodone is for opiate withdrawal. Trazodone is a generic drug sold under different brand names around the world, used for the treatment of anxiety and major depressive disorders. Trazodone is also used to treat insomnia.

Trazodone has been increasingly used as an alternative for benzodiazepines in patients with insomnia. There are also off-label uses not approved by the FDA. Off-label trazodone uses include for complex regional pain syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol withdrawal, schizophrenia, and erectile dysfunction. So, is there a use for trazodone for opiate withdrawal? If so, what are the benefits?

Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal symptoms occur in response to someone dependent on these drugs stopping them suddenly. Opiates are a class of drugs including prescription pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as heroin. These drugs are classified together because they affect the same receptor in brain tissues and have the same kind of effect on the central nervous system. Opiates are extremely addictive, but also cause dependence. Physical dependence can occur even in people who follow a doctor’s prescription exactly.

If a person becomes dependent on an opiate, they will go through withdrawal when they attempt to stop using it. Opioid withdrawal isn’t usually life-threatening but is uncomfortable and difficult. Early opioid withdrawal symptoms include muscle pain, body aches, drowsiness, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability. Later stages of opiate and opioid withdrawal include chills, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are usually the opposite of the drug’s effects. For example, using opioids can cause euphoria, but withdrawal can create anxiety and depression. A major side effect of opioids is constipation, and a significant withdrawal side effect is diarrhea.

While most acute opiate withdrawal symptoms diminish or stop within about a week, for some people they may linger. It can be weeks or months before a person’s brain and body stabilize. This is especially true following heavy or prolonged opioid use. Depression and sleep disturbances are two symptoms that most commonly occur even after opioids have left the body.

Trazodone for Opiate Withdrawal Treatment

While opiate withdrawal isn’t necessarily deadly, it can and often does lead to recurrence of use. Medical professionals tend to recommend a detox facility for people who are attempting to come off these drugs. There are also certain medications that can be administered, depending on the situation. One prescription often given to people during opiate withdrawal is clonidine. This medicine doesn’t deal with drug cravings but does treat many of the physical and psychological symptoms. Naltrexone can be helpful to prevent recurrence of use, as can buprenorphine.

Increasingly, trazodone is being looked at for use during opiate withdrawal as well. Trazodone activates serotonin receptors and also makes more serotonin available in the brain. Trazodone can help with pain relief, as well as psychological symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Trazodone, when used in conjunction with naloxone, has also shown to reduce the severity of opiate withdrawal.

While a doctor or a professional medical facility may prescribe trazodone for opiate withdrawal, there are some aspects to keep in mind. First, no one should try to self-medicate as they go through opiate withdrawal. Even for someone with an existing trazodone prescription, it’s important to speak with a physician. Detoxing at home or without medical guidance will likely be uncomfortable and is dangerous. Trying to go through detox outside a professional facility can also increase the likelihood of recurrence of use.

Are you struggling with opioids or a substance use disorder? Please call The Recovery Village. We provide a safe, comfortable detox environment. This prepares you to then move into treatment more successfully.

Camille Renzoni
Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
Benjamin Caleb Williams
Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.