In this article, I’m going to teach you how to use trazodone for opiate withdrawal. After learning about and researching this drug, I know that it can relieve withdrawal symptoms for some people, but not everyone.
Trazodone is by no means one of the top medications for opiate withdrawal, however, it’s been shown in studies to work pretty well.
Many people have asked the question: “Does trazodone help with opiate withdrawal?” Some people say that trazodone works well, others say it works in a minor way, and still others say it either did nothing for them, or even made their Restless Leg Syndrome much worse!
Trazodone For Opiate Withdrawal: Overview
Trazodone was originally discovered and developed in Italy in the 1960’s as a second-generation antidepressant.
After this discovery, trazodone was patented and marketed in many countries, and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981.
To explain the pharmacology of trazadone, as well as how it may treat the opiate withdrawal syndrome, I really like the description in an article titled: Opioid Withdrawal: A New Look at Medication Options.
Here is a direct quote from the article, which was co-authored by three individuals who all have a Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.):
Trazodone (Oleptro, others) is a triazolopyridine derivate that is used as an antidepressant. Trazodone acts as a 5-serotonin (HT)2 receptor antagonist at high doses and inhibits the reuptake of serotonin at the presynaptic membrane.
Trazodone also weakly inhibits alpha-2 adrenergic receptors and strongly inhibits postsynaptic alpha-1 receptors. Due to its ability to inhibit alpha-1 adrenergic receptors, we postulate that it has a role in opioid withdrawal. Interestingly, trazodone has been shown to bind to opioid receptors as well, but only at high concentrations.“
Trazodone is typically used in the treatment of:
- Anxiety disorder
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
Along with being an antidepressant, trazodone also has anti-anxiety and sleep-inducing effects. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the anxiolytic efficacy of trazodone was comparable to that of diazepam in weeks 3–8 of treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. Furthermore, trazodone is often used as an alternative to benzodiazepines for the treatment of insomnia.
Thus, using trazodone for opiate withdrawal may lead to the following effects:
- Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
- Hypnotic (sleep-inducing)
Trazodone For Opiate Withdrawal Studies
In a trazodone for opiate withdrawal study from 2003, trazodone was shown to significantly reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms in morphine-dependent mice.
Here is a direct quote from the study, in which “T” is used for trazodone, and “C” denotes clonidine:
The maximum daily dosage was 800 mg for T and 1.2 mg for C. The retention rate was similar in both groups (93.3%). Overall, T was as effective as C in the ROD protocol. T was slightly superior in controlling some subjective and psychological symptoms, but not under naltexone challenge. No severe adverse effects were observed. We conclude that T is effective, safe and well-tolerated in acute withdrawal from methadone.”
How To Use Trazodone For Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Before you decide to use trazadone for opiate withdrawal, there are some important things to know. With any medication, there are pros and cons associated with its use, and trazodone is no exception.
First of all, trazodone is an anticholinergic drug, and these types of drugs can cause or exacerbate Restless Leg Syndrome.
Furthermore, some people say the medication gives them nightmares while taking it for opiate withdrawal.
To safely use trazadone for opiate withdrawal symptoms, make sure you adhere to the following guidelines:
- Always use trazodone under the supervision of a doctor
- Make sure you thoroughly review the possible trazodone side effects and interactions
- For depression, the maximum outpatient dose of immediate-release tablets is 400 mg daily in divided doses, 600 mg in divided doses for inpatients
- For extended-release tablets, the maximum dose is 375 mg per day
- In the study mentioned earlier, a maximum daily dose of 800 mg (I’m assuming in divided doses even though it’s not stated) trazadone was used in the treatment of methadone withdrawal symptoms
- Due to varying levels of opioid dependence severity and biochemical uniqueness, some people may only need small amounts of trazodone, and some may need larger dosages
- Using trazodone long-term can result in dependence, and once that happens, the abrupt cessation of the drug can lead to a withdrawal syndrome
- Only use trazodone for a few days to a week to treat the most severe opiate withdrawal symptoms
Trazadone For Opiate Withdrawal: Key Concepts
Here is a summary of the main concepts regarding the use of trazadone for opiate withdrawal:
- Many people have benefited from the use of trazadone for opiate withdrawal symptoms
- Some individuals have had bad reactions while using trazadone for opiate withdrawal, such as RLS, nightmares, or other unpleasant symptoms
- Trazadone has been shown in multiple studies to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms
- It’s not the best medication available for treating the withdrawal syndrome, however, it can offer a lot of help for some individuals – especially when combined with other medications
For people that can’t use trazodone, or choose not to use medications for fear of side effects and/or addiction, there are natural alternatives that may help.
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If you have any questions or comments about the use of trazodone for opiate withdrawal, please post them in the comment box below.