Does trazodone contain alcohol? (+3 risks)

In this article, we will discuss whether trazodone contains alcohol. We will also discuss ingredients commonly used to make trazodone formulations and other related information. 

Does trazodone contain alcohol?

No, trazodone does not contain alcohol. Different medications may contain alcohol as an excipient but trazodone does not contain alcohol. Alcohol is primarily used as a solvent in liquid formulations but not every medication contains alcohol. 

Trazodone is classified as a serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitor (SARI), and antidepressant and is primarily used to manage major depressive disorder (MDD). Due to its ability to cause sedation, it is also used as a hypnotic (1). 

Trazodone comes in solid and liquid dosage forms. It can be formulated as a tablet, capsule, and oral and injection solution (1). Different excipients are used to make these formulations but alcohol is not one of them. 

Why is alcohol used as an excipient? 

Excipients are ingredients added to a pharmaceutical preparation along with the active ingredient. They serve different purposes and aid the manufacturing process. They are important for the formulation but have no therapeutic effects.

Different excipients are used while preparing a medication in solid or liquid form. They can be used as a filler, binder, lubricant, disintegrant, or coating and coloring agent. 

One of the commonly used excipients in pharmaceutical formulations is alcohol. Ethanol is the commonly used alcohol as an excipient which may be used for the following reasons:

Solvent: Alcohol can be used as a solvent in formulations. It allows the active and inactive ingredients to dissolve and facilitate the creation of liquid formulations. 

Preservative: Alcohol also serves as a preservative in liquid formulations because it is an antimicrobial and has bactericidal and fungicidal activity. 

Penetration enhancer: Alcohol is frequently used in topical products meant for skin like sprays, gels, and creams. Alcohol alters the permeability of the skin and improves the absorption of the medication. 

Although alcohol has many uses as an excipient, it is not used in trazodone formulation. 

What does trazodone formulation contain? 

Commonly used trazodone formulations include trazodone tablets and oral solutions. They contain trazodone as the active ingredient, the hydrochloride salt form known as trazodone hydrochloride. 

Trazodone tablets come in the strengths of 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, and 300mg. The ingredients used in trazodone hydrochloride tablets as listed by the manufacturer include (2): 

  • corn starch
  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • lactose monohydrate
  • dibasic calcium phosphate
  • magnesium stearate
  • hypromellose
  • polyethylene glycol 
  • povidone
  • pregelatinized starch

Trazodone oral solution contains 10-20mg of trazodone every ml. The ingredients used in trazodone hydrochloride oral solution as listed by the manufacturers include (3):

  • benzoic acid
  • sodium saccharin
  • glycerol
  • sodium hydroxide
  • sorbitol liquid
  • purified

It is important to remember that the ingredients in the trazodone formulations may vary according to the manufacturer. However, alcohol is not used in the formulation of trazodone. 

What are the risks of mixing trazodone and alcohol?

Alcohol is not used in formulating trazodone because trazodone and alcohol interact with each other and alcohol can enhance the effects of trazodone. This is why individuals are advised to not drink alcohol while taking trazodone. 

Enhanced sedation: 

Trazodone has sedative properties as it functions as an antagonist of some serotonin, histamine (H1), and alpha-1 adrenergic receptors. Due to its ability to cause sedation, it is used to treat insomnia and sleep apnea

Research indicates that alcohol can amplify the effects of medications that act on the central nervous system. Mixing alcohol with trazodone enhances the sedative effects and may make it difficult to wake up (4). 

Enhanced drowsiness:

Due to the sedative effects, trazodone frequently results in drowsiness as a side effect. High doses of trazodone result in daytime drowsiness which impairs daily functioning. 

Studies have shown that alcohol when mixed with medications that cause drowsiness, amplifies this side effect (4). Thus, mixing alcohol with trazodone will increase the risk of drowsiness. 

Increased cognitive and motor impairment: 

Due to the sedative effects of trazodone, it results in drowsiness and decreases alertness. It can also impair the ability to think and perform physical tasks. Thus, trazodone can cause cognitive and motor impairment (2). 

Mixing alcohol with trazodone enhances the side effects of cognitive and motor impairment (2). 

Thus, alcohol is not used in making trazodone formulations because it can enhance its action on the central nervous system. Due to this reason, drinking alcohol while taking trazodone should be avoided. 

What are some pharmaceutical preparations that may contain alcohol?

Alcohol as an excipient is used in several pharmaceutical preparations. They include: 

  • cough syrups
  • antiseptics
  • gels
  • cold medications
  • disinfectants
  • liquid antibiotics
  • lotions
  • creams

As per my understanding, trazodone does not contain alcohol. Alcohol is used as an excipient in different pharmaceutical preparations but trazodone does not contain alcohol. 

Trazodone tablets and oral solutions have different ingredients as guided by the manufacturer. Alcohol is not used in making trazodone formulations because it can interact with trazodone. 

Alcohol interacts with trazodone and results in enhanced sedation, drowsiness, and cognitive and motor impairment. Therefore, alcohol is not used in making trazodone formulations and individuals taking trazodone should avoid drinking alcohol. 

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