Trazodone is a prescription tetracyclic antidepressant that is not a narcotic (opioid) or classified as a controlled substance, but its use does come with some risks. It has some relatively minor potential for abuse, and the risk is not as high as many other psychoactive substances.
Narcotics are a class of drugs also known as opioids that include medications that can be obtained by prescription (e.g., oxycodone and hydrocodone) and illicit drugs (e.g., heroin) sold on the black market. Most narcotics have a relatively high potential for dependence and addiction.
Trazodone is not thought to be an addictive substance, and, as noted, it is not classified as a narcotic. The drug is most commonly known as an antidepressant, but it also has hypnotic (sleep-inducing) properties. It can be prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety disorder, though it’s mainly used to treat depressive disorders.
Trazodone affects the brain’s neurochemicals, including histamine, adrenaline, and serotonin. It’s believed that an imbalance in these chemicals is among the primary instigators of depression. Trazodone works to prevent serotonin’s uptake by the brain, thereby allowing for more serotonin to be available.
Along with the treatment of depression, trazodone has effects that improve mood, increase energy levels, and boost appetite. Also, there are other off-label uses of trazodone not officially indicated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). These include the treatment of agitation, aggressive behavior, and insomnia associated with dementia.
Is Trazodone a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is an illicit or prescription drug that has the potential for abuse and addiction. Controlled substances have the potential to adversely affect the person using them, so the federal government regulates them. If an individual is apprehended with a controlled substance without a prescription, they can face many legal consequences.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, various drugs belong to different categories. For instance, Schedule I controlled substances have no accepted medical use, have a high potential for abuse, and are considered unsafe to use under any circumstance. Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Despite the mass decriminalization of marijuana in many states, it also remains a Schedule I substance on the federal level.
Schedule II drugs are considered to have a relatively high potential for abuse and have some legitimate medical purposes. The schedule categories that follow gradually decrease in risk—although there is much debate on whether the scheduling system is accurate. For example, whereas marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, benzodiazepines, which have statistically shown to have a high potential for abuse and dependence, are in class IV.
In any case, if these substances are prescribed to an individual and purchases them legally, there is no law against their use. If used without a prescription as a product of drug diversion, these substances are not considered safe, and a person who does so may be subject to prosecution.
Trazodone is not an opioid or classified as a controlled substance in the U.S., but there are still some risks involved. Individuals should always be cautious with its use and follow instructions as directed by their prescribing health provider.
Trazodone’s Drug Class
Trazodone is an antidepressant—more specifically, it is classified as an atypical antidepressant and a serotonin modulator, meaning that it’s not structurally related to other commonly prescribed classes of antidepressants, SSRIs, TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants), or MAO inhibitors.
A serotonin modulator is a substance that acts on serotonin neurochemicals in several different ways. These drugs were developed to address the fact that there are several different serotonin receptor subtypes, and not all receptors are involved in SSRI effects.
Although trazodone has the potential to help with insomnia and sleep disturbances, it doesn’t affect brain functionality or cognition. This is unlike other drugs that are commonly used to help with sleep, such as benzodiazepines.
Anecdotal reports have suggested that high doses of trazodone may induce hallucinations, and there are very severe risks associated with taking excessive amounts of the drug. Moreover, there are dangers associated with abusing the drug for recreational purposes.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer individualized addiction treatment programs in both partial hospitalization and residential formats. Our programs feature a variety of services and activities clinically-proven to be beneficial for the recovery process, including behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, substance abuse education, relapse prevention, art and music therapy, aftercare planning, and more.