Exploring a Link Between Sleep Medication and Alcoholism Relapse

Posted on January 10th, 2012
Posted in Articles

Those who complete an alcohol rehab treatment program often find that the most challenging part of recovery lies ahead of them. While addiction treatment can provide a pseudo-normalcy to train for real-life situations, many recovering addicts face difficulties when dealing with the emotional and social connections to alcohol. Entering a real-life scenario that a recovering alcoholic associates with past behaviors can lead to a frustrating relapse.

Because relapse is so common for those with addictions, it is important to understand every possible hurdle that might be in the way of recovery. In a previous study, a possible link was found between the sleep aid medication Trazodone and an increased level of relapse among recovering alcoholics.

Seeking to determine whether there was evidence for a link between Trazodone and relapse, researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined whether the drug may be causing problems for those trying to overcome an alcohol addiction. Bhanu Kolla, M.B.B.S., of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Mayo Clinic, led a research team that analyzed the possible connection.

Marketed under the names of Desyrel and Oleptro, Trazodone is often prescribed for sleep problems. While disruptive sleep can also create challenges for a recovering alcoholic, the researchers wanted to be sure that the medication was not causing undue stress for those trying to avoid relapse.

The researchers recruited participants who had recently finished an alcohol treatment program. All of the participants had been enrolled in a residential program. Each participant was interviewed to determine a possible correlation between taking Trazodone at the time that the participant finished their residential treatment program and a relapse occurring within a six-month time period.

When interviewing the participants, the researchers also gathered information that might also impact both sleep issues and possible relapse, such as drug dependence, mental disorders and gender. These factors were examined and taken into consideration when the analysis was conducted.

The researchers included a total of 283 patients in their initial sample, and 170 of those recruited participated in the follow-up period. Of the 170 participants, 85 were prescribed and taking Trazodone when treatment was completed. Many of the participants taking Trazodone had also been given a psychiatric diagnosis or were considered to be of an advanced age.

The study’s findings, published in the American Journal of Addiction, found that there was no connection between Trazodone use and relapse following the completion of an alcohol treatment program.

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