Prescription drug abuse is a massive problem in the United States. Considering the opioid epidemic the nation is currently in, more and more people are struggling with addiction to prescription drugs like oxycodone and illicit drugs like heroin. Prazosin drug abuse is also a concern, as it is a prescription drug that’s been on the market since 1988. Although it’s effective in treating symptoms associated with mental illness, in this piece, we’re diving into its side effects and possible potential for abuse.
What is Prazosin Drug?
Prazosin drug is cataloged in a class of medications called alpha-blockers, and it is used alone or in combination with other medicines to treat high blood pressure. Other names for prazosin include Minipress, Prazin, and Prazo. They have also found the prazosin drug useful in managing nightmares and other sleep-related issues caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a mental illness caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, sexual abuse, a nasty accident, war or combat, death threats, or serious injury. PTSD is common in war veterans and can trigger sleep disturbances caused by reliving traumatic experiences in thoughts and nightmares. Many individuals with PTSD have turned to prazosin as an alternative to other sleep aids and sedatives that have a higher potential for abuse and addiction. However, while prazosin can be considered a safer alternative, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe.
While the specific prazosin drug abuse potential is unclear, it’s crucial to use caution when taking any medication. Those who have become addicted to either prescription drugs like oxycodone or illicit drugs like heroin can get help at our facility. We offer medically monitored detox at We Level Up California for various types of substances that allow patients to recover from withdrawal symptoms safely.
How Does Prazosin Drug Work?
Prazosin drug works by relaxing blood vessels so that blood can flow more efficiently throughout the body. These effects make it an ideal medication for individuals with high blood pressure, which could otherwise cause complications like damage to the brain, heart, blood vessels, and kidney when left untreated. Additionally, prazosin drug is thought to promote better sleep in people with PTSD by blocking the alpha-1 receptor for norepinephrine, which is a chemical that boosts the body’s reaction to stimuli.
However, this drug is most responsive in select patients with high blood pressure in various studies. One 2016 study found that patients with PTSD and high blood pressure saw more sleep-related results than those with low blood pressure. High blood pressure could be a proxy for prazosin drug efficacy, limiting the number of patients and its ability to help. 
Precautions that should be followed Before taking prazosin drug
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to prazosin, alfuzosin (Uroxatral), doxazosin (Cardura), terazosin, any other medications, or any ingredients in prazosin drug capsules. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention: beta-blockers such as propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran, in Inderide); medications for erectile dysfunction (ED) such as sildenafil (Revatio, Viagra), tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn); and other medications for high blood pressure.
- Tell your doctor if you have narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that may cause extreme sleepiness, sudden uncontrollable urge to sleep during daily activities) or if you have or have ever had prostate cancer or liver disease.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking prazosin, call your doctor.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking prazosin. If you need to have eye surgery at any time during or after your treatment, be sure to tell your doctor that you are taking or have taken prazosin.
- You should know that this medication may make you drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive a car, operate machinery, or perform dangerous tasks for 24 hours after the first time you take prazosin drug or after your dose is increased.
- Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages while you are taking prazosin. Alcohol can make the side effects from prazosin worse.
- You should know that prazosin may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking prazosin, when your dose is increased, or when another blood pressure medication is added to your treatment. To help avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up. If you experience these symptoms, sit or lie down. These symptoms may also occur if you drink alcohol, stand for long periods of time, exercise, or if the weather is hot. If these symptoms do not improve, call your doctor.
- Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking prazosin if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take prazosin to treat high blood pressure, because it is not as safe or effective as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition. 
Prazosin Drug side effects
Although prazosin drug has effectively treated sleep problems related to PTSD, it’s still prescribed “off-label” for conditions. Off-label refers to using a drug for conditions that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  For prazosin, off-label uses include an enlarged prostate, congestive heart failure, Raynaud’s disease, and PTSD-related sleep problems. Prazosin may not be as life-threatening as other drugs of abuse like benzodiazepines, opioids, heroin, cocaine, and meth, but this drug is still capable of producing adverse side effects.
Prazosin side effects include:
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Difficulties breathing
- Chest pains
Prazosin abuse is possible and is characterized by using more than the dose prescribed to you. Prazosin users are just as much at risk of suffering from adverse side effects when misusing this medication as they are when using any other drug. Liver disease and different types of damage to the organs and workings of the body can result from misusing any medication. Always be cautious when taking any medications that have been prescribed to you, and avoid taking ones that are not.
Dangers of Prazosin Drug abuse & addiction
Prazosin drug use isn’t life-threatening in the way that more potent substances like opioids and stimulants are. However, it is capable of producing concerning effects. For one, upon first use, prazosin can cause someone to experience dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting if they get up too quickly from a lying-down position after taking the medication. Also, prazosin can make users drowsy to the point where driving a car or operating machinery becomes a dangerous endeavor.
Prazosin drug does not pose the addiction potential of sedative medications such as zolpidem (Ambien), temazepam (Restoril), and zaleplon (Sonata). Still, if enough of this medication is taken, it can produce a psychotropic effect. That result is enough to cause users to exceed their dosage to chase the effect that a previous dose yielded.
What’s more, any substance can produce dependence in a user, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines as a state in which the body only functions normally when a substance is present. Tolerance and dependence can quickly decline into addiction when someone exhibits compulsive behaviors in seeking the drug. Prazosin is no different. 
Signs of substance use disorder
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), there are 11 criteria for drug addiction that help clinicians diagnose addiction disorders. If someone shows at least two of these symptoms over 12 months, they may have a substance use disorder:
- Taking more of the drug than intended, for a longer period than intended
- A persistent desire to stop taking drugs or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit taking drugs
- A lot of time spent trying to get drugs, abuse them, and/or recover from their effects
- Intense cravings or urges for specific drugs
- Failing to go to work or school, or to meet obligations to friends and family because of drug abuse
- Ongoing drug abuse despite the physical, mental, emotional, or social problems associated with the abuse
- Giving up hobbies or activities to abuse drugs
- Ongoing abuse of drugs in inappropriate situations, like using them in the morning before work, driving while intoxicated, or abusing drugs around children
- Experiencing physical or psychological problems due to substance abuse but continuing to abuse drugs anyway
- Physical tolerance, meaning the body needs more of the drug to experience the original level of intoxication
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when trying to quit the drug
If you have been prescribed Minipress or generic prazosin and have exhibited any of the aforementioned addiction symptoms, then you must seek professional addiction treatment. This is especially true if you have abused prazosin with alcohol and other drugs.
Prazosin Drug Treatment
If you are abusing prazosin with alcohol or other drugs, the consequences can be more pronounced, if not life-threatening. In those cases, the most effective treatment plan will require medical detoxification and residential treatment. In detox, the substances will be removed from your system while any withdrawal symptoms, effects, or medical issues are addressed and alleviated.
Residential treatment will offer you ongoing care at a treatment facility, where you will live for a specific period. At this level, you will receive therapy and counseling that help you get to the root of your addiction. In cases of polysubstance abuse, a 90-day stay in residential treatment is recommended.
Because prazosin drug is a psychotropic addiction, it is still capable of producing psychological addiction. That’s why outpatient treatment via an intensive outpatient (IOP) or partial hospitalization (PHP) program is an effective solution.
Any of these tracts will allow you access to evidence-based therapies while giving you the freedom and flexibility to attend to your life obligations. Ultimately, professional treatment is your safest means of avoiding the consequences that come with recreational prazosin use.
Reclaim your life from Prazosin Drug abuse & addiction
At We Level Up California, we offer a medically monitored detox that helps wean patients off of drugs and alcohol while addressing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Prazosin drug addiction is a condition that can cause major health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from Prazosin drug addiction with professional and safe treatment including medically assisted detox programs. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 National Library of Medicine – Raskind MA, Millard SP, Petrie EC, Peterson K, Williams T, Hoff DJ, Hart K, Holmes H, Hill J, Daniels C, Hendrickson R, Peskind ER. Higher Pretreatment Blood Pressure Is Associated With Greater Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Reduction in Soldiers Treated With Prazosin. Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 15;80(10):736-742. (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)