Author: Charles Frank

Antidepressants and Alcohol Interactions

antidepressants and alcohol

They are typically used to help treat depression, and can also be effective for other conditions like anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, certain phobias and even premenstrual dysphoric disorder. They work by increasing the levels of the brain chemical serotonin — which is thought to influence your mood and emotions, among other things — by blocking its removal after it carries messages in the brain. For many health care providers who treat anxiety and depression, the concern about whether it’s safe — or even advised — to drink alcohol while taking an antidepressant is a common one. “Patients tell me all the time, ‘I’m going to be drinking with friends tonight, so I skipped a dose,’” said Dr. Sarah Ramsay Andrews, a psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. If you suffer from either alcohol use or addiction, it is imperative that you inform your medical practitioner of the quantity and frequency of your drinking.

antidepressants and alcohol

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. Some liquid medications, such as cough syrups or NyQuil, may also contain alcohol. It’s important to let your doctor know if you experience any side effects, so they can adjust your dosage or prescribe a different medication more agreeable with your system. Free standard shipping is valid on orders of $45 or more (after promotions and discounts are applied, regular shipping rates do not qualify as part of the $45 or more) shipped to US addresses only.

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When MAOIs are combined with alcoholic beverages high in tyramine, serious heart-related effects, such as dangerous high blood pressure (called a hypertensive crisis), may occur. Many foods may be high in tyramine as well, like such as aged cheeses and cured meats. Besides, she added, how safe it is to drink while on antidepressants depends on the kind of antidepressant you’re taking — and for most people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or S.S.R.I.s), an occasional drink likely won’t do much harm. Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed psychoactive substances in the U.S.

Given the prevalence of both antidepressants and alcohol use, it’s not surprising that the two often collide. Once the patient has successfully detoxed, they and their family are able to select the type of addiction treatment program in which to enroll. The easiest way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up your own personal medication records. As a result, when evaluating patients for depression, clinicians must also assess for co-morbid substance use that could be either causing or contributing to the depressive episode.

Some are more serious than others, and individuals may be affected differently by the type of antidepressant they are taking. provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include Micromedex (updated 3 Mar 2024), Cerner Multum™ (updated 4 Mar 2024), ASHP (updated 12 Feb 2024) and others. During and within two weeks after treatment with MAOIs, you must NOT consume any foods or beverages that are high in tyramine content.

Can You Mix Antidepressants And Alcohol?

Detox should not be considered as a replacement for comprehensive rehabilitation, but it remains an indispensable step during early recovery efforts. Medical detox entails a set of interventions designed to help you wean off alcohol gradually and safely to minimize the risk of harm and unpleasant or even dangerous side effects. But unlike many other medications used to treat mood disorders — like the anxiety medication alprazolam (Xanax) or the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline (Elavil) — S.S.R.I.s are less likely to interact with alcohol than other kinds of drugs, Dr. Glance said.

Alcohol is tricky that way—because of its nature, it sucks you in by releasing dopamine into your brain, making you think it’s making you happy—a state of mind that is fleeting. In addition, it changes your chemistry in other ways, altering the levels of critical neurotransmitters in your brain. It suppresses the excitatory neurotransmitters that are responsible for keeping your brain active and energetic, and instead increases the amounts of inhibitory neurotransmitters that create a sedative effect. After drinking consistently over a long period of time, it no longer has the same effect.

  1. If you have questions about antidepressants and alcohol, or seeking treatment for alcohol dependence and addiction, contact one of our specialists today.
  2. You should avoid activities that requiring mental alertness such as driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the antidepressant affects you.
  3. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information.
  4. In addition to substance abuse counseling and treatment programs, there are many support groups including Alcoholics Anonymous and newer, online communities.
  5. People may use alcohol because it initially makes them feel good, however, it is actually tricking you into thinking that it will continuously bolster your mood.

Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal and should always be monitored in a medical setting. This ensures that the patient is kept stable as they pass through the withdrawal stage. Medical detox services can provide a safe and secure environment in which to detox from alcohol before the patient begins their recovery treatment.

Neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressants include serotonin, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) or norepinephrine. Given this array of risk factors, psychiatrists are likely to encourage their patients to minimize or completely abstain from alcohol use. It gives the brain less hurdles to clear in terms of alcohol’s depressant qualities, and it gives the body a break in terms of dealing with more frequent and intense side effects than needed.

More than 20 million Americans struggle with substance use, and 7.9 million people have both substance use issues and mental health diagnoses. There is help available, in the form of detox services, medication-assisted treatment, and dual diagnosis care. Don’t stop taking an antidepressant or other medication just so that you can drink. Most antidepressants require taking a consistent, daily dose to maintain a constant level in your system and work as intended. Antidepressants work by altering levels of neurotransmitters in the brain to cause an enhanced effect on depressed mood and symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia (sleep problems), and suicidal thoughts.

Should You Drink While Taking Antidepressants?

In many cases, one of the more tangible ways to support your mental health and reduce the likelihood of increased mental and physical health issues is to address the alcohol abuse problem and stop drinking all together. However, this should also be discussed in detail with your doctor or other treatment professional, as abruptly quitting drinking can result in a dangerous withdrawal syndrome in some individuals. People with depression are at increased risk of substance abuse and addiction.

Not only does it makes sense for people to minimize complications during the course of antidepressant treatment but also while trying to recover from depression overall. Removing alcohol from the picture increases the opportunities for brain and body to function optimally. Mixing any type of drug with alcohol can be dangerous, mixing antidepressants with alcohol is no different—this combination is more severe than numerous others, and can have a number of risks— it has even proven to be fatal in certain circumstances. When mixed with alcohol, antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can create a dangerous reaction, causing a person’s blood pressure to rise to hazardous levels. Alcohol is a powerful drug, and any time it’s combined with another substance, the depressant effects are amplified.

Each of these treatment types should offer thoughtful and effective dual diagnosis care and medication-assisted treatment, in order to provide those suffering from co-occurring disorders with the quality treatment they deserve. When individuals regularly mix alcohol with antidepressants, it can not only have an adverse effect on the treatment of their depression, but can be a sign of alcohol use and addiction. When it comes to mixing alcohol with antidepressants, several risky side effects can occur.

If you’re concerned about your alcohol use, you may benefit from substance abuse counseling and treatment programs that can help you overcome your misuse of alcohol. Joining a support group or a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous may help. If you’re ready to seek treatment for alcoholism, American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help. is a subsidiary of AAC which is a nationwide provider of rehab centers. If you’re at low risk of addiction to alcohol, it may be OK to have an occasional drink, depending on your particular situation, but talk with your health care provider. For many people, the first step in quitting alcohol abuse is to enter medical detox.

And never abruptly stop taking an antidepressant unless directed to do so by your doctor. Concurrent use with alcohol can also cause some antidepressants to be metabolized more extensively and become less clinically effective than usual. Although the immediate effects of alcohol tend to be pleasurable and relaxing, the eventual pharmacological action of alcohol is to depress neural activity in the brain. This may seem surprising given the association between alcohol and its initial effects of disinhibition, “buzz,” and fun. The depressant effect is not readily apparent at first, which can make it difficult to see the full impact alcohol has on mood. When someone who is already struggling with depression turns to alcohol, they are putting themselves at an even greater risk, and further deepening the impact of this debilitating mental disorder.

In such cases, the impact of alcohol on depression becomes even more significant and may warrant its own specific treatment focus. If you are on a prescription antidepressant and have questions about alcohol use, make sure to discuss these with your physician. Many people who drink while taking antidepressants may be unaware of the possible side effects and the increased risk of developing an alcohol dependency. It’s also worth noting that alcohol is considered a depressant, and should be used with extreme caution—especially by those with mood disorders like depression. Using alcohol by itself can exacerbate the naturally occurring symptoms of depression and lead to unintended harm.