According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 15 million Americans are struggling with an alcohol use disorder. It is worth noting that many of these same individuals are consuming alcohol, often to the point of intoxication, while taking prescription-based medication, namely antidepressants. To say this is a bad idea would be a gross understatement. By itself, alcohol abuse has led to a considerable uptick in hospital emergency room visits in America. And when prescription medications, such as antidepressants, are factored into the equation, the number of ER visits can quickly skyrocket.
To further put this into context, we need only look at a study published by the Washington Times, which revealed that alcohol-related hospital emergency room visits climbed from 3 million in 2006 to an astonishing 5 million in 2014. As far as antidepressants are concerned, these medications by themselves contributed to more than 89,000 ER visits in 2011, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. All in all, it is not too difficult to see how taking these substances together could lead to even more visits to America’s emergency rooms.
WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID COMBINING ALCOHOL WITH ANTIDEPRESSANTS
When it comes to alcohol and antidepressants, both of these substances can have a profound impact on the body, especially if large amounts of either are consumed. For example, when taken in excess, Zoloft, which is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications, can cause the following side effects:
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feelings of nervousness
- Sexual dysfunction
- Stomach upset
Studies show that these symptoms can become even more intense when Zoloft is combined with alcohol and, in some cases, may require hospitalization. It is also worth noting that Zoloft can intensify the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Even without Zoloft being in the picture, excessive alcohol consumption can trigger and potentially worsen the following symptoms:
- Profuse sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety and depression
WHAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT ANTIDEPRESSANTS
Along with Zoloft, which is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, there are several other antidepressant medications that should be avoided when consuming alcohol, including
Monoamine-oxidase Inhibitors – Commonly referred to as MAOIs, monoamine-oxidase inhibitors include Nardil, Marplan, Zelapar, and many others. In short, the antidepressant medications in this class can trigger numerous side effects when combined with tyramine, which is a substance found in certain beers and wines. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, combining tyramine and MAOIs can increase blood pressure and cause serious complications, including chest pain, heart attack, and stroke. All in all, if you encounter any of these symptoms as a result of taking MAOIs while consuming alcohol, you should call 911 and be seen by a physician as soon as possible.
Tricyclic antidepressants – This class of antidepressant medications consists of amitriptyline, nortriptyline, imipramine, and several others. Studies show that combining tricyclic antidepressants with alcohol can trigger extreme drowsiness. This combination can also cause individuals to feel exceedingly uncoordinated. For these reasons, it is best to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery if you have taken these substances together. In doing so, you will lower your chance of being involved in a fatal accident or one that requires hospitalization.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – In addition to Zoloft, some of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also known as SSRIs, commonly prescribed to treat depression include Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Luvox. All of these medications can increase the intoxicating effects of alcohol and also worsen the side effects associated with taking antidepressants. Furthermore, similar to tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs can cause extreme drowsiness and lack of coordination when taken with alcohol, both of which can increase the chances of suffering a fatal injury or a serious accident that requires hospitalization.
In summation, combining antidepressants with alcohol is the same as engaging in any other form of polydrug use, insomuch that both can lead to injuries and cause numerous health complications. That said if you believe that you have a problem with alcohol, antidepressants, or both, give us a phone call today at 302-842-2390, or stop by our center to find out more.