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Dangers of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol
Mixing alcohol with any drug is dangerous, but the combination of Prozac and alcohol can be very risky.
There is a reason why the insert in the package of Prozac and other antidepressants warns against drinking alcohol. Not only can the alcohol disrupt Prozac’s effectiveness, but alcohol itself is a depressant. Someone struggling with depression, who needs the Prozac to work as intended, will find that alcohol can block its effects.
What is Prozac?
Prozac (fluoxetine) is an SSRI antidepressant used for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Prozac first entered the market in the 1990s and has been widely prescribed for depression ever since.
Prozac works by changing the way serotonin is processed. It increases the level of serotonin in the brain, while also blocking its reuptake. This allows for more serotonin to be available along neural pathways, which then reduces symptoms of depression. Prozac is also used for other mental health disorders, like anxiety and bipolar disorder.
The NIMH reports that about 21 million U.S. adults have suffered from at least one depressive episode. The exact cause of depression remains a mystery, but some risk factors have been noted. These include:
- Brain chemistry imbalance.
- Health condition.
- Past trauma.
- Series of adverse life events.
The nine main symptoms of depression include:
- Sadness, despair, hopelessness.
- Loss of desire to participate in usual activities.
- Change in appetite; weight loss or gain.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- Slowed motor and thinking.
- Feelings of shame or guilt.
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Clinical depression exists when there are five or more symptoms present.
What Happens When You Mix Prozac and Alcohol?
Alcohol should be avoided when taking any prescription drug. When on Prozac, the alcohol can cause adverse interactions with this drug. It can cause the side effects of the antidepressant to intensify, and vice versa. This means that using both together could cause excessive drowsiness and physical impairment.
Adverse effects of mixing Prozac and alcohol might include:
- Trouble thinking; impaired judgment.
- Sudden fatigue and weakness.
- The trouble with hearing and vision.
- Decreased motor skills; loss of coordination.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Prozac is broken down in the liver, also the same organ that is needed for metabolizing alcohol. The presence of both Prozac and alcohol can overwhelm the liver and result in toxicity.
Alcohol Use Disorder and Depression as Dual Diagnosis
When someone is struggling with depression and undiagnosed alcohol use disorder (AUD) they may put themselves at risk. They may not fully grasp the risk of adverse effects caused by drinking while taking Prozac.
With a dual diagnosis like depression and alcoholism, there is a heightened risk for suicide. In fact, a high percentage of suicides involve people who struggle with alcoholism. The alcohol lowers their inhibitions and judgment, which could allow them to act on their impulses when feeling very depressed. These effects are magnified when someone drinks while on Prozac.
How Do You Know You Have an Alcohol Problem?
Alcohol use disorder is staged as mild, moderate, or severe. Review these questions and score how many you answered “yes” to. Saying yes to 2-3 questions is a mild AUD, 4-5 questions is moderate, and 6 or more is severe.
- Do you avoid friends and family while drinking, preferring to drink alone?
- Do you consume higher quantities of alcohol as time goes on?
- Do you drink in response to stress, sadness, anger, or disappointment?
- Do you have hand tremors in the morning?
- Do you forget things you said or did the night before?
- Do you have a financial, legal, career, or family problems due to drinking?
- Does your doctor advise you to cut down on alcohol?
- Do you lie about how much alcohol you drink?
- Are you preoccupied during the day with drinking or craving alcohol?
- Do you get drunk several days in a row?
It is crucial to address an AUD prior to going on Prozac for treatment of depression.
Seeking Treatment for Depression and Alcoholism
If you are using Prozac and alcohol together, and cannot seem to stop drinking, you may have a dual diagnosis. There is expert treatment available to help you manage both disorders. This means that along with the addiction treatment there will also be a psychiatric component to the treatment plan.
DETOX: Recovery begins with safe, supervised detox and withdrawal before starting active treatment. Alcohol withdrawal must be closely monitored, as there may be severe symptoms that are difficult to foresee. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Increased heart rate.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Mental confusion.
TREATMENT: To overcome the alcohol addiction you must learn new coping techniques to use in response to cravings and triggers. To do this, a series of treatment elements are prescribed at rehab, each helping you to make these changes. Over time, these new thought patterns and behavior changes become habits. Treatment includes:
- Psychotherapy: Therapy is an essential treatment element for both disorders. The therapist will guide you to examine sources of emotional pain that may factor into both disorders. Also, CBT is used to shift negative thinking toward positive, as well as teach new coping skills.
- Group counseling. Group therapy promotes peer support and is a source for sharing and bonding in treatment.
- Medication. The Prozac dosing may be adjusted or changed to another SSRI if it is not working.
- Relapse prevention: A detailed relapse prevention plan is developed with a list of your specific triggers that could lead to relapse.
- Holistic. Both depression and AUD can be helped through the practice of holistic methods. These include mindfulness, acupuncture, massage, yoga, and equine therapy.
If you are mixing Prozac and alcohol you are in need of a specialized dual diagnosis treatment program. Reach out today.
Elevation Behavioral Health Premier Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health offers a private residential setting for treatment. If you need help overcoming a substance problem such as Prozac and alcohol abuse, we can help. Give us a call today at (888) 561-0868.