Any time you are prescribed a new medication, it’s important to understand everything you can about the drug before beginning to take it. Many medications can have side effects as well as interactions with other drugs, so it’s imperative that you know what to avoid when taking certain medications.
Some prescribed drugs, as well as over-the-counter medications, cannot be taken with alcohol. One such medication is escitalopram, or Lexapro. This is a commonly prescribed medication for depression and other mental health disorders.
If you are currently taking Lexapro, it’s important to avoid drinking alcohol while on this medication. Doing so can potentially cause serious side effects, such as drowsiness and increased anxiety.
What Is Lexapro (Escitalopram)?
Lexapro, or escitalopram, is an antidepressant commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and depression. Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. SSRIs work on the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain to boost the mood and minimize feelings of anxiety.
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SSRIs are a very commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Before a physician prescribes a new medication, he or she will first evaluate the patient’s medical history and go over any potential side effects that the new drug may cause.
Before beginning any new medication, you will need to discuss any current drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines, as well as the activities you regularly participate in, such as drinking. This is because some medications can cause interactions with other drugs or alcohol that can be severe or even life-threatening.
Can You Mix Lexapro And Alcohol?
While there has not been substantial testing on the interactions of Lexapro and alcohol, it is still advised to not mix the two drugs. Both substances affect the brain, and any interactions that may occur can potentially be serious.
Any time you drink while taking Lexapro, you are taking a risk. If you do choose to drink alcohol while taking Lexapro, it’s important to first discuss this with your doctor and keep your drinking to a moderate level.
Dangers Of Mixing Lexapro And Alcohol
When mixing any two substances, there is always a danger of potential side effects. This is especially true when mixing an antidepressant like Lexapro and alcohol. While not everyone will experience side effects, it’s important to be familiar with the potential interactions that may occur.
Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro can cause a number of side effects and can worsen any side effects that may be caused by Lexapro on its own. For example, side effects like nausea, dry mouth, sleepiness, dizziness, diarrhea, and insomnia may become more severe when drinking.
Additionally, anxiety and depression can worsen when using alcohol and Lexapro together. This is because alcohol can lower the ability of Lexapro to treat the symptoms you are taking the drug for. As a result, it is best to avoid alcohol to ensure that Lexapro is working to its fullest potential.
Effects Of Mixing Lexapro And Alcohol
In addition to worsened side effects and decreased efficacy of Lexapro, there are additional risks when mixing Lexapro and alcohol.
Mixing these two substances can put you at an elevated risk for alcoholism. Many people who are taking Lexapro are experiencing depression. Depression can lead individuals to consume drugs or alcohol in an attempt to deal with the symptoms and negative feelings of this mental health disorder.
However, alcohol can lessen the ability of Lexapro to treat the symptoms of depression. This, in turn, can cause individuals to drink more to cope.
As a result of increased drinking in an attempt to deal with depression, other risks inevitably arise. One of these risks is liver damage as a result of increased consumption of alcohol. The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins such as alcohol, and when high amounts of the substance are consumed, the liver cannot keep up, causing alcohol to be stored in the liver and slowly deteriorate this important organ.
Combining Lexapro and alcohol can also increase your risk of suicidal thoughts. One side effect of Lexapro is the increased risk for suicide, especially in individuals younger than age 24. Because alcohol increases your risk for depression, mixing Lexapro and drinking can elevate your risk for suicide.
Side Effects Of Lexapro
Possible side effects of Lexapro include:
- upset stomach
- dry mouth
- increased appetite
- unusual sweating
These side effects, if they occur at all, tend to subside after the first few weeks of taking the drug. More serious side effects that are less common include lowered sex drive or diminished interest in sex, muscle stiffness, irregular heartbeat, fainting, fever, and panic attacks. While highly uncommon, if these symptoms arise, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
Long-Term Effects Of Mixing Alcohol And Lexapro
While there are no known long-term effects of mixing alcohol and Lexapro, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. Many of the short-term effects can worsen over time when combining alcohol and Lexapro.
Because Lexapro is a drug used for long-term treatment of anxiety and depression, it’s important to discuss drinking while on this medication with your doctor. Your physician may say that it is okay to consume alcohol on an occasional basis, or he or she may suggest that you avoid alcohol entirely while on this drug. Everyone’s situation is different, and it is imperative to follow the advice given by your physician.
Medically Supervised Detox Programs For Alcohol Abuse
Drinking alcohol excessively for an extended period of time puts you at high risk for alcohol use disorder. If you are suffering from alcohol addiction, a medically supervised detox program is the first step to recovery.
While detoxing from alcohol alone is certainly possible, it’s not recommended, especially if you have a high physical dependence on the substance. Withdrawing from alcohol can not only be incredibly uncomfortable but can lead to severe symptoms that can be dangerous or even life-threatening.
A medically supervised detox program offers the medical support needed to ensure that you withdraw from alcohol as safely and comfortably as possible. Detox programs can last anywhere from one to 10 days and are generally offered in a medical environment, such as a hospital or treatment facility.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start as soon two hours after your last drink and can last for days or even weeks depending on your physical dependence on the substance. Mild symptoms include shaky hands, nausea, excessive sweating, trouble sleeping, and vomiting.
Individuals with higher physical dependence are also at risk for more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms can include hallucinations or seizures, both of which require immediate medical attention.
Additionally, if physical dependence is severe enough, individuals may even experience delirium tremens, commonly referred to as DTs. Delirium tremens can begin as soon as two to three days after the last drink and can be life-threatening. Symptoms of this condition include shaking, confusion, hallucinations, and high blood pressure. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Medications For Alcohol Withdrawal
Some treatment facilities and detox programs will administer medications to help the detoxification process as easy as possible. One of the most popular drugs used in the treatment of an alcohol use disorder is naltrexone, which has the brand name of Vivitrol. This medication is often administered intramuscularly once a month and works by stopping the action of alcohol on the body and brain. This helps patients by reducing cravings for alcohol and helping to prevent relapse.
Inpatient Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Once a detox program has been completed successfully, the next step is to enter a treatment program for alcohol abuse and addiction. Inpatient rehab programs are one of the most commonly suggested forms of treatment for an alcohol use disorder. These programs provide a high level of structure and intensive therapy on a daily basis.
Inpatient rehab programs require patients to reside in the treatment for an extended period of time, usually between 30 and 60 days. Each rehab facility will be different, but most tend to focus on a particular form of treatment and integrate other therapies to provide a comprehensive approach to recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Some treatment facilities incorporate medication-assisted treatment (MAT) into their overall plan of recovery. Some of the most commonly used medications in the treatment of alcoholism include naltrexone (Vivitrol, ReVia), disulfiram (Antabuse), and acamprosate calcium (Campral).
Vivitrol works by preventing alcohol to cause a euphoric effect in the mind and body, helping to reduce alcohol cravings. Campral is a drug that helps to reduce physical and emotional distress once the alcohol has left the system. Antabuse works by causing individuals to become ill if alcohol is ingested, helping to prevent relapse.
Outpatient Treatment For Alcohol Dependence
If you have a more mild form of alcohol use disorder or are unable to get away from daily responsibilities such as work or school for an extended period of time, another treatment option is outpatient alcohol rehab. These programs are still intensive but do not require patients to live at the facility and allow individuals to continue to go to work or school while receiving treatment.