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Alcohol and Medications

Paxil and Alcohol: Is It Safe To Mix?

Published:
June 7, 2024
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12 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 7, 2024
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12 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 7, 2024
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
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Reframe Content Team
June 7, 2024
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12 min read

Boosting Paxil’s Mood-Boosting Powers

  • Paxil is a common antidepressant medication. Alcohol can make Paxil less effective at treating mental health and can actually make symptoms worse.
  • To give the medication a chance, it’s best to avoid mixing alcohol and Paxil.
  • The Reframe app can help you identify alternatives to alcohol that will help boost your mood and overall well-being.

We’ve all experienced challenging times in life when we may need the help of an antidepressant such as Paxil, a drug commonly prescribed for anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other mood-related conditions. If you’ve recently been prescribed Paxil or another antidepressant, you may be wondering whether it’s safe to drink alcohol while taking it.

As with any medication, it’s important to know the potential risks before reaching for a drink. Some medications pose more serious risks than others, so it’s best to equip yourself with knowledge to stay safe from the get-go.

So, let’s take a look. Here’s what you need to know about mixing alcohol and Paxil.

What Is Paxil?

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Paxil — the brand name for paroxetine — is an antidepressant belonging to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Paxil boosts the effectiveness of serotonin, the neurochemical responsible for mood regulation. Paxil is also used to treat panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here’s a list of conditions Paxil is commonly prescribed to treat:  

  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Reduced serotonin functionality is a factor in each of these conditions; Paxil helps restore our brain's serotonin to a normal level. It can be used on its own or in combination with other medications. When our serotonin gets back to its optimal functionality, our brain has a chance to re-learn healthier thought patterns. 

Serotonin: The Happy Hormone

Let’s delve deeper into serotonin and why it’s important when we talk about mixing antidepressant medications with alcohol.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries messages between the nerve cells in our brain and sends them throughout our body. Often referred to as the “happy” hormone, serotonin regulates our overall sense of well-being. It plays a key role in many important bodily functions such as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting, sexual desire, and more.


We’ve all heard that good sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are the keys to mental and physical health — and there’s a good reason! Studies estimate that 90-95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. The best way to boost serotonin levels is to eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, and healthy grains. SRIs can help make the most of the serotonin we have, but there’s more to the picture.

Playing With Serotonin

Ever felt especially low or down the day after a night of drinking? When we add a substance to our body (such as a prescription drug or alcohol), we disrupt our body’s normal neurotransmitter levels. These changes are responsible for the relaxing and mood-boosting effects of alcohol in the short term; they are also the reason behind the next-day moodiness, anxiety, and agitation. Over time, regular alcohol use can have more profound effects on the way our body produces and uses neurotransmitters.

As with many medications, drinking alcohol can exacerbate the potential side effects of Paxil or increase the severity of our original symptoms. Let’s learn more about the potential risks of mixing alcohol with Paxil.

Paxil–Alcohol Interactions

So, what are the risks of mixing paroxetine and alcohol? Can it really be that bad? Well, first off, it’s worth mentioning that mixing alcohol and antidepressants is generally considered a dangerous combo for a variety of reasons.

We may think of alcohol as a way to boost our mood, but the truth is alcohol actually worsens depression and anxiety. Drinking while taking Paxil can cancel out the overall goal of taking an antidepressant in the first place — to reduce symptoms of panic, anxiety, or depression. 

Alcohol and paroxetine interactions generally involve amplifying one another’s side effects. When we compare the side effects of Paxil and alcohol, it’s easy to spot many similarities between the two before we even start talking about mixing them.

These side effects are already a risk on their own, and combining the two only increases the chance that we’ll experience some of these negative effects. But more importantly, let’s not forget that alcohol is technically classified as a depressant because it slows our basic functions like speech, reactions, and movement.

Alcohol can also increase the side effects of Paxil, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience impaired thinking and judgment. Most importantly, Paxil may cause some people to have a dramatic increase in suicidal thoughts, especially teenagers. While this reaction is rare, it’s alarming and essential to be aware of. For that reason, it’s important to avoid anything that can make depression worse, such as drinking alcohol. If we’re taking Paxil to help relieve us of symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, it’s simply unwise to add alcohol into the equation.

Mental Health and Drinking Habits

Alcohol affects our general brain function and neural activity. It interferes with our ability to think clearly, alters our perceptions of our immediate surroundings and reality, and distorts our judgment and memory. Many of these risks and side effects are similar to those of Paxil.

If you’re wondering if your mental health might be affected by your drinking habits, it’s always a good idea to take a look at how alcohol can affect your mental health so you can make adjustments or seek the help of your therapist or healthcare provider. 

Basically, if we’re already experiencing anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or symptoms that are affecting our mental health, adding alcohol to the equation will only make things worse. 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, when taking steps to improve our mental health, our well-being should always take priority. The goal of any type of antidepressant is to help us feel mentally stable and balanced.



Although there is no set “rule” about drinking alcohol and taking Paxil, the best bet is to strictly limit intake or avoid it altogether. To give your medicine the best chance of working, it’s best to opt for other mood-boosting activities such as exercising, connecting with friends, and practicing mindfulness. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these five ways to prioritize your mental health that don’t involve drinking.

If you do choose to drink alcohol despite knowing the risks, it’s vital to do so in moderation and exercise caution. As always, speak with your healthcare provider first with any questions before you start taking a new medication of any kind.

We hope you feel more informed about the potential risks associated with mixing alcohol and Paxil. Whether you’re currently taking it or know someone who is, spread the word, so we can all help support each other to prioritize our mental health and find healthier alternatives to drinking alcohol. You got this!

Summary FAQs

1. What is Paxil?

Paxil (paroxetine) is an antidepressant medication. The Paxil drug class is known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the most common type of drug used to treat depression. Paxil is also prescribed for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). 

2. Can I drink alcohol and take Paxil?

It’s generally not recommended to take paroxetine with alcohol, as it can reduce the drug’s effectiveness and exacerbate your original symptoms. Beyond that, alcohol is known to increase depression and anxiety — the exact opposite of what Paxil is prescribed to do.

3. How does alcohol interact with Paxil?

Alcohol and paroxetine interactions generally involve amplifying one another’s side effects. These can include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, impaired judgment, and worsened depression.

4. Does Paxil have other drug interactions?

Paxil interacts with blood thinning medications like warfarin, aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). It also interacts with other drugs that affect serotonin levels in the brain. Never mix psychiatric medications without the guidance of a doctor, especially antidepressants, as this can lead to a dangerous condition called serotonin syndrome. 

Ready To Prioritize Your Mental Health? Reframe Can Help!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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