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Latest Articles
2024-04-03 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Does Naltrexone Help With Weight Loss?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Find out the potential risks associated with mixing medications like Percocet with alcohol and why it can be risky for your health.

20 min read

Looking To Live a Healthier Lifestyle? Try Reframe!

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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

It seems as if new weight loss trends pop up every day. From diets like carnivore to keto, medications like Ozempic and now naltrexone, it's difficult to know what works and what is just the latest diet craze. Sure, a pill to help shed the pounds sounds great, but is it too good to be true? Most medications come with a paragraph of warnings, usually printed in the smallest font possible — obscuring the long list of side effects and risks. To make matters more complicated, weight loss doesn’t always mean better health. If we’re looking for a long-term solution to a healthier lifestyle, we need a clearer look at the whole picture.

Whether you’ve been prescribed naltrexone and are wondering why the number on the scale is going down, or you’re looking for a medication to aid in weight loss, understanding the science behind how naltrexone works can provide some answers. So, let’s investigate what naltrexone is, how it works, and who stands to benefit most from using it.

What Is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD). It’s a highly controlled substance that requires a prescription and, often, administration by a licensed practitioner. It’s used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as just one component of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Naltrexone comes in a pill and extended-release intramuscular injection form. Both forms are used to supplement a combination of behavioral therapies and counseling for a holistic approach to treating substance use disorders.

Uses for Naltrexone

These are two common implementations of naltrexone aside from treating substance misuse: 

  • Low-dose naltrexone (LDN). Off-label naltrexone has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and has been trialed for a number of different uses. LDN ranges from a 1-5 mg daily dose, which is about one tenth of the strength of clinical naltrexone. While more research is necessary, LDN has shown moderate success improving symptoms of multiple sclerosis, long COVID, fibromyalgia, cancer, autoimmune conditions, and more.
  • Contrave. This FDA-approved medication used to treat obesity is a combination of naltrexone and bupropion. Bupropion is a norepinephrine/dopamine-reuptake inhibitor commonly used as an antidepressant. The combination of naltrexone and bupropion influences the brain’s reward system, which can impact eating behaviors. Contrave is found to be most effective when combined with lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet.

Naltrexone is used to treat opioid misuse, alcohol misuse, inflammatory conditions, obesity … this pharmaceutical multitool has quite the skillset. So just how does it do all this?

How Does Naltrexone Work?

Naltrexone is classified as an opioid antagonist or opioid blocker. As the name suggests, drugs like naltrexone prevent substances from binding to opioid receptors, effectively blocking the pleasure response from substance use. 

Since naltrexone blocks a substance's ability to give us those familiar positive feelings, we quickly become less psychologically dependent on it — we crave it less, and it doesn’t seem quite so appealing. Ever had a moment when you opened a bag of chips and couldn’t stop until the bag was empty? Now imagine if you suddenly lost your sense of taste while eating the bag of chips. Sure, you’d probably freak out because you’d lost your sense of taste, but most of us would also stop eating the chips since taste is the reward that keeps us going back for more.

The physiological effects of drinking stem from dopamine release and activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Research shows that naltrexone diminishes dopamine release and HPA activation, adding to its effectiveness as a treatment for substance dependence. Naltrexone works as a medication to decrease alcohol opioid misuse, but let’s take a look at why it’s also tied to weight loss. 

How Naltrexone Can Cause Weight Loss

The Naltrexone-Weight Loss Connection

Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, which reduces intoxication effects, but its impact on our reward system also causes secondary effects that can influence our weight. The opioid system regulates our mood, hunger, pain, and reward system. Naltrexone’s damper on the opioid system can lead to:

  • Decreased appetite. Lower hunger levels result in reduced caloric intake.
  • Reduced reward feedback. This aids in decreasing overall food intake, as the reward signals we get from food are reduced.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity. Proper blood sugar regulation is tied to better weight management and lower risk of diabetes.
  • Increased energy. We may be more inclined to participate in physical activity, helping to burn more calories. High energy also suggests that our body systems are functioning at optimal levels.
  • Improved mood. This helps to decrease our stress hormone levels, which can make weight loss easier.

Alcohol and Weight

In contrast to naltrexone, alcohol is linked to weight gain. Here are four main ways that alcohol causes weight gain:

  • Extra calories. Alcohol contains calories that can add up quickly. For example, a pint of beer is around 200 calories. Downing two pints is equivalent in calories to eating a cheeseburger. However, alcohol is composed of empty calories, meaning there is little to no nutritional value. The overall increase in caloric intake explains why alcohol is frequently linked to weight gain.
  • Lowered inhibitions. Drinking alcohol lowers our inhibitions, giving us the feeling of “letting loose.” This is tied to making unhealthier food choices (drunchies, anyone?). There’s a reason we don’t usually gravitate towards grazing on raw carrots over a basket of fries while out drinking.
  • Altered fat processing. Our body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol, which causes short-term impacts on our fat-burning processes. Damage to the liver can also alter the way our body metabolizes carbohydrates and fats in the long run.
  • Effects on hormones. Alcohol impacts hormones in our brain that sense hunger and fullness. It stimulates our hunger hormone — increasing our appetite. Alcohol also inhibits our fullness cues, which can lead to overeating. 

Weight Loss Intention

It is important to make the distinction between the different ways that naltrexone is used for weight loss. Understanding the intention for the use of naltrexone helps us examine its practicality as a weight loss solution. We can define the different intentions this way:

  • Primary use. This refers to using naltrexone as a weight loss medication rather than a treatment for AUD or OUD. Some compounded forms of naltrexone are FDA-approved to treat obesity.
  • Secondary use. This weight loss intent is based on utilizing the side effects of naltrexone and capitalizing on its appetite-suppressing effects rather than using the medication as intended. This can be compared to misusing Pepcid to reduce alcohol flush symptoms rather than its primary purpose as a treatment for heartburn.

Now that we have a better understanding of how naltrexone and weight loss are connected, let’s take a look at the versatility of naltrexone to see how it can treat various conditions.

Drinking on Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an approved treatment for alcohol use disorder but is being explored for other treatments, which brings up the question of drinking while taking naltrexone. 

The opioid-blocking effects of naltrexone inhibit the feelings of intoxication but do not prevent the other impacts of alcohol. While drinking on naltrexone, we continue to experience impairments such as delayed response time, lack of motor coordination, and impaired thinking. It’s important to note that driving and participating in other activities that require full coordination and function should not be attempted. 

While used to reduce alcohol dependence, starting naltrexone does not require full abstinence from alcohol. The Sinclair Method actually uses naltrexone in conjunction with drinking to slowly reduce the desire for alcohol consumption. Naltrexone should always be used as part of a treatment program that involves behavioral treatment and therapies in order to help reduce dependence. Individual needs will vary, and it’s important to discuss personal circumstances with our own practitioner and treatment team.

Dangers of Using Naltrexone for Weight Loss

Before taking a look at some of the common side effects of naltrexone, it’s important to note that naltrexone should not be taken with any opioids (including opioid-containing medication). Before starting naltrexone, a detox period of up to two weeks may be needed to help prevent overdose or withdrawal symptoms. Used as prescribed, naltrexone is relatively safe but may cause side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety 

More serious side effects include depression, allergic reactions, and pneumonia. 

Contrave, the FDA-approved medication for obesity, also contains bupropion, adding to the list of naltrexone side effects for weight loss. Common side effects of bupropion are:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Stomach pain
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Tremors
  • Agitation 

Bupropion is an antidepressant and requires warnings for depression, mood changes, and increased risk for suicidal thoughts. If we are susceptible to mood changes, we should stay in regular contact with our prescribing physician and check in regularly with the professionals helping guide our treatment regimen.

Now that we're aware of the potential risks of using naltrexone for weight loss, let’s take a look at who may benefit from it. 

Who Should Take Naltrexone for Weight Loss?

If used as a medication for weight loss, specific criteria should be met prior to taking naltrexone. Naltrexone should be used only as a last resort because it comes with more risks than many other methods of weight loss. If excess weight is causing medical concerns and we haven’t been able to lose weight through traditional methods, we could benefit from using naltrexone. 

Those of us who are prescribed naltrexone for other purposes should not make weight loss an intention or priority. It can be beneficial to implement healthy habits that, coupled with naltrexone’s weight-reducing effects, can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. While naltrexone can be instrumental in weight loss, it's not appropriate for everyone to use. 

Who Should Not Take Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is effective for a number of different conditions but can cause adverse effects when not used appropriately. It should not be used by anyone who is ...

  • Under 18 years of age. Naltrexone is FDA-approved for adults 18 and older. Its effects are still being studied for adolescents, and naltrexone is not recommended as a treatment method at this time. 
  • Still using opioids. This includes opioid-containing analgesics and illegal substances. Using naltrexone while taking opioids can lead to overdose and serious withdrawal symptoms. Before starting naltrexone, an opioid detox period is needed, and a naloxone test may be administered to prevent the risk of overdose. 
  • Experiencing opioid withdrawal. Taking naltrexone while experiencing active opioid withdrawal exacerbates symptoms that can lead to the need for medical attention. 

Now that we’ve analyzed who should and shouldn’t use naltrexone, let’s explore some actions we can all take to better our overall health.

Tips for Living a Healthy Life

Health and wellness can be subjective, but implementing healthy habits can improve our physical and mental well-being. These are some ways we can positively influence our health:

  1. Stay active. Exercise is not only great for our physical health but also improves our mood and mental health. While we commonly think of exercise as running on the treadmill or lifting weights in the gym, movement can look different for everyone. Gentle stretching or walking outside are other ways to stay active that are still beneficial to our health. 
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Again, “healthy” is subjective, but generally speaking, a not-overly restrictive diet focused on whole foods and a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats helps with the proper functioning of the systems in our body. Avoiding toxic substances like alcohol and tobacco is also part of maintaining a healthy diet.
  3. Connect with others. We don’t have to be social butterflies, but building connections has positive impacts on our mood, self-esteem, and overall contentment. 
  4. Pursuing interests. Engaging in activities that we are passionate about helps us live a happier and more fulfilling life. 

Whittling Down

Naltrexone seems to be a jack of all trades. It’s an effective treatment for alcohol and opioid use disorder and can contribute to weight loss, whether primary or after-effect. As with any drug, there is a long list of potential risks. Using naltrexone for weight loss requires thorough consideration and should be used only after other alternatives have been explored. Body weight is but a small fragment of our overall health. We can manipulate plenty of other aspects of our well-being to live a happy and healthy life. Like the great Roman poet Virgil said, “The greatest wealth is health”.

It seems as if new weight loss trends pop up every day. From diets like carnivore to keto, medications like Ozempic and now naltrexone, it's difficult to know what works and what is just the latest diet craze. Sure, a pill to help shed the pounds sounds great, but is it too good to be true? Most medications come with a paragraph of warnings, usually printed in the smallest font possible — obscuring the long list of side effects and risks. To make matters more complicated, weight loss doesn’t always mean better health. If we’re looking for a long-term solution to a healthier lifestyle, we need a clearer look at the whole picture.

Whether you’ve been prescribed naltrexone and are wondering why the number on the scale is going down, or you’re looking for a medication to aid in weight loss, understanding the science behind how naltrexone works can provide some answers. So, let’s investigate what naltrexone is, how it works, and who stands to benefit most from using it.

What Is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and used to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD). It’s a highly controlled substance that requires a prescription and, often, administration by a licensed practitioner. It’s used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as just one component of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Naltrexone comes in a pill and extended-release intramuscular injection form. Both forms are used to supplement a combination of behavioral therapies and counseling for a holistic approach to treating substance use disorders.

Uses for Naltrexone

These are two common implementations of naltrexone aside from treating substance misuse: 

  • Low-dose naltrexone (LDN). Off-label naltrexone has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and has been trialed for a number of different uses. LDN ranges from a 1-5 mg daily dose, which is about one tenth of the strength of clinical naltrexone. While more research is necessary, LDN has shown moderate success improving symptoms of multiple sclerosis, long COVID, fibromyalgia, cancer, autoimmune conditions, and more.
  • Contrave. This FDA-approved medication used to treat obesity is a combination of naltrexone and bupropion. Bupropion is a norepinephrine/dopamine-reuptake inhibitor commonly used as an antidepressant. The combination of naltrexone and bupropion influences the brain’s reward system, which can impact eating behaviors. Contrave is found to be most effective when combined with lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet.

Naltrexone is used to treat opioid misuse, alcohol misuse, inflammatory conditions, obesity … this pharmaceutical multitool has quite the skillset. So just how does it do all this?

How Does Naltrexone Work?

Naltrexone is classified as an opioid antagonist or opioid blocker. As the name suggests, drugs like naltrexone prevent substances from binding to opioid receptors, effectively blocking the pleasure response from substance use. 

Since naltrexone blocks a substance's ability to give us those familiar positive feelings, we quickly become less psychologically dependent on it — we crave it less, and it doesn’t seem quite so appealing. Ever had a moment when you opened a bag of chips and couldn’t stop until the bag was empty? Now imagine if you suddenly lost your sense of taste while eating the bag of chips. Sure, you’d probably freak out because you’d lost your sense of taste, but most of us would also stop eating the chips since taste is the reward that keeps us going back for more.

The physiological effects of drinking stem from dopamine release and activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. Research shows that naltrexone diminishes dopamine release and HPA activation, adding to its effectiveness as a treatment for substance dependence. Naltrexone works as a medication to decrease alcohol opioid misuse, but let’s take a look at why it’s also tied to weight loss. 

How Naltrexone Can Cause Weight Loss

The Naltrexone-Weight Loss Connection

Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, which reduces intoxication effects, but its impact on our reward system also causes secondary effects that can influence our weight. The opioid system regulates our mood, hunger, pain, and reward system. Naltrexone’s damper on the opioid system can lead to:

  • Decreased appetite. Lower hunger levels result in reduced caloric intake.
  • Reduced reward feedback. This aids in decreasing overall food intake, as the reward signals we get from food are reduced.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity. Proper blood sugar regulation is tied to better weight management and lower risk of diabetes.
  • Increased energy. We may be more inclined to participate in physical activity, helping to burn more calories. High energy also suggests that our body systems are functioning at optimal levels.
  • Improved mood. This helps to decrease our stress hormone levels, which can make weight loss easier.

Alcohol and Weight

In contrast to naltrexone, alcohol is linked to weight gain. Here are four main ways that alcohol causes weight gain:

  • Extra calories. Alcohol contains calories that can add up quickly. For example, a pint of beer is around 200 calories. Downing two pints is equivalent in calories to eating a cheeseburger. However, alcohol is composed of empty calories, meaning there is little to no nutritional value. The overall increase in caloric intake explains why alcohol is frequently linked to weight gain.
  • Lowered inhibitions. Drinking alcohol lowers our inhibitions, giving us the feeling of “letting loose.” This is tied to making unhealthier food choices (drunchies, anyone?). There’s a reason we don’t usually gravitate towards grazing on raw carrots over a basket of fries while out drinking.
  • Altered fat processing. Our body prioritizes metabolizing alcohol, which causes short-term impacts on our fat-burning processes. Damage to the liver can also alter the way our body metabolizes carbohydrates and fats in the long run.
  • Effects on hormones. Alcohol impacts hormones in our brain that sense hunger and fullness. It stimulates our hunger hormone — increasing our appetite. Alcohol also inhibits our fullness cues, which can lead to overeating. 

Weight Loss Intention

It is important to make the distinction between the different ways that naltrexone is used for weight loss. Understanding the intention for the use of naltrexone helps us examine its practicality as a weight loss solution. We can define the different intentions this way:

  • Primary use. This refers to using naltrexone as a weight loss medication rather than a treatment for AUD or OUD. Some compounded forms of naltrexone are FDA-approved to treat obesity.
  • Secondary use. This weight loss intent is based on utilizing the side effects of naltrexone and capitalizing on its appetite-suppressing effects rather than using the medication as intended. This can be compared to misusing Pepcid to reduce alcohol flush symptoms rather than its primary purpose as a treatment for heartburn.

Now that we have a better understanding of how naltrexone and weight loss are connected, let’s take a look at the versatility of naltrexone to see how it can treat various conditions.

Drinking on Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an approved treatment for alcohol use disorder but is being explored for other treatments, which brings up the question of drinking while taking naltrexone. 

The opioid-blocking effects of naltrexone inhibit the feelings of intoxication but do not prevent the other impacts of alcohol. While drinking on naltrexone, we continue to experience impairments such as delayed response time, lack of motor coordination, and impaired thinking. It’s important to note that driving and participating in other activities that require full coordination and function should not be attempted. 

While used to reduce alcohol dependence, starting naltrexone does not require full abstinence from alcohol. The Sinclair Method actually uses naltrexone in conjunction with drinking to slowly reduce the desire for alcohol consumption. Naltrexone should always be used as part of a treatment program that involves behavioral treatment and therapies in order to help reduce dependence. Individual needs will vary, and it’s important to discuss personal circumstances with our own practitioner and treatment team.

Dangers of Using Naltrexone for Weight Loss

Before taking a look at some of the common side effects of naltrexone, it’s important to note that naltrexone should not be taken with any opioids (including opioid-containing medication). Before starting naltrexone, a detox period of up to two weeks may be needed to help prevent overdose or withdrawal symptoms. Used as prescribed, naltrexone is relatively safe but may cause side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety 

More serious side effects include depression, allergic reactions, and pneumonia. 

Contrave, the FDA-approved medication for obesity, also contains bupropion, adding to the list of naltrexone side effects for weight loss. Common side effects of bupropion are:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Stomach pain
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Tremors
  • Agitation 

Bupropion is an antidepressant and requires warnings for depression, mood changes, and increased risk for suicidal thoughts. If we are susceptible to mood changes, we should stay in regular contact with our prescribing physician and check in regularly with the professionals helping guide our treatment regimen.

Now that we're aware of the potential risks of using naltrexone for weight loss, let’s take a look at who may benefit from it. 

Who Should Take Naltrexone for Weight Loss?

If used as a medication for weight loss, specific criteria should be met prior to taking naltrexone. Naltrexone should be used only as a last resort because it comes with more risks than many other methods of weight loss. If excess weight is causing medical concerns and we haven’t been able to lose weight through traditional methods, we could benefit from using naltrexone. 

Those of us who are prescribed naltrexone for other purposes should not make weight loss an intention or priority. It can be beneficial to implement healthy habits that, coupled with naltrexone’s weight-reducing effects, can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. While naltrexone can be instrumental in weight loss, it's not appropriate for everyone to use. 

Who Should Not Take Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is effective for a number of different conditions but can cause adverse effects when not used appropriately. It should not be used by anyone who is ...

  • Under 18 years of age. Naltrexone is FDA-approved for adults 18 and older. Its effects are still being studied for adolescents, and naltrexone is not recommended as a treatment method at this time. 
  • Still using opioids. This includes opioid-containing analgesics and illegal substances. Using naltrexone while taking opioids can lead to overdose and serious withdrawal symptoms. Before starting naltrexone, an opioid detox period is needed, and a naloxone test may be administered to prevent the risk of overdose. 
  • Experiencing opioid withdrawal. Taking naltrexone while experiencing active opioid withdrawal exacerbates symptoms that can lead to the need for medical attention. 

Now that we’ve analyzed who should and shouldn’t use naltrexone, let’s explore some actions we can all take to better our overall health.

Tips for Living a Healthy Life

Health and wellness can be subjective, but implementing healthy habits can improve our physical and mental well-being. These are some ways we can positively influence our health:

  1. Stay active. Exercise is not only great for our physical health but also improves our mood and mental health. While we commonly think of exercise as running on the treadmill or lifting weights in the gym, movement can look different for everyone. Gentle stretching or walking outside are other ways to stay active that are still beneficial to our health. 
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Again, “healthy” is subjective, but generally speaking, a not-overly restrictive diet focused on whole foods and a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats helps with the proper functioning of the systems in our body. Avoiding toxic substances like alcohol and tobacco is also part of maintaining a healthy diet.
  3. Connect with others. We don’t have to be social butterflies, but building connections has positive impacts on our mood, self-esteem, and overall contentment. 
  4. Pursuing interests. Engaging in activities that we are passionate about helps us live a happier and more fulfilling life. 

Whittling Down

Naltrexone seems to be a jack of all trades. It’s an effective treatment for alcohol and opioid use disorder and can contribute to weight loss, whether primary or after-effect. As with any drug, there is a long list of potential risks. Using naltrexone for weight loss requires thorough consideration and should be used only after other alternatives have been explored. Body weight is but a small fragment of our overall health. We can manipulate plenty of other aspects of our well-being to live a happy and healthy life. Like the great Roman poet Virgil said, “The greatest wealth is health”.

Alcohol and Medications
2024-04-02 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Can You Drink on Percocet?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Find out the potential risks associated with mixing medications like Percocet with alcohol and why it can be risky for your health.

10 min read

Make Safer Drinking Choices With Reframe

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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

You recently had a medical procedure, and you were prescribed Percocet for pain management. You’ve been feeling better, and you’ve decided you’re well enough to attend the party you were invited to this weekend. But you’re still taking your Percocet: is it safe to have a few drinks? Let’s explore the science behind how this pain reliever works and what happens when alcohol enters the picture.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a commonly prescribed medication used for managing moderate to severe pain. It contains a combination of oxycodone (an opioid pain reliever) and acetaminophen (known as Tylenol). 

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid and is the primary pain-relieving ingredient in Percocet. Opioids block pain receptors
in the brain so pain signals have a harder time getting through. Acetaminophen is a common, nonopioid, over-the-counter pain reliever, and it’s not nearly as strong as oxycodone. It does, however, enhance and complement oxycodone.

Like all opioid-containing narcotic medications, Percocet is only available with a prescription. It is typically used in the short term to treat cancer-related and post-surgical pain. Percocet is also used sometimes to treat long-term, chronic pain conditions.

Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Percocet can be effective in relieving pain, but like many medications there are interactions to be aware of. As with any medication, it’s always important to read the warning labels and discuss any questions with our pharmacist or healthcare provider before we start taking it.

When we read the label on our Percocet bottle, we may notice a big warning saying not to take it with alcohol. But how serious is this warning? Here are a few side effects of mixing Percocet and alcohol.

  • Central nervous system depression. Both Percocet and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, meaning that combining them can lead to intensified sedation, drowsiness, and even respiratory distress when taken in high doses.
  • Liver toxicity. Both Percocet and alcohol can be harmful to the liver. Acetaminophen, one of the main ingredients, is notoriously hard on the liver, especially when combined with alcohol. When taken in high doses, both alcohol and acetaminophen increase our risk of liver damage; when mixed together, they only amplify this danger to our liver.
  • Impaired judgment and coordination. Mixing Percocet and alcohol can impair our cognitive function, coordination, and decision-making abilities, which in turn may increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and falls. Drinking alcohol is risky enough, but when we add another chemical substance to the mix, we’re setting ourselves up for even more danger. Think about it like this: Just like driving under the influence of alcohol is unsafe on its own, think how much more risky it would be to add another chemical to the equation. Scary!
  • Risk of long-term dependency. We touched on this earlier, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers of long-term use of Percocet and alcohol together. Long-term use of any drug combined with alcohol can be dangerous and set us up for an even higher risk of dependency. Anyone concerned about dependency on alcohol or other medications or who knows someone struggling, seek professional help or contact the local help hotline.
Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Tips for Staying Safe While Taking Medications

It must be said again: always educate yourself on the potential risks associated with any medication you’re taking by speaking with your doctor and pharmacist. Here are some top tips for staying safe while taking medications like Percocet.

  • Abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of medications and multiply the risks. It’s best to stick to the Percocet alone and use this time to reset your relationship with alcohol by staying sober.
  • Read the warning labels. Educate yourself about the medication you’re taking and carefully read the instructions for use. Consult your pharmacist with any questions about side effects or potential dangers before you start taking medication.
  • Take care of yourself. It may sound obvious, but when you’re sick or injured, the best way to stay safe is to take care of yourself. Your immune system is already weakened, so the best path toward a speedy recovery is self-care. Get plenty of rest, drink water, and eat nutritious foods. Experience the many benefits of taking a break from alcohol while you’re sick or recovering from illness or injury.

The Bottom Line

Although we’ve provided a background and some helpful advice, this article is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications out there. Research shows that more than 100 drugs interact with wine, beer, and hard liquor, which can trigger problems ranging from nausea and headaches to life-threatening issues. As we stated above, mixing alcohol with medications is always risky, but it’s particularly harmful in the case of Percocet. Stay educated, stay empowered, and stay safe!

You recently had a medical procedure, and you were prescribed Percocet for pain management. You’ve been feeling better, and you’ve decided you’re well enough to attend the party you were invited to this weekend. But you’re still taking your Percocet: is it safe to have a few drinks? Let’s explore the science behind how this pain reliever works and what happens when alcohol enters the picture.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a commonly prescribed medication used for managing moderate to severe pain. It contains a combination of oxycodone (an opioid pain reliever) and acetaminophen (known as Tylenol). 

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid and is the primary pain-relieving ingredient in Percocet. Opioids block pain receptors
in the brain so pain signals have a harder time getting through. Acetaminophen is a common, nonopioid, over-the-counter pain reliever, and it’s not nearly as strong as oxycodone. It does, however, enhance and complement oxycodone.

Like all opioid-containing narcotic medications, Percocet is only available with a prescription. It is typically used in the short term to treat cancer-related and post-surgical pain. Percocet is also used sometimes to treat long-term, chronic pain conditions.

Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Percocet can be effective in relieving pain, but like many medications there are interactions to be aware of. As with any medication, it’s always important to read the warning labels and discuss any questions with our pharmacist or healthcare provider before we start taking it.

When we read the label on our Percocet bottle, we may notice a big warning saying not to take it with alcohol. But how serious is this warning? Here are a few side effects of mixing Percocet and alcohol.

  • Central nervous system depression. Both Percocet and alcohol are central nervous system depressants, meaning that combining them can lead to intensified sedation, drowsiness, and even respiratory distress when taken in high doses.
  • Liver toxicity. Both Percocet and alcohol can be harmful to the liver. Acetaminophen, one of the main ingredients, is notoriously hard on the liver, especially when combined with alcohol. When taken in high doses, both alcohol and acetaminophen increase our risk of liver damage; when mixed together, they only amplify this danger to our liver.
  • Impaired judgment and coordination. Mixing Percocet and alcohol can impair our cognitive function, coordination, and decision-making abilities, which in turn may increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and falls. Drinking alcohol is risky enough, but when we add another chemical substance to the mix, we’re setting ourselves up for even more danger. Think about it like this: Just like driving under the influence of alcohol is unsafe on its own, think how much more risky it would be to add another chemical to the equation. Scary!
  • Risk of long-term dependency. We touched on this earlier, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers of long-term use of Percocet and alcohol together. Long-term use of any drug combined with alcohol can be dangerous and set us up for an even higher risk of dependency. Anyone concerned about dependency on alcohol or other medications or who knows someone struggling, seek professional help or contact the local help hotline.
Risks of Mixing Percocet and Alcohol

Tips for Staying Safe While Taking Medications

It must be said again: always educate yourself on the potential risks associated with any medication you’re taking by speaking with your doctor and pharmacist. Here are some top tips for staying safe while taking medications like Percocet.

  • Abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of medications and multiply the risks. It’s best to stick to the Percocet alone and use this time to reset your relationship with alcohol by staying sober.
  • Read the warning labels. Educate yourself about the medication you’re taking and carefully read the instructions for use. Consult your pharmacist with any questions about side effects or potential dangers before you start taking medication.
  • Take care of yourself. It may sound obvious, but when you’re sick or injured, the best way to stay safe is to take care of yourself. Your immune system is already weakened, so the best path toward a speedy recovery is self-care. Get plenty of rest, drink water, and eat nutritious foods. Experience the many benefits of taking a break from alcohol while you’re sick or recovering from illness or injury.

The Bottom Line

Although we’ve provided a background and some helpful advice, this article is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications out there. Research shows that more than 100 drugs interact with wine, beer, and hard liquor, which can trigger problems ranging from nausea and headaches to life-threatening issues. As we stated above, mixing alcohol with medications is always risky, but it’s particularly harmful in the case of Percocet. Stay educated, stay empowered, and stay safe!

Alcohol and Medications
2024-01-28 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Can I Drink on Wellbutrin?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Explore the interactions between Wellbutrin (bupropion) and alcohol, and the science behind whether or not you can drink while taking Wellbutrin.

17 min read

Prioritize Your Health With Reframe

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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Bupropion is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. It goes by a few different names based on how it is used. When used as an antidepressant, it’s sold under the name Wellbutrin; when used as a smoking cessation aid, it is sold under the name Zyban.

Bupropion and alcohol interact with our brain chemistry in different ways. Bupropion’s effects are intentionally used to correct a chemical imbalance. Alcohol intentionally creates a chemical imbalance to produce intoxicating effects.

So what happens when you mix bupropion with alcohol? Do these two play nice, or are they a bad mix? In this article, we’ll take a look at the science and find out what exactly happens when you mix Wellbutrin with alcohol, and whether there are any bupropion-alcohol interactions to be aware of. Let’s dive in!

What Is Bupropion (Wellbutrin / Zyban)?

Bupropion is most commonly used to treat depression. Sometimes it’s prescribed on its own, sometimes it’s used when typical antidepressants don’t work, and sometimes it’s used in addition to a typical antidepressant.

It’s considered an atypical antidepressant because it doesn’t work like most antidepressant medications. The first choice for medical treatment of depression is a type of drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications prevent our brains from tossing out serotonin molecules. Serotonin helps us regulate our mood, and a lack of serotonin can cause clinical depression.

But not all depression is caused by low serotonin. This is where bupropion comes in. Bupropion is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) — it does the same thing for dopamine and norepinephrine as SSRIs do for serotonin. Norepinephrine is a stimulating neurotransmitter (brain chemical) responsible for alertness, attention, memory, and the fight-or-flight response. Dopamine is involved in motivation, planning, and the rewards system.

Why Is Bupropion Used?

When depression doesn’t improve with typical antidepressants, Wellbutrin is often the first alternative choice. The stimulating effects of increased norepinephrine and dopamine make it especially useful for treating the fatigue associated with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Bupropion is also frequently prescribed when we experience depression in addition to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since ADHD involves a dysfunction of dopamine, bupropion’s dopamine-boosting properties give the brain more dopamine to work with. Bupropion works very mildly on dopamine, making it an easier treatment to tolerate than traditional stimulants, and its balanced properties make it an unlikely candidate for misuse.

Bupropion goes by the brand name Wellbutrin when used to treat depression. Since bupropion also inhibits nicotine receptors in the brain, it is also used under the brand name Zyban as an aid for quitting smoking cigarettes. Wellbutrin and Zyban are the same thing: they’re both bupropion, just in different doses.

In this article, we will focus on Wellbutrin; Zyban is typically only prescribed for a short period of time at a low dose (150 mg), whereas Wellbutrin is taken over longer periods at a higher dose (300 - 450 mg).

Bupropion Side Effects

Bupropion has some common side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Bupropion also lowers the seizure threshold, the minimum stimulation necessary to cause a seizure. Because of this, it is not usually prescribed to people with other conditions that lower their seizure threshold, like epilepsy, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and alcohol use disorder (AUD), since alcohol withdrawal is associated with an increased risk of seizure.

Thinking Through Alcohol's Effects on the Brain

Much like Wellbutrin, alcohol is a drug that changes our brain chemistry. When we drink alcohol, our brain floods with dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, and reduces the effectiveness of glutamate, a stimulating neurotransmitter. This chemical cocktail makes us feel calm, warm, fuzzy, and inspired to keep drinking.

In the short term, this causes the feeling we recognize as “tipsy” or “drunk.” When we drink consistently, our brains get used to alcohol’s effects and adjust our baseline brain chemistry in anticipation of that next drink. Among other things, this includes lowering dopamine production, leading to a generally lower mood and cravings for dopamine-boosting activities (like drinking).

The Interaction Between Wellbutrin and Alcohol

Combining Wellbutrin and alcohol can present serious risks in chemical interactions and side effect amplification. Let’s take a closer look at both of these categories.

Chemical Interactions

Studies show that increased norepinephrine in the brain increases the effect of alcohol on our rewards system.

Imagine your brain as the center of a busy city, bustling with traffic. Wellbutrin and alcohol are like two very different kinds of drivers making their way along the roads. Wellbutrin is a responsible driver — it follows traffic signals, lets people in, stops for pedestrians, and uses its turn signal. As a result, traffic around Wellbutrin flows smoothly.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a reckless driver who disrupts the normal flow of traffic. It speeds and swerves, and other drivers start getting cautious. This causes traffic to slow down and clog up the roads. When both Wellbutrin and alcohol are in your brain's city streets at the same time, they do opposite things and interfere with each other.

But they don’t just cancel each other out — just like a good driver doesn’t cancel out a bad driver. Wellbutrin is trying to keep things moving, but alcohol is slowing things down. This can lead to mixed signals, making you feel different than you would with just Wellbutrin or just alcohol alone.

Alcohol and Wellbutrin affect different brain chemicals, but there is some overlap. In the places where their effects overlap, the side effects of each substance compound. In other areas, the side effects can unpredictably seesaw from one extreme to the other. Let’s look at what happens when you drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin-Alcohol Interactions

Shared Side Effects

  • Impulsivity. Alcohol inhibits our impulse control, and Wellbutrin increases our motivation. These work together to make us more impulsive and do things we wouldn’t do under normal circumstances.

  • Insomnia. Alcohol disrupts deep sleep, and Wellbutrin’s stimulating properties can cause insomnia in some people.

  • Nausea. Wellbutrin can cause nausea, and alcohol is known to irritate and unsettle the stomach, especially when we drink heavily.

  • Dizziness. Alcohol inhibits our balance and our ability to orient ourselves. Wellbutrin can cause dizziness through neurochemical effects and by increasing blood pressure.

  • Headaches. Alcohol causes headaches by manipulating our brain chemistry and making us dehydrated. Wellbutrin’s chemical effects also cause headaches — some people describe these as “brain zaps.”

Competing Side Effects

  • Mood. Alcohol and Wellbutrin both affect our mood. When they compete to be the boss of our mood regulation, we can experience mood swings. Since alcohol is known to worsen depression, we may feel like our Wellbutrin “just isn’t working,” when in fact, its helpfulness is being undermined by alcohol.

  • Blood pressure changes. Wellbutrin can affect blood pressure levels unpredictably. Some people may experience elevated blood pressure, and others may experience low blood pressure especially upon standing (this is called orthostatic hypotension). Alcohol is known to raise blood pressure. Combining these two could lead to unpredictable effects.

  • Stimulation effects. Wellbutrin is a mild stimulant, and alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This affects the way signals travel in our nerves, but it can also cause our energy levels to fluctuate rapidly.

  • Level of alertness. Wellbutrin typically increases alertness, while alcohol typically decreases it. When taken together, the effect on alertness can be unpredictable.
  • Cognitive function and motor function. Alcohol impairs cognitive function and reflexes by slowing down nerve signals, and Wellbutrin enhances them by making nerve signals more efficient. This combination can make it difficult to predict how our motor skills will react and can make it harder to tell if we’re thinking clearly.

How To Stay Safe

From the list of Wellbutrin-alcohol interactions above, it’s clear that these two substances do not play well together. They interact with each other on multiple levels and can create unpredictable effects.

More fundamentally, we have to ask ourselves why we use each of these substances. Wellbutrin is prescribed to improve our mental health and the physical manifestations of depression. Alcohol is used for many complex reasons, but the end result is that it tends to worsen our mental health. We are taking Wellbutrin as part of a wellness journey, and quitting back or cutting back on alcohol gives Wellbutrin the best chance of doing its job.

Let’s look at some things to keep in mind when we are considering drinking while taking Wellbutrin.

  • Be honest with your healthcare provider. Openly discuss your alcohol use with your doctor so they can make the best decision for your care. You can use Reframe to track your alcohol use and get an accurate picture. Your doctor may suggest quitting or cutting back on alcohol use — prepare yourself, and consider it an opportunity to make collaborative choices for your well-being.

  • Understand the risks. Continue to educate yourself about the risks of combining Wellbutrin with alcohol and how alcohol affects your overall health.

  • Don’t skip medication. Do not skip doses of Wellbutrin to consume alcohol. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms and disrupt the effectiveness of your treatment even more than drinking alone.

  • Track your alcohol intake. If you choose to drink alcohol, reduce your intake. Consider setting drink limits or planning dry days to give your body time to recover. Pay attention to how your body reacts, and track your progress.

  • Seek support. If you're struggling to manage your alcohol use, seek out resources to help you quit or cut back. Reframe offers coaching, daily meetings, customized plans, and a thriving community of people on the same journey.

  • Watch for side effects. Be vigilant about any unusual side effects or changes in mood or behavior. If you notice anything concerning, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Prioritize mental health. Remember that the goal of taking Wellbutrin is to manage your mental health. Prioritize that goal when making decisions about alcohol consumption.

A Final Word of Caution

If you’re sufficiently convinced that mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol is a bad idea, you may find yourself considering skipping a day of Wellbutrin to drink — this is a bad idea! Alcohol can still interact with Wellbutrin in your system for up to a week after you stop taking it, and it takes even longer for brain chemistry to normalize after stopping Wellbutrin. Skipping doses and drinking heavily are individually associated with increased risk of seizure. The risk compounds when we do both simultaneously.

Most importantly, skipping doses of Wellbutrin reduces its effectiveness. When paired with alcohol’s depressive effects, skipping doses of Wellbutrin to drink creates a negative feedback loop. It’s important to remember why we are taking Wellbutrin in the first place and prioritize our wellness.

Bupropion is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. It goes by a few different names based on how it is used. When used as an antidepressant, it’s sold under the name Wellbutrin; when used as a smoking cessation aid, it is sold under the name Zyban.

Bupropion and alcohol interact with our brain chemistry in different ways. Bupropion’s effects are intentionally used to correct a chemical imbalance. Alcohol intentionally creates a chemical imbalance to produce intoxicating effects.

So what happens when you mix bupropion with alcohol? Do these two play nice, or are they a bad mix? In this article, we’ll take a look at the science and find out what exactly happens when you mix Wellbutrin with alcohol, and whether there are any bupropion-alcohol interactions to be aware of. Let’s dive in!

What Is Bupropion (Wellbutrin / Zyban)?

Bupropion is most commonly used to treat depression. Sometimes it’s prescribed on its own, sometimes it’s used when typical antidepressants don’t work, and sometimes it’s used in addition to a typical antidepressant.

It’s considered an atypical antidepressant because it doesn’t work like most antidepressant medications. The first choice for medical treatment of depression is a type of drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications prevent our brains from tossing out serotonin molecules. Serotonin helps us regulate our mood, and a lack of serotonin can cause clinical depression.

But not all depression is caused by low serotonin. This is where bupropion comes in. Bupropion is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) — it does the same thing for dopamine and norepinephrine as SSRIs do for serotonin. Norepinephrine is a stimulating neurotransmitter (brain chemical) responsible for alertness, attention, memory, and the fight-or-flight response. Dopamine is involved in motivation, planning, and the rewards system.

Why Is Bupropion Used?

When depression doesn’t improve with typical antidepressants, Wellbutrin is often the first alternative choice. The stimulating effects of increased norepinephrine and dopamine make it especially useful for treating the fatigue associated with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Bupropion is also frequently prescribed when we experience depression in addition to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since ADHD involves a dysfunction of dopamine, bupropion’s dopamine-boosting properties give the brain more dopamine to work with. Bupropion works very mildly on dopamine, making it an easier treatment to tolerate than traditional stimulants, and its balanced properties make it an unlikely candidate for misuse.

Bupropion goes by the brand name Wellbutrin when used to treat depression. Since bupropion also inhibits nicotine receptors in the brain, it is also used under the brand name Zyban as an aid for quitting smoking cigarettes. Wellbutrin and Zyban are the same thing: they’re both bupropion, just in different doses.

In this article, we will focus on Wellbutrin; Zyban is typically only prescribed for a short period of time at a low dose (150 mg), whereas Wellbutrin is taken over longer periods at a higher dose (300 - 450 mg).

Bupropion Side Effects

Bupropion has some common side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Suicidal thoughts

Bupropion also lowers the seizure threshold, the minimum stimulation necessary to cause a seizure. Because of this, it is not usually prescribed to people with other conditions that lower their seizure threshold, like epilepsy, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and alcohol use disorder (AUD), since alcohol withdrawal is associated with an increased risk of seizure.

Thinking Through Alcohol's Effects on the Brain

Much like Wellbutrin, alcohol is a drug that changes our brain chemistry. When we drink alcohol, our brain floods with dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, and reduces the effectiveness of glutamate, a stimulating neurotransmitter. This chemical cocktail makes us feel calm, warm, fuzzy, and inspired to keep drinking.

In the short term, this causes the feeling we recognize as “tipsy” or “drunk.” When we drink consistently, our brains get used to alcohol’s effects and adjust our baseline brain chemistry in anticipation of that next drink. Among other things, this includes lowering dopamine production, leading to a generally lower mood and cravings for dopamine-boosting activities (like drinking).

The Interaction Between Wellbutrin and Alcohol

Combining Wellbutrin and alcohol can present serious risks in chemical interactions and side effect amplification. Let’s take a closer look at both of these categories.

Chemical Interactions

Studies show that increased norepinephrine in the brain increases the effect of alcohol on our rewards system.

Imagine your brain as the center of a busy city, bustling with traffic. Wellbutrin and alcohol are like two very different kinds of drivers making their way along the roads. Wellbutrin is a responsible driver — it follows traffic signals, lets people in, stops for pedestrians, and uses its turn signal. As a result, traffic around Wellbutrin flows smoothly.

Alcohol, on the other hand, is a reckless driver who disrupts the normal flow of traffic. It speeds and swerves, and other drivers start getting cautious. This causes traffic to slow down and clog up the roads. When both Wellbutrin and alcohol are in your brain's city streets at the same time, they do opposite things and interfere with each other.

But they don’t just cancel each other out — just like a good driver doesn’t cancel out a bad driver. Wellbutrin is trying to keep things moving, but alcohol is slowing things down. This can lead to mixed signals, making you feel different than you would with just Wellbutrin or just alcohol alone.

Alcohol and Wellbutrin affect different brain chemicals, but there is some overlap. In the places where their effects overlap, the side effects of each substance compound. In other areas, the side effects can unpredictably seesaw from one extreme to the other. Let’s look at what happens when you drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin-Alcohol Interactions

Shared Side Effects

  • Impulsivity. Alcohol inhibits our impulse control, and Wellbutrin increases our motivation. These work together to make us more impulsive and do things we wouldn’t do under normal circumstances.

  • Insomnia. Alcohol disrupts deep sleep, and Wellbutrin’s stimulating properties can cause insomnia in some people.

  • Nausea. Wellbutrin can cause nausea, and alcohol is known to irritate and unsettle the stomach, especially when we drink heavily.

  • Dizziness. Alcohol inhibits our balance and our ability to orient ourselves. Wellbutrin can cause dizziness through neurochemical effects and by increasing blood pressure.

  • Headaches. Alcohol causes headaches by manipulating our brain chemistry and making us dehydrated. Wellbutrin’s chemical effects also cause headaches — some people describe these as “brain zaps.”

Competing Side Effects

  • Mood. Alcohol and Wellbutrin both affect our mood. When they compete to be the boss of our mood regulation, we can experience mood swings. Since alcohol is known to worsen depression, we may feel like our Wellbutrin “just isn’t working,” when in fact, its helpfulness is being undermined by alcohol.

  • Blood pressure changes. Wellbutrin can affect blood pressure levels unpredictably. Some people may experience elevated blood pressure, and others may experience low blood pressure especially upon standing (this is called orthostatic hypotension). Alcohol is known to raise blood pressure. Combining these two could lead to unpredictable effects.

  • Stimulation effects. Wellbutrin is a mild stimulant, and alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This affects the way signals travel in our nerves, but it can also cause our energy levels to fluctuate rapidly.

  • Level of alertness. Wellbutrin typically increases alertness, while alcohol typically decreases it. When taken together, the effect on alertness can be unpredictable.
  • Cognitive function and motor function. Alcohol impairs cognitive function and reflexes by slowing down nerve signals, and Wellbutrin enhances them by making nerve signals more efficient. This combination can make it difficult to predict how our motor skills will react and can make it harder to tell if we’re thinking clearly.

How To Stay Safe

From the list of Wellbutrin-alcohol interactions above, it’s clear that these two substances do not play well together. They interact with each other on multiple levels and can create unpredictable effects.

More fundamentally, we have to ask ourselves why we use each of these substances. Wellbutrin is prescribed to improve our mental health and the physical manifestations of depression. Alcohol is used for many complex reasons, but the end result is that it tends to worsen our mental health. We are taking Wellbutrin as part of a wellness journey, and quitting back or cutting back on alcohol gives Wellbutrin the best chance of doing its job.

Let’s look at some things to keep in mind when we are considering drinking while taking Wellbutrin.

  • Be honest with your healthcare provider. Openly discuss your alcohol use with your doctor so they can make the best decision for your care. You can use Reframe to track your alcohol use and get an accurate picture. Your doctor may suggest quitting or cutting back on alcohol use — prepare yourself, and consider it an opportunity to make collaborative choices for your well-being.

  • Understand the risks. Continue to educate yourself about the risks of combining Wellbutrin with alcohol and how alcohol affects your overall health.

  • Don’t skip medication. Do not skip doses of Wellbutrin to consume alcohol. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms and disrupt the effectiveness of your treatment even more than drinking alone.

  • Track your alcohol intake. If you choose to drink alcohol, reduce your intake. Consider setting drink limits or planning dry days to give your body time to recover. Pay attention to how your body reacts, and track your progress.

  • Seek support. If you're struggling to manage your alcohol use, seek out resources to help you quit or cut back. Reframe offers coaching, daily meetings, customized plans, and a thriving community of people on the same journey.

  • Watch for side effects. Be vigilant about any unusual side effects or changes in mood or behavior. If you notice anything concerning, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

  • Prioritize mental health. Remember that the goal of taking Wellbutrin is to manage your mental health. Prioritize that goal when making decisions about alcohol consumption.

A Final Word of Caution

If you’re sufficiently convinced that mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol is a bad idea, you may find yourself considering skipping a day of Wellbutrin to drink — this is a bad idea! Alcohol can still interact with Wellbutrin in your system for up to a week after you stop taking it, and it takes even longer for brain chemistry to normalize after stopping Wellbutrin. Skipping doses and drinking heavily are individually associated with increased risk of seizure. The risk compounds when we do both simultaneously.

Most importantly, skipping doses of Wellbutrin reduces its effectiveness. When paired with alcohol’s depressive effects, skipping doses of Wellbutrin to drink creates a negative feedback loop. It’s important to remember why we are taking Wellbutrin in the first place and prioritize our wellness.

Alcohol and Medications
2024-01-28 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Does Pepcid Help With Alcohol Flush?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Is Pepcid a viable solution for alcohol flush? Science says no. Read more about the effects of Pepcid when drinking on our latest blog.

15 min read

Looking to Reduce Symptoms of Alcohol Flush? Try Reframe!

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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Have you ever wondered why your face may turn bright red when you drink alcohol, but other people’s faces don’t? Alcohol flush is the culprit. Alcohol flush symptoms can be so uncomfortable you find yourself scouring the internet for solutions to get rid of it. 

Pepcid is the most common suggestion for people looking to reduce symptoms of alcohol flush. Why is an antacid the first recommendation that pops up in a search? Does it actually work? And what about mixing alcohol with medication? All these questions can feel overwhelming as you try to decide whether Pepcid is a viable solution for your alcohol flush symptoms. 

While you may be searching for a simple yes or no, the answer to the effectiveness of Pepcid for alcohol flush is a bit more complicated. To help you make a more informed decision on whether or not to pop a Pepcid before your next party, let’s take a look at the science behind Pepcid and alcohol. 

What Is Alcohol Flush?

Alcohol flush, also known as “alcohol glow” or “Asian flush,” is a reaction that occurs in some of us after consuming alcohol. 

Alcohol flush is caused by a deficiency of the two main enzymes that help break down alcohol: aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). People who experience alcohol flush have a mutation in the gene ALDH2, which contains these enzymes. 

Our livers break down alcohol, also known as ethanol, into a toxic compound called acetaldehyde. If you’ve ever had a horrible hangover, the accumulation of the highly toxic acetaldehyde is to blame. For those of us without the altered ALDH2 gene, the toxic compound is broken down more quickly with the help of the necessary enzymes. In people with the deficient form of the gene, acetaldehyde stays in the body for a longer period of time, causing what we know as alcohol flush.

Alcohol flush is an inherited trait that affects about 8% of the total population. Alcohol flush reactions are seen proportionately higher in those of East Asian descent, at above 50% versus those of other demographics at less than 30%. This is why you may be one of the lucky few who turn tomato-red after drinking. Although the symptoms of alcohol flush can be brushed off as just a nuisance when drinking, the symptoms may be a warning sign of something more serious.

The primary symptom of alcohol flush is the flushing or reddening of the face and body, hence the name. However, the flushing is also typically accompanied by a host of other uncomfortable and alarming symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Congestion
  • Hives

Our bodies use these symptoms to warn us that alcohol is highly toxic and to stop drinking. Alcohol flush is akin to other signals that our bodies send, such as stomach pain to stop us from overeating or a dry mouth to tell us to drink water. 

What Is Pepcid and How Does It Work?

Pepcid is a medication used to treat heartburn caused by acid indigestion. The antacid is part of a specific subgroup of medication known as histamine blockers (H2 blockers). H2 blockers reduce stomach acid to relieve symptoms of acid reflux and other gastrointestinal conditions.

Some common side effects of Pepcid include dizziness, headaches, constipation, and diarrhea. 

Pepcid AC and the maximum strength version take about 10-15 minutes to take effect. However, the maximum effects are seen around 1-3 hours after taking the medication. The best time to take Pepcid is about an hour before a meal to prevent symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

Link Between Pepcid and Alcohol

Now, let’s take a closer look at the link between Pepcid and alcohol to see why heartburn medication is commonly suggested as a solution for alcohol flush. 

With an intolerance to alcohol, drinking might make your immune system react by producing histamines. Pepcid, as a histamine blocker, may reduce some symptoms of intolerance or allergy. 

Additionally, Pepcid is an antacid that reduces production of stomach acid. Our stomach acid helps break down and metabolize everything we ingest, from our breakfast smoothie to the cookie we snuck in before bed. When we drink, our stomachs begin to metabolize part of the alcohol, which Pepcid slows down. This delays the breakdown of alcohol to toxic acetaldehyde — which in turn masks or slows flushing symptoms. This theory is similar to the common recommendation to eat a hearty meal prior to drinking to lessen intoxication.

Dangers and Side Effects of Pepcid for Alcohol Flushing

Pepcid may sound like the magic pill that can prevent you from glowing like a stoplight when you drink, but unfortunately, it comes at a steep price. We have learned that Pepcid helps mask or slow the toxic effects of acetaldehyde, but the truth is, the toxins are still present and continue to harm the body. And there are some negative effects of taking Pepcid and alcohol together:

  • Higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Studies show that people who experience alcohol flush have significantly higher blood alcohol levels than those who do not, when drinking the same amount of alcohol. This means that people with alcohol flush will experience greater harmful effects from drinking, even if Pepcid hides external symptoms.
  • Increased alcohol consumption. Since Pepcid may briefly get rid of the telltale glow of alcohol flush, some of us might continue to drink more without the discomfort warning us to slow down.
  • Medication mixing effects. The Federal Drug Administration doesn’t report any information regarding the effects of mixing Pepcid and alcohol. The safety of mixing Pepcid and alcohol is inconclusive, although there are not many reported harmful effects or negative interactions. However, mixing any medication with alcohol has risks, and Pepcid alone has side effects for some people.
  • Higher risk for cancer. Acetaldehyde — which results from the breaking down of alcohol — is a carcinogen. Studies have found that those of us experience alcohol flush are at a greater risk of developing cancer. For those without the ALDH2 deficiency, acetaldehyde is broken down into acetate, then water and carbon dioxide to be eliminated. People with alcohol flush have difficulties metabolizing the carcinogen — leaving it to linger in the body.

Mixing Pepcid With Other Heartburn Medication

We have touched on mixing Pepcid with alcohol, but some people wonder if you can take Pepcid with other antacids. Is the more the merrier? Pepcid and Tums are both antacids, but they contain different compounds. Pepcid reduces stomach acid while Tums neutralizes it. In the case of using it to reduce alcohol flush, both medications work similarly. So, can you take Pepcid and Tums together? Yes, but it’s no more effective, and it can lead to dangerous levels of calcium

For those who experience heartburn symptoms, a different category of heartburn medication, proton pump inhibitors (PPI), may be more appropriate. The slow release of these medications helps the effect last for several days; however, alcohol can still irritate the stomach, which consequently can increase heartburn symptoms.

Helpful Tips To Reduce Alcohol Flush

Pepcid is effective in reducing some symptoms of alcohol flush, but it comes at a heavy cost. Let’s take a look at some healthier and more effective ways to reduce alcohol flush. 

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water won’t magically get rid of your glow, but it may help reduce hangover symptoms the next day. Much like Pepcid, staying hydrated is just a small Band-Aid for over drinking.
  • Choose drinks with a low alcohol level. If you still choose to have a drink now and again, opt for a drink with low alcohol content to help reduce the toxic levels of acetaldehyde in the body.
  • Reduce consumption of alcohol. The most effective way to prevent alcohol flush is to reduce your consumption of alcohol or stay away from alcohol altogether. You can still join in on the fun by recreating your favorite drink alcohol-free, as a mocktail. While temporary solutions can mask the symptoms of flushing, the harmful effects of ignoring the body’s warning signs are something you won’t want to overlook. 

The Bottom Line

It may be true that Pepcid reduces some unwanted alcohol flush symptoms. But the pill is a small Band-Aid for the larger issue, and it can cause more harm than good. Every now and again taking a Pepcid to hide the dreaded red glow may not be particularly detrimental, but in the long run, there can be serious adverse consequences. Now that you know the ins and outs of Pepcid and alcohol, you can make a more informed choice on whether or not taking it is worth it for you.

Have you ever wondered why your face may turn bright red when you drink alcohol, but other people’s faces don’t? Alcohol flush is the culprit. Alcohol flush symptoms can be so uncomfortable you find yourself scouring the internet for solutions to get rid of it. 

Pepcid is the most common suggestion for people looking to reduce symptoms of alcohol flush. Why is an antacid the first recommendation that pops up in a search? Does it actually work? And what about mixing alcohol with medication? All these questions can feel overwhelming as you try to decide whether Pepcid is a viable solution for your alcohol flush symptoms. 

While you may be searching for a simple yes or no, the answer to the effectiveness of Pepcid for alcohol flush is a bit more complicated. To help you make a more informed decision on whether or not to pop a Pepcid before your next party, let’s take a look at the science behind Pepcid and alcohol. 

What Is Alcohol Flush?

Alcohol flush, also known as “alcohol glow” or “Asian flush,” is a reaction that occurs in some of us after consuming alcohol. 

Alcohol flush is caused by a deficiency of the two main enzymes that help break down alcohol: aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). People who experience alcohol flush have a mutation in the gene ALDH2, which contains these enzymes. 

Our livers break down alcohol, also known as ethanol, into a toxic compound called acetaldehyde. If you’ve ever had a horrible hangover, the accumulation of the highly toxic acetaldehyde is to blame. For those of us without the altered ALDH2 gene, the toxic compound is broken down more quickly with the help of the necessary enzymes. In people with the deficient form of the gene, acetaldehyde stays in the body for a longer period of time, causing what we know as alcohol flush.

Alcohol flush is an inherited trait that affects about 8% of the total population. Alcohol flush reactions are seen proportionately higher in those of East Asian descent, at above 50% versus those of other demographics at less than 30%. This is why you may be one of the lucky few who turn tomato-red after drinking. Although the symptoms of alcohol flush can be brushed off as just a nuisance when drinking, the symptoms may be a warning sign of something more serious.

The primary symptom of alcohol flush is the flushing or reddening of the face and body, hence the name. However, the flushing is also typically accompanied by a host of other uncomfortable and alarming symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Congestion
  • Hives

Our bodies use these symptoms to warn us that alcohol is highly toxic and to stop drinking. Alcohol flush is akin to other signals that our bodies send, such as stomach pain to stop us from overeating or a dry mouth to tell us to drink water. 

What Is Pepcid and How Does It Work?

Pepcid is a medication used to treat heartburn caused by acid indigestion. The antacid is part of a specific subgroup of medication known as histamine blockers (H2 blockers). H2 blockers reduce stomach acid to relieve symptoms of acid reflux and other gastrointestinal conditions.

Some common side effects of Pepcid include dizziness, headaches, constipation, and diarrhea. 

Pepcid AC and the maximum strength version take about 10-15 minutes to take effect. However, the maximum effects are seen around 1-3 hours after taking the medication. The best time to take Pepcid is about an hour before a meal to prevent symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.

Link Between Pepcid and Alcohol

Now, let’s take a closer look at the link between Pepcid and alcohol to see why heartburn medication is commonly suggested as a solution for alcohol flush. 

With an intolerance to alcohol, drinking might make your immune system react by producing histamines. Pepcid, as a histamine blocker, may reduce some symptoms of intolerance or allergy. 

Additionally, Pepcid is an antacid that reduces production of stomach acid. Our stomach acid helps break down and metabolize everything we ingest, from our breakfast smoothie to the cookie we snuck in before bed. When we drink, our stomachs begin to metabolize part of the alcohol, which Pepcid slows down. This delays the breakdown of alcohol to toxic acetaldehyde — which in turn masks or slows flushing symptoms. This theory is similar to the common recommendation to eat a hearty meal prior to drinking to lessen intoxication.

Dangers and Side Effects of Pepcid for Alcohol Flushing

Pepcid may sound like the magic pill that can prevent you from glowing like a stoplight when you drink, but unfortunately, it comes at a steep price. We have learned that Pepcid helps mask or slow the toxic effects of acetaldehyde, but the truth is, the toxins are still present and continue to harm the body. And there are some negative effects of taking Pepcid and alcohol together:

  • Higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Studies show that people who experience alcohol flush have significantly higher blood alcohol levels than those who do not, when drinking the same amount of alcohol. This means that people with alcohol flush will experience greater harmful effects from drinking, even if Pepcid hides external symptoms.
  • Increased alcohol consumption. Since Pepcid may briefly get rid of the telltale glow of alcohol flush, some of us might continue to drink more without the discomfort warning us to slow down.
  • Medication mixing effects. The Federal Drug Administration doesn’t report any information regarding the effects of mixing Pepcid and alcohol. The safety of mixing Pepcid and alcohol is inconclusive, although there are not many reported harmful effects or negative interactions. However, mixing any medication with alcohol has risks, and Pepcid alone has side effects for some people.
  • Higher risk for cancer. Acetaldehyde — which results from the breaking down of alcohol — is a carcinogen. Studies have found that those of us experience alcohol flush are at a greater risk of developing cancer. For those without the ALDH2 deficiency, acetaldehyde is broken down into acetate, then water and carbon dioxide to be eliminated. People with alcohol flush have difficulties metabolizing the carcinogen — leaving it to linger in the body.

Mixing Pepcid With Other Heartburn Medication

We have touched on mixing Pepcid with alcohol, but some people wonder if you can take Pepcid with other antacids. Is the more the merrier? Pepcid and Tums are both antacids, but they contain different compounds. Pepcid reduces stomach acid while Tums neutralizes it. In the case of using it to reduce alcohol flush, both medications work similarly. So, can you take Pepcid and Tums together? Yes, but it’s no more effective, and it can lead to dangerous levels of calcium

For those who experience heartburn symptoms, a different category of heartburn medication, proton pump inhibitors (PPI), may be more appropriate. The slow release of these medications helps the effect last for several days; however, alcohol can still irritate the stomach, which consequently can increase heartburn symptoms.

Helpful Tips To Reduce Alcohol Flush

Pepcid is effective in reducing some symptoms of alcohol flush, but it comes at a heavy cost. Let’s take a look at some healthier and more effective ways to reduce alcohol flush. 

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water won’t magically get rid of your glow, but it may help reduce hangover symptoms the next day. Much like Pepcid, staying hydrated is just a small Band-Aid for over drinking.
  • Choose drinks with a low alcohol level. If you still choose to have a drink now and again, opt for a drink with low alcohol content to help reduce the toxic levels of acetaldehyde in the body.
  • Reduce consumption of alcohol. The most effective way to prevent alcohol flush is to reduce your consumption of alcohol or stay away from alcohol altogether. You can still join in on the fun by recreating your favorite drink alcohol-free, as a mocktail. While temporary solutions can mask the symptoms of flushing, the harmful effects of ignoring the body’s warning signs are something you won’t want to overlook. 

The Bottom Line

It may be true that Pepcid reduces some unwanted alcohol flush symptoms. But the pill is a small Band-Aid for the larger issue, and it can cause more harm than good. Every now and again taking a Pepcid to hide the dreaded red glow may not be particularly detrimental, but in the long run, there can be serious adverse consequences. Now that you know the ins and outs of Pepcid and alcohol, you can make a more informed choice on whether or not taking it is worth it for you.

Alcohol and Medications
2024-01-23 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Does Pedialyte Help With Hangovers?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Do you want to prevent your hangover? While Pedialyte isn’t the answer to all your hangover symptoms, it may help with some.

12 min read

Fight Hangovers and Have Better Mornings With Reframe!

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

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills to survive drinking less and thrive while navigating 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 be able to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re constantly 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 you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! We launch fun challenges monthly, 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 seven days, so you have nothing to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

You’re waking up from a night out, and you’re definitely not feeling your best. Your head is pounding, you feel nauseous, and, oh my gosh, you’re just so thirsty! Even though you feel terrible, you’ve got a big meeting to prepare for. You’ve just got to find something to help you feel better. Is there a magic hangover cure? 

Today we’re looking at hangovers and determining whether Pedialyte is really a magic cure. (Spoiler: not entirely.) What’s happening when we’re hungover? Why does Pedialyte help? What hangover symptoms does Pedialyte address?

Symptoms of Hangovers

Let’s talk about hangovers first — we need to be clear about what we’re trying to cure. There are many common symptoms of hangovers:

  • Fatigue, weakness, dehydration
  • Nausea, vomiting, vertigo 
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Anxiety, irritability 
  • Sweating, elevated blood pressure, low blood sugar

We experience hangovers for a whole host of reasons. Today we’re focusing on just a few: dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar. 

  • Dehydration is caused by a person not drinking enough fluids or by losing excessive amounts of fluids. Common ways people lose fluids are through vomiting, diarrhea, urination, and sweating. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes us to pass more fluid — one big cause of dehydration the morning after we drink.
  • Electrolyte imbalance. An electrolyte is an electrically charged molecule in the body. Electrolytes are important for everyday bodily maintenance and are key contributors to communication systems in the body and brain. Some of the most important electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphate.
  • Low blood sugar. To work properly, your body needs a certain level of sugar in the blood. This blood sugar is the main source of energy throughout the body and is essential for the brain to function. When blood sugar levels are low, you may start to become shaky, your heartbeat increases, and your brain feels a bit foggy. 

As alcohol increases urine production, the body loses electrolytes in the excess urine. Drinking excessively can also lead to loss of electrolytes through sweating. The electrolytes lost during drinking are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Your blood sugar drops from drinking because your body loses sugar as it breaks down alcohol.

What Is Pedialyte? 

Pedialyte is a drink that formulated electrolytes into a liquid solution. It was created to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes in sick children after illnesses like stomach viruses. As it was originally marketed to children, it meets a Pediatric Academy standard for preventing dehydration in infants and children. In recent years, Pedialyte has become popular with athletes and with adults fighting off hangovers. But can it cure a hangover?  

The classic recipe for Pedialyte contains the following key ingredients to help combat dehydration: 

  • Water 
  • Dextrose, a form of glucose (sugar) 
  • Zinc 
  • Sodium, chloride, and potassium (electrolytes)

How Does Pedialyte Help With Hangovers? 

Although Pedialyte isn’t a cure-all for hangovers, it can ease symptoms caused by dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar. 

  • Dehydration. Drinking Pedialyte helps replenish fluids lost from drinking alcohol. 
  • Electrolyte imbalance. Pedialyte contains sodium, chloride, and potassium, so it helps restore the electrolytes lost from drinking.  
  • Low blood sugar. As Pedialyte contains a form of sugar — dextrose — it can help raise blood sugar levels. 

Untreated, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, thirst, and stomach pain. Since Pedialyte addresses the causes of these symptoms, it can make us feel better while we’re suffering with a hangover.

How To Use Pedialyte To Help With Hangovers 

Pedialyte can help with some symptoms of hangovers. However, the research is unclear about  whether vitamin or mineral supplements such as Pedialyte are effective. Every hangover is different, which makes it difficult to replicate the true experience — and therefore, it’s hard to confirm the effectiveness of Pedialyte for hangovers.

If we want to use Pedialyte to alleviate hangover symptoms, when would the best time to take it be? The ideal time to drink Pedialyte is before you go to bed: it’s better as a preventative than as a cure.

Drinking Pedialyte before bed would help prevent waking up dehydrated and may lessen some hangover symptoms. The amount of Pedialyte you should drink is unclear, but consider slowly sipping anywhere from a cup to a pint.

Alternatives to Pedialyte 

Pedialyte is not the only thing that can help with hangover symptoms. There are many supplements and remedies that people claim cure hangovers, but most are not backed by science. Let’s look at some hangover cures that can make you feel better after drinking alcohol. 

  • Hydrate! One of the simplest ways to rehydrate after drinking is to drink water. Many of us tend to only drink water when we are thirsty, but this is usually a sign of dehydration. Drink or sip water throughout the day, especially if you’re planning to drink alcohol later. And when you do drink, alternate alcoholic beverages with water to stay hydrated as you go. 
  • Electrolyte beverages. With the rise in popularity of Pedialyte for adults, several other products have come out that are enhanced with electrolytes. Products such as Liquid IV, Gatorade, coconut water, and electrolyte - infused waters are marketed as hangover relief. Check the ingredients of each product to make an informed decision about which will be most beneficial. 
  • Eating. Eating can also help with hangover symptoms. Bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium and can help replenish losses after drinking alcohol. Fruit smoothies can contain extra electrolytes, and as a bonus, the liquid helps with rehydration.

Pedialyte does help with hangover symptoms — but not too much more than drinking water and having a healthy snack. It’s important to note that science has not confirmed Pedialyte as a tool for curing hangovers. Most hangovers will subside on their own within 24 hours through the body’s natural processes. 

You’re waking up from a night out, and you’re definitely not feeling your best. Your head is pounding, you feel nauseous, and, oh my gosh, you’re just so thirsty! Even though you feel terrible, you’ve got a big meeting to prepare for. You’ve just got to find something to help you feel better. Is there a magic hangover cure? 

Today we’re looking at hangovers and determining whether Pedialyte is really a magic cure. (Spoiler: not entirely.) What’s happening when we’re hungover? Why does Pedialyte help? What hangover symptoms does Pedialyte address?

Symptoms of Hangovers

Let’s talk about hangovers first — we need to be clear about what we’re trying to cure. There are many common symptoms of hangovers:

  • Fatigue, weakness, dehydration
  • Nausea, vomiting, vertigo 
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Anxiety, irritability 
  • Sweating, elevated blood pressure, low blood sugar

We experience hangovers for a whole host of reasons. Today we’re focusing on just a few: dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar. 

  • Dehydration is caused by a person not drinking enough fluids or by losing excessive amounts of fluids. Common ways people lose fluids are through vomiting, diarrhea, urination, and sweating. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes us to pass more fluid — one big cause of dehydration the morning after we drink.
  • Electrolyte imbalance. An electrolyte is an electrically charged molecule in the body. Electrolytes are important for everyday bodily maintenance and are key contributors to communication systems in the body and brain. Some of the most important electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and phosphate.
  • Low blood sugar. To work properly, your body needs a certain level of sugar in the blood. This blood sugar is the main source of energy throughout the body and is essential for the brain to function. When blood sugar levels are low, you may start to become shaky, your heartbeat increases, and your brain feels a bit foggy. 

As alcohol increases urine production, the body loses electrolytes in the excess urine. Drinking excessively can also lead to loss of electrolytes through sweating. The electrolytes lost during drinking are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Your blood sugar drops from drinking because your body loses sugar as it breaks down alcohol.

What Is Pedialyte? 

Pedialyte is a drink that formulated electrolytes into a liquid solution. It was created to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes in sick children after illnesses like stomach viruses. As it was originally marketed to children, it meets a Pediatric Academy standard for preventing dehydration in infants and children. In recent years, Pedialyte has become popular with athletes and with adults fighting off hangovers. But can it cure a hangover?  

The classic recipe for Pedialyte contains the following key ingredients to help combat dehydration: 

  • Water 
  • Dextrose, a form of glucose (sugar) 
  • Zinc 
  • Sodium, chloride, and potassium (electrolytes)

How Does Pedialyte Help With Hangovers? 

Although Pedialyte isn’t a cure-all for hangovers, it can ease symptoms caused by dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar. 

  • Dehydration. Drinking Pedialyte helps replenish fluids lost from drinking alcohol. 
  • Electrolyte imbalance. Pedialyte contains sodium, chloride, and potassium, so it helps restore the electrolytes lost from drinking.  
  • Low blood sugar. As Pedialyte contains a form of sugar — dextrose — it can help raise blood sugar levels. 

Untreated, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and low blood sugar lead to headaches, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, thirst, and stomach pain. Since Pedialyte addresses the causes of these symptoms, it can make us feel better while we’re suffering with a hangover.

How To Use Pedialyte To Help With Hangovers 

Pedialyte can help with some symptoms of hangovers. However, the research is unclear about  whether vitamin or mineral supplements such as Pedialyte are effective. Every hangover is different, which makes it difficult to replicate the true experience — and therefore, it’s hard to confirm the effectiveness of Pedialyte for hangovers.

If we want to use Pedialyte to alleviate hangover symptoms, when would the best time to take it be? The ideal time to drink Pedialyte is before you go to bed: it’s better as a preventative than as a cure.

Drinking Pedialyte before bed would help prevent waking up dehydrated and may lessen some hangover symptoms. The amount of Pedialyte you should drink is unclear, but consider slowly sipping anywhere from a cup to a pint.

Alternatives to Pedialyte 

Pedialyte is not the only thing that can help with hangover symptoms. There are many supplements and remedies that people claim cure hangovers, but most are not backed by science. Let’s look at some hangover cures that can make you feel better after drinking alcohol. 

  • Hydrate! One of the simplest ways to rehydrate after drinking is to drink water. Many of us tend to only drink water when we are thirsty, but this is usually a sign of dehydration. Drink or sip water throughout the day, especially if you’re planning to drink alcohol later. And when you do drink, alternate alcoholic beverages with water to stay hydrated as you go. 
  • Electrolyte beverages. With the rise in popularity of Pedialyte for adults, several other products have come out that are enhanced with electrolytes. Products such as Liquid IV, Gatorade, coconut water, and electrolyte - infused waters are marketed as hangover relief. Check the ingredients of each product to make an informed decision about which will be most beneficial. 
  • Eating. Eating can also help with hangover symptoms. Bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium and can help replenish losses after drinking alcohol. Fruit smoothies can contain extra electrolytes, and as a bonus, the liquid helps with rehydration.

Pedialyte does help with hangover symptoms — but not too much more than drinking water and having a healthy snack. It’s important to note that science has not confirmed Pedialyte as a tool for curing hangovers. Most hangovers will subside on their own within 24 hours through the body’s natural processes. 

Alcohol and Medications
2024-01-17 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Can You Drink on Propranolol?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Taking propranolol and planning to party? Learn about the potential interactions between alcohol and propranolol, and take precautions to protect your health.

16 min read

Take Back Your Health With Reframe

Orange wine is beautiful, and it can be delicious. But as with all alcoholic beverages, mindful moderation is key. This is where the Reframe app comes in handy.

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

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills to survive drinking less and thrive while navigating 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 be able to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re constantly 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 you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! We launch fun challenges monthly, 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 seven days, so you have nothing to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

You’re at a dinner party, and the host passes around a bottle of wine. Normally, you’d pour a glass, but tonight you hesitate — you just started taking a new medication, and you're not sure if it's safe to mix with alcohol.

Almost all of us have taken medication at one point or another, but it may not have occurred to us that alcohol could cause an interaction. Today we’re looking at a common heart medication called propranolol. It’s prescribed for a number of reasons, but it acts on the heart — and so does alcohol.

So do these two substances work together to keep your ticker ticking, or do they make a dangerous cocktail? Let’s take a look at the science and learn how to stay safe!

What Is Propranolol, and What Is It Used For?

Propranolol is a class of medication known as a beta-blocker. It works by slowing your heart rate and reducing how hard your heart has to work. Beta blockers work by blocking beta receptors in the heart — hence the name!

Beta receptors are responsible for receiving natural excitatory chemicals in our body, like adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and norepinephrine. These chemicals are part of our body’s “fight or flight” response, which increases our heart rate, makes our heart pump harder, and raises our blood pressure. When beta receptors are blocked, our heart stays calmer and doesn’t get as excited by these chemicals.

Uses of Propranolol

Propranolol is not an emergency heart rate medication. Instead, it’s typically used in long-term management of disorders that affect the heart.

  • High blood pressure. One of the main uses of propranolol is treating hypertension (a.k.a., high blood pressure) in tandem with other medications and lifestyle changes. 
  • Arrhythmias. Due to its ability to regulate heart rate, propranolol is used to treat some arrhythmia (heart rhythm) conditions, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib).
  • Chronic chest pain. Known as angina, chest pain can happen when the heart doesn't get enough blood. This is common after heart attacks or in people with other risk factors for narrowed arteries.
  • Anxiety. Sometimes, propranolol is used to help with physical symptoms of anxiety, like a racing heart or shaking. It is typically fast-acting and does not have significant sedative effects.
  • Other uses. It’s also sometimes used for preventing migraines or treating certain types of tremors.

Is Propranolol a Blood Thinner?

Because it’s commonly prescribed for those with heart conditions, it’s a common misconception that propranolol is a blood thinner when, in fact, it is not. 

Blood thinners reduce the risk of blood clots, while propranolol works on the heart's rhythm and pressure. Many people with heart conditions or hypertension are at risk of blood clots, and they may also be on blood thinners to manage this condition. However, propranolol is in a class of its own.

Chemistry of Alcohol

Much like propranolol, alcohol is a chemical that affects the body. While propranolol is used to treat medical conditions, alcohol is a chemical we choose for its temporary sedative and mood-boosting effects. Let’s look at a quick overview of alcohol’s chemical process.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant: it slows our body’s nerve impulses. This doesn’t just mean that everything slows down. In fact, some of these slow-downs cause other things to speed up — such as the heart.

Alcohol can cause an increase in heart rate by stimulating the release of adrenaline in the body — yes, the same thing propranolol blocks! It also increases heart rate by lowering blood pressure and interfering with the electrical signals in our heart directly.

You may be thinking, “Wow, it sounds like alcohol can help lower my blood pressure!” Not so fast. Moderate alcohol temporarily lowers blood pressure for up to 12 hours after drinking, but then raises it after that for at least 24 hours. Heart rate is also consistently increased for at least 24 hours after drinking. Binge drinking and chronic alcohol use are both associated with high blood pressure. So don’t think you can replace your alcohol with propranolol just yet.

Interactions Between Propranolol and Alcohol

When alcohol and propranolol are used together, they can interact in ways that may be harmful to your health. The interactions have different implications based on your reason for taking propranolol, and understanding each one is important for making the most informed health decisions.

  • Heart rate. Propranolol slows the heart rate, but alcohol has the opposite effect by temporarily increasing it. When combined, these opposite actions can cause irregular heart rhythms or palpitations.
  • Blood pressure. Alcohol initially lowers blood pressure, but hangovers, binge drinking, and chronic alcohol misuse can increase blood pressure. This fluctuation can undermine propranolol's effectiveness in managing blood pressure consistently.
  • Depressant effects. Both propranolol and alcohol are depressants. When taken together, they amplify each other’s effects. Depending on dosage and the amount of alcohol consumed, this can be anywhere from annoying to dangerous — especially when driving.
  • Side effects. The side effects of propranolol, such as fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness, can be amplified by alcohol. This can increase our risk of falls or accidents.
  • Anxiety and depression. For those who take propranolol for anxiety, it’s a quick way to alleviate the increased heart rate associated with anxiety attacks or increased stress. Alcohol consumption can increase overall anxiety and even lead to depression, counteracting the medication's benefits.
  • Liver function. Alcohol and propranolol are both metabolized by the liver. Excessive alcohol consumption impairs liver function, affecting how propranolol is processed in the body and potentially leading to an accumulation of the medication. This can cause increased side effects or excessive sedation.

Can I Take Propranolol During a Hangover?

We’ve discussed the potential effects of mixing alcohol and propranolol, but it’s possible you’ve already mixed these two substances and now you’re in the aftermath — the dreaded hangover. We know that alcohol causes a chemical response in our body, and we know that hangovers are our body’s response to alcohol. So how does the chemistry of hangovers affect the chemistry of propranolol?

Morning After Blues

Hangovers occur after alcohol’s effects have worn off, and they typically involve symptoms like headache, dehydration, fatigue, and anxiety. They’re caused by the chemical rebounds of alcohol’s effects on our brain chemistry, and the aftereffects of our body’s physical response to alcohol, like excessive urination and poor sleep.

Taking propranolol during a hangover can be complex. The effects and aftereffects of alcohol continue to affect your heart rate and blood pressure for at least 24 hours. The liver is still working hard to process the leftovers of alcohol metabolism, and introducing propranolol may stress it.

Hangovers stress your body (especially your cardiovascular system), potentially making the symptoms that propranolol treats more pronounced. On the other hand, some hangover symptoms, like dehydration, can be worsened by propranolol. Propranolol’s ability to lower blood pressure and heart rate could intensify feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness during a hangover.

Other Considerations

If propranolol is a regular part of your medication routine, missing a dose can be risky, especially if you're taking it for heart-related conditions. However, the added physical stress of a hangover might require a different approach. Take it easy, stay hydrated, and replenish electrolytes during a hangover. Drinking water and consuming electrolyte-rich foods or drinks can mitigate some of the dehydrating effects of both substances.

It’s also important to be honest with your healthcare provider. Tell them how much you drink and seek their personalized advice about how to balance your propranolol use with your drinking habits. If you don’t really know how much you drink, consider using the Reframe app’s drink tracker to get a clear picture.

Your overall health plays a significant role in how both propranolol and alcohol affect you. For example, propranolol can mask the signs of low blood sugar or trigger asthma attacks. Alcohol can trigger episodes of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a common condition for which propranolol is prescribed.

Tips for Managing Propranolol and Alcohol Consumption

  1. Reduce alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink while taking propranolol, set limits for yourself and choose lower-alcohol options. Start slow and pay attention to how your body reacts. Consider alternating with water or a mocktail to help with hydration and rate of consumption.
  2. Stay hydrated. Alcohol and propranolol are both dehydrating. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after consuming alcohol.
  3. Avoid heavy drinking. It's generally safer to avoid heavy or binge drinking while taking propranolol (of course, it’s always best to avoid binge drinking!).
  4. Don't skip medication for alcohol. You shouldn’t skip a dose of propranolol to drink alcohol. Missing your medication can lead to instability in your condition and is not a safe trade-off for alcohol consumption. Remember: your doctor prescribed propranolol, not alcohol!
  5. Consult your doctor. Before deciding to drink alcohol while on propranolol, have a discussion with your healthcare provider. They can provide tailored advice based on your health history and current condition.
  6. Plan for safety. If you're going to drink, plan for your safety in advance. Expect that some side effects may get worse and make a plan for handling them. Ask for social support and consider informing someone you trust about your situation.

The Big Picture

Using alcohol and propranolol together isn’t necessarily dangerous. It depends on a lot of factors, such as amount used, underlying health issues, reasons for taking propranolol (and their severity), and other medications you use. Ultimately, only your doctor can assess all these factors and give you the most personalized advice.

But keep this in mind: most of the conditions treated by propranolol are negatively impacted by alcohol. If you’re concerned that alcohol is interfering with your ability to manage your health, consider using the Reframe app to develop a personalized plan to quit or cut back on alcohol consumption.

You’re at a dinner party, and the host passes around a bottle of wine. Normally, you’d pour a glass, but tonight you hesitate — you just started taking a new medication, and you're not sure if it's safe to mix with alcohol.

Almost all of us have taken medication at one point or another, but it may not have occurred to us that alcohol could cause an interaction. Today we’re looking at a common heart medication called propranolol. It’s prescribed for a number of reasons, but it acts on the heart — and so does alcohol.

So do these two substances work together to keep your ticker ticking, or do they make a dangerous cocktail? Let’s take a look at the science and learn how to stay safe!

What Is Propranolol, and What Is It Used For?

Propranolol is a class of medication known as a beta-blocker. It works by slowing your heart rate and reducing how hard your heart has to work. Beta blockers work by blocking beta receptors in the heart — hence the name!

Beta receptors are responsible for receiving natural excitatory chemicals in our body, like adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and norepinephrine. These chemicals are part of our body’s “fight or flight” response, which increases our heart rate, makes our heart pump harder, and raises our blood pressure. When beta receptors are blocked, our heart stays calmer and doesn’t get as excited by these chemicals.

Uses of Propranolol

Propranolol is not an emergency heart rate medication. Instead, it’s typically used in long-term management of disorders that affect the heart.

  • High blood pressure. One of the main uses of propranolol is treating hypertension (a.k.a., high blood pressure) in tandem with other medications and lifestyle changes. 
  • Arrhythmias. Due to its ability to regulate heart rate, propranolol is used to treat some arrhythmia (heart rhythm) conditions, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib).
  • Chronic chest pain. Known as angina, chest pain can happen when the heart doesn't get enough blood. This is common after heart attacks or in people with other risk factors for narrowed arteries.
  • Anxiety. Sometimes, propranolol is used to help with physical symptoms of anxiety, like a racing heart or shaking. It is typically fast-acting and does not have significant sedative effects.
  • Other uses. It’s also sometimes used for preventing migraines or treating certain types of tremors.

Is Propranolol a Blood Thinner?

Because it’s commonly prescribed for those with heart conditions, it’s a common misconception that propranolol is a blood thinner when, in fact, it is not. 

Blood thinners reduce the risk of blood clots, while propranolol works on the heart's rhythm and pressure. Many people with heart conditions or hypertension are at risk of blood clots, and they may also be on blood thinners to manage this condition. However, propranolol is in a class of its own.

Chemistry of Alcohol

Much like propranolol, alcohol is a chemical that affects the body. While propranolol is used to treat medical conditions, alcohol is a chemical we choose for its temporary sedative and mood-boosting effects. Let’s look at a quick overview of alcohol’s chemical process.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant: it slows our body’s nerve impulses. This doesn’t just mean that everything slows down. In fact, some of these slow-downs cause other things to speed up — such as the heart.

Alcohol can cause an increase in heart rate by stimulating the release of adrenaline in the body — yes, the same thing propranolol blocks! It also increases heart rate by lowering blood pressure and interfering with the electrical signals in our heart directly.

You may be thinking, “Wow, it sounds like alcohol can help lower my blood pressure!” Not so fast. Moderate alcohol temporarily lowers blood pressure for up to 12 hours after drinking, but then raises it after that for at least 24 hours. Heart rate is also consistently increased for at least 24 hours after drinking. Binge drinking and chronic alcohol use are both associated with high blood pressure. So don’t think you can replace your alcohol with propranolol just yet.

Interactions Between Propranolol and Alcohol

When alcohol and propranolol are used together, they can interact in ways that may be harmful to your health. The interactions have different implications based on your reason for taking propranolol, and understanding each one is important for making the most informed health decisions.

  • Heart rate. Propranolol slows the heart rate, but alcohol has the opposite effect by temporarily increasing it. When combined, these opposite actions can cause irregular heart rhythms or palpitations.
  • Blood pressure. Alcohol initially lowers blood pressure, but hangovers, binge drinking, and chronic alcohol misuse can increase blood pressure. This fluctuation can undermine propranolol's effectiveness in managing blood pressure consistently.
  • Depressant effects. Both propranolol and alcohol are depressants. When taken together, they amplify each other’s effects. Depending on dosage and the amount of alcohol consumed, this can be anywhere from annoying to dangerous — especially when driving.
  • Side effects. The side effects of propranolol, such as fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness, can be amplified by alcohol. This can increase our risk of falls or accidents.
  • Anxiety and depression. For those who take propranolol for anxiety, it’s a quick way to alleviate the increased heart rate associated with anxiety attacks or increased stress. Alcohol consumption can increase overall anxiety and even lead to depression, counteracting the medication's benefits.
  • Liver function. Alcohol and propranolol are both metabolized by the liver. Excessive alcohol consumption impairs liver function, affecting how propranolol is processed in the body and potentially leading to an accumulation of the medication. This can cause increased side effects or excessive sedation.

Can I Take Propranolol During a Hangover?

We’ve discussed the potential effects of mixing alcohol and propranolol, but it’s possible you’ve already mixed these two substances and now you’re in the aftermath — the dreaded hangover. We know that alcohol causes a chemical response in our body, and we know that hangovers are our body’s response to alcohol. So how does the chemistry of hangovers affect the chemistry of propranolol?

Morning After Blues

Hangovers occur after alcohol’s effects have worn off, and they typically involve symptoms like headache, dehydration, fatigue, and anxiety. They’re caused by the chemical rebounds of alcohol’s effects on our brain chemistry, and the aftereffects of our body’s physical response to alcohol, like excessive urination and poor sleep.

Taking propranolol during a hangover can be complex. The effects and aftereffects of alcohol continue to affect your heart rate and blood pressure for at least 24 hours. The liver is still working hard to process the leftovers of alcohol metabolism, and introducing propranolol may stress it.

Hangovers stress your body (especially your cardiovascular system), potentially making the symptoms that propranolol treats more pronounced. On the other hand, some hangover symptoms, like dehydration, can be worsened by propranolol. Propranolol’s ability to lower blood pressure and heart rate could intensify feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness during a hangover.

Other Considerations

If propranolol is a regular part of your medication routine, missing a dose can be risky, especially if you're taking it for heart-related conditions. However, the added physical stress of a hangover might require a different approach. Take it easy, stay hydrated, and replenish electrolytes during a hangover. Drinking water and consuming electrolyte-rich foods or drinks can mitigate some of the dehydrating effects of both substances.

It’s also important to be honest with your healthcare provider. Tell them how much you drink and seek their personalized advice about how to balance your propranolol use with your drinking habits. If you don’t really know how much you drink, consider using the Reframe app’s drink tracker to get a clear picture.

Your overall health plays a significant role in how both propranolol and alcohol affect you. For example, propranolol can mask the signs of low blood sugar or trigger asthma attacks. Alcohol can trigger episodes of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a common condition for which propranolol is prescribed.

Tips for Managing Propranolol and Alcohol Consumption

  1. Reduce alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink while taking propranolol, set limits for yourself and choose lower-alcohol options. Start slow and pay attention to how your body reacts. Consider alternating with water or a mocktail to help with hydration and rate of consumption.
  2. Stay hydrated. Alcohol and propranolol are both dehydrating. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after consuming alcohol.
  3. Avoid heavy drinking. It's generally safer to avoid heavy or binge drinking while taking propranolol (of course, it’s always best to avoid binge drinking!).
  4. Don't skip medication for alcohol. You shouldn’t skip a dose of propranolol to drink alcohol. Missing your medication can lead to instability in your condition and is not a safe trade-off for alcohol consumption. Remember: your doctor prescribed propranolol, not alcohol!
  5. Consult your doctor. Before deciding to drink alcohol while on propranolol, have a discussion with your healthcare provider. They can provide tailored advice based on your health history and current condition.
  6. Plan for safety. If you're going to drink, plan for your safety in advance. Expect that some side effects may get worse and make a plan for handling them. Ask for social support and consider informing someone you trust about your situation.

The Big Picture

Using alcohol and propranolol together isn’t necessarily dangerous. It depends on a lot of factors, such as amount used, underlying health issues, reasons for taking propranolol (and their severity), and other medications you use. Ultimately, only your doctor can assess all these factors and give you the most personalized advice.

But keep this in mind: most of the conditions treated by propranolol are negatively impacted by alcohol. If you’re concerned that alcohol is interfering with your ability to manage your health, consider using the Reframe app to develop a personalized plan to quit or cut back on alcohol consumption.

Alcohol and Medications
2024-01-12 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Tysabri and Alcoholism: What Are the Side Effects?
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Can you drink while taking Tysabri? Gain insight into how alcohol interacts with Tysabri and how to manage MS symptoms.

20 min read

Get Healthy With Reframe

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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

Managing any chronic disease can be challenging — and multiple sclerosis is no different. While certain lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms, patients typically depend on medications to lower the relapse rate and slow the disease’s progression. Tysabri is one such medication. But how does alcohol interact with it, and is it safe to drink while taking it? 

In this post, we’ll explore what Tysabri is, how it helps treat multiple sclerosis (MS), and how it interacts with alcohol. We’ll also offer some tips for managing MS. Let’s dive in!

What Is Tysabri Used for?

Tysabri is a prescription medication that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). It’s considered a highly effective disease modifying drug, as it has been shown to reduce the number of relapses of MS and reduce the severity of any relapses that occur. In fact, in clinical trials, people taking Tysabri had about 70% fewer relapses of MS than people taking a placebo. Similarly, MRI scans showed that people taking Tysabri had fewer, smaller, or no new areas of active MS. 

Tysabri contains the active drug natalizumab, a “biologic” drug (one that’s made in a lab from living cells). It works by preventing potentially damaging immune cells in the bloodstream from entering the brain and spinal cord. Tysabri, typically taken intravenously once every month by patients with relapsing MS, is prescribed to people who haven’t responded well to other treatment options.

The side effects of Tysabri vary, but some of the most common include headache, fatigue, joint pain, urinary tract infection (UTI), and lung infection. In some instances, Tysabri can lead to herpes infections, liver damage, and allergic reactions. Tysabri can also increase the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare brain infection that usually leads to severe disability or death.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

So what is MS, and why is treatment necessary? MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication within the brain and spinal cord. It’s believed to be an autoimmune disorder, a condition in which the body attacks itself. But environmental factors, infectious agents (such as viruses), and genetics can also play a role in the development of MS. 

In MS, myelin — the fatty tissue surrounding and protecting nerve fibers — is destroyed in many areas of the brain and spinal cord. The loss of myelin forms scar tissue called “sclerosis.” When the nerves are damaged in this way, they can’t conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. Interrupting communication signals causes unpredictable symptoms, including numbness, tingling, mood changes, vision loss, slurred speech, memory problems, lack of coordination, and fatigue. 

Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely between patients and depend on the location and severity of nerve fiber damage. Some people have only mild, short-term symptoms, while others experience paralysis and lose their ability to see clearly, write, speak, or walk. 

MS and Alcohol: How Does Alcohol Affect Multiple Sclerosis?

When it comes to the relationship between MS and alcohol, there’s some conflicting evidence. Some studies show that alcohol can temporarily worsen symptoms of the condition, while others suggest it can calm an overactive immune system.

Because MS is a chronic inflammatory condition, scientists believe that it’s caused by an overactive immune system. Because of this, MS therapies often aim to suppress the immune response. Some studies discovered regular alcohol intake suppressed one aspect of immunity. However, there’s a lack of conclusive evidence, so scientists agree that more research needs to be done to determine whether alcohol can benefit people with MS. 


What we know for sure, though, is that there are some potential negative consequences of drinking alcohol with MS. Here are some of them: 

  • Worsened MS symptoms. People with MS often struggle with coordination, balance, and slurred speech. Even just one alcoholic beverage can cause them to become a bit more wobbly and slow their reaction time. As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol slows the reactions in our brain and spinal cord. This can lead to slow thinking, slow responses, and greater physical weakness in people with MS.

    Additionally, some people with MS report an overactive bladder and a greater need to urinate. Alcohol may only make things worse, since it’s a diuretic and causes us to pee more frequently. Furthermore, long-term alcohol consumption can impair the immune system and increase the inflammatory response characteristic of MS. 
  • Altered mood. Mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are common in people with MS — and often more severe compared to those without the condition. Alcohol on its own can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even though it provides a temporary mood boost through the release of dopamine (that “feel good” chemical), it disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters and can leave us feeling more depressed in the long run. 

    One study found that MS patients with histories of problematic drinking showed an increased risk of anxiety throughout their lifetime. Researchers also noted a link between suicidal thoughts and excess drinking in people with MS. 
  • Harmful interactions with medications. Common medications for treating certain symptoms of MS include muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory agents, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories), non-narcotic pain drugs, and opioids. Combining these with alcohol can be harmful. For instance, alcohol’s sedative effect can increase the impact of muscle relaxants and opioids. It can also increase the risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding resulting from NSAID use. Similarly, consuming alcohol while taking antidepressants may increase feelings of depression and hopelessness.

    It’s also worth noting that consuming alcohol can have a negative effect on important vitamins and minerals. For instance, it can lower levels of zinc — a chemical important for cell growth and repair.  

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause MS? 

So, does alcohol itself increase our risk of developing MS? Here again, there’s a bit of conflicting evidence whether alcohol consumption is an environmental risk factor for MS. One study from 2006 showed that people who drank hard liquor daily had a 6.7-fold increased risk of MS. However, a larger 2014 study showed that people who reported moderate alcohol consumption had half the odds of developing MS compared to those who did not drink alcohol. 

More recently, two studies found no significant association between drinking alcohol and developing MS. To date, there’s not enough conclusive evidence to say whether alcohol leads to an increased risk of developing the condition. However, there is conclusive evidence that regularly consuming alcohol can be detrimental to our overall health and well-being, affecting nearly every bodily system.

Alcohol and Tysabri Side Effects

What about drinking alcohol while on Tysabri — is it safe? While there are no harmful interactions between alcohol and Tysabri, drinking alcohol while on this medication may increase the risk of side effects. For instance, Tysabri can cause headaches, nausea, infections, and altered mood. Adding alcohol can increase these side effects because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes similar side effects to Tysabri. 

For instance, alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to headaches and nausea. Alcohol also weakens our immune system, increasing our risk of infections. It can also have a depressive effect on our mood by upsetting the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in our brain.

But it’s not just that alcohol can increase Tysabri’s side effects. As we learned above, alcohol can exacerbate MS symptoms in general. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, people with MS have experienced temporary worsening of balance and coordination after even just one drink. 

In general, it’s best to consult a medical professional to determine whether it’s ok for us to drink alcohol while taking Tysabri.

How To Manage Drinking With Tysabri

If we do choose to drink alcohol while being treated with Tysabri, here are 5 tips to help manage symptoms:

  1. Limit consumption. Since alcohol can worsen both Tysabri’s side effects and symptoms of MS, it’s best to limit our consumption. Drinking moderate amounts means limiting ourselves to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. However, we’ll be better off if we cut back to just one or two drinks a week.
  1. Don’t drink right before bed. Since both alcohol and MS can lead to frequent urination, it’s best not to consume alcohol right before bed. Doing so may cause us to wake up in the middle of the night, disrupting our sleep. Keep in mind that alcohol also disrupts REM sleep — the most important stage for physical and mental restoration.
  1. Drink water. Whenever you drink alcohol, make sure you’re also drinking water. Staying hydrated is vital for many bodily functions, and it offers various benefits for people with MS, such as reducing bladder and bowel symptoms, decreasing the side effects of Tysabri, and preventing fatigue and mental decline.
  1. Choose drinks with lower alcohol content. Avoid taking shots and drinking hard liquor or drinks with a higher alcohol content, as these can rapidly increase blood alcohol content (BAC) levels and make us more intoxicated. Opt instead for drinks with a lower alcohol content, such as beer or wine.

  2. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eating before drinking slows alcohol absorption, giving our body more time to process it. Eating a nutritious meal high in protein or healthy fats can be particularly beneficial. You might also consider snacking while drinking: this helps us drink more slowly and limit our consumption.

If you notice that alcohol worsens Tysabri’s side effects or MS symptoms, it’s best to avoid drinking entirely. And keep in mind that regularly consuming alcohol can be detrimental not just to our physical health, but our mental health as well.

Tips for Managing Multiple Sclerosis

In addition to the above, we can take certain steps to help manage MS symptoms. Here are 5 tips: 

  1. Eat nutritious food. There’s no special MS diet, but a healthy eating plan can give you more energy and help stave off chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Experts recommend plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also wise to consume enough fiber to prevent constipation, a common problem for people with MS. Many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils are good sources of fiber. 
  1. Keep your body moving. Exercise is important for people with MS both for fitness and for function. Regular exercise promotes flexibility and balance, and it can also help with other MS symptoms, such as constipation, fatigue, and cognitive issues. Many people with MS benefit from working with a physical therapist, who can help identify exercises to strengthen body areas that are particularly weak. 
  1. Exercise your brain. It’s important to exercise your brain. Because of the condition, MS patients often have to use more of their brain to do a specific task than other individuals. Doing crosswords, playing word games, taking classes, reading, or engaging in other mentally challenging activities can help keep your brain sharp and engaged.
  1. Practice stress management techniques. Many people with MS experience heightened levels of stress because of difficulties living with the condition. Meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and other stress-reduction practices have been shown to improve quality of life and possibly slow disease progression. Spending time with friends and loved ones or finding a club to join can also help us cope with stress.
  1. Protect your mental health. As we’ve learned, many people with MS can struggle with depression. It’s important to prioritize your mental health and seek treatment if necessary. Both psychotherapy and antidepressant medication have been found effective for depression in people with MS. Additionally, joining an MS support group can help us feel less alone. 

The Bottom Line

Tysabri is a prescription medication that can be used to help treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis — a chronic disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication within the brain and spinal cord. While there’s no harmful interaction between Tysabri and alcohol, drinking may increase the risk of side effects, such as headaches, nausea, infections and mood changes. Drinking alcohol can also worsen MS symptoms in general. If we choose to drink alcohol while being treated with Tysabri, it’s best to limit our consumption.

If you’re struggling to control your alcohol intake, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people cut back on their alcohol consumption and become healthier, stronger, and happier in the process. 

Managing any chronic disease can be challenging — and multiple sclerosis is no different. While certain lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms, patients typically depend on medications to lower the relapse rate and slow the disease’s progression. Tysabri is one such medication. But how does alcohol interact with it, and is it safe to drink while taking it? 

In this post, we’ll explore what Tysabri is, how it helps treat multiple sclerosis (MS), and how it interacts with alcohol. We’ll also offer some tips for managing MS. Let’s dive in!

What Is Tysabri Used for?

Tysabri is a prescription medication that is used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). It’s considered a highly effective disease modifying drug, as it has been shown to reduce the number of relapses of MS and reduce the severity of any relapses that occur. In fact, in clinical trials, people taking Tysabri had about 70% fewer relapses of MS than people taking a placebo. Similarly, MRI scans showed that people taking Tysabri had fewer, smaller, or no new areas of active MS. 

Tysabri contains the active drug natalizumab, a “biologic” drug (one that’s made in a lab from living cells). It works by preventing potentially damaging immune cells in the bloodstream from entering the brain and spinal cord. Tysabri, typically taken intravenously once every month by patients with relapsing MS, is prescribed to people who haven’t responded well to other treatment options.

The side effects of Tysabri vary, but some of the most common include headache, fatigue, joint pain, urinary tract infection (UTI), and lung infection. In some instances, Tysabri can lead to herpes infections, liver damage, and allergic reactions. Tysabri can also increase the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare brain infection that usually leads to severe disability or death.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

So what is MS, and why is treatment necessary? MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication within the brain and spinal cord. It’s believed to be an autoimmune disorder, a condition in which the body attacks itself. But environmental factors, infectious agents (such as viruses), and genetics can also play a role in the development of MS. 

In MS, myelin — the fatty tissue surrounding and protecting nerve fibers — is destroyed in many areas of the brain and spinal cord. The loss of myelin forms scar tissue called “sclerosis.” When the nerves are damaged in this way, they can’t conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain. Interrupting communication signals causes unpredictable symptoms, including numbness, tingling, mood changes, vision loss, slurred speech, memory problems, lack of coordination, and fatigue. 

Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely between patients and depend on the location and severity of nerve fiber damage. Some people have only mild, short-term symptoms, while others experience paralysis and lose their ability to see clearly, write, speak, or walk. 

MS and Alcohol: How Does Alcohol Affect Multiple Sclerosis?

When it comes to the relationship between MS and alcohol, there’s some conflicting evidence. Some studies show that alcohol can temporarily worsen symptoms of the condition, while others suggest it can calm an overactive immune system.

Because MS is a chronic inflammatory condition, scientists believe that it’s caused by an overactive immune system. Because of this, MS therapies often aim to suppress the immune response. Some studies discovered regular alcohol intake suppressed one aspect of immunity. However, there’s a lack of conclusive evidence, so scientists agree that more research needs to be done to determine whether alcohol can benefit people with MS. 


What we know for sure, though, is that there are some potential negative consequences of drinking alcohol with MS. Here are some of them: 

  • Worsened MS symptoms. People with MS often struggle with coordination, balance, and slurred speech. Even just one alcoholic beverage can cause them to become a bit more wobbly and slow their reaction time. As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol slows the reactions in our brain and spinal cord. This can lead to slow thinking, slow responses, and greater physical weakness in people with MS.

    Additionally, some people with MS report an overactive bladder and a greater need to urinate. Alcohol may only make things worse, since it’s a diuretic and causes us to pee more frequently. Furthermore, long-term alcohol consumption can impair the immune system and increase the inflammatory response characteristic of MS. 
  • Altered mood. Mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are common in people with MS — and often more severe compared to those without the condition. Alcohol on its own can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even though it provides a temporary mood boost through the release of dopamine (that “feel good” chemical), it disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters and can leave us feeling more depressed in the long run. 

    One study found that MS patients with histories of problematic drinking showed an increased risk of anxiety throughout their lifetime. Researchers also noted a link between suicidal thoughts and excess drinking in people with MS. 
  • Harmful interactions with medications. Common medications for treating certain symptoms of MS include muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory agents, such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories), non-narcotic pain drugs, and opioids. Combining these with alcohol can be harmful. For instance, alcohol’s sedative effect can increase the impact of muscle relaxants and opioids. It can also increase the risk of stomach and intestinal bleeding resulting from NSAID use. Similarly, consuming alcohol while taking antidepressants may increase feelings of depression and hopelessness.

    It’s also worth noting that consuming alcohol can have a negative effect on important vitamins and minerals. For instance, it can lower levels of zinc — a chemical important for cell growth and repair.  

Does Drinking Alcohol Cause MS? 

So, does alcohol itself increase our risk of developing MS? Here again, there’s a bit of conflicting evidence whether alcohol consumption is an environmental risk factor for MS. One study from 2006 showed that people who drank hard liquor daily had a 6.7-fold increased risk of MS. However, a larger 2014 study showed that people who reported moderate alcohol consumption had half the odds of developing MS compared to those who did not drink alcohol. 

More recently, two studies found no significant association between drinking alcohol and developing MS. To date, there’s not enough conclusive evidence to say whether alcohol leads to an increased risk of developing the condition. However, there is conclusive evidence that regularly consuming alcohol can be detrimental to our overall health and well-being, affecting nearly every bodily system.

Alcohol and Tysabri Side Effects

What about drinking alcohol while on Tysabri — is it safe? While there are no harmful interactions between alcohol and Tysabri, drinking alcohol while on this medication may increase the risk of side effects. For instance, Tysabri can cause headaches, nausea, infections, and altered mood. Adding alcohol can increase these side effects because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that causes similar side effects to Tysabri. 

For instance, alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to headaches and nausea. Alcohol also weakens our immune system, increasing our risk of infections. It can also have a depressive effect on our mood by upsetting the delicate balance of neurotransmitters in our brain.

But it’s not just that alcohol can increase Tysabri’s side effects. As we learned above, alcohol can exacerbate MS symptoms in general. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, people with MS have experienced temporary worsening of balance and coordination after even just one drink. 

In general, it’s best to consult a medical professional to determine whether it’s ok for us to drink alcohol while taking Tysabri.

How To Manage Drinking With Tysabri

If we do choose to drink alcohol while being treated with Tysabri, here are 5 tips to help manage symptoms:

  1. Limit consumption. Since alcohol can worsen both Tysabri’s side effects and symptoms of MS, it’s best to limit our consumption. Drinking moderate amounts means limiting ourselves to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. However, we’ll be better off if we cut back to just one or two drinks a week.
  1. Don’t drink right before bed. Since both alcohol and MS can lead to frequent urination, it’s best not to consume alcohol right before bed. Doing so may cause us to wake up in the middle of the night, disrupting our sleep. Keep in mind that alcohol also disrupts REM sleep — the most important stage for physical and mental restoration.
  1. Drink water. Whenever you drink alcohol, make sure you’re also drinking water. Staying hydrated is vital for many bodily functions, and it offers various benefits for people with MS, such as reducing bladder and bowel symptoms, decreasing the side effects of Tysabri, and preventing fatigue and mental decline.
  1. Choose drinks with lower alcohol content. Avoid taking shots and drinking hard liquor or drinks with a higher alcohol content, as these can rapidly increase blood alcohol content (BAC) levels and make us more intoxicated. Opt instead for drinks with a lower alcohol content, such as beer or wine.

  2. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eating before drinking slows alcohol absorption, giving our body more time to process it. Eating a nutritious meal high in protein or healthy fats can be particularly beneficial. You might also consider snacking while drinking: this helps us drink more slowly and limit our consumption.

If you notice that alcohol worsens Tysabri’s side effects or MS symptoms, it’s best to avoid drinking entirely. And keep in mind that regularly consuming alcohol can be detrimental not just to our physical health, but our mental health as well.

Tips for Managing Multiple Sclerosis

In addition to the above, we can take certain steps to help manage MS symptoms. Here are 5 tips: 

  1. Eat nutritious food. There’s no special MS diet, but a healthy eating plan can give you more energy and help stave off chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Experts recommend plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also wise to consume enough fiber to prevent constipation, a common problem for people with MS. Many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils are good sources of fiber. 
  1. Keep your body moving. Exercise is important for people with MS both for fitness and for function. Regular exercise promotes flexibility and balance, and it can also help with other MS symptoms, such as constipation, fatigue, and cognitive issues. Many people with MS benefit from working with a physical therapist, who can help identify exercises to strengthen body areas that are particularly weak. 
  1. Exercise your brain. It’s important to exercise your brain. Because of the condition, MS patients often have to use more of their brain to do a specific task than other individuals. Doing crosswords, playing word games, taking classes, reading, or engaging in other mentally challenging activities can help keep your brain sharp and engaged.
  1. Practice stress management techniques. Many people with MS experience heightened levels of stress because of difficulties living with the condition. Meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and other stress-reduction practices have been shown to improve quality of life and possibly slow disease progression. Spending time with friends and loved ones or finding a club to join can also help us cope with stress.
  1. Protect your mental health. As we’ve learned, many people with MS can struggle with depression. It’s important to prioritize your mental health and seek treatment if necessary. Both psychotherapy and antidepressant medication have been found effective for depression in people with MS. Additionally, joining an MS support group can help us feel less alone. 

The Bottom Line

Tysabri is a prescription medication that can be used to help treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis — a chronic disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication within the brain and spinal cord. While there’s no harmful interaction between Tysabri and alcohol, drinking may increase the risk of side effects, such as headaches, nausea, infections and mood changes. Drinking alcohol can also worsen MS symptoms in general. If we choose to drink alcohol while being treated with Tysabri, it’s best to limit our consumption.

If you’re struggling to control your alcohol intake, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people cut back on their alcohol consumption and become healthier, stronger, and happier in the process. 

Alcohol and Medications
2023-11-29 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Dangers of Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol
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Discover the dangers of combining ketamine and alcohol, their immediate and long-term effects, and how to be safe when using substances.

18 min read

Avoid the Dangers of Ketamine and Alcohol With Reframe!

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.

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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 through the App Store or Google Play today!

Read Full Article  →

It’s Friday, and you’re out with friends at the club. You all order drinks and make your way to the dance floor. Everyone’s having fun, and your friends really want to match the energy of the club. So they ask if you want to take ketamine, a “party drug” that’s popular for its dissociative effects. But you’ve been drinking, so you wonder if mixing alcohol and ketamine is a good idea.

What are the potential ketamine and alcohol interactions? To understand the dangers of mixing ketamine and alcohol, let’s explore the effects of each of these substances on our body.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine was first developed to help with surgeries and pain relief. It’s known for its ability to induce dissociative anesthesia, making patients feel detached from their pain and environment. Over time, its use expanded beyond anesthesia to treat various conditions, including depression and chronic pain. At the same time, its recreational use surged and it became associated with club culture for its energy-boosting and mind-altering effects. 

In its pure form, ketamine exists as a white powder or a clear liquid and is often taken by swallowing, snorting, or injecting. It’s popularly known by a variety of street names like "Special K" or "K."

When we take ketamine, it quickly dissolves into our bloodstream and goes to the brain. Despite its hallucinogenic properties, ketamine is different from traditional hallucinogens like LSD or psilocybin. Instead of binding to serotonin receptors, ketamine primarily targets the glutamate system, specifically NMDA receptors in the brain. It acts as an antagonist to NMDA receptors, blocking the transmission of glutamate, a neurotransmitter important for learning, memory, and mood regulation.

This interference is what causes a dissociative state, wherein our perceptions of sight and sound are distorted. It creates a strange feeling in which things don't seem real, and we might see or hear things that aren't there, leading to a sense of detachment from reality. This dissociation, or “out-of-body” feeling, is why ketamine is sometimes referred to as a "dissociative anesthetic."

The Effects of Ketamine 

The effects of ketamine on our body depend on different factors:

  • Our size, weight, and health
  • Our history with ketamine use
  • Our use of other drugs in combination
  • The amount taken
  • The concentration of the drug

Our ketamine experience can vary drastically depending on how much we take. Lower amounts might induce a “dreaming” feeling, while higher doses could lead to intense hallucinations and a feeling of being completely disconnected from reality. Common symptoms range from physical to psychological:

  • A sense of joy and calm
  • Dissociation (feeling disconnected from our body)
  • Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing sounds that aren't really there)
  • A faster heart rate and higher blood pressure
  • Confusion and clumsiness 
  • Lack of body coordination or immobility 
  • Involuntary rapid eye movement
  • Trouble speaking 
  • Feeling anxious, panicked, or becoming aggressive
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain 
  • In higher doses, a state known as the "K-hole," where the user experiences severe dissociation and immobility

Ketamine may also cause the following unwanted side effects.


  • Cognitive difficulties 
  • Unconsciousness
  • Amnesia

Side effects like unconsciousness, amnesia, or immobility might be signs of ketamine overdose and require urgent medical attention.

Medications (either over-the-counter or prescription) might interact with ketamine with their side effects exacerbated or their efficacy compromised. They can make ketamine use more dangerous. Please exercise caution!

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine

Ketamine's impact extends beyond its immediate, short-term effects. Prolonged use can lead to several long-term health issues. 

  • Cognitive impairment. Chronic use of ketamine has been linked to impairments in memory, attention, and executive functioning. These cognitive deficits can affect daily functioning and may persist even after discontinuing use.
  • Urinary tract and bladder issues. One of the most significant long-term effects of ketamine use is its impact on the urinary system. Users may experience increased urgency and frequency of urination, pain while urinating, and, in severe cases, bladder inflammation and ulceration.
  • Gastrointestinal distress. Regular use of ketamine can lead to chronic abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal issues, a condition sometimes referred to as "K-cramps."
  • Mental health problems. Long-term ketamine use has been associated with an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and, in some cases, symptoms of psychosis. Some people have experienced Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) weeks after taking ketamine; it can have a prolonged effect on our sensory perception. 
  • Dependency and tolerance. With regular use, we can develop tolerance to ketamine. When we become tolerant, we require larger doses to achieve the same effects, which may lead to dependence.

Ketamine Abuse and Misuse

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 3 million people in the U.S. (aged 12 or older) reported using ketamine at least once in their lifetime. This percentage reflects the growing trend of recreational use. Ketamine abuse is more commonly reported among young adults aged 18 to 25, since they are often exposed to party environments where recreational drug use is prevalent.

Research suggests a correlation between ketamine misuse and mental health disorders: a person with a history of mental health issues is at a higher risk of abusing substances like ketamine. More recently, ketamine has received public attention as a novel treatment for certain psychiatric disorders. While the results are promising, ketamine therapy is still being studied and positive results depend on careful monitoring and guidance from a trained psychiatric professional.  

Recognizing the symptoms of ketamine and alcohol misuse — in ourselves and in friends or loved ones — is important for early intervention:

  • Increased tolerance. Needing more of the substances to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not using.
  • Neglect of responsibilities. Failing to meet professional, academic, or personal obligations.
  • Risky behavior. Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence.
  • Social and relationship problems. Strained relationships and social isolation due to substance use.
  • Physical health issues. Experiencing health problems related to substance use, such as weight loss, gastrointestinal issues, or urinary tract problems.
  • Mental health deterioration. Worsening of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, or hallucinations.

Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol

When ketamine is mixed with alcohol, the risks of danger escalate dramatically. Alcohol, a depressant, can amplify ketamine's sedative effects, leading to dangerous levels of respiratory depression. Using both in combination can have many harmful effects.

  • Exacerbated sedation and respiratory depression. Both alcohol and ketamine have sedative effects. Combining ketamine with alcohol amplifies the sedation and can dangerously slow down breathing and heart rate, increasing our risk for respiratory depression, which can be life threatening.
  • Impaired cognitive and motor functions. The combination of alcohol and ketamine severely impairs cognitive and motor functions. This impairment can result in poor judgment, difficulty in making decisions, and a decrease in motor coordination. We are then at risk of accidents and injuries as we become less capable of assessing risks and responding to our environment.
  • Increased risk of blackouts and memory loss. Both substances can disrupt our memory formation process. This can lead to blackouts, in which we cannot recall events that occurred while under the influence. These memory lapses can be distressing and may lead to dangerous situations where we may fail to have awareness or consent.
  • Heightened psychological distress. Ketamine can cause dissociative effects, including hallucinations and detachment from reality. When mixed with alcohol, these effects can become more intense and disorienting, potentially leading to anxiety, panic attacks, or exacerbation of preexisting mental health conditions.
  • Risk of gastrointestinal distress. Alcohol is known to irritate the gastrointestinal tract, and ketamine can cause nausea and vomiting. The combination of these substances can increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Potential for developing substance use disorders. Using multiple substances in combination increases the risk of developing substance use disorders. If you have Alcohol Use Disorder, ketamine may add to the addictive potential. The interplay between the two can create a cycle of dependence and abuse, leading to long-term health and social consequences.
  • Dangerous interactions with other medications. When mixed with other medications, especially those that affect the central nervous system (such as antidepressants, anxiety medications, or other sedatives), the combination of alcohol and ketamine can lead to unpredictable and potentially harmful impairments.
Ketamine and Alcohol overdose

Ketamine and Alcohol Overdose

Recognizing the symptoms of ketamine and alcohol abuse is important for early intervention. 

  • Increased tolerance. Needing more of the substances to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not using.
  • Neglect of responsibilities. Failing to meet professional, academic, or personal obligations.
  • Risky behavior. Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence.
  • Social and relationship problems. Strained relationships and social isolation due to substance use.
  • Physical health issues. Experiencing health problems related to substance use, such as weight loss, gastrointestinal issues, or urinary tract problems.
  • Mental health deterioration. Worsening of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, or hallucinations.

Alcohol with ketamine also increases the risk of overdose due to alcohol’s sedative effects on the body. Look for these signs of potential ketamine/alcohol overdose.

  • Seizures
  • Chest pains or trouble breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Impaired motor function
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Low body temperature

If you or your loved ones are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 or reach out to your healthcare professional right away. Polysubstance abuse makes these effects more dangerous, leading to potential death. The probability of surviving an overdose involving both ketamine and alcohol is influenced by how much you took, your age, your health, and other factors. 

Substance abuse is a serious problem, but there are other ways you can work on reclaiming your well-being and live a substance-free life. Read on to find out more!

Treatment for Ketamine and Alcohol Abuse

Effective treatment for ketamine and alcohol abuse requires a comprehensive approach that factors in both parts of the equation. Let’s look at some treatment tools. 

  • Detoxification and withdrawal management. The first step in treatment is often detoxification, which should be medically supervised to monitor for potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
  • Behavioral therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other psychotherapies can help us understand our substance-use triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While there are no specific medications for ketamine abuse, MAT can help treat co-occurring disorders or symptoms and relieve any underlying chemical imbalances that are triggering substance use.
  • Support groups and peer support. Groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or other peer support groups can provide valuable social support and a sense of community.
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders. Addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders is crucial for successful recovery.
  • Lifestyle changes. Encouraging healthy lifestyle choices — such as exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in hobbies and interests — can support recovery.
  • Family therapy and support. Involving family members in the treatment process can improve outcomes and provide additional support.

Treatment should be tailored to each individual’s specific needs, the severity of their substance use disorder, the presence of co-occurring conditions, and their personal circumstances. Professional help is critical in overcoming ketamine abuse and reclaiming a healthy, substance-free life.

Tips for Safety and Awareness

  • Educate yourself. Research the effects of ketamine and alcohol when combined. Understand the risks and consequences to make informed decisions. Join a supportive community like Reframe for science-backed advice on alcohol and alcohol related concerns to learn more about ways to improve your health.
  • Create boundaries. Set clear personal limits regarding substance use. Establishing boundaries helps in avoiding situations where mixing ketamine and alcohol might occur.
  • Seek support. Foster a supportive network of friends and family who are aware of your goals to decrease substance intake. A positive, understanding environment helps in making healthier choices.
  • Explore alternatives. Engage in activities and hobbies that provide fulfillment and joy without relying on substances. Discovering new passions can divert attention from potentially harmful behaviors.
  • Practice mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness techniques such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises to manage stress and cravings effectively.
  • Professional guidance. Consider seeking professional help or counseling to address underlying issues contributing to substance abuse.
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms. Identify and adopt healthy coping strategies like regular exercise, journaling, or creative outlets to navigate challenging emotions without resorting to substance use.

Summing Up

Now that we understand the risks associated with mixing ketamine and alcohol, we can make informed, responsible choices to ensure our safety and the well-being of those around us. Remember: a night of fun should never compromise our health or future. Stay informed, stay safe, and let’s help create a culture of awareness and responsibility! 

It’s Friday, and you’re out with friends at the club. You all order drinks and make your way to the dance floor. Everyone’s having fun, and your friends really want to match the energy of the club. So they ask if you want to take ketamine, a “party drug” that’s popular for its dissociative effects. But you’ve been drinking, so you wonder if mixing alcohol and ketamine is a good idea.

What are the potential ketamine and alcohol interactions? To understand the dangers of mixing ketamine and alcohol, let’s explore the effects of each of these substances on our body.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine was first developed to help with surgeries and pain relief. It’s known for its ability to induce dissociative anesthesia, making patients feel detached from their pain and environment. Over time, its use expanded beyond anesthesia to treat various conditions, including depression and chronic pain. At the same time, its recreational use surged and it became associated with club culture for its energy-boosting and mind-altering effects. 

In its pure form, ketamine exists as a white powder or a clear liquid and is often taken by swallowing, snorting, or injecting. It’s popularly known by a variety of street names like "Special K" or "K."

When we take ketamine, it quickly dissolves into our bloodstream and goes to the brain. Despite its hallucinogenic properties, ketamine is different from traditional hallucinogens like LSD or psilocybin. Instead of binding to serotonin receptors, ketamine primarily targets the glutamate system, specifically NMDA receptors in the brain. It acts as an antagonist to NMDA receptors, blocking the transmission of glutamate, a neurotransmitter important for learning, memory, and mood regulation.

This interference is what causes a dissociative state, wherein our perceptions of sight and sound are distorted. It creates a strange feeling in which things don't seem real, and we might see or hear things that aren't there, leading to a sense of detachment from reality. This dissociation, or “out-of-body” feeling, is why ketamine is sometimes referred to as a "dissociative anesthetic."

The Effects of Ketamine 

The effects of ketamine on our body depend on different factors:

  • Our size, weight, and health
  • Our history with ketamine use
  • Our use of other drugs in combination
  • The amount taken
  • The concentration of the drug

Our ketamine experience can vary drastically depending on how much we take. Lower amounts might induce a “dreaming” feeling, while higher doses could lead to intense hallucinations and a feeling of being completely disconnected from reality. Common symptoms range from physical to psychological:

  • A sense of joy and calm
  • Dissociation (feeling disconnected from our body)
  • Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing sounds that aren't really there)
  • A faster heart rate and higher blood pressure
  • Confusion and clumsiness 
  • Lack of body coordination or immobility 
  • Involuntary rapid eye movement
  • Trouble speaking 
  • Feeling anxious, panicked, or becoming aggressive
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain 
  • In higher doses, a state known as the "K-hole," where the user experiences severe dissociation and immobility

Ketamine may also cause the following unwanted side effects.


  • Cognitive difficulties 
  • Unconsciousness
  • Amnesia

Side effects like unconsciousness, amnesia, or immobility might be signs of ketamine overdose and require urgent medical attention.

Medications (either over-the-counter or prescription) might interact with ketamine with their side effects exacerbated or their efficacy compromised. They can make ketamine use more dangerous. Please exercise caution!

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine

Ketamine's impact extends beyond its immediate, short-term effects. Prolonged use can lead to several long-term health issues. 

  • Cognitive impairment. Chronic use of ketamine has been linked to impairments in memory, attention, and executive functioning. These cognitive deficits can affect daily functioning and may persist even after discontinuing use.
  • Urinary tract and bladder issues. One of the most significant long-term effects of ketamine use is its impact on the urinary system. Users may experience increased urgency and frequency of urination, pain while urinating, and, in severe cases, bladder inflammation and ulceration.
  • Gastrointestinal distress. Regular use of ketamine can lead to chronic abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal issues, a condition sometimes referred to as "K-cramps."
  • Mental health problems. Long-term ketamine use has been associated with an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and, in some cases, symptoms of psychosis. Some people have experienced Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) weeks after taking ketamine; it can have a prolonged effect on our sensory perception. 
  • Dependency and tolerance. With regular use, we can develop tolerance to ketamine. When we become tolerant, we require larger doses to achieve the same effects, which may lead to dependence.

Ketamine Abuse and Misuse

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 3 million people in the U.S. (aged 12 or older) reported using ketamine at least once in their lifetime. This percentage reflects the growing trend of recreational use. Ketamine abuse is more commonly reported among young adults aged 18 to 25, since they are often exposed to party environments where recreational drug use is prevalent.

Research suggests a correlation between ketamine misuse and mental health disorders: a person with a history of mental health issues is at a higher risk of abusing substances like ketamine. More recently, ketamine has received public attention as a novel treatment for certain psychiatric disorders. While the results are promising, ketamine therapy is still being studied and positive results depend on careful monitoring and guidance from a trained psychiatric professional.  

Recognizing the symptoms of ketamine and alcohol misuse — in ourselves and in friends or loved ones — is important for early intervention:

  • Increased tolerance. Needing more of the substances to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not using.
  • Neglect of responsibilities. Failing to meet professional, academic, or personal obligations.
  • Risky behavior. Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence.
  • Social and relationship problems. Strained relationships and social isolation due to substance use.
  • Physical health issues. Experiencing health problems related to substance use, such as weight loss, gastrointestinal issues, or urinary tract problems.
  • Mental health deterioration. Worsening of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, or hallucinations.

Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol

When ketamine is mixed with alcohol, the risks of danger escalate dramatically. Alcohol, a depressant, can amplify ketamine's sedative effects, leading to dangerous levels of respiratory depression. Using both in combination can have many harmful effects.

  • Exacerbated sedation and respiratory depression. Both alcohol and ketamine have sedative effects. Combining ketamine with alcohol amplifies the sedation and can dangerously slow down breathing and heart rate, increasing our risk for respiratory depression, which can be life threatening.
  • Impaired cognitive and motor functions. The combination of alcohol and ketamine severely impairs cognitive and motor functions. This impairment can result in poor judgment, difficulty in making decisions, and a decrease in motor coordination. We are then at risk of accidents and injuries as we become less capable of assessing risks and responding to our environment.
  • Increased risk of blackouts and memory loss. Both substances can disrupt our memory formation process. This can lead to blackouts, in which we cannot recall events that occurred while under the influence. These memory lapses can be distressing and may lead to dangerous situations where we may fail to have awareness or consent.
  • Heightened psychological distress. Ketamine can cause dissociative effects, including hallucinations and detachment from reality. When mixed with alcohol, these effects can become more intense and disorienting, potentially leading to anxiety, panic attacks, or exacerbation of preexisting mental health conditions.
  • Risk of gastrointestinal distress. Alcohol is known to irritate the gastrointestinal tract, and ketamine can cause nausea and vomiting. The combination of these substances can increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress, which can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Potential for developing substance use disorders. Using multiple substances in combination increases the risk of developing substance use disorders. If you have Alcohol Use Disorder, ketamine may add to the addictive potential. The interplay between the two can create a cycle of dependence and abuse, leading to long-term health and social consequences.
  • Dangerous interactions with other medications. When mixed with other medications, especially those that affect the central nervous system (such as antidepressants, anxiety medications, or other sedatives), the combination of alcohol and ketamine can lead to unpredictable and potentially harmful impairments.
Ketamine and Alcohol overdose

Ketamine and Alcohol Overdose

Recognizing the symptoms of ketamine and alcohol abuse is important for early intervention. 

  • Increased tolerance. Needing more of the substances to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not using.
  • Neglect of responsibilities. Failing to meet professional, academic, or personal obligations.
  • Risky behavior. Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence.
  • Social and relationship problems. Strained relationships and social isolation due to substance use.
  • Physical health issues. Experiencing health problems related to substance use, such as weight loss, gastrointestinal issues, or urinary tract problems.
  • Mental health deterioration. Worsening of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, or hallucinations.

Alcohol with ketamine also increases the risk of overdose due to alcohol’s sedative effects on the body. Look for these signs of potential ketamine/alcohol overdose.

  • Seizures
  • Chest pains or trouble breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Impaired motor function
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Low body temperature

If you or your loved ones are experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 or reach out to your healthcare professional right away. Polysubstance abuse makes these effects more dangerous, leading to potential death. The probability of surviving an overdose involving both ketamine and alcohol is influenced by how much you took, your age, your health, and other factors. 

Substance abuse is a serious problem, but there are other ways you can work on reclaiming your well-being and live a substance-free life. Read on to find out more!

Treatment for Ketamine and Alcohol Abuse

Effective treatment for ketamine and alcohol abuse requires a comprehensive approach that factors in both parts of the equation. Let’s look at some treatment tools. 

  • Detoxification and withdrawal management. The first step in treatment is often detoxification, which should be medically supervised to monitor for potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
  • Behavioral therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other psychotherapies can help us understand our substance-use triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While there are no specific medications for ketamine abuse, MAT can help treat co-occurring disorders or symptoms and relieve any underlying chemical imbalances that are triggering substance use.
  • Support groups and peer support. Groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or other peer support groups can provide valuable social support and a sense of community.
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders. Addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders is crucial for successful recovery.
  • Lifestyle changes. Encouraging healthy lifestyle choices — such as exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in hobbies and interests — can support recovery.
  • Family therapy and support. Involving family members in the treatment process can improve outcomes and provide additional support.

Treatment should be tailored to each individual’s specific needs, the severity of their substance use disorder, the presence of co-occurring conditions, and their personal circumstances. Professional help is critical in overcoming ketamine abuse and reclaiming a healthy, substance-free life.

Tips for Safety and Awareness

  • Educate yourself. Research the effects of ketamine and alcohol when combined. Understand the risks and consequences to make informed decisions. Join a supportive community like Reframe for science-backed advice on alcohol and alcohol related concerns to learn more about ways to improve your health.
  • Create boundaries. Set clear personal limits regarding substance use. Establishing boundaries helps in avoiding situations where mixing ketamine and alcohol might occur.
  • Seek support. Foster a supportive network of friends and family who are aware of your goals to decrease substance intake. A positive, understanding environment helps in making healthier choices.
  • Explore alternatives. Engage in activities and hobbies that provide fulfillment and joy without relying on substances. Discovering new passions can divert attention from potentially harmful behaviors.
  • Practice mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness techniques such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises to manage stress and cravings effectively.
  • Professional guidance. Consider seeking professional help or counseling to address underlying issues contributing to substance abuse.
  • Develop healthy coping mechanisms. Identify and adopt healthy coping strategies like regular exercise, journaling, or creative outlets to navigate challenging emotions without resorting to substance use.

Summing Up

Now that we understand the risks associated with mixing ketamine and alcohol, we can make informed, responsible choices to ensure our safety and the well-being of those around us. Remember: a night of fun should never compromise our health or future. Stay informed, stay safe, and let’s help create a culture of awareness and responsibility! 

Alcohol and Medications
2023-11-10 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Unlocking the Science: How Long Does Naltrexone Block Alcohol?
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Naltrexone is one of the most popular medications for moderate to severe alcohol misuse. But how does it work? Learn more about what naltrexone is and how it helps curb alcohol cravings.

19 min read

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Read Full Article  →

Let’s face it: scaling back on alcohol use, or eliminating it entirely, is no easy feat. Especially for those of us who have developed regular drinking habits or developed a physical dependence on alcohol, breaking free from this toxic substance can be challenging. 

While behavioral treatments, support groups, and therapy are beneficial for treating alcohol misuse, medications can sometimes bolster their effectiveness. Naltrexone in particular is a medication proven to help people reduce cravings and get sober.

In this post, we’ll explore what naltrexone is and how it works. We’ll also suggest more treatment options that can be used alongside naltrexone. Let’s get started!

What Is Naltrexone?

Also known as Vivitrol, naltrexone is one of the most popular medications for moderate to severe alcohol use disorder (AUD). It can be taken as a daily pill or monthly as an injection.

Naltrexone was first invented in 1963 and approved by the FDA in 1984 for the treatment of heroin addiction. A decade later, it was approved for treating alcohol misuse after finding that it mediated the effects of alcohol, leading to reduced alcohol cravings and relapse occurance. 

Since then, multiple studies have touted its effectiveness. In fact, a recent study found that naltrexone significantly reduces binge drinking among men with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder. 

Additional studies have shown that combining naltrexone with counseling led to a significant reduction in heavy drinking among participants compared to counseling alone. These findings demonstrate the crucial role that naltrexone can play as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol misuse.

How Does Naltrexone Work?

Understanding how naltrexone combats alcohol misuse takes us on a fascinating journey into the human brain, specifically the opioid system that is part of our brain's complex reward pathway. This system plays a pivotal role in our experience of pleasure and satisfaction, and it’s one that substances like alcohol cleverly manipulate.

Alcohol stimulates the brain's reward pathway, releasing chemicals that create feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This stimulation triggers our opioid receptors, which results in the sense of satisfaction that makes drinking so appealing. This pleasure-reward feedback loop can encourage repeated alcohol use, ultimately leading to misuse or dependence.

This is where naltrexone comes in. Naltrexone is an “opioid antagonist.” In simplest terms, an opioid antagonist obstructs the opioid receptors in the brain. It's like a key that fits into a lock but doesn't turn it. It's there, it fits, but it doesn't activate the lock. By doing this, naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication, letting us reduce our drinking or even halt it entirely.

When administered, naltrexone attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain. This attachment creates a barrier, preventing substances like alcohol from accessing these receptors and triggering the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals. So, even if we consume alcohol, the expected rewarding effects are diminished or entirely absent because naltrexone is blocking our brain’s access points. When naltrexone is working in our body, consuming alcohol is no longer neurochemically rewarding.

It's important to note that while we can use naltrexone for alcohol cravings, it doesn't cure alcohol dependence — there's more to overcoming alcohol misuse than just managing the physical cravings. But by disrupting the reward mechanism typically associated with alcohol consumption, naltrexone can provide a supportive, effective tool in the overall treatment plan.

How Long Does Naltrexone Block Alcohol?

Now that we have a better understanding of what naltrexone is and how it works, we can turn to the next question: how long does naltrexone last? It depends on what form of the drug we’re taking. For instance, oral naltrexone lasts between 24 and 72 hours, while naltrexone injections can last for about a month. This means that we can experience reduced alcohol cravings for a few days if we’re taking the pill and for about a month if we’re injected with it. 

Just like alcohol and other drugs, naltrexone is processed by our liver. However, how quickly we process naltrexone depends on multiple factors, including our age and overall level of health. For instance, older people tend to process medications slower than younger people. And our body might have a harder time processing naltrexone if we have an underlying organ disease. 

So, how long does it take for naltrexone to work? Naltrexone begins to work the day that we take it, whether as a pill or injection. People typically begin experiencing relief from alcohol cravings within an hour or two of taking it.

Naltrexone Side Effects

Naltrexone is generally well tolerated and has minimal side effects. Plus, it’s not an addictive medication, so there is no risk of abuse. With that in mind, here are some of naltrexone’s common side effects:

  • Nausea, vomiting, chills
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Anxiety or restlessness 
  • Bruising, itching, tenderness, or swelling at the site of injection

In rare cases, naltrexone produces more serious side effects: 

  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • Changes in liver function, liver failure or acute hepatitis
  • Depressed mood or suicidal thoughts 
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Pneumonia
Diagram about the naltrexone mechanism in alcohol use disorder treatment

When Should You Start Taking Naltrexone?

Doctors recommend that people with severe alcohol misuse wait until signs and symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal have subsided before taking naltrexone. In other words, it’s generally advised to wait until the detox process is complete before starting naltrexone. This helps prevent severe withdrawal symptoms or side effects. 

Research shows that naltrexone works best for people who have already stopped drinking for at least 4 days when they begin treatment. People may experience fewer medication side effects (particularly nausea) if they are abstinent from alcohol when they begin taking naltrexone. 

Experts also recommend using naltrexone as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol misuse. By including it in a treatment regimen, people struggling with alcohol misuse can develop other tools to help them remain committed to sobriety once they stop taking naltrexone. 

Naltrexone is generally tapered off after about 3 to 6 months. However, healthcare professionals might recommend staying on it for at least one year, as some research indicates that when naltrexone is stopped, the benefits are lost. There are no known problems associated with long-term use of naltrexone, as it is a safe and effective medication when used as directed. 

What Form of Naltrexone Should You Take?

As we’ve learned, naltrexone can be prescribed as either an oral tablet or an injection. Only a medical professional can help us determine the route of administration and dose appropriate for our personal situation.

Typically, a doctor will prescribe a 25 mg oral tablet of naltrexone as a test dose to ensure we can tolerate the medication. If we tolerate it well, the dosage can be increased to 50 mg daily. Taking naltrexone tablets with food may decrease nausea or stomach upset, which is a common side effect of the medication. 

If a doctor prescribes an injection, the dose is usually 380mg given intramuscularly once a month (every four weeks). These injections are given by a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. 

What Should You Avoid While Taking Naltrexone?

Since naltrexone is designed to help reduce alcohol cravings, it’s unsurprising to learn that we should avoid drinking alcohol while taking it. We should also avoid using illegal drugs and taking opioid pain medications (such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine) while taking naltrexone. This is because naltrexone blocks opioids’ effects, so if we try to overcome this blocking effect by taking a large amount of opioids, we may overdose or experience serious injury, coma, or death. Some cough syrups contain opioid pain medication, so discuss all medicine you’re taking with your doctor or pharmacist. 

Furthermore, pregnant women shouldn’t take naltrexone. While the effects of naltrexone on the fetus are unknown, animal studies indicate there could be some behavioral alterations and early fetal loss. Similarly, while the effects of naltrexone on babies are unknown, breastfeeding while taking the medication is not recommended since it can pass into the breast milk.

Additional Treatment Options for Alcohol Misuse

Since naltrexone should be used as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol misuse, it’s important to look at other treatment options we can pursue. Here are 4 effective options that can be used in combination with naltrexone:

Join a 12-step program or other support group. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most common alcohol misuse treatment options. Support groups allow us to spend time with others facing similar problems, providing advice on staying sober and reducing our sense of isolation. Studies show that the social connection provided by these groups helps us build confidence in our own ability to avoid alcohol in social situations and supports our sobriety.

Try behavioral therapy. Individual, group, and/or family therapy can help us identify the root causes of our substance misuse, repair damaged relationships, develop skills to stop or reduce use, and deal with triggers that might cause us to relapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a particularly effective tool, and it’s one of the many types of therapy for substance misuse

Go to residential treatment or “rehab” facilities. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers provide intensive treatment for substance misuse. Choosing which one largely depends on the severity of our condition. Inpatient facilities are more intensive, requiring people to stay at a special facility for 30 to 90 days to receive treatment such as detox, therapy, and medication. During outpatient treatment, people attend set rehab appointments during the week but still reside at home. 

Consider alternative treatments. Alternative treatments like acupuncture aim to restore balance in the body and have been shown to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They’re based on the concept that our health is determined by the balanced flow of life energy, "qi" (pronounced "chee"), throughout our bodies. One popular method is auricular acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into specific points on the ear. This form of acupuncture has been commonly used for substance use disorders since the mid-1970s.

While these are just some of the treatment options for alcohol misuse, research indicates they’re quite effective. Alcohol misuse can be a complex, complicated matter. By taking a holistic approach and combining different treatment options, we’re better equipped to get healthy and maintain sobriety.

The Bottom Line

Naltrexone is an effective medication for treating alcohol misuse and reducing alcohol cravings. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in our brain, preventing alcohol from triggering the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Combined with other treatment options like behavioral therapies, peer support, and lifestyle changes, naltrexone can help us effectively manage alcohol misuse and support our journey toward a healthier, happier life. 

If you want to quit drinking but don’t know where to start, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people reduce their alcohol consumption and develop healthier lifestyle habits.

Let’s face it: scaling back on alcohol use, or eliminating it entirely, is no easy feat. Especially for those of us who have developed regular drinking habits or developed a physical dependence on alcohol, breaking free from this toxic substance can be challenging. 

While behavioral treatments, support groups, and therapy are beneficial for treating alcohol misuse, medications can sometimes bolster their effectiveness. Naltrexone in particular is a medication proven to help people reduce cravings and get sober.

In this post, we’ll explore what naltrexone is and how it works. We’ll also suggest more treatment options that can be used alongside naltrexone. Let’s get started!

What Is Naltrexone?

Also known as Vivitrol, naltrexone is one of the most popular medications for moderate to severe alcohol use disorder (AUD). It can be taken as a daily pill or monthly as an injection.

Naltrexone was first invented in 1963 and approved by the FDA in 1984 for the treatment of heroin addiction. A decade later, it was approved for treating alcohol misuse after finding that it mediated the effects of alcohol, leading to reduced alcohol cravings and relapse occurance. 

Since then, multiple studies have touted its effectiveness. In fact, a recent study found that naltrexone significantly reduces binge drinking among men with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder. 

Additional studies have shown that combining naltrexone with counseling led to a significant reduction in heavy drinking among participants compared to counseling alone. These findings demonstrate the crucial role that naltrexone can play as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol misuse.

How Does Naltrexone Work?

Understanding how naltrexone combats alcohol misuse takes us on a fascinating journey into the human brain, specifically the opioid system that is part of our brain's complex reward pathway. This system plays a pivotal role in our experience of pleasure and satisfaction, and it’s one that substances like alcohol cleverly manipulate.

Alcohol stimulates the brain's reward pathway, releasing chemicals that create feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This stimulation triggers our opioid receptors, which results in the sense of satisfaction that makes drinking so appealing. This pleasure-reward feedback loop can encourage repeated alcohol use, ultimately leading to misuse or dependence.

This is where naltrexone comes in. Naltrexone is an “opioid antagonist.” In simplest terms, an opioid antagonist obstructs the opioid receptors in the brain. It's like a key that fits into a lock but doesn't turn it. It's there, it fits, but it doesn't activate the lock. By doing this, naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication, letting us reduce our drinking or even halt it entirely.

When administered, naltrexone attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain. This attachment creates a barrier, preventing substances like alcohol from accessing these receptors and triggering the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals. So, even if we consume alcohol, the expected rewarding effects are diminished or entirely absent because naltrexone is blocking our brain’s access points. When naltrexone is working in our body, consuming alcohol is no longer neurochemically rewarding.

It's important to note that while we can use naltrexone for alcohol cravings, it doesn't cure alcohol dependence — there's more to overcoming alcohol misuse than just managing the physical cravings. But by disrupting the reward mechanism typically associated with alcohol consumption, naltrexone can provide a supportive, effective tool in the overall treatment plan.

How Long Does Naltrexone Block Alcohol?

Now that we have a better understanding of what naltrexone is and how it works, we can turn to the next question: how long does naltrexone last? It depends on what form of the drug we’re taking. For instance, oral naltrexone lasts between 24 and 72 hours, while naltrexone injections can last for about a month. This means that we can experience reduced alcohol cravings for a few days if we’re taking the pill and for about a month if we’re injected with it. 

Just like alcohol and other drugs, naltrexone is processed by our liver. However, how quickly we process naltrexone depends on multiple factors, including our age and overall level of health. For instance, older people tend to process medications slower than younger people. And our body might have a harder time processing naltrexone if we have an underlying organ disease. 

So, how long does it take for naltrexone to work? Naltrexone begins to work the day that we take it, whether as a pill or injection. People typically begin experiencing relief from alcohol cravings within an hour or two of taking it.

Naltrexone Side Effects

Naltrexone is generally well tolerated and has minimal side effects. Plus, it’s not an addictive medication, so there is no risk of abuse. With that in mind, here are some of naltrexone’s common side effects:

  • Nausea, vomiting, chills
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Anxiety or restlessness 
  • Bruising, itching, tenderness, or swelling at the site of injection

In rare cases, naltrexone produces more serious side effects: 

  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • Changes in liver function, liver failure or acute hepatitis
  • Depressed mood or suicidal thoughts 
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Pneumonia
Diagram about the naltrexone mechanism in alcohol use disorder treatment

When Should You Start Taking Naltrexone?

Doctors recommend that people with severe alcohol misuse wait until signs and symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal have subsided before taking naltrexone. In other words, it’s generally advised to wait until the detox process is complete before starting naltrexone. This helps prevent severe withdrawal symptoms or side effects. 

Research shows that naltrexone works best for people who have already stopped drinking for at least 4 days when they begin treatment. People may experience fewer medication side effects (particularly nausea) if they are abstinent from alcohol when they begin taking naltrexone. 

Experts also recommend using naltrexone as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol misuse. By including it in a treatment regimen, people struggling with alcohol misuse can develop other tools to help them remain committed to sobriety once they stop taking naltrexone. 

Naltrexone is generally tapered off after about 3 to 6 months. However, healthcare professionals might recommend staying on it for at least one year, as some research indicates that when naltrexone is stopped, the benefits are lost. There are no known problems associated with long-term use of naltrexone, as it is a safe and effective medication when used as directed. 

What Form of Naltrexone Should You Take?

As we’ve learned, naltrexone can be prescribed as either an oral tablet or an injection. Only a medical professional can help us determine the route of administration and dose appropriate for our personal situation.

Typically, a doctor will prescribe a 25 mg oral tablet of naltrexone as a test dose to ensure we can tolerate the medication. If we tolerate it well, the dosage can be increased to 50 mg daily. Taking naltrexone tablets with food may decrease nausea or stomach upset, which is a common side effect of the medication. 

If a doctor prescribes an injection, the dose is usually 380mg given intramuscularly once a month (every four weeks). These injections are given by a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. 

What Should You Avoid While Taking Naltrexone?

Since naltrexone is designed to help reduce alcohol cravings, it’s unsurprising to learn that we should avoid drinking alcohol while taking it. We should also avoid using illegal drugs and taking opioid pain medications (such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine) while taking naltrexone. This is because naltrexone blocks opioids’ effects, so if we try to overcome this blocking effect by taking a large amount of opioids, we may overdose or experience serious injury, coma, or death. Some cough syrups contain opioid pain medication, so discuss all medicine you’re taking with your doctor or pharmacist. 

Furthermore, pregnant women shouldn’t take naltrexone. While the effects of naltrexone on the fetus are unknown, animal studies indicate there could be some behavioral alterations and early fetal loss. Similarly, while the effects of naltrexone on babies are unknown, breastfeeding while taking the medication is not recommended since it can pass into the breast milk.

Additional Treatment Options for Alcohol Misuse

Since naltrexone should be used as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol misuse, it’s important to look at other treatment options we can pursue. Here are 4 effective options that can be used in combination with naltrexone:

Join a 12-step program or other support group. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most common alcohol misuse treatment options. Support groups allow us to spend time with others facing similar problems, providing advice on staying sober and reducing our sense of isolation. Studies show that the social connection provided by these groups helps us build confidence in our own ability to avoid alcohol in social situations and supports our sobriety.

Try behavioral therapy. Individual, group, and/or family therapy can help us identify the root causes of our substance misuse, repair damaged relationships, develop skills to stop or reduce use, and deal with triggers that might cause us to relapse. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a particularly effective tool, and it’s one of the many types of therapy for substance misuse

Go to residential treatment or “rehab” facilities. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers provide intensive treatment for substance misuse. Choosing which one largely depends on the severity of our condition. Inpatient facilities are more intensive, requiring people to stay at a special facility for 30 to 90 days to receive treatment such as detox, therapy, and medication. During outpatient treatment, people attend set rehab appointments during the week but still reside at home. 

Consider alternative treatments. Alternative treatments like acupuncture aim to restore balance in the body and have been shown to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They’re based on the concept that our health is determined by the balanced flow of life energy, "qi" (pronounced "chee"), throughout our bodies. One popular method is auricular acupuncture, which involves inserting needles into specific points on the ear. This form of acupuncture has been commonly used for substance use disorders since the mid-1970s.

While these are just some of the treatment options for alcohol misuse, research indicates they’re quite effective. Alcohol misuse can be a complex, complicated matter. By taking a holistic approach and combining different treatment options, we’re better equipped to get healthy and maintain sobriety.

The Bottom Line

Naltrexone is an effective medication for treating alcohol misuse and reducing alcohol cravings. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in our brain, preventing alcohol from triggering the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine. Combined with other treatment options like behavioral therapies, peer support, and lifestyle changes, naltrexone can help us effectively manage alcohol misuse and support our journey toward a healthier, happier life. 

If you want to quit drinking but don’t know where to start, consider trying Reframe. We’re a neuroscience-backed app that has helped millions of people reduce their alcohol consumption and develop healthier lifestyle habits.

Alcohol and Medications