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Latest Articles
2024-06-17 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Hydroxyzine and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix
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Antihistamines and alcohol are not a great mix, and hydroxyzine is no exception. Find out why in our latest blog!

19 min read

Ready To Set Alcohol Aside While Taking Hydroxyzine? Reframe Can Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Article  →

Maybe those seasonal allergies have you sneezing and rubbing your eyes. For some reason, Benadryl just doesn’t cut it, and neither do its second-generation, over-the-counter cousins. Commuters in the train slide away from you thinking you must have a cold, while coworkers give you looks of concern (were you just crying in our morning meeting?). 

Or, maybe, life has been stressful lately and you find yourself binge- watching YouTube videos night after night, unable to go to sleep. You know antidepressants and prescription sleep meds are an option, but you’re hesitant to go that route yet. 

Is there anything that could help? For many people, it’s hydroxyzine (better known as Vistaril). Developed as an antihistamine, it has gained a reputation as a fairly mild and “user-friendly” antianxiety and insomnia aid. It’s also fairly common for doctors to prescribe hydroxyzine for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But what about combining hydroxyzine with alcohol? Let’s find out!

What Is Hydroxyzine?

Pills and alcohol bottle on table

Hydroxyzine (Vistaril) is a prescription antihistamine that works by blocking histamine — a substance produced by the body during allergic reactions.

The side effects tend to be pretty mild:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin rash

Like many other sedating antihistamines (think Benadryl or Dramamine), hydroxyzine inhibits the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is responsible for memory, learning, motivation, stimulation, and motor control. As a drug class, these anticholinergic medications can cause blurry vision, confusion, urinary retention, and constipation. For that reason, hydroxyzine is generally not prescribed to folks over 65, who might be more sensitive to these effects.

Despite being developed as an antihistamine, hydroxyzine has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve: in addition to blocking histamine, hydroxyzine is a bronchodilator (it opens up our airways) and an antiemetic (keeps us from throwing up), and it’s sometimes used as a mild, fast-acting, antianxiety medication. Because of its versatility, it’s one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, with nearly 3.4 million Americans taking it as of 2021.

The Medical Multitasker

As a result of its somewhat unusual chemical profile and relatively mild side effects, hydroxyzine is a bit more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill antihistamine. As mentioned earlier, it’s a triple-tasker in the medical arena:

  • Hydroxyzine can be prescribed to ease allergy symptoms. True to its origins, hydroxyzine is still used for its antihistamine properties and is often prescribed as a treatment for allergies.
  • It’s also an effective antianxiety option. Unlike some of its more intense peers in the antianxiety world, hydroxyzine is fairly mild and not habit-forming. According to a Journal of Clinical Psychology study, hydroxyzine “Showed both efficacy and safety in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and appears to be an effective alternative treatment to benzodiazepine prescription.” It’s also occasionally prescribed to put patients at ease and make them a bit more comfortable before surgery.
  • Hydroxyzine also works as a sleep aid. Its sedative properties and relatively mild side effects make hydroxyzine an effective sleep aid. A recent study in Human Psychopharmacology, found that “Hydroxyzine could be considered as a short-term treatment option for adults with insomnia for whom previous therapy was ineffective, not tolerated, or contraindicated.” That said, it might not work as a long-term solution.

So how does this versatile medication act differently when alcohol is in the mix?

Antihistamines and Alcohol

In general, combining alcohol and antihistamines isn’t a good idea, mainly since alcohol enhances the sedative effects while boosting some of the chemical processes that cause allergic reactions in the first place. (For an in-depth look, check out our blog “Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Allergy Medication?”)



It’s important to note just how impairing some sedating antihistamines truly are. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared driving performance of people taking Benadryl (a first-generation antihistamine) or Allegra (its second-generation cousin) for hay fever with those who had alcohol or a placebo. The subjects were sent off on a pretend road trip in the Iowa Driving Simulator. The result? Those on Benadryl did worse than the subjects who were legally drunk!

Talking about the study, author John Weiler explains, “First-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, are known to affect driving performance. However, we were surprised to find that this antihistamine has more impact on driving performance than alcohol does.” He goes on to say that "drowsiness was only weakly associated with minimum following distance, steering instability and crossing into the left lane … These results suggest that people should carefully read warning labels on all medications. Even if you do not feel drowsy after taking an antihistamine or alcohol, you may be impaired."

Tips To Stay Safe

Mixing Hydroxyzine With Alcohol

As with other antihistamines, mixing hydroxyzine with alcohol is not a good idea. There are three big reasons for this:

  • Excessive sedation. The main concern is the combined sedative effect of both alcohol — a known depressant — and hydroxyzine.
  • Intensified side effects. Alcohol is notorious for causing dehydration. Drinking alcohol amplifies the drying effects of antihistamines such as hydroxyzine and could leave us feeling even more parched.
  • Effects on the heart. Hydroxyzine can affect the heart in those with existing heart rhythm conditions. While this is rare, it raises concerns if excessive alcohol consumption is involved. Alcohol isn’t very heart-friendly, either: it can speed up our heart rate and cause arrhythmia, cause blood pressure spikes, and even lead to more serious heart disease in the long run. (Check out our blog “How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?” for more details.)

What Happens If I Have One Drink on Hydroxyzine?

Probably nothing too drastic, but we never know where that line is, so it’s best to err on the side of safety and stay away from booze if you’re taking hydroxyzine. 

What If I’ve Already Combined Alcohol and Hydroxyzine?

If you’ve already combined the two and you’re here after a panicked web search, fear not. Start by taking a deep breath (that’s important!). If you’ve had only a couple drinks, took a normal dose of hydroxyzine, and have no known heart issues, you aren’t in serious danger. Rest, take it easy, and stay in bed or on the couch — now isn’t the time to cook a meal, rearrange furniture, or go for a drive.

Stay aware of your body. Notice if you feel like you’re having trouble breathing or if your heart rate starts feeling like it’s playing jazz instead of beating regularly. You’re likely going to be very tired, so it may be best to ask a family member or partner to check in on you for a few hours. If anything feels troubling, seek immediate medical care.

If you’ve had a lot to drink and you took a hydroxyzine dose higher than normal, or if you have a heart rhythm disorder that prolongs your QT interval, seek immediate medical care.

Combining small amounts of alcohol and hydroxyzine isn’t likely to kill us, but it’s definitely not good for us. It increases the chance of something dangerous happening, and when we do this regularly, it can cause chronic damage to our body.

Alcohol’s Effects on the 3 Primary Targets of Hydroxyzine

Whatever condition we’re taking hydroxyzine for, chances are alcohol isn’t doing us any favors when it comes to getting relief. There’s scientific evidence proving that booze has a negative impact on all three conditions we might be taking hydroxyzine for: allergies, anxiety, and insomnia.

  • Alcohol can make allergy symptoms worse. According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology alcohol can make allergies worse by increasing IgE antibody levels associated with allergic reactions. Moreover, it’s known to increase histamine levels — the main culprit behind allergic reactions. (For more information, take a look at our blog “Can Alcohol Make Allergy Symptoms Worse?”)
  • Alcohol amps up anxiety. That initial relaxation we feel after a drink or two? It fades away quickly, often giving rise to even higher levels of anxiety in the long run. The reason has to do with the way alcohol messes with neurotransmitter levels in the brain. It initially increases the inhibitory GABA neurotransmitter levels while decreasing glutamate, its excitatory counterpart. The result is that relaxed feeling we get when we take our first few sips. Unfortunately, the sedative effect of alcohol is short-lived. That uneasy feeling that’s often part of a hangover the morning after? That’s the rebound effect caused by the brain trying to rebalance itself. (For an in-depth look check out “Why Does Drinking Alcohol Make Anxiety Worse?”)
  • Alcohol and sleep. In a similar way, alcohol also interferes with our sleep. After initially making us drowsy, it flips the script, leading to more restless nights disrupted by countless trips to the bathroom and missed restorative REM sleep cycle intervals, which are crucial for overall health. (Want to know more? Take a look at “The Negative Impact of Alcohol on Our Sleep: The Bittersweet Irony of "Sleeping It Off.")

Hydroxyzine for Alcohol Withdrawal

Finally, what about using hydroxyzine for alcohol withdrawal? Indeed, it’s one of the ways doctors help patients reduce anxiety and tremors associated with suddenly stopping alcohol use. The neurochemical trainwreck alcohol leaves in its wake manifests as intense anxiety and the notorious “shakes” that sometimes escalate into full-blown seizures. To make this period a bit more comfortable, benzodiazepines are often the go-to form of treatment. One major problem? They’re just as addictive as alcohol itself.

Antihistamines, on the other hand, offer a safer alternative. An article from the Encyclopedia of Sleep explains, “Antihistamines are commonly used in alleviation of insomnia in drug and alcohol withdrawal where traditional GABA-acting hypnotics are less suitable due to the risk of cross-dependence, although there have been no controlled trials in this setting.” 

Tips To Stay Safe

Finally, here are a few tips for staying safe when it comes to alcohol and hydroxyzine.

  1. Avoid the mix. The sedative properties of both alcohol and hydroxyzine make each one a potent downer, and mixing them can be double trouble. Plus, it will make healing from allergies, anxiety, or insomnia more difficult if booze is in the picture. 
  2. Tap into the power of mindfulness. If you’re finding yourself struggling with anxiety or sleepless nights in particular and feel tempted to add a drink to “boost” your hydroxyzine regimen, consider an alternative — mindfulness meditation. This practice can be as simple as watching your own thoughts, following your breath, walking outside, or even paying attention to different textures while doing the dishes. The key is to pay attention to the physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts from the perspective of a detached observer. It might sound deceptively simple, but it’s a science-backed way to lower stress, coast through cravings, and get restful sleep!
  3. Take care of your body. Nourish your body with nutritious food and plenty of water to create a solid base for feeling better physically and emotionally. Make sure to include protein-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids, and plenty of fruits and leafy green vegetables to keep your immune system, brain, heart, and the rest of your body functioning at its best.
  4. Get sober-curious. If you’re finding it hard to get out of your drinking routine, try to approach it from the perspective of curiosity. Who knows, you might discover that life beyond booze is a lot more enjoyable than you ever thought!

Summing Up

All in all, dealing with allergies, anxiety, and insomnia alike is no picnic — and there are plenty of people who share your struggles and sympathize. But adding alcohol to the mix is bound to make things even tougher in the long run. Instead, try to see this situation as an opportunity to explore what true wellness is all about. As A.J. Jacobs writes in Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, “The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one.”

Maybe those seasonal allergies have you sneezing and rubbing your eyes. For some reason, Benadryl just doesn’t cut it, and neither do its second-generation, over-the-counter cousins. Commuters in the train slide away from you thinking you must have a cold, while coworkers give you looks of concern (were you just crying in our morning meeting?). 

Or, maybe, life has been stressful lately and you find yourself binge- watching YouTube videos night after night, unable to go to sleep. You know antidepressants and prescription sleep meds are an option, but you’re hesitant to go that route yet. 

Is there anything that could help? For many people, it’s hydroxyzine (better known as Vistaril). Developed as an antihistamine, it has gained a reputation as a fairly mild and “user-friendly” antianxiety and insomnia aid. It’s also fairly common for doctors to prescribe hydroxyzine for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But what about combining hydroxyzine with alcohol? Let’s find out!

What Is Hydroxyzine?

Pills and alcohol bottle on table

Hydroxyzine (Vistaril) is a prescription antihistamine that works by blocking histamine — a substance produced by the body during allergic reactions.

The side effects tend to be pretty mild:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin rash

Like many other sedating antihistamines (think Benadryl or Dramamine), hydroxyzine inhibits the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is responsible for memory, learning, motivation, stimulation, and motor control. As a drug class, these anticholinergic medications can cause blurry vision, confusion, urinary retention, and constipation. For that reason, hydroxyzine is generally not prescribed to folks over 65, who might be more sensitive to these effects.

Despite being developed as an antihistamine, hydroxyzine has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve: in addition to blocking histamine, hydroxyzine is a bronchodilator (it opens up our airways) and an antiemetic (keeps us from throwing up), and it’s sometimes used as a mild, fast-acting, antianxiety medication. Because of its versatility, it’s one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, with nearly 3.4 million Americans taking it as of 2021.

The Medical Multitasker

As a result of its somewhat unusual chemical profile and relatively mild side effects, hydroxyzine is a bit more sophisticated than your run-of-the-mill antihistamine. As mentioned earlier, it’s a triple-tasker in the medical arena:

  • Hydroxyzine can be prescribed to ease allergy symptoms. True to its origins, hydroxyzine is still used for its antihistamine properties and is often prescribed as a treatment for allergies.
  • It’s also an effective antianxiety option. Unlike some of its more intense peers in the antianxiety world, hydroxyzine is fairly mild and not habit-forming. According to a Journal of Clinical Psychology study, hydroxyzine “Showed both efficacy and safety in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and appears to be an effective alternative treatment to benzodiazepine prescription.” It’s also occasionally prescribed to put patients at ease and make them a bit more comfortable before surgery.
  • Hydroxyzine also works as a sleep aid. Its sedative properties and relatively mild side effects make hydroxyzine an effective sleep aid. A recent study in Human Psychopharmacology, found that “Hydroxyzine could be considered as a short-term treatment option for adults with insomnia for whom previous therapy was ineffective, not tolerated, or contraindicated.” That said, it might not work as a long-term solution.

So how does this versatile medication act differently when alcohol is in the mix?

Antihistamines and Alcohol

In general, combining alcohol and antihistamines isn’t a good idea, mainly since alcohol enhances the sedative effects while boosting some of the chemical processes that cause allergic reactions in the first place. (For an in-depth look, check out our blog “Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Allergy Medication?”)



It’s important to note just how impairing some sedating antihistamines truly are. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared driving performance of people taking Benadryl (a first-generation antihistamine) or Allegra (its second-generation cousin) for hay fever with those who had alcohol or a placebo. The subjects were sent off on a pretend road trip in the Iowa Driving Simulator. The result? Those on Benadryl did worse than the subjects who were legally drunk!

Talking about the study, author John Weiler explains, “First-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, are known to affect driving performance. However, we were surprised to find that this antihistamine has more impact on driving performance than alcohol does.” He goes on to say that "drowsiness was only weakly associated with minimum following distance, steering instability and crossing into the left lane … These results suggest that people should carefully read warning labels on all medications. Even if you do not feel drowsy after taking an antihistamine or alcohol, you may be impaired."

Tips To Stay Safe

Mixing Hydroxyzine With Alcohol

As with other antihistamines, mixing hydroxyzine with alcohol is not a good idea. There are three big reasons for this:

  • Excessive sedation. The main concern is the combined sedative effect of both alcohol — a known depressant — and hydroxyzine.
  • Intensified side effects. Alcohol is notorious for causing dehydration. Drinking alcohol amplifies the drying effects of antihistamines such as hydroxyzine and could leave us feeling even more parched.
  • Effects on the heart. Hydroxyzine can affect the heart in those with existing heart rhythm conditions. While this is rare, it raises concerns if excessive alcohol consumption is involved. Alcohol isn’t very heart-friendly, either: it can speed up our heart rate and cause arrhythmia, cause blood pressure spikes, and even lead to more serious heart disease in the long run. (Check out our blog “How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?” for more details.)

What Happens If I Have One Drink on Hydroxyzine?

Probably nothing too drastic, but we never know where that line is, so it’s best to err on the side of safety and stay away from booze if you’re taking hydroxyzine. 

What If I’ve Already Combined Alcohol and Hydroxyzine?

If you’ve already combined the two and you’re here after a panicked web search, fear not. Start by taking a deep breath (that’s important!). If you’ve had only a couple drinks, took a normal dose of hydroxyzine, and have no known heart issues, you aren’t in serious danger. Rest, take it easy, and stay in bed or on the couch — now isn’t the time to cook a meal, rearrange furniture, or go for a drive.

Stay aware of your body. Notice if you feel like you’re having trouble breathing or if your heart rate starts feeling like it’s playing jazz instead of beating regularly. You’re likely going to be very tired, so it may be best to ask a family member or partner to check in on you for a few hours. If anything feels troubling, seek immediate medical care.

If you’ve had a lot to drink and you took a hydroxyzine dose higher than normal, or if you have a heart rhythm disorder that prolongs your QT interval, seek immediate medical care.

Combining small amounts of alcohol and hydroxyzine isn’t likely to kill us, but it’s definitely not good for us. It increases the chance of something dangerous happening, and when we do this regularly, it can cause chronic damage to our body.

Alcohol’s Effects on the 3 Primary Targets of Hydroxyzine

Whatever condition we’re taking hydroxyzine for, chances are alcohol isn’t doing us any favors when it comes to getting relief. There’s scientific evidence proving that booze has a negative impact on all three conditions we might be taking hydroxyzine for: allergies, anxiety, and insomnia.

  • Alcohol can make allergy symptoms worse. According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology alcohol can make allergies worse by increasing IgE antibody levels associated with allergic reactions. Moreover, it’s known to increase histamine levels — the main culprit behind allergic reactions. (For more information, take a look at our blog “Can Alcohol Make Allergy Symptoms Worse?”)
  • Alcohol amps up anxiety. That initial relaxation we feel after a drink or two? It fades away quickly, often giving rise to even higher levels of anxiety in the long run. The reason has to do with the way alcohol messes with neurotransmitter levels in the brain. It initially increases the inhibitory GABA neurotransmitter levels while decreasing glutamate, its excitatory counterpart. The result is that relaxed feeling we get when we take our first few sips. Unfortunately, the sedative effect of alcohol is short-lived. That uneasy feeling that’s often part of a hangover the morning after? That’s the rebound effect caused by the brain trying to rebalance itself. (For an in-depth look check out “Why Does Drinking Alcohol Make Anxiety Worse?”)
  • Alcohol and sleep. In a similar way, alcohol also interferes with our sleep. After initially making us drowsy, it flips the script, leading to more restless nights disrupted by countless trips to the bathroom and missed restorative REM sleep cycle intervals, which are crucial for overall health. (Want to know more? Take a look at “The Negative Impact of Alcohol on Our Sleep: The Bittersweet Irony of "Sleeping It Off.")

Hydroxyzine for Alcohol Withdrawal

Finally, what about using hydroxyzine for alcohol withdrawal? Indeed, it’s one of the ways doctors help patients reduce anxiety and tremors associated with suddenly stopping alcohol use. The neurochemical trainwreck alcohol leaves in its wake manifests as intense anxiety and the notorious “shakes” that sometimes escalate into full-blown seizures. To make this period a bit more comfortable, benzodiazepines are often the go-to form of treatment. One major problem? They’re just as addictive as alcohol itself.

Antihistamines, on the other hand, offer a safer alternative. An article from the Encyclopedia of Sleep explains, “Antihistamines are commonly used in alleviation of insomnia in drug and alcohol withdrawal where traditional GABA-acting hypnotics are less suitable due to the risk of cross-dependence, although there have been no controlled trials in this setting.” 

Tips To Stay Safe

Finally, here are a few tips for staying safe when it comes to alcohol and hydroxyzine.

  1. Avoid the mix. The sedative properties of both alcohol and hydroxyzine make each one a potent downer, and mixing them can be double trouble. Plus, it will make healing from allergies, anxiety, or insomnia more difficult if booze is in the picture. 
  2. Tap into the power of mindfulness. If you’re finding yourself struggling with anxiety or sleepless nights in particular and feel tempted to add a drink to “boost” your hydroxyzine regimen, consider an alternative — mindfulness meditation. This practice can be as simple as watching your own thoughts, following your breath, walking outside, or even paying attention to different textures while doing the dishes. The key is to pay attention to the physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts from the perspective of a detached observer. It might sound deceptively simple, but it’s a science-backed way to lower stress, coast through cravings, and get restful sleep!
  3. Take care of your body. Nourish your body with nutritious food and plenty of water to create a solid base for feeling better physically and emotionally. Make sure to include protein-rich foods, omega-3 fatty acids, and plenty of fruits and leafy green vegetables to keep your immune system, brain, heart, and the rest of your body functioning at its best.
  4. Get sober-curious. If you’re finding it hard to get out of your drinking routine, try to approach it from the perspective of curiosity. Who knows, you might discover that life beyond booze is a lot more enjoyable than you ever thought!

Summing Up

All in all, dealing with allergies, anxiety, and insomnia alike is no picnic — and there are plenty of people who share your struggles and sympathize. But adding alcohol to the mix is bound to make things even tougher in the long run. Instead, try to see this situation as an opportunity to explore what true wellness is all about. As A.J. Jacobs writes in Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, “The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one.”

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-17 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Can You Drink on Sudafed?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Should you stay away from alcohol while taking Sudafed? Find out why combining the two can amp up the side effects and create a gnarly mix.

14 min read

Ready To Change Your Relationship With Alcohol? Reframe Can Help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Article  →

There’s a meme that describes the problem of sinus infections to a T: “You just don’t appreciate breathing out of both nostrils until one suddenly is taken away from you.” And boy, does that ring true! 

Many of us find that Sudafed can be a godsend when it comes to clearing up congestion. But what happens if we add alcohol to the mix? Can you drink on Sudafed? What are the interactions between the active ingredient, pseudoephedrine, and alcohol? Let’s find out!

What Is Sudafed?

A glass of alcohol and pills on a wooden table

The active ingredient in Sudafed — pseudoephedrine — has raised some eyebrows over the years, but remains an effective way to clear up that pesky sinus congestion. Structurally similar to the more potent ephedrine, it’s a stimulant from the phenethylamine and amphetamine chemical classes. 

Both pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are found naturally in the ephedra plant, which has a long history of medicinal use in Eastern traditions. It works by shrinking swollen mucous membranes in the nose, reducing congestion that often comes with colds or allergies. While it is widely used and generally safe (when used correctly), it can also have some gnarly side effects: 

  • It can make us restless. Being a stimulant, pseudoephedrine can ramp things up a bit too much at times. It’s been known to make some folks anxious and can cause difficulties sleeping. 
  • It can cause cardiovascular effects. Another downside to the stimulant effects? Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • It can be hard on the stomach. Pseudoephedrine can occasionally cause stomach discomfort, resulting in nausea or vomiting.

Some folks misuse the drug for its stimulant properties, which can cause even more side effects. Even worse, some will use it to “cook” methamphetamines. This is why you have to show an ID to get it at the drugstore.

Can You Drink Alcohol With Sudafed?

Now that we have a better idea of what Sudafed is and how it works, we can see why mixing it with booze is asking for trouble. The combination can cause many problems, mentally and physically.

Stimulants vs. Depressants: A Chemical Tug-of-War

Since alcohol is a depressant and Sudafed is a stimulant, the combination of the two confuses our central nervous system and cardiovascular system, compounding symptoms: 

  • Masked effects. The upper might make us feel less intoxicated than we are, leading us to drink more than we otherwise would. This puts us at risk of an accidental overdose, which could lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Mood swings. The mixed messages our brain gets from the stimulant-depressant combo can also lead to unpredictable moods.
  • Blood pressure fluctuations. Pseudoephedrine constricts blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure. Alcohol, on the other hand, can do both, often initially lowering our blood pressure and causing rebound spikes later on. The interaction between these two effects can throw our system for a loop (literally), leading to unsteadiness and unnecessary strain.
  • Heart rhythm glitches. Both Sudafed and alcohol are notorious for disrupting the heart rhythm, and while the glitches caused by Sudafed alone are usually pretty manageable, alcohol changes the story. Just a few drinks can cause atrial fibrillation. (For a more in-depth look, check out our blog “How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?”)

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is notorious for causing dehydration by reducing the levels of the hormone vasopressin, which tells the kidneys to hold on to water. Sudafed, on the other hand, depletes the body of water through a slightly different mechanism. All the extra dryness means our congestion gets worse, defeating the purpose we’re taking Sudafed in the first place.
  • Dizziness. Remember those fluctuations in blood pressure we were talking about before? They can make us feel unsteady on our feet. Plus, dizziness is a side effect of Sudafed and alcohol alone, which can make us feel even more unstable. Add to that the dizziness that sometimes stems from dehydration caused by both substances, and it’s clear why the two are double trouble.
  • Nausea. Both alcohol and pseudoephedrine are known to be hard on the stomach at times, and together they’re that much more likely to cause intestinal distress. 
  • Heightened anxiety. Stimulants are known to cause anxiety, but alcohol can make us uneasy as well. While the initial effect of booze is, indeed, to slow down our nervous system, there’s a rebound effect waiting to happen just a few hours later. That indescribable uneasy feeling we often wake up with the morning after? That’s our body trying to rebalance itself, and it can be very uncomfortable. Add Sudafed to the mix, and we could be in for an even more fretful day.
Side Effects of Sudafed

What If I Have One Drink on Sudafed?

While a single drink taken with Sudafed probably won’t harm you, it’s never a good idea to mix the two, since we don’t know exactly where the line between safety and harm is. There are lots of factors involved, such as age, metabolism, genetics, what you’ve eaten that day, and what other medications you might be taking. It’s always best to stay on the safe side! Besides, the side effects of the mix, as well as the fact that your symptoms might get worse, would probably make the experience pretty unpleasant.

Tips To Recover From a Cold or Sinus Infection

Finally, here’s a bit of advice for taking Sudafed and staying away from booze in the meantime (or even longer!).

  1. One thing at a time. Stimulants and depressants don’t play well together, and it’s best to keep the two in their separate corners. All the extra side effects, the mood instability, and the heart effects are just not worth it!
  2. Let your body heal. If you’re taking Sudafed for a cold or sinus infection, it’s important to let your body heal — and alcohol tends to disrupt the process. Instead, make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and replenishing fluids lost from the dehydrating effects of pseudoephedrine (without losing more by adding booze to the picture). 
  3. Nourish your body. It’s crucial to nourish your body with good food as you recover (and alcohol certainly isn’t on the list). Did you know that food has a lot to do with developing and recovering from sinus infections? According to Sinus Relief Centers, it absolutely does. Try to stay away from triggers such as foods high in fats, sugars, and MSG. Instead, opt for peppers to keep those airways open, garlic and ginger to boost your body’s ability to fight infections, fish and seafood to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, and honey — the all-time favorite cold-fighting remedy.
  4. Ask for help. If you’re having trouble putting drinking on pause, don’t hesitate to ask for help. There’s plenty of assistance available, and Reframe is here to support you every step of the way as you reexamine your relationship with alcohol to find a path to a happier, healthier version of yourself.

The Ups and Downs

Life has its ups and downs, but adding artificial ones by mixing Sudafed and alcohol can spell trouble. Instead, let’s focus on taking care of our mind and body and discover healthier ways to manage our mood and relax, especially as we heal from an illness. There’s plenty of booze-free fun to be had whether we’re currently taking Sudafed or we reach the other side of whatever has us taking it in the first place.

There’s a meme that describes the problem of sinus infections to a T: “You just don’t appreciate breathing out of both nostrils until one suddenly is taken away from you.” And boy, does that ring true! 

Many of us find that Sudafed can be a godsend when it comes to clearing up congestion. But what happens if we add alcohol to the mix? Can you drink on Sudafed? What are the interactions between the active ingredient, pseudoephedrine, and alcohol? Let’s find out!

What Is Sudafed?

A glass of alcohol and pills on a wooden table

The active ingredient in Sudafed — pseudoephedrine — has raised some eyebrows over the years, but remains an effective way to clear up that pesky sinus congestion. Structurally similar to the more potent ephedrine, it’s a stimulant from the phenethylamine and amphetamine chemical classes. 

Both pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are found naturally in the ephedra plant, which has a long history of medicinal use in Eastern traditions. It works by shrinking swollen mucous membranes in the nose, reducing congestion that often comes with colds or allergies. While it is widely used and generally safe (when used correctly), it can also have some gnarly side effects: 

  • It can make us restless. Being a stimulant, pseudoephedrine can ramp things up a bit too much at times. It’s been known to make some folks anxious and can cause difficulties sleeping. 
  • It can cause cardiovascular effects. Another downside to the stimulant effects? Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • It can be hard on the stomach. Pseudoephedrine can occasionally cause stomach discomfort, resulting in nausea or vomiting.

Some folks misuse the drug for its stimulant properties, which can cause even more side effects. Even worse, some will use it to “cook” methamphetamines. This is why you have to show an ID to get it at the drugstore.

Can You Drink Alcohol With Sudafed?

Now that we have a better idea of what Sudafed is and how it works, we can see why mixing it with booze is asking for trouble. The combination can cause many problems, mentally and physically.

Stimulants vs. Depressants: A Chemical Tug-of-War

Since alcohol is a depressant and Sudafed is a stimulant, the combination of the two confuses our central nervous system and cardiovascular system, compounding symptoms: 

  • Masked effects. The upper might make us feel less intoxicated than we are, leading us to drink more than we otherwise would. This puts us at risk of an accidental overdose, which could lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Mood swings. The mixed messages our brain gets from the stimulant-depressant combo can also lead to unpredictable moods.
  • Blood pressure fluctuations. Pseudoephedrine constricts blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure. Alcohol, on the other hand, can do both, often initially lowering our blood pressure and causing rebound spikes later on. The interaction between these two effects can throw our system for a loop (literally), leading to unsteadiness and unnecessary strain.
  • Heart rhythm glitches. Both Sudafed and alcohol are notorious for disrupting the heart rhythm, and while the glitches caused by Sudafed alone are usually pretty manageable, alcohol changes the story. Just a few drinks can cause atrial fibrillation. (For a more in-depth look, check out our blog “How Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?”)

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is notorious for causing dehydration by reducing the levels of the hormone vasopressin, which tells the kidneys to hold on to water. Sudafed, on the other hand, depletes the body of water through a slightly different mechanism. All the extra dryness means our congestion gets worse, defeating the purpose we’re taking Sudafed in the first place.
  • Dizziness. Remember those fluctuations in blood pressure we were talking about before? They can make us feel unsteady on our feet. Plus, dizziness is a side effect of Sudafed and alcohol alone, which can make us feel even more unstable. Add to that the dizziness that sometimes stems from dehydration caused by both substances, and it’s clear why the two are double trouble.
  • Nausea. Both alcohol and pseudoephedrine are known to be hard on the stomach at times, and together they’re that much more likely to cause intestinal distress. 
  • Heightened anxiety. Stimulants are known to cause anxiety, but alcohol can make us uneasy as well. While the initial effect of booze is, indeed, to slow down our nervous system, there’s a rebound effect waiting to happen just a few hours later. That indescribable uneasy feeling we often wake up with the morning after? That’s our body trying to rebalance itself, and it can be very uncomfortable. Add Sudafed to the mix, and we could be in for an even more fretful day.
Side Effects of Sudafed

What If I Have One Drink on Sudafed?

While a single drink taken with Sudafed probably won’t harm you, it’s never a good idea to mix the two, since we don’t know exactly where the line between safety and harm is. There are lots of factors involved, such as age, metabolism, genetics, what you’ve eaten that day, and what other medications you might be taking. It’s always best to stay on the safe side! Besides, the side effects of the mix, as well as the fact that your symptoms might get worse, would probably make the experience pretty unpleasant.

Tips To Recover From a Cold or Sinus Infection

Finally, here’s a bit of advice for taking Sudafed and staying away from booze in the meantime (or even longer!).

  1. One thing at a time. Stimulants and depressants don’t play well together, and it’s best to keep the two in their separate corners. All the extra side effects, the mood instability, and the heart effects are just not worth it!
  2. Let your body heal. If you’re taking Sudafed for a cold or sinus infection, it’s important to let your body heal — and alcohol tends to disrupt the process. Instead, make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and replenishing fluids lost from the dehydrating effects of pseudoephedrine (without losing more by adding booze to the picture). 
  3. Nourish your body. It’s crucial to nourish your body with good food as you recover (and alcohol certainly isn’t on the list). Did you know that food has a lot to do with developing and recovering from sinus infections? According to Sinus Relief Centers, it absolutely does. Try to stay away from triggers such as foods high in fats, sugars, and MSG. Instead, opt for peppers to keep those airways open, garlic and ginger to boost your body’s ability to fight infections, fish and seafood to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, and honey — the all-time favorite cold-fighting remedy.
  4. Ask for help. If you’re having trouble putting drinking on pause, don’t hesitate to ask for help. There’s plenty of assistance available, and Reframe is here to support you every step of the way as you reexamine your relationship with alcohol to find a path to a happier, healthier version of yourself.

The Ups and Downs

Life has its ups and downs, but adding artificial ones by mixing Sudafed and alcohol can spell trouble. Instead, let’s focus on taking care of our mind and body and discover healthier ways to manage our mood and relax, especially as we heal from an illness. There’s plenty of booze-free fun to be had whether we’re currently taking Sudafed or we reach the other side of whatever has us taking it in the first place.

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-17 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Alcohol and Melatonin: Is It Safe To Mix?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Is it safe to take melatonin when you’re drinking alcohol? Learn the risks of mixing alcohol and melatonin.

14 min read

Ready To Cut Back on Alcohol?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Article  →

It’s already late, and you’ve been out drinking with friends. The night’s winding down, and you opt to crash at your friend’s place. After taking a last sip of red wine, she offers you a melatonin. She takes one, too, and you say goodnight. You don’t think much of it — it’s just a supplement, right? 

However, as you crawl into bed and lie down, you start to feel strange. The next morning you feel nauseous, too. Is it a hangover, or more? Is it safe to mix melatonin with alcohol? Find out the facts as we explore this common question together.

What Is Melatonin?

A glass of alcohol and pills placed on a wooden table

First off, what exactly is melatonin? Most of us are familiar with melatonin supplements, but melatonin is actually a hormone our brain produces in response to darkness. Melatonin helps with the timing of our circadian rhythm (our body’s internal clock) and with our sleep pattern. Ever wondered why it can be so difficult to fall asleep when there’s a bright light shining through the curtains? Being exposed to light or brightness at night can block our natural melatonin production, which is why blackout curtains are so necessary for many of us. 

The Science Behind Melatonin

Melatonin is produced by our pineal gland, which is located in the middle of our brain. This gland is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is a group of neurons, or nerve cells, that control our body’s clock by sending signals to each other.

During the day, the retina in our eyes absorbs light and sends signals to the SCN. Then, the SCN tells our pineal gland to stop making melatonin. This helps us to stay awake and alert. The opposite happens at night. When we’re exposed to darkness, our SCN activates the pineal gland, which then releases melatonin. Because the hormone melatonin helps us fall asleep, melatonin supplements are commonly recommended for those of us who struggle to sleep for a variety of reasons:

  • Jet lag
  • Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety before and after surgery
  • Insomnia
  • Shift work disorder (for overnight shift workers, for example)

Basically, if our body struggles to produce enough melatonin to fall asleep, the supplements can help fill in the gap so we can get our much-needed Zs. 

What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?

Melatonin is associated with many risks and potential side effects even without adding alcohol into the mix:

  • Nausea or upset stomach. Nausea, stomach irritation, or upset stomach are all commonly reported side effects of taking melatonin and can vary depending on how much we take.
  • Strange dreams or nightmares. Some experience vivid dreams or nightmares while taking melatonin, which can be disruptive and cause us to wake up still feeling tired.
  • Daytime sleepiness or grogginess. Melatonin can cause daytime sleepiness, grogginess, or drowsiness. If we take a melatonin supplement at 3 a.m., for example, we shouldn't be surprised if we still feel groggy or tired the following day. This is the most common side effect people experience when taking melatonin. 

To prevent daytime sleepiness, grogginess, or other potential side effects, be sure to take melatonin in the early evening or hours before bed, and only take the recommended dosage on the label. If you’re unsure, talk with your healthcare provider about the dosage. Melatonin can stay in our system for up to 4-5 hours, so we should plan ahead when taking it.

Can I Mix Melatonin and Alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant drug that reduces communication between our brain and body, leading to impaired coordination and slowed reaction time. Taken in excess, it can lead to numerous negative health effects, including depression, coma, and even death.

Considering the multitude of potential risks associated with taking melatonin and those associated with drinking alcohol, it should come as no surprise that mixing alcohol with melatonin is dangerous. 

Taking melatonin with alcohol presents many problems, both short term and long term:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Increased dependence on the combination of substances to sleep

If the goal of taking melatonin is to get better sleep and feel more rested, it’s worth noting that many of these side effects would defeat the purpose of taking melatonin in the first place. 

But perhaps more worrisome are the effects on our liver. The combination of melatonin and alcohol is especially hard on our liver, which presents its own set of complications: 

  • Flushing in your face and upper body
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Abnormally fast heartbeat
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Feeling abnormally cold or shivering with no clear cause
  • Trouble breathing
  • Passing out

The bottom line is that the effects of alcohol can be amplified by melatonin and vice versa. If you experience any of these more serious side effects, see your doctor or seek emergency help. 

But despite these potential side effects, some of us are still probably wondering: Can I take melatonin after having just one glass of wine or a beer?

Can I Take Melatonin After Having One Drink?

Can I Take Melatonin After Having One Drink?

The answer is you can, but we still don’t recommend it. If you do choose to have one drink before taking melatonin, use caution.

  • Only take the recommended dosage. Do not take more than the recommended dosage of melatonin, and if you’re unsure, don’t take it until you’ve talked to your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 
  • Wait an hour (or more) if possible. Wait a while after having a drink before taking melatonin, if possible. This gives our body more time to process the alcohol and flush it out of our system so less alcohol is present.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water also helps our body flush out alcohol. After that glass of wine, drink a tall glass of water—or three!
  • Choose other alternatives to drinking. If you frequently struggle with sleep problems or take melatonin supplements, the easiest way to avoid negative effects is to abstain from drinking. Try out a sleepy-time tea or other herbal tea, a mocktail, or another non-alcoholic (and noncaffeinated) beverage. 

Keep in mind that many melatonin supplements are time-released. This means they can take some time to begin working. Many of them begin working about 30 minutes after you’ve taken them. Having an alcoholic drink interrupts this process and can make the supplement not work as well and lead to a host of potential negative side effects.

Other Health Risks Associated With Taking Melatonin

In addition to the side effects of melatonin listed above, there are other health risks to keep in mind:

  • Interactions with other medicines. As with all dietary supplements, those of us who are taking medications should talk to a healthcare provider when we take melatonin. In particular, people with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications, antidepressants, or even birth control may need to be extra cautious.
  • Safety concerns for pregnant/breastfeeding women, and older people. There’s not enough research to know if melatonin is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, older people, or those with dementia. 
  • Lack of regulation. Melatonin is regulated as a dietary supplement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) FDA in the US. As a supplement, this means it's regulated less strictly than a prescription or over-the-counter drug would be. In several other countries, melatonin is available only with a prescription and is considered a drug.

Conclusion

In summary, it’s best to skip the booze when you know you’re going to be taking melatonin to sleep. We hope you feel extra informed and aware now when it comes to melatonin in general and the next time you’re thinking about taking it with a drink, we hope you grab a mocktail or other non-alcoholic drink instead. 

It’s already late, and you’ve been out drinking with friends. The night’s winding down, and you opt to crash at your friend’s place. After taking a last sip of red wine, she offers you a melatonin. She takes one, too, and you say goodnight. You don’t think much of it — it’s just a supplement, right? 

However, as you crawl into bed and lie down, you start to feel strange. The next morning you feel nauseous, too. Is it a hangover, or more? Is it safe to mix melatonin with alcohol? Find out the facts as we explore this common question together.

What Is Melatonin?

A glass of alcohol and pills placed on a wooden table

First off, what exactly is melatonin? Most of us are familiar with melatonin supplements, but melatonin is actually a hormone our brain produces in response to darkness. Melatonin helps with the timing of our circadian rhythm (our body’s internal clock) and with our sleep pattern. Ever wondered why it can be so difficult to fall asleep when there’s a bright light shining through the curtains? Being exposed to light or brightness at night can block our natural melatonin production, which is why blackout curtains are so necessary for many of us. 

The Science Behind Melatonin

Melatonin is produced by our pineal gland, which is located in the middle of our brain. This gland is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is a group of neurons, or nerve cells, that control our body’s clock by sending signals to each other.

During the day, the retina in our eyes absorbs light and sends signals to the SCN. Then, the SCN tells our pineal gland to stop making melatonin. This helps us to stay awake and alert. The opposite happens at night. When we’re exposed to darkness, our SCN activates the pineal gland, which then releases melatonin. Because the hormone melatonin helps us fall asleep, melatonin supplements are commonly recommended for those of us who struggle to sleep for a variety of reasons:

  • Jet lag
  • Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety before and after surgery
  • Insomnia
  • Shift work disorder (for overnight shift workers, for example)

Basically, if our body struggles to produce enough melatonin to fall asleep, the supplements can help fill in the gap so we can get our much-needed Zs. 

What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?

Melatonin is associated with many risks and potential side effects even without adding alcohol into the mix:

  • Nausea or upset stomach. Nausea, stomach irritation, or upset stomach are all commonly reported side effects of taking melatonin and can vary depending on how much we take.
  • Strange dreams or nightmares. Some experience vivid dreams or nightmares while taking melatonin, which can be disruptive and cause us to wake up still feeling tired.
  • Daytime sleepiness or grogginess. Melatonin can cause daytime sleepiness, grogginess, or drowsiness. If we take a melatonin supplement at 3 a.m., for example, we shouldn't be surprised if we still feel groggy or tired the following day. This is the most common side effect people experience when taking melatonin. 

To prevent daytime sleepiness, grogginess, or other potential side effects, be sure to take melatonin in the early evening or hours before bed, and only take the recommended dosage on the label. If you’re unsure, talk with your healthcare provider about the dosage. Melatonin can stay in our system for up to 4-5 hours, so we should plan ahead when taking it.

Can I Mix Melatonin and Alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant drug that reduces communication between our brain and body, leading to impaired coordination and slowed reaction time. Taken in excess, it can lead to numerous negative health effects, including depression, coma, and even death.

Considering the multitude of potential risks associated with taking melatonin and those associated with drinking alcohol, it should come as no surprise that mixing alcohol with melatonin is dangerous. 

Taking melatonin with alcohol presents many problems, both short term and long term:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Increased dependence on the combination of substances to sleep

If the goal of taking melatonin is to get better sleep and feel more rested, it’s worth noting that many of these side effects would defeat the purpose of taking melatonin in the first place. 

But perhaps more worrisome are the effects on our liver. The combination of melatonin and alcohol is especially hard on our liver, which presents its own set of complications: 

  • Flushing in your face and upper body
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Abnormally fast heartbeat
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Feeling abnormally cold or shivering with no clear cause
  • Trouble breathing
  • Passing out

The bottom line is that the effects of alcohol can be amplified by melatonin and vice versa. If you experience any of these more serious side effects, see your doctor or seek emergency help. 

But despite these potential side effects, some of us are still probably wondering: Can I take melatonin after having just one glass of wine or a beer?

Can I Take Melatonin After Having One Drink?

Can I Take Melatonin After Having One Drink?

The answer is you can, but we still don’t recommend it. If you do choose to have one drink before taking melatonin, use caution.

  • Only take the recommended dosage. Do not take more than the recommended dosage of melatonin, and if you’re unsure, don’t take it until you’ve talked to your doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 
  • Wait an hour (or more) if possible. Wait a while after having a drink before taking melatonin, if possible. This gives our body more time to process the alcohol and flush it out of our system so less alcohol is present.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water also helps our body flush out alcohol. After that glass of wine, drink a tall glass of water—or three!
  • Choose other alternatives to drinking. If you frequently struggle with sleep problems or take melatonin supplements, the easiest way to avoid negative effects is to abstain from drinking. Try out a sleepy-time tea or other herbal tea, a mocktail, or another non-alcoholic (and noncaffeinated) beverage. 

Keep in mind that many melatonin supplements are time-released. This means they can take some time to begin working. Many of them begin working about 30 minutes after you’ve taken them. Having an alcoholic drink interrupts this process and can make the supplement not work as well and lead to a host of potential negative side effects.

Other Health Risks Associated With Taking Melatonin

In addition to the side effects of melatonin listed above, there are other health risks to keep in mind:

  • Interactions with other medicines. As with all dietary supplements, those of us who are taking medications should talk to a healthcare provider when we take melatonin. In particular, people with epilepsy and those taking blood thinner medications, antidepressants, or even birth control may need to be extra cautious.
  • Safety concerns for pregnant/breastfeeding women, and older people. There’s not enough research to know if melatonin is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, older people, or those with dementia. 
  • Lack of regulation. Melatonin is regulated as a dietary supplement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) FDA in the US. As a supplement, this means it's regulated less strictly than a prescription or over-the-counter drug would be. In several other countries, melatonin is available only with a prescription and is considered a drug.

Conclusion

In summary, it’s best to skip the booze when you know you’re going to be taking melatonin to sleep. We hope you feel extra informed and aware now when it comes to melatonin in general and the next time you’re thinking about taking it with a drink, we hope you grab a mocktail or other non-alcoholic drink instead. 

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-17 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Can You Drink Alcohol With Nortriptyline?
This is some text inside of a div block.

Nortriptyline treats both depression and chronic pain. Alcohol makes both these conditions worse, so mixing it with nortriptyline is a bad idea. Read our latest blog to find out more!

17 min read

Feel Better 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 today!

Read Full Article  →

Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a shot of whiskey to fix that toothache or chronic pain in your foot. Or turned to a fruity cocktail to bring you up when you’re feeling down. Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Depression and chronic pain are common conditions, and they have some things in common: they’re persistent, and they’re both associated with alcohol use as a relief (it’s not actually a true or sustainable relief, but rather an illusion that results in greater pain in the long run). There is one particular medication that handles both of these conditions: nortriptyline.

Nortriptyline in a Nutshell

A person holding a glass of water and pills

Nortriptyline (or Pamelor) is a medication used primarily to treat depression and pain (especially nerve pain). It can also be used for anxiety, ADHD, and smoking cessation. When taken for depression, it’s typically taken for months or years until the depression is under control, depending on the person. Let’s take a look at some side effects of Pamelor.

Side Effects of Nortriptyline

Like any other medication, nortriptyline comes with side effects.

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Difficulty urinating or decreased urination
  • Headaches

More serious side effects are quite rare but do happen.

  • Increased depression 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Severe constipation
  • Trouble urinating to the point of causing a stomachache
  • Cardiovascular problems

If you experience any of the more serious ones, tell your doctor right away. A change in dose might be necessary to get relief.

That’s all good to know, but for our purposes, we’re wondering if we can drink on nortriptyline. In fact, this particular combination, while not lethal, still poses a risk to our body.

Nortriptyline and Alcohol

Nortriptyline doesn’t start working right away. If we’re taking it for pain relief, it can take a week or so to kick in. For depression, nortriptyline can take up to 6 weeks to see results. For this reason, it’s best to avoid alcohol for at least 6 weeks to make sure the medication is working and the dose is right. If we do drink while taking nortriptyline, we should only drink in moderation. This means women shouldn’t have more than 1 drink on any given day or more than 8 per week while men should consume no more than 2 drinks per day or 15 per week.

Is Mixing Nortriptyline With Alcohol Dangerous?

Mixing alcohol with any medication is dangerous. That said, mixing nortriptyline with alcohol is less dangerous than many other combinations, but should still be avoided because of its potential to increase the side effects of both substances, as well as make nortriptyline’s benefits less effective.

Side Effects of Mixing Nortriptyline and Alcohol

Mixing nortriptyline with alcohol can worsen its side effects, ranging from fatigue to liver damage.

  • Dizziness/fatigue. Nortriptyline can cause dizziness by lowering blood pressure. Alcohol lowers blood pressure at first (and raises it over time), so the combination can result in super low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and fatigue.
  • Sleepiness. Nortriptlyine causes drowsiness due to its sedative effects so it recommended is usually taken before bed. Adding alcohol to the mix heightens this effect. The pairing of these substances makes operating heavy machinery hazardous due to extreme drowsiness and “feeling drugged.” This heightened drowsiness can lead to injury, which is the last thing we want if we’re already suffering from chronic pain. This symptom is common when we mix alcohol with any pain medication.
  • Liver toxicity. While rare, nortriptyline can cause liver damage over time, as many other antidepressants can. Alcohol also damages the liver, so the two substances should not be mixed, especially over the long term.
  • Disrupted brain chemistry. Both alcohol and nortriptyline affect brain chemistry. When combined, the most dangerous side effects are extreme mood swings that can cause increased thoughts of suicide, especially if we binge drink. This is the “lethal” side effect we mentioned earlier. (It can occur when we mix alcohol with any antidepressant.)

Alcohol and Depression

Another reason to avoid alcohol use while taking nortriptyline, particularly if we’re taking it for depression, is because alcohol by itself can cause depression. Remember how we said alcohol affects our brain chemistry? Well, that’s where the depression comes in. If we’re already depressed, alcohol can worsen depression because it alters the way our brain produces chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin (our “feel-good” chemicals). In fact, people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) often have a depression disorder as well, although it’s often hard to tell which came first once we get into a cycle of drinking when we’re depressed. Even if we don’t already have depression, drinking regularly, especially heavy drinking, affects our brain chemistry in a way that makes us feel depressed because alcohol affects our mood, memory, and decision-making ability. 

One study revealed that if we have either AUD or a depression disorder, our risk for developing the other one is doubled. They also found that AUD increases our risk of depression more than the other way around, as most of the study participants already had AUD before they noticed depression symptoms.

Discover more about the connection between alcohol and depression in our blog “Alcohol Misuse and Depression: What’s the Connection?

Alcohol and Pain

Besides depression, nortriptyline is also used to treat nerve pain. While many people use alcohol to numb physical pain, this actually doesn’t work the way we think it does. Chronic alcohol consumption can result in alcoholic neuropathy — or nerve damage that causes chronic pain. The condition is reversible in some cases, but better to not let it get out of hand. And alcohol can even alter the way the brain processes pain signals. In some cases, people with AUD develop allodynia, a type of nerve pain many describe as sharp, stinging, or burning. Alcohol withdrawal can also cause allodynia, as well as other pain sensitivity

Since nortriptyline treats multiple conditions, bringing alcohol into the mix affects our treatment in more ways than one. Mixing alcohol with nortriptyline makes both depression and pain worse. By cutting back or quitting our alcohol consumption, we can tackle both problems naturally at the same time.

Going Off Nortriptyline

Let’s say we’re feeling great and decide to stop taking nortriptyline. Can we drink right away? It turns out, we can’t just stop taking nortriptyline all of a sudden. Typically, we need to gradually decrease our dosage to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pain or fatigue. Consuming alcohol right after stopping nortriptyline is still not a good idea because we have it in our system for about a week after our last dose. Also, it increases our risk of redeveloping the conditions of depression and chronic pain that we were trying to treat in the first place. For more information about alcohol and antidepressants, check out our blog “Alcohol and Antidepressants: A Dangerous Combo”. 

Tips To Stay Happy and Pain Free

Tips To Stay Happy and Pain Free

There are several things we can do while taking nortriptyline to manage both pain and depression.

  • Wait on the drink. If you’re planning to drink on nortriptyline, wait at least several weeks after you’ve started taking it to make sure your dose is right, and your body doesn’t have any adverse reactions to it. You may even find that once your depression is under control, you don’t have an interest in alcohol anyway. One reason: nortriptyline works for depression by increasing serotonin. Chronic alcohol use depletes serotonin over time, canceling out the effects of the medication. One study even found that people who were taking nortriptyline actually reported less impulsive drinking than before taking it due to an increase in their serotonin levels.
  • Stay in a safe location. Due to the risk of extreme drowsiness when mixing alcohol and nortriptyline, be sure you are in a safe location if you do plan to drink. Don’t get in the car, and make sure you have access to a bed and a phone if you need medical attention.
  • Don't mix it. The list of nortriptyline interactions goes far beyond alcohol. You should avoid mixing nortriptyline with other medications or substances such as tryptophan, Saint-John’s-wort, and pain or migraine medications. The mix increases the risk of side effects.
  • Manage depression in natural ways. Regular exercise, spending time with loved ones, or getting out in nature are some natural ways to relieve depression. Discover what works for you, and remember that quitting or cutting back on alcohol can only help you! Find healthy coping mechanisms for negative thought patterns to avoid falling back on booze.
  • Try physical therapy for pain. Besides medication, physical therapy and certain exercises can help you with chronic pain. While it may not treat the cause of the pain, it will improve your quality of life. 
  • Mindfulness. Pain signals are processed in the brain, so try out focusing exercises such as yoga and meditation. They can help supplement your other treatments.
  • Develop good sleep habits. Sleep works wonders for both pain and depression. Although many people with pain may struggle to sleep, this lack of sleep makes conditions like neuropathy — and depression — worse. But good sleep habits will help you break the lack of sleep cycle and relieve your discomfort. Alcohol directly disrupts our sleep, which is another reason to avoid it.
  • Keep anxiety at bay. Stress and anxiety are terrible for both pain and depression management. Remember how nortriptyline is sometimes used to treat anxiety? Well, learning to reduce anxiety before it becomes chronic will improve your quality of life in every way, and you may not need medication or booze to get relief.

A Few Uplifting Final Words

Depression and chronic pain may seem like insurmountable conditions to live with, but remember, you can find healthy ways to cope with these conditions. Your brain is capable of incredible change, and you can harness its power to improve both your physical and mental well-being. With positive lifestyle changes and an open mind, you can live the happy, pain-free life you’ve always wanted, and you won’t need booze to get there! Whether you’re on medication or not, by avoiding alcohol you’re setting yourself up for success in managing many conditions, and why not give yourself that chance? The team here at Reframe is ready to help you every step of the way!

Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a shot of whiskey to fix that toothache or chronic pain in your foot. Or turned to a fruity cocktail to bring you up when you’re feeling down. Sound familiar? Well, you’re not alone. Depression and chronic pain are common conditions, and they have some things in common: they’re persistent, and they’re both associated with alcohol use as a relief (it’s not actually a true or sustainable relief, but rather an illusion that results in greater pain in the long run). There is one particular medication that handles both of these conditions: nortriptyline.

Nortriptyline in a Nutshell

A person holding a glass of water and pills

Nortriptyline (or Pamelor) is a medication used primarily to treat depression and pain (especially nerve pain). It can also be used for anxiety, ADHD, and smoking cessation. When taken for depression, it’s typically taken for months or years until the depression is under control, depending on the person. Let’s take a look at some side effects of Pamelor.

Side Effects of Nortriptyline

Like any other medication, nortriptyline comes with side effects.

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Difficulty urinating or decreased urination
  • Headaches

More serious side effects are quite rare but do happen.

  • Increased depression 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Severe constipation
  • Trouble urinating to the point of causing a stomachache
  • Cardiovascular problems

If you experience any of the more serious ones, tell your doctor right away. A change in dose might be necessary to get relief.

That’s all good to know, but for our purposes, we’re wondering if we can drink on nortriptyline. In fact, this particular combination, while not lethal, still poses a risk to our body.

Nortriptyline and Alcohol

Nortriptyline doesn’t start working right away. If we’re taking it for pain relief, it can take a week or so to kick in. For depression, nortriptyline can take up to 6 weeks to see results. For this reason, it’s best to avoid alcohol for at least 6 weeks to make sure the medication is working and the dose is right. If we do drink while taking nortriptyline, we should only drink in moderation. This means women shouldn’t have more than 1 drink on any given day or more than 8 per week while men should consume no more than 2 drinks per day or 15 per week.

Is Mixing Nortriptyline With Alcohol Dangerous?

Mixing alcohol with any medication is dangerous. That said, mixing nortriptyline with alcohol is less dangerous than many other combinations, but should still be avoided because of its potential to increase the side effects of both substances, as well as make nortriptyline’s benefits less effective.

Side Effects of Mixing Nortriptyline and Alcohol

Mixing nortriptyline with alcohol can worsen its side effects, ranging from fatigue to liver damage.

  • Dizziness/fatigue. Nortriptyline can cause dizziness by lowering blood pressure. Alcohol lowers blood pressure at first (and raises it over time), so the combination can result in super low blood pressure, which can cause dizziness and fatigue.
  • Sleepiness. Nortriptlyine causes drowsiness due to its sedative effects so it recommended is usually taken before bed. Adding alcohol to the mix heightens this effect. The pairing of these substances makes operating heavy machinery hazardous due to extreme drowsiness and “feeling drugged.” This heightened drowsiness can lead to injury, which is the last thing we want if we’re already suffering from chronic pain. This symptom is common when we mix alcohol with any pain medication.
  • Liver toxicity. While rare, nortriptyline can cause liver damage over time, as many other antidepressants can. Alcohol also damages the liver, so the two substances should not be mixed, especially over the long term.
  • Disrupted brain chemistry. Both alcohol and nortriptyline affect brain chemistry. When combined, the most dangerous side effects are extreme mood swings that can cause increased thoughts of suicide, especially if we binge drink. This is the “lethal” side effect we mentioned earlier. (It can occur when we mix alcohol with any antidepressant.)

Alcohol and Depression

Another reason to avoid alcohol use while taking nortriptyline, particularly if we’re taking it for depression, is because alcohol by itself can cause depression. Remember how we said alcohol affects our brain chemistry? Well, that’s where the depression comes in. If we’re already depressed, alcohol can worsen depression because it alters the way our brain produces chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin (our “feel-good” chemicals). In fact, people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) often have a depression disorder as well, although it’s often hard to tell which came first once we get into a cycle of drinking when we’re depressed. Even if we don’t already have depression, drinking regularly, especially heavy drinking, affects our brain chemistry in a way that makes us feel depressed because alcohol affects our mood, memory, and decision-making ability. 

One study revealed that if we have either AUD or a depression disorder, our risk for developing the other one is doubled. They also found that AUD increases our risk of depression more than the other way around, as most of the study participants already had AUD before they noticed depression symptoms.

Discover more about the connection between alcohol and depression in our blog “Alcohol Misuse and Depression: What’s the Connection?

Alcohol and Pain

Besides depression, nortriptyline is also used to treat nerve pain. While many people use alcohol to numb physical pain, this actually doesn’t work the way we think it does. Chronic alcohol consumption can result in alcoholic neuropathy — or nerve damage that causes chronic pain. The condition is reversible in some cases, but better to not let it get out of hand. And alcohol can even alter the way the brain processes pain signals. In some cases, people with AUD develop allodynia, a type of nerve pain many describe as sharp, stinging, or burning. Alcohol withdrawal can also cause allodynia, as well as other pain sensitivity

Since nortriptyline treats multiple conditions, bringing alcohol into the mix affects our treatment in more ways than one. Mixing alcohol with nortriptyline makes both depression and pain worse. By cutting back or quitting our alcohol consumption, we can tackle both problems naturally at the same time.

Going Off Nortriptyline

Let’s say we’re feeling great and decide to stop taking nortriptyline. Can we drink right away? It turns out, we can’t just stop taking nortriptyline all of a sudden. Typically, we need to gradually decrease our dosage to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pain or fatigue. Consuming alcohol right after stopping nortriptyline is still not a good idea because we have it in our system for about a week after our last dose. Also, it increases our risk of redeveloping the conditions of depression and chronic pain that we were trying to treat in the first place. For more information about alcohol and antidepressants, check out our blog “Alcohol and Antidepressants: A Dangerous Combo”. 

Tips To Stay Happy and Pain Free

Tips To Stay Happy and Pain Free

There are several things we can do while taking nortriptyline to manage both pain and depression.

  • Wait on the drink. If you’re planning to drink on nortriptyline, wait at least several weeks after you’ve started taking it to make sure your dose is right, and your body doesn’t have any adverse reactions to it. You may even find that once your depression is under control, you don’t have an interest in alcohol anyway. One reason: nortriptyline works for depression by increasing serotonin. Chronic alcohol use depletes serotonin over time, canceling out the effects of the medication. One study even found that people who were taking nortriptyline actually reported less impulsive drinking than before taking it due to an increase in their serotonin levels.
  • Stay in a safe location. Due to the risk of extreme drowsiness when mixing alcohol and nortriptyline, be sure you are in a safe location if you do plan to drink. Don’t get in the car, and make sure you have access to a bed and a phone if you need medical attention.
  • Don't mix it. The list of nortriptyline interactions goes far beyond alcohol. You should avoid mixing nortriptyline with other medications or substances such as tryptophan, Saint-John’s-wort, and pain or migraine medications. The mix increases the risk of side effects.
  • Manage depression in natural ways. Regular exercise, spending time with loved ones, or getting out in nature are some natural ways to relieve depression. Discover what works for you, and remember that quitting or cutting back on alcohol can only help you! Find healthy coping mechanisms for negative thought patterns to avoid falling back on booze.
  • Try physical therapy for pain. Besides medication, physical therapy and certain exercises can help you with chronic pain. While it may not treat the cause of the pain, it will improve your quality of life. 
  • Mindfulness. Pain signals are processed in the brain, so try out focusing exercises such as yoga and meditation. They can help supplement your other treatments.
  • Develop good sleep habits. Sleep works wonders for both pain and depression. Although many people with pain may struggle to sleep, this lack of sleep makes conditions like neuropathy — and depression — worse. But good sleep habits will help you break the lack of sleep cycle and relieve your discomfort. Alcohol directly disrupts our sleep, which is another reason to avoid it.
  • Keep anxiety at bay. Stress and anxiety are terrible for both pain and depression management. Remember how nortriptyline is sometimes used to treat anxiety? Well, learning to reduce anxiety before it becomes chronic will improve your quality of life in every way, and you may not need medication or booze to get relief.

A Few Uplifting Final Words

Depression and chronic pain may seem like insurmountable conditions to live with, but remember, you can find healthy ways to cope with these conditions. Your brain is capable of incredible change, and you can harness its power to improve both your physical and mental well-being. With positive lifestyle changes and an open mind, you can live the happy, pain-free life you’ve always wanted, and you won’t need booze to get there! Whether you’re on medication or not, by avoiding alcohol you’re setting yourself up for success in managing many conditions, and why not give yourself that chance? The team here at Reframe is ready to help you every step of the way!

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-13 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Mixing Klonopin With Alcohol Can Increase Risks
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Alcohol and Klonopin are both depressants — leading to potential dangers when mixed. Check out our latest blog for more info on the risks and how to prevent them.

20 min read

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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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We often hear of the risks of mixing depressants (like alcohol) with stimulants. Their opposing effects send mixed signals to our brain. But what about mixing alcohol with other depressants? Although they have similar mechanisms, mixing depressants like alcohol and Klonopin opens the door to risks and complications.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing anxiety, which Klonopin is commonly used to treat. To help us manage our anxiety safely and effectively, let’s get a clearer understanding of Klonopin and alcohol, and why they don’t go together. 

What Is Klonopin?

A glass of whiskey and pills on a table.

Klonopin (or clonazepam) is an FDA-approved prescription medication that is used to treat seizures and panic disorder. Off-label, Klonopin is also used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The dosage and frequency of administration can depend on the condition it’s used to treat. 

The drug is classified as a benzodiazepine, which is a type of depressant that produces sedation, relieves anxiety, and reduces muscle spasms. Klonopin increases gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA), which decreases the excitability of neurons — creating a calming effect in our brain.

Like all medications, Klonopin may come with side effects. Mild side effects include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Drooling

More severe side effects include:

  • Impaired thinking or memory
  • Allergic reaction
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in emotions/mood

Klonopin is effective in treating various conditions, but what happens if we combine it with alcohol? 

Interactions Between Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin and alcohol don’t interact directly. This means that drinking doesn’t explicitly affect the way the drug works in our body. Klonopin continues to be effective in treating the conditions it’s prescribed for. However, Klonopin and alcohol can indirectly interact and lead to dangerous side effects. 

Both Klonopin and alcohol are depressants that act on the central nervous system (CNS). They both slow down messaging within the brain and to the rest of the body, impacting cognitive and motor functions. When Klonopin and alcohol are combined, depressant effects become amplified, which can have very dangerous consequences. 

Drinking is also associated with symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and alcohol withdrawal, all of which Klonopin is used to treat. Even without direct interactions, alcohol can negatively affect Klonopin. So is it still okay to drink?

Can You Drink on Klonopin?

Drinking while on Klonopin is not recommended even though there are no direct interactions. The indirect effects of alcohol on the medication and the conditions it is used to treat can be just as dangerous as direct interactions. 

Not only can drinking while taking Klonopin lead to dangerous side effects, but it also increases the risk of dependence on either substance. Dependence on alcohol or Klonopin alone is harmful to our health. Since the risks are amplified when the two are combined, dependence on the pair is even more detrimental to our health. To get a better understanding of why drinking while on clonazepam isn’t recommended, let’s further examine the direct consequences.

Dangers of Drinking While Taking Klonopin

Dangers of Mixing Clonazepam and Alcohol Together

Mixing clonazepam and alcohol doesn’t cause direct interactions. However, the compounded effects of mixing two depressants can be just as dangerous. There are four main dangers that result from mixing clonazepam and alcohol.

  • Amplified side effects. Drinking while taking clonazepam can heighten the depressant effects. These side effects include depressed breathing, slowing of the heart, impaired coordination, excessive drowsiness, memory problems, dizziness, and mood or behavioral changes. 
  • Increased risk of accidents. Since the magnified damper on our CNS leads to greater cognitive and physical impairments, we may be at higher risk of falling.
  • Increased risk of dependence. Since both substances have similar mechanisms and act on the same receptors, the seemingly positive effects we feel from dopamine release are highlighted. This greatly increases the risk of dependence on each substance individually or together.
  • Overdose. Alcohol and Klonopin act on GABA receptors, which multiplies the effects of both drugs. This means that it takes less medication and alcohol to overdose. Depressants are also associated with impacted inhibitions and judgment, which can result in unintentional increased consumption of both substances.

But wait! Some of us may be prescribed Klonopin, and others may be prescribed clonazepam. Are the two equally as dangerous when mixed with alcohol? 

Is Klonopin the Same as Clonazepam?

Klonopin is the only brand-name version of the generic drug clonazepam. They can be used interchangeably. Unlike some other drugs with several brand-name versions that feature different dosages and forms, clonazepam has only Klonopin. It is no different from generic clonazepam. 

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine, but it is classified as a slow-acting drug. Our body processes and eliminates it more slowly than other benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Restoril. 

Along with its primary uses, clonazepam is also commonly prescribed for people undergoing alcohol withdrawal.

Clonazepam for Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when we’ve developed a physical or neurological dependence on alcohol. As our body adjusts to not having alcohol, we may experience one or more of these withdrawal symptoms.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate 

Clonazepam is a depressant that acts on receptors in our brain similar to those that alcohol affects. Essentially, it imitates alcohol’s effects on the brain as it reduces the severity of some withdrawal symptoms. Most notably, clonazepam helps treat seizures, insomnia, and anxiety, which are common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Now that we know alcohol and clonazepam don't — and shouldn’t — go together, is there any other substance we shouldn’t combine with Klonopin?

What Not To Take With Clonazepam

Clonazepam interacts with many other prescribed medications and substances, from opioids to certain herbs.

  • Opioids. Opioids are strong prescription medications used to treat pain. Mixing clonazepam with opioids can lead to extreme drowsiness and severe respiratory symptoms.
  • Antihistamines. These medications are used to treat allergies. Many antihistamines also cause drowsiness and, when combined with the depressant effects of clonazepam, can lead to impaired thinking and motor function. If we need to take an antihistamine, we should consult with a physician and go for nondrowsy options.
  • Other medications that cause drowsiness. Since clonazepam also causes drowsiness, when we mix it with other medications that have the same effect, the result is extreme drowsiness.
  • Cannabis. There are few studies to date on the interaction of cannabis and clonazepam, but both substances cause similar side effects. Like alcohol, when cannabis is mixed with clonazepam, the amplified effects can be dangerous.
  • Herbal remedies used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Herbal remedies can also cause a calming effect or drowsiness, which can add to the effects of clonazepam. Also, since herbal remedies don’t undergo the rigorous testing required for FDA-approval of medications, the risk of interactions is less clear. 

As we discussed earlier, alcohol mixed with clonazepam can prove dangerous. But will only one drink cause any harm?

How Much Is Too Much?

When taking clonazepam, alcohol consumption is not recommended in any amount. Even minimal amounts of alcohol will enhance the depressant effects of clonazepam. Alcohol indirectly affects the medication, compounding the depressant effects without changing the dosage. The resulting adverse effects aggravate the conditions that clonazepam is designed to treat.

Additionally, since clonazepam and alcohol are both depressants, combining them increases our risk of dependence on either substance. Depressants like alcohol and clonazepam both promote the production of dopamine and serotonin, the “feel-good” hormones in our brain. Although temporary, the feelings of pleasure and relaxation can hijack our brain’s reward system and lead to dependence. Separately, alcohol and clonazepam are substances with high dependence rates. When mixed, even minimally, the risk of dependence increases. 

Drinking while taking clonazepam is not recommended, but what about after stopping the medication? 

How Long After Taking Clonazepam Can You Drink?

Clonazepam is most commonly prescribed for a short period of time unless it’s used to treat epilepsy. Even after discontinuing clonazepam, drinking right away is not recommended because the medication might still be present in our body. 

The half-life of clonazepam ranges from 18 to 50 hours. In that time, depending on individual factors, half of the medication will be eliminated from our system. However, it takes about 5 half-lives to be completely eliminated. So, it could take roughly 3 to 11 days for clonazepam to be completely out of our system after the last dose. To avoid any adverse effects, healthcare providers advise waiting at least 11 days after the last dose before drinking again. However, alcohol can still negatively affect conditions that the medication was prescribed to treat, including anxiety, seizures, and mood. 

Drinking while taking clonazepam is risky for any of us, but are there people who are at higher risk of harm?

Who Is at Risk?

Due to the way alcohol affects us and the conditions that clonazepam is used to treat, certain people are at higher risk of experiencing negative consequences from drinking while on the medication.

  • People with preexisting respiratory conditions. The amplified depressant effects of mixing Klonopin and alcohol can strain our respiratory system. For those of us who have preexisting respiratory conditions, the damper on our system can lead to trouble breathing and death. 
  • People with psychiatric disorders. Those of us with co-occurring mental health conditions are at higher risk of dependence. Psychiatric disorders also require routine medication, which can negatively interact with Klonopin and alcohol.
  • Older adults. Aging commonly brings more adverse health conditions and decreasing function of the different systems in our body. The strain that two depressants can cause on our body is more dangerous for older adults. 
  • Adolescents and young adults. Although older adults are more prone to problematic health conditions, younger adults, especially adolescents, are at higher risk of developing dependence. The combination of Klonopin and alcohol can create a perfect storm for their dependence on these substances.
  • Pregnant women. Taking Klonopin when pregnant is recommended only if our healthcare provider deems it necessary. But there are risks associated with taking the medication while pregnant. In addition, alcohol is extremely dangerous during fetal development and should not be consumed in any amount during pregnancy. Together, Klonopin and alcohol exponentially increase the risk of complications.
  • People with past substance misuse. Since Klonopin and alcohol combined can significantly increase the risk of dependence, those who have misused substances in the past should consult a physician to explore all options. It’s vital to ensure the effectiveness and safety of treatment.

While these groups are at higher risk of negative effects, drinking while taking clonazepam isn’t recommended for anyone. How can we navigate a relationship with alcohol and Klonopin safely?

Approaching Alcohol and Klonopin Responsibly 

Klonopin is an effective treatment for various conditions, but it can be extremely dangerous when mixed with alcohol. If you’re prescribed Klonopin and concerned about your relationship with alcohol, you can still approach it safely and mindfully with these tips.

  • Educate yourself. Understanding the risks of drinking while taking Klonopin can help you make more intentional consumption choices. If you’re unaware of the consequences, you’re more likely to engage in harmful behaviors. In addition to learning more about the risks of Klonopin, alcohol, and the combination of the two, you can talk with a physician about the risks.
  • Avoid alcohol. Avoiding alcohol while taking Klonopin is the only surefire method to prevent the adverse effects of mixing them. Klonopin is commonly prescribed for short-term treatment, but even after discontinuing the medication, alcohol can negatively affect the conditions the drug treats.
  • Monitor effects. Klonopin can cause adverse effects with and without alcohol. By monitoring any effects you experience, you can manage your condition better and collaborate with your physician in finding a treatment that works best for you.
  • Adjust dosage or treatment plan. If you’re working on developing a healthier relationship with alcohol or ending alcohol dependence altogether, it’s important to disclose all relevant information to your physician in order to ensure safety and effectiveness while taking prescribed Klonopin. 
  • Choose alternatives. To help you avoid alcohol and prioritize your health, consider alcohol-free alternatives, including mocktails and replacement activities such as hobbies, exercize, or sports. Try mindfulness practices such as gentle movement and deep breathing to support the mechanisms of Klonopin rather than adding to its dangers by drinking. 
  • Manage stress. Stress impacts our health and can influence our drinking patterns. Stress-reducing activities such as journaling, meditation, and exercise promote better overall health and helps us reduce the use of alcohol for self-medication.

Developing mindful drinking practices helps us navigate Klonopin safely and create a healthier relationship with alcohol that is beneficial in the long run. 

Bringing It All Together

Clonazepam is effective in treating seizures and panic disorder; it can also help with anxiety, insomnia, and other common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, because it’s a depressant that acts in ways similar to alcohol, mixing the two can be dangerous. In addition to the amplified negative side effects, the combination greatly increases the risk of dependence on either substance. Avoid alcohol while on Klonopin to help set yourself up for the win!

We often hear of the risks of mixing depressants (like alcohol) with stimulants. Their opposing effects send mixed signals to our brain. But what about mixing alcohol with other depressants? Although they have similar mechanisms, mixing depressants like alcohol and Klonopin opens the door to risks and complications.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing anxiety, which Klonopin is commonly used to treat. To help us manage our anxiety safely and effectively, let’s get a clearer understanding of Klonopin and alcohol, and why they don’t go together. 

What Is Klonopin?

A glass of whiskey and pills on a table.

Klonopin (or clonazepam) is an FDA-approved prescription medication that is used to treat seizures and panic disorder. Off-label, Klonopin is also used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The dosage and frequency of administration can depend on the condition it’s used to treat. 

The drug is classified as a benzodiazepine, which is a type of depressant that produces sedation, relieves anxiety, and reduces muscle spasms. Klonopin increases gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA), which decreases the excitability of neurons — creating a calming effect in our brain.

Like all medications, Klonopin may come with side effects. Mild side effects include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Drooling

More severe side effects include:

  • Impaired thinking or memory
  • Allergic reaction
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in emotions/mood

Klonopin is effective in treating various conditions, but what happens if we combine it with alcohol? 

Interactions Between Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin and alcohol don’t interact directly. This means that drinking doesn’t explicitly affect the way the drug works in our body. Klonopin continues to be effective in treating the conditions it’s prescribed for. However, Klonopin and alcohol can indirectly interact and lead to dangerous side effects. 

Both Klonopin and alcohol are depressants that act on the central nervous system (CNS). They both slow down messaging within the brain and to the rest of the body, impacting cognitive and motor functions. When Klonopin and alcohol are combined, depressant effects become amplified, which can have very dangerous consequences. 

Drinking is also associated with symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and alcohol withdrawal, all of which Klonopin is used to treat. Even without direct interactions, alcohol can negatively affect Klonopin. So is it still okay to drink?

Can You Drink on Klonopin?

Drinking while on Klonopin is not recommended even though there are no direct interactions. The indirect effects of alcohol on the medication and the conditions it is used to treat can be just as dangerous as direct interactions. 

Not only can drinking while taking Klonopin lead to dangerous side effects, but it also increases the risk of dependence on either substance. Dependence on alcohol or Klonopin alone is harmful to our health. Since the risks are amplified when the two are combined, dependence on the pair is even more detrimental to our health. To get a better understanding of why drinking while on clonazepam isn’t recommended, let’s further examine the direct consequences.

Dangers of Drinking While Taking Klonopin

Dangers of Mixing Clonazepam and Alcohol Together

Mixing clonazepam and alcohol doesn’t cause direct interactions. However, the compounded effects of mixing two depressants can be just as dangerous. There are four main dangers that result from mixing clonazepam and alcohol.

  • Amplified side effects. Drinking while taking clonazepam can heighten the depressant effects. These side effects include depressed breathing, slowing of the heart, impaired coordination, excessive drowsiness, memory problems, dizziness, and mood or behavioral changes. 
  • Increased risk of accidents. Since the magnified damper on our CNS leads to greater cognitive and physical impairments, we may be at higher risk of falling.
  • Increased risk of dependence. Since both substances have similar mechanisms and act on the same receptors, the seemingly positive effects we feel from dopamine release are highlighted. This greatly increases the risk of dependence on each substance individually or together.
  • Overdose. Alcohol and Klonopin act on GABA receptors, which multiplies the effects of both drugs. This means that it takes less medication and alcohol to overdose. Depressants are also associated with impacted inhibitions and judgment, which can result in unintentional increased consumption of both substances.

But wait! Some of us may be prescribed Klonopin, and others may be prescribed clonazepam. Are the two equally as dangerous when mixed with alcohol? 

Is Klonopin the Same as Clonazepam?

Klonopin is the only brand-name version of the generic drug clonazepam. They can be used interchangeably. Unlike some other drugs with several brand-name versions that feature different dosages and forms, clonazepam has only Klonopin. It is no different from generic clonazepam. 

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine, but it is classified as a slow-acting drug. Our body processes and eliminates it more slowly than other benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Restoril. 

Along with its primary uses, clonazepam is also commonly prescribed for people undergoing alcohol withdrawal.

Clonazepam for Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when we’ve developed a physical or neurological dependence on alcohol. As our body adjusts to not having alcohol, we may experience one or more of these withdrawal symptoms.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate 

Clonazepam is a depressant that acts on receptors in our brain similar to those that alcohol affects. Essentially, it imitates alcohol’s effects on the brain as it reduces the severity of some withdrawal symptoms. Most notably, clonazepam helps treat seizures, insomnia, and anxiety, which are common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Now that we know alcohol and clonazepam don't — and shouldn’t — go together, is there any other substance we shouldn’t combine with Klonopin?

What Not To Take With Clonazepam

Clonazepam interacts with many other prescribed medications and substances, from opioids to certain herbs.

  • Opioids. Opioids are strong prescription medications used to treat pain. Mixing clonazepam with opioids can lead to extreme drowsiness and severe respiratory symptoms.
  • Antihistamines. These medications are used to treat allergies. Many antihistamines also cause drowsiness and, when combined with the depressant effects of clonazepam, can lead to impaired thinking and motor function. If we need to take an antihistamine, we should consult with a physician and go for nondrowsy options.
  • Other medications that cause drowsiness. Since clonazepam also causes drowsiness, when we mix it with other medications that have the same effect, the result is extreme drowsiness.
  • Cannabis. There are few studies to date on the interaction of cannabis and clonazepam, but both substances cause similar side effects. Like alcohol, when cannabis is mixed with clonazepam, the amplified effects can be dangerous.
  • Herbal remedies used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Herbal remedies can also cause a calming effect or drowsiness, which can add to the effects of clonazepam. Also, since herbal remedies don’t undergo the rigorous testing required for FDA-approval of medications, the risk of interactions is less clear. 

As we discussed earlier, alcohol mixed with clonazepam can prove dangerous. But will only one drink cause any harm?

How Much Is Too Much?

When taking clonazepam, alcohol consumption is not recommended in any amount. Even minimal amounts of alcohol will enhance the depressant effects of clonazepam. Alcohol indirectly affects the medication, compounding the depressant effects without changing the dosage. The resulting adverse effects aggravate the conditions that clonazepam is designed to treat.

Additionally, since clonazepam and alcohol are both depressants, combining them increases our risk of dependence on either substance. Depressants like alcohol and clonazepam both promote the production of dopamine and serotonin, the “feel-good” hormones in our brain. Although temporary, the feelings of pleasure and relaxation can hijack our brain’s reward system and lead to dependence. Separately, alcohol and clonazepam are substances with high dependence rates. When mixed, even minimally, the risk of dependence increases. 

Drinking while taking clonazepam is not recommended, but what about after stopping the medication? 

How Long After Taking Clonazepam Can You Drink?

Clonazepam is most commonly prescribed for a short period of time unless it’s used to treat epilepsy. Even after discontinuing clonazepam, drinking right away is not recommended because the medication might still be present in our body. 

The half-life of clonazepam ranges from 18 to 50 hours. In that time, depending on individual factors, half of the medication will be eliminated from our system. However, it takes about 5 half-lives to be completely eliminated. So, it could take roughly 3 to 11 days for clonazepam to be completely out of our system after the last dose. To avoid any adverse effects, healthcare providers advise waiting at least 11 days after the last dose before drinking again. However, alcohol can still negatively affect conditions that the medication was prescribed to treat, including anxiety, seizures, and mood. 

Drinking while taking clonazepam is risky for any of us, but are there people who are at higher risk of harm?

Who Is at Risk?

Due to the way alcohol affects us and the conditions that clonazepam is used to treat, certain people are at higher risk of experiencing negative consequences from drinking while on the medication.

  • People with preexisting respiratory conditions. The amplified depressant effects of mixing Klonopin and alcohol can strain our respiratory system. For those of us who have preexisting respiratory conditions, the damper on our system can lead to trouble breathing and death. 
  • People with psychiatric disorders. Those of us with co-occurring mental health conditions are at higher risk of dependence. Psychiatric disorders also require routine medication, which can negatively interact with Klonopin and alcohol.
  • Older adults. Aging commonly brings more adverse health conditions and decreasing function of the different systems in our body. The strain that two depressants can cause on our body is more dangerous for older adults. 
  • Adolescents and young adults. Although older adults are more prone to problematic health conditions, younger adults, especially adolescents, are at higher risk of developing dependence. The combination of Klonopin and alcohol can create a perfect storm for their dependence on these substances.
  • Pregnant women. Taking Klonopin when pregnant is recommended only if our healthcare provider deems it necessary. But there are risks associated with taking the medication while pregnant. In addition, alcohol is extremely dangerous during fetal development and should not be consumed in any amount during pregnancy. Together, Klonopin and alcohol exponentially increase the risk of complications.
  • People with past substance misuse. Since Klonopin and alcohol combined can significantly increase the risk of dependence, those who have misused substances in the past should consult a physician to explore all options. It’s vital to ensure the effectiveness and safety of treatment.

While these groups are at higher risk of negative effects, drinking while taking clonazepam isn’t recommended for anyone. How can we navigate a relationship with alcohol and Klonopin safely?

Approaching Alcohol and Klonopin Responsibly 

Klonopin is an effective treatment for various conditions, but it can be extremely dangerous when mixed with alcohol. If you’re prescribed Klonopin and concerned about your relationship with alcohol, you can still approach it safely and mindfully with these tips.

  • Educate yourself. Understanding the risks of drinking while taking Klonopin can help you make more intentional consumption choices. If you’re unaware of the consequences, you’re more likely to engage in harmful behaviors. In addition to learning more about the risks of Klonopin, alcohol, and the combination of the two, you can talk with a physician about the risks.
  • Avoid alcohol. Avoiding alcohol while taking Klonopin is the only surefire method to prevent the adverse effects of mixing them. Klonopin is commonly prescribed for short-term treatment, but even after discontinuing the medication, alcohol can negatively affect the conditions the drug treats.
  • Monitor effects. Klonopin can cause adverse effects with and without alcohol. By monitoring any effects you experience, you can manage your condition better and collaborate with your physician in finding a treatment that works best for you.
  • Adjust dosage or treatment plan. If you’re working on developing a healthier relationship with alcohol or ending alcohol dependence altogether, it’s important to disclose all relevant information to your physician in order to ensure safety and effectiveness while taking prescribed Klonopin. 
  • Choose alternatives. To help you avoid alcohol and prioritize your health, consider alcohol-free alternatives, including mocktails and replacement activities such as hobbies, exercize, or sports. Try mindfulness practices such as gentle movement and deep breathing to support the mechanisms of Klonopin rather than adding to its dangers by drinking. 
  • Manage stress. Stress impacts our health and can influence our drinking patterns. Stress-reducing activities such as journaling, meditation, and exercise promote better overall health and helps us reduce the use of alcohol for self-medication.

Developing mindful drinking practices helps us navigate Klonopin safely and create a healthier relationship with alcohol that is beneficial in the long run. 

Bringing It All Together

Clonazepam is effective in treating seizures and panic disorder; it can also help with anxiety, insomnia, and other common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, because it’s a depressant that acts in ways similar to alcohol, mixing the two can be dangerous. In addition to the amplified negative side effects, the combination greatly increases the risk of dependence on either substance. Avoid alcohol while on Klonopin to help set yourself up for the win!

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-12 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Amitriptyline Interactions With Alcohol
This is some text inside of a div block.

Can you drink on amitriptyline? Science says that mixing amitriptyline with alcohol could lead to problems. Learn the details and stay safe by checking out our latest blog!

17 min read

Be Happier and Drink Less 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 today!

Read Full Article  →

Amitriptyline Interactions With Alcohol

In It's Kind of a Funny Story, author Ned Vizzini describes the draining effects of depression: “I didn't want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that's really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you're so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” 

For many, antidepressants can offer much-needed relief. But what about alcohol? More specifically, can you drink alcohol with amitriptyline — an antidepressant also known by the brand name Elavil? The short answer is, mixing amitriptyline and alcohol can spell trouble. Let’s find out why.

What Is Amitriptyline?

A table with a glass of alcohol, tablets and cigarettes

Amitriptyline belongs to a class of drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants. It's primarily used to treat problems with mood regulation, such as depression. It works by increasing neurochemicals in the brain that are needed to maintain mental balance.

Amitriptyline inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, increasing their levels and prolonging their mood-boosting effects. It also affects other neurotransmitter systems, which can help with pain relief and sleep.

In addition, it works double duty by blocking sodium channels and certain receptors, for example, muscarinic receptors. This contributes to its effects on pain as well as its side effects.

All About Amitriptyline and Alcohol

Can you drink alcohol with amitriptyline? Scientific and medical evidence says it’s not a good idea to mix the two. Let’s dive into the details!

1. Elavil Side Effects

Amitriptyline (a.k.a. Elavil) comes with side effects, and alcohol doesn’t play well with many of them. Here’s an overview.

  • Sedation and drowsiness. This one is the biggest concern. Both amitriptyline and alcohol can cause sedation and drowsiness. When taken together, their sedative effects are enhanced, which can significantly impair your ability to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Cognitive difficulties. Alcohol can increase the side effects of amitriptyline, such as dizziness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience impairments in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.
  • Gastrointestinal side effects. Amitriptyline can slow down the digestive system, causing constipation. Alcohol can do a number on our digestion as well, leading to stomach pain, acid reflux, nausea, and diarrhea. (However, the dehydrating effects of booze can lead to constipation as well, especially if we overdo it. Plus, the fact that our system is prioritizing alcohol metabolism can put other processes on hold, delaying gastric emptying. The combo is likely to throw our digestive system off-kilter, leaving us clutching our stomach and wishing we hadn’t mixed the two.
  • Dry mouth. That dry mouth we can sometimes get from amitriptyline? It’s likely that booze will add to the problem given how dehydrating it is. By suppressing vasopressin — a hormone that tells the kidneys to hold on to water — alcohol leads to multiple bathroom trips throughout the night. And the next morning? We’re likely to wake up feeling parched and dry, having lost an excessive amount of fluid.
  • Blurry vision. While blurry vision from amitriptyline alone is enough of a nuisance, alcohol can make it worse. In the short term, this vision issue has to do with alcohol’s effects on the nervous system as it reduces our overall coordination. It can cause the muscles in our eyes to get out of sync, resulting in the characteristic blurriness or double vision we get after a few drinks. In the long term, however, things can get more serious. Alcohol gets in the way of nutrient absorption, depriving our body of much-needed vitamins and minerals. Among the many problems resulting from nutrient deficiencies are issues with vision, which can become permanent if we’re not careful.
  • Headache. Amitriptyline can cause headaches, and so can booze. In addition to next-day hangover headaches that result from dehydration and acetaldehyde buildup, those of us who are especially sensitive to the effects of booze are likely to experience “cocktail headaches,” which tend to appear mid-drinking session.

As we can see, the side effects of amitriptyline and alcohol make for a pretty unpleasant mix. And while that might be enough of a reason to steer clear of the combo, there are more risks to consider.

2. Risk of Overdose

The stakes get even higher when we consider the risk of overdose when mixing amitriptyline with alcohol. Here’s what happens and why we should be careful:

  • Alcohol increases the levels of amitriptyline in our blood. Normally, the liver keeps amitriptyline levels within a safe range by helping the body process and excrete it at an even pace. However, alcohol throws a wrench into the works by competing for the same processing pathways in the liver and causing amitriptyline to build up to potentially dangerous levels.
  • Alcohol boosts the effects of amitriptyline. In addition to increasing the levels of the medication in our body, alcohol also intensifies its effects. As a result, the side effects — especially sedation, dizziness, and drop in blood pressure — get amped up as well.
  • Booze slows down the rate at which amitriptyline leaves the body. Amitriptyline is metabolized in the liver by the cytochrome P450 enzyme system, particularly CYP2D6. Both alcohol and amitriptyline compete for the liver’s attention, but it can only do so much at a time. Drinking on amitriptyline can slow the breakdown of the medication, keeping it around longer than intended. Moreover, combining the two can strain the liver, leading to damage over time.
  • Drinking might make it harder to spot overdose symptoms. It’s key to know the signs of an amitriptyline overdose, which include confusion, extreme sleepiness, hallucinations, seizures, difficulty breathing, and an irregular heartbeat. Never ignore them! 

Always err on the side of safety and seek medical help if you notice these symptoms. And be extra careful if you’re taking multiple meds or have existing liver issues, which might make you more vulnerable. (To learn more about the dangers of mixing alcohol and antidepressants, check out “Alcohol and Antidepressants: A Dangerous Combo.”)

3. Alcohol and Depression

Last but not least, alcohol can negate the antidepressant effects of Elavil, possibly sabotaging our treatment. As a depressant, alcohol slows down the nervous system and can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. (For a deep dive, take a look at “Alcohol Misuse and Depression: What’s the Connection?” and “Relationship Between Anhedonic Depression and Alcohol.”)

There’s also a connection between depression and alcohol misuse itself. We might be tempted to use alcohol as a short-term “solution” to lift our spirits, make us feel more confident, or socialize. However, in the long term these attempts backfire, leading to dissatisfaction and preventing us from forming authentic connections.

How Long Should You Wait To Drink After Taking Amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline has a half-life of 10 to 28 hours, which means it takes the body up to a day to eliminate half of the medication. However, the effects can persist longer since the active metabolite, nortriptyline, also has some similar properties to amitriptyline.

Given the long half-life of amitriptyline and its metabolites, it's generally safe to say that we should wait at least a few days after our last dose before having a drink. This waiting period allows the medication levels in our body to decrease, reducing the risk of problems that could result from the interaction.

That said, given the effects of alcohol on depression, it’s best to avoid drinking entirely during this time. Getting our symptoms under control is the priority right now, and adding booze to the picture only makes things more challenging.

Is Drinking Occasionally Okay?

It’s not a good idea to drink while taking amitriptyline in any amount. Given the possible strain on the liver from the medication alone, adding alcohol to the mix is asking for trouble. Plus, there’s the issue of alcohol and depression we mentioned earlier: given alcohol’s negative effects on our mood and overall well-being, it’s best to avoid the counterproductive combo.

Tips for the Journey

Tips for the Journey

Finally, here are a few tips for staying safe while taking amitriptyline.

  • Avoid the mix. First and foremost, avoid mixing amitriptyline and alcohol. Your body and brain will thank you, and your treatment will be that much more effective!
  • Nourish your body. Everything begins with eating right, so make sure you fuel your body with whole grains, plenty of proteins, and healthy fats found in foods such as salmon, avocados, and olive oil. And don’t forget to load up on fruits and veggies for those vitamins and antioxidants! 
  • Get enough rest. Getting enough rest — at least 8 hours of sleep per night — is essential for your body to function properly and to get the most out of your treatment. Make sure your bedroom is a sleep sanctuary free of distractions to catch those z’s! 
  • Boost your happy chemicals. Find natural ways to boost your levels of dopamine and serotonin. Exercise can work wonders for both, especially if you combine it with being outside. Not up for running or doing intense cardio? No problem! A walk around the neighborhood park will do the trick.

Summing Up

In Moab Is My Washpot, British actor and author Stephen Fry describes his struggle with depression as ultimately an empowering one:

“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing — they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter, and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

In a similar way, the alcohol journey is ultimately one that can make us stronger. By encouraging us to actively strive to be our healthiest and happiest selves, it can push us to a level of well-being we never dreamed of reaching. And Reframe is always here to cheer you on and support you along the way!

Amitriptyline Interactions With Alcohol

In It's Kind of a Funny Story, author Ned Vizzini describes the draining effects of depression: “I didn't want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that's really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you're so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” 

For many, antidepressants can offer much-needed relief. But what about alcohol? More specifically, can you drink alcohol with amitriptyline — an antidepressant also known by the brand name Elavil? The short answer is, mixing amitriptyline and alcohol can spell trouble. Let’s find out why.

What Is Amitriptyline?

A table with a glass of alcohol, tablets and cigarettes

Amitriptyline belongs to a class of drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants. It's primarily used to treat problems with mood regulation, such as depression. It works by increasing neurochemicals in the brain that are needed to maintain mental balance.

Amitriptyline inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, increasing their levels and prolonging their mood-boosting effects. It also affects other neurotransmitter systems, which can help with pain relief and sleep.

In addition, it works double duty by blocking sodium channels and certain receptors, for example, muscarinic receptors. This contributes to its effects on pain as well as its side effects.

All About Amitriptyline and Alcohol

Can you drink alcohol with amitriptyline? Scientific and medical evidence says it’s not a good idea to mix the two. Let’s dive into the details!

1. Elavil Side Effects

Amitriptyline (a.k.a. Elavil) comes with side effects, and alcohol doesn’t play well with many of them. Here’s an overview.

  • Sedation and drowsiness. This one is the biggest concern. Both amitriptyline and alcohol can cause sedation and drowsiness. When taken together, their sedative effects are enhanced, which can significantly impair your ability to perform tasks that require alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Cognitive difficulties. Alcohol can increase the side effects of amitriptyline, such as dizziness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience impairments in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination.
  • Gastrointestinal side effects. Amitriptyline can slow down the digestive system, causing constipation. Alcohol can do a number on our digestion as well, leading to stomach pain, acid reflux, nausea, and diarrhea. (However, the dehydrating effects of booze can lead to constipation as well, especially if we overdo it. Plus, the fact that our system is prioritizing alcohol metabolism can put other processes on hold, delaying gastric emptying. The combo is likely to throw our digestive system off-kilter, leaving us clutching our stomach and wishing we hadn’t mixed the two.
  • Dry mouth. That dry mouth we can sometimes get from amitriptyline? It’s likely that booze will add to the problem given how dehydrating it is. By suppressing vasopressin — a hormone that tells the kidneys to hold on to water — alcohol leads to multiple bathroom trips throughout the night. And the next morning? We’re likely to wake up feeling parched and dry, having lost an excessive amount of fluid.
  • Blurry vision. While blurry vision from amitriptyline alone is enough of a nuisance, alcohol can make it worse. In the short term, this vision issue has to do with alcohol’s effects on the nervous system as it reduces our overall coordination. It can cause the muscles in our eyes to get out of sync, resulting in the characteristic blurriness or double vision we get after a few drinks. In the long term, however, things can get more serious. Alcohol gets in the way of nutrient absorption, depriving our body of much-needed vitamins and minerals. Among the many problems resulting from nutrient deficiencies are issues with vision, which can become permanent if we’re not careful.
  • Headache. Amitriptyline can cause headaches, and so can booze. In addition to next-day hangover headaches that result from dehydration and acetaldehyde buildup, those of us who are especially sensitive to the effects of booze are likely to experience “cocktail headaches,” which tend to appear mid-drinking session.

As we can see, the side effects of amitriptyline and alcohol make for a pretty unpleasant mix. And while that might be enough of a reason to steer clear of the combo, there are more risks to consider.

2. Risk of Overdose

The stakes get even higher when we consider the risk of overdose when mixing amitriptyline with alcohol. Here’s what happens and why we should be careful:

  • Alcohol increases the levels of amitriptyline in our blood. Normally, the liver keeps amitriptyline levels within a safe range by helping the body process and excrete it at an even pace. However, alcohol throws a wrench into the works by competing for the same processing pathways in the liver and causing amitriptyline to build up to potentially dangerous levels.
  • Alcohol boosts the effects of amitriptyline. In addition to increasing the levels of the medication in our body, alcohol also intensifies its effects. As a result, the side effects — especially sedation, dizziness, and drop in blood pressure — get amped up as well.
  • Booze slows down the rate at which amitriptyline leaves the body. Amitriptyline is metabolized in the liver by the cytochrome P450 enzyme system, particularly CYP2D6. Both alcohol and amitriptyline compete for the liver’s attention, but it can only do so much at a time. Drinking on amitriptyline can slow the breakdown of the medication, keeping it around longer than intended. Moreover, combining the two can strain the liver, leading to damage over time.
  • Drinking might make it harder to spot overdose symptoms. It’s key to know the signs of an amitriptyline overdose, which include confusion, extreme sleepiness, hallucinations, seizures, difficulty breathing, and an irregular heartbeat. Never ignore them! 

Always err on the side of safety and seek medical help if you notice these symptoms. And be extra careful if you’re taking multiple meds or have existing liver issues, which might make you more vulnerable. (To learn more about the dangers of mixing alcohol and antidepressants, check out “Alcohol and Antidepressants: A Dangerous Combo.”)

3. Alcohol and Depression

Last but not least, alcohol can negate the antidepressant effects of Elavil, possibly sabotaging our treatment. As a depressant, alcohol slows down the nervous system and can exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety. (For a deep dive, take a look at “Alcohol Misuse and Depression: What’s the Connection?” and “Relationship Between Anhedonic Depression and Alcohol.”)

There’s also a connection between depression and alcohol misuse itself. We might be tempted to use alcohol as a short-term “solution” to lift our spirits, make us feel more confident, or socialize. However, in the long term these attempts backfire, leading to dissatisfaction and preventing us from forming authentic connections.

How Long Should You Wait To Drink After Taking Amitriptyline?

Amitriptyline has a half-life of 10 to 28 hours, which means it takes the body up to a day to eliminate half of the medication. However, the effects can persist longer since the active metabolite, nortriptyline, also has some similar properties to amitriptyline.

Given the long half-life of amitriptyline and its metabolites, it's generally safe to say that we should wait at least a few days after our last dose before having a drink. This waiting period allows the medication levels in our body to decrease, reducing the risk of problems that could result from the interaction.

That said, given the effects of alcohol on depression, it’s best to avoid drinking entirely during this time. Getting our symptoms under control is the priority right now, and adding booze to the picture only makes things more challenging.

Is Drinking Occasionally Okay?

It’s not a good idea to drink while taking amitriptyline in any amount. Given the possible strain on the liver from the medication alone, adding alcohol to the mix is asking for trouble. Plus, there’s the issue of alcohol and depression we mentioned earlier: given alcohol’s negative effects on our mood and overall well-being, it’s best to avoid the counterproductive combo.

Tips for the Journey

Tips for the Journey

Finally, here are a few tips for staying safe while taking amitriptyline.

  • Avoid the mix. First and foremost, avoid mixing amitriptyline and alcohol. Your body and brain will thank you, and your treatment will be that much more effective!
  • Nourish your body. Everything begins with eating right, so make sure you fuel your body with whole grains, plenty of proteins, and healthy fats found in foods such as salmon, avocados, and olive oil. And don’t forget to load up on fruits and veggies for those vitamins and antioxidants! 
  • Get enough rest. Getting enough rest — at least 8 hours of sleep per night — is essential for your body to function properly and to get the most out of your treatment. Make sure your bedroom is a sleep sanctuary free of distractions to catch those z’s! 
  • Boost your happy chemicals. Find natural ways to boost your levels of dopamine and serotonin. Exercise can work wonders for both, especially if you combine it with being outside. Not up for running or doing intense cardio? No problem! A walk around the neighborhood park will do the trick.

Summing Up

In Moab Is My Washpot, British actor and author Stephen Fry describes his struggle with depression as ultimately an empowering one:

“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing — they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter, and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

In a similar way, the alcohol journey is ultimately one that can make us stronger. By encouraging us to actively strive to be our healthiest and happiest selves, it can push us to a level of well-being we never dreamed of reaching. And Reframe is always here to cheer you on and support you along the way!

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-12 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Interaction of Ritalin With Alcohol
This is some text inside of a div block.

Alcohol and Ritalin interact directly — making the combination dangerous. Check out our latest blog for more info on the negative effects of drinking while on Ritalin.

17 min read

Focus Further 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 today!

Read Full Article  →

Ritalin is prescription medication that is classified as a stimulant. A stimulant is a substance that speeds up processes in our brain. One of the most common stimulants consumed is caffeine. With the increasing popularity of caffeinated alcoholic concoctions like espresso martinis and Irish coffees, the question remains whether or not it’s safe to mix stimulants like Ritalin with alcohol.

Despite how often alcohol and stimulants are mixed, the opposing mechanisms can be dangerous when combined. Since Ritalin is a prescription medication, the risks are even greater. Let’s get a better understanding of the direct interaction between alcohol and Ritalin. 

The Science Behind the Chemical “High”

A person sitting with a glass of whiskey and pills in hand

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a prescription drug that is FDA-approved to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by unusual levels of hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is marked by the brain’s inability to control sleep-wake cycles — leading to excessive and overwhelming drowsiness during the day. 

Ritalin is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. This means that it increases the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that speed up mental and physical processes. Specifically, Ritalin blocks reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that increases pleasure and is involved in motivation. Norepinephrine is a hormone that increases alertness. By increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, Ritalin helps increase focus and attention. Those of us with ADHD often have difficulties producing and using dopamine, which is why Ritalin can be effective.

The medication comes in standard and extended-release forms and is prescribed based on a person's individual needs. Just like other prescription medications, Ritalin is associated with many side effects. 

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomachache
  • A general feeling malaise

More severe side effects include the following:

  • Personality changes
  • Thoughts of harming others or oneself
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hallucinations
  • Facial tics

Ritalin may be effective in treating ADHD and narcolepsy, but what about if we have a drink or two while taking it?

Do Ritalin and Alcohol Interact?

Ritalin and alcohol have a direct interaction. Ritalin is a CNS stimulant, whereas alcohol is classified as a CNS depressant.

Our CNS controls messaging within our brain and between our brain and other parts of our body. Depressants slow down cognitive and motor function and stimulants excite mental and physical processes. Although opposites, they don’t just cancel each other out. Instead, alcohol affects the way our body processes Ritalin, which can alter the medication levels in our body — leading to unpredictable and dangerous effects.

Additionally, alcohol can indirectly affect Ritalin. The depressant effect of alcohol impairs functions such as our focus, memory, and thinking, all of which Ritalin is prescribed to help improve. 

Now that we know how alcohol and Ritalin interact, let’s take a look at what happens when we drink on the medication.

Can You Drink on Ritalin?

Drinking while taking Ritalin is not recommended. The direct interaction between alcohol and Ritalin can lead to dangerous side effects (which we'll get into shortly).

Ritalin and alcohol have opposite effects on the body, meaning that the medication may temporarily put a damper on the intoxicating effects of alcohol — causing us to drink more without noticing the effects until later. Drinking and Ritalin counteract each other, but what about other medications with methylphenidate? Is methylphenidate the same thing as Ritalin?

Is Ritalin the Same as Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate is the generic form of Ritalin, and it is often used interchangeably in discussions about the drug. It’s also sold under other brand names.

  • Concerta
  • Contempla
  • Daytrana
  • Methylin

Although these medications all contain the active ingredient methylphenidate, they may differ in the dosage, form, and frequency at which they’re prescribed. However, as these medications all contain methylphenidate, they all directly interact with alcohol and may have consequences.

Consequences of Mixing Methylphenidate and Alcohol

Consequences of Mixing Methylphenidate and Alcohol

The direct and indirect interaction between methylphenidate and alcohol can lead to dangerous effects that open the door to various complications:

  • Enhanced side effects. Since alcohol affects the way our body processes methylphenidate, the level of medication in our body may increase. This increase can lead to more intense methylphenidate side effects, such as heart attack, stroke, alcohol poisoning, and mood fluctuations.
  • Overdose. In addition to causing worsened side effects, excess levels of methylphenidate can lead to drug overdose. This can occur even if we’re taking the prescribed dosage. If we’re taking the extended-release form of methylphenidate, alcohol can promote immediate release of the drug into our body — increasing our risk of overdose.
  • Alcohol poisoning. Methylphenidate can counteract some effects of alcohol — making us feel less intoxicated. However, that effect could lead to increased alcohol consumption, which may lead to alcohol poisoning
  • Dependence and withdrawal. Both methylphenidate and alcohol have high risks of dependence. Since alcohol also has some stimulant effects, such as promoting the release of dopamine and serotonin, when we add it to stimulants, we heighten our risk of dependence. Dependence is a neurological change that can lead to withdrawal symptoms when stopping a substance. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol include sweating, anxiety, headache, nausea, and more. Withdrawal symptoms of methylphenidate include fatigue, insomnia, and depression. 
  • Negative effects on ADHD. Alcohol aggravates some ADHD symptoms, including impulsivity, impaired decision making, insomnia, and inattentiveness.

Mixing methylphenidate with alcohol can lead to a long list of consequences, but what about other ADHD medications? 

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Other ADHD Medications?

Generally, drinking while taking any ADHD medication isn’t recommended. Most other ADHD medications are also CNS stimulants, which interact directly with alcohol. Common ADHD medications such as Adderall or Vyvanse have similar risks when mixed with alcohol.

The only effective nonstimulant treatment for ADHD is Strattera, or atomoxetine. Since it isn’t a stimulant, it doesn’t carry the same risks as other ADHD medication do when combined with alcohol. However, mixing Strattera with alcohol increases the risk of liver damage. In general, alcohol should not be mixed with any ADHD medication. That said, does the amount of alcohol matter?

How Much Is Too Much?

When taking methylphenidate, alcohol consumption is not recommended even in minimal amounts. Since alcohol directly affects the way our body processes methylphenidate, even small amounts of alcohol can impact the level of the drug in our body. 

Simply put, the more alcohol we drink, the higher the risk of dangerous side effects and complications. But what about drinking after discontinuing the medication?

How Long After Taking Ritalin Can You Drink Alcohol?

The half-life of methylphenidate is approximately 2 hours but can range from 2 to 7 hours, which means that the medication levels found in our body decrease by half in that time period. However, drugs can take roughly 5 half-lives to be completely eliminated from our body. We’re advised to wait at least 35 hours after the last dose of methylphenidate to avoid direct interaction with alcohol. 

It’s also important to note that although waiting 35 hours after discontinuing methylphenidate will prevent direct interactions, alcohol can still negatively affect cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and focus, which the medication may have been used to treat. If choosing to drink after discontinuing the medication, it’s best to consult with a physician and follow moderate consumption guidelines

If we’re still taking methylphenidate and we accidentally drink alcohol, what should we do?

What To Do If You Mix Methylphenidate With Alcohol

Mixing methylphenidate with alcohol can be dangerous, but it’s important not to panic. Increasing our stress levels negatively affects our health, making the situation worse. If we accidentally drink while taking methylphenidate, we can follow these three steps. 

  • Stop drinking. Stopping immediately can limit the extent of interaction between alcohol and Ritalin. It won’t reverse any damage done, but can prevent further consequences. Remember that the medication can lessen the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and, even if we don’t feel intoxicated, alcohol still interacts negatively with methylphenidate.
  • Monitor effects. The interaction between methylphenidate and alcohol can cause mild to severe symptoms. Taking note of what side effects occur helps us determine if emergency medical attention is needed. 
  • Seek medical attention. The combination of methylphenidate and alcohol can be hazardous, leading even to death. In the event of  a dangerous reaction, call 9-1-1 immediately to seek emergency medical treatment. 

Methylphenidate is often used as a long-term treatment. How can we navigate methylphenidate use and alcohol consumption safely?

A Mindful Approach to Alcohol and Ritalin

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, can be a short- or long-term treatment. When taking the medication for any amount of time, avoiding alcohol can be crucial for our safety. Let’s explore some tips to navigate Ritalin and alcohol safely.

  • Discuss with a physician. Alcohol interacts directly with Ritalin — leading to dangerous effects. If we’re working through alcohol dependence, it’s important to discuss other medication options that may not negatively interact with alcohol. 
  • Avoid alcohol. When taking Ritalin, avoiding alcohol is essential in preventing the dangerous effects of the interaction between alcohol and methylphenidate.
  • Seek treatment. We can explore treatment options at any point in our journey to help us quit or cut back on alcohol. We can learn healthy coping strategies and identify the root cause of our alcohol use.
  • Find alternatives. Non-alcoholic options can allow us to continue to participate in the social aspect of drinking while avoiding the negative consequences.
  • Focus on other areas of well-being. ADHD and narcolepsy can require an exhaustive treatment approach. By improving other aspects of our health, we are supporting the management of the condition and our overall well-being.

A Clear Goal In Mind

Alcohol directly interacts with many prescription medications including Ritalin. The mechanism of the drug works by stimulating activity within our brain — directly opposing the mechanism of alcohol. While one doesn’t exactly cancel the other out, the two directly interact and can lead to dangerous effects. Alcohol also indirectly impacts Ritalin by exacerbating symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, which the medication is used to treat. While the idiom “Everything in moderation” can sometimes be applied to alcohol consumption, it doesn’t hold true for drinking while taking Ritalin. Avoid alcohol while on Ritalin to prevent risky side effects!

Ritalin is prescription medication that is classified as a stimulant. A stimulant is a substance that speeds up processes in our brain. One of the most common stimulants consumed is caffeine. With the increasing popularity of caffeinated alcoholic concoctions like espresso martinis and Irish coffees, the question remains whether or not it’s safe to mix stimulants like Ritalin with alcohol.

Despite how often alcohol and stimulants are mixed, the opposing mechanisms can be dangerous when combined. Since Ritalin is a prescription medication, the risks are even greater. Let’s get a better understanding of the direct interaction between alcohol and Ritalin. 

The Science Behind the Chemical “High”

A person sitting with a glass of whiskey and pills in hand

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a prescription drug that is FDA-approved to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by unusual levels of hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is marked by the brain’s inability to control sleep-wake cycles — leading to excessive and overwhelming drowsiness during the day. 

Ritalin is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. This means that it increases the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that speed up mental and physical processes. Specifically, Ritalin blocks reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, that increases pleasure and is involved in motivation. Norepinephrine is a hormone that increases alertness. By increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, Ritalin helps increase focus and attention. Those of us with ADHD often have difficulties producing and using dopamine, which is why Ritalin can be effective.

The medication comes in standard and extended-release forms and is prescribed based on a person's individual needs. Just like other prescription medications, Ritalin is associated with many side effects. 

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomachache
  • A general feeling malaise

More severe side effects include the following:

  • Personality changes
  • Thoughts of harming others or oneself
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hallucinations
  • Facial tics

Ritalin may be effective in treating ADHD and narcolepsy, but what about if we have a drink or two while taking it?

Do Ritalin and Alcohol Interact?

Ritalin and alcohol have a direct interaction. Ritalin is a CNS stimulant, whereas alcohol is classified as a CNS depressant.

Our CNS controls messaging within our brain and between our brain and other parts of our body. Depressants slow down cognitive and motor function and stimulants excite mental and physical processes. Although opposites, they don’t just cancel each other out. Instead, alcohol affects the way our body processes Ritalin, which can alter the medication levels in our body — leading to unpredictable and dangerous effects.

Additionally, alcohol can indirectly affect Ritalin. The depressant effect of alcohol impairs functions such as our focus, memory, and thinking, all of which Ritalin is prescribed to help improve. 

Now that we know how alcohol and Ritalin interact, let’s take a look at what happens when we drink on the medication.

Can You Drink on Ritalin?

Drinking while taking Ritalin is not recommended. The direct interaction between alcohol and Ritalin can lead to dangerous side effects (which we'll get into shortly).

Ritalin and alcohol have opposite effects on the body, meaning that the medication may temporarily put a damper on the intoxicating effects of alcohol — causing us to drink more without noticing the effects until later. Drinking and Ritalin counteract each other, but what about other medications with methylphenidate? Is methylphenidate the same thing as Ritalin?

Is Ritalin the Same as Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate is the generic form of Ritalin, and it is often used interchangeably in discussions about the drug. It’s also sold under other brand names.

  • Concerta
  • Contempla
  • Daytrana
  • Methylin

Although these medications all contain the active ingredient methylphenidate, they may differ in the dosage, form, and frequency at which they’re prescribed. However, as these medications all contain methylphenidate, they all directly interact with alcohol and may have consequences.

Consequences of Mixing Methylphenidate and Alcohol

Consequences of Mixing Methylphenidate and Alcohol

The direct and indirect interaction between methylphenidate and alcohol can lead to dangerous effects that open the door to various complications:

  • Enhanced side effects. Since alcohol affects the way our body processes methylphenidate, the level of medication in our body may increase. This increase can lead to more intense methylphenidate side effects, such as heart attack, stroke, alcohol poisoning, and mood fluctuations.
  • Overdose. In addition to causing worsened side effects, excess levels of methylphenidate can lead to drug overdose. This can occur even if we’re taking the prescribed dosage. If we’re taking the extended-release form of methylphenidate, alcohol can promote immediate release of the drug into our body — increasing our risk of overdose.
  • Alcohol poisoning. Methylphenidate can counteract some effects of alcohol — making us feel less intoxicated. However, that effect could lead to increased alcohol consumption, which may lead to alcohol poisoning
  • Dependence and withdrawal. Both methylphenidate and alcohol have high risks of dependence. Since alcohol also has some stimulant effects, such as promoting the release of dopamine and serotonin, when we add it to stimulants, we heighten our risk of dependence. Dependence is a neurological change that can lead to withdrawal symptoms when stopping a substance. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol include sweating, anxiety, headache, nausea, and more. Withdrawal symptoms of methylphenidate include fatigue, insomnia, and depression. 
  • Negative effects on ADHD. Alcohol aggravates some ADHD symptoms, including impulsivity, impaired decision making, insomnia, and inattentiveness.

Mixing methylphenidate with alcohol can lead to a long list of consequences, but what about other ADHD medications? 

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Other ADHD Medications?

Generally, drinking while taking any ADHD medication isn’t recommended. Most other ADHD medications are also CNS stimulants, which interact directly with alcohol. Common ADHD medications such as Adderall or Vyvanse have similar risks when mixed with alcohol.

The only effective nonstimulant treatment for ADHD is Strattera, or atomoxetine. Since it isn’t a stimulant, it doesn’t carry the same risks as other ADHD medication do when combined with alcohol. However, mixing Strattera with alcohol increases the risk of liver damage. In general, alcohol should not be mixed with any ADHD medication. That said, does the amount of alcohol matter?

How Much Is Too Much?

When taking methylphenidate, alcohol consumption is not recommended even in minimal amounts. Since alcohol directly affects the way our body processes methylphenidate, even small amounts of alcohol can impact the level of the drug in our body. 

Simply put, the more alcohol we drink, the higher the risk of dangerous side effects and complications. But what about drinking after discontinuing the medication?

How Long After Taking Ritalin Can You Drink Alcohol?

The half-life of methylphenidate is approximately 2 hours but can range from 2 to 7 hours, which means that the medication levels found in our body decrease by half in that time period. However, drugs can take roughly 5 half-lives to be completely eliminated from our body. We’re advised to wait at least 35 hours after the last dose of methylphenidate to avoid direct interaction with alcohol. 

It’s also important to note that although waiting 35 hours after discontinuing methylphenidate will prevent direct interactions, alcohol can still negatively affect cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and focus, which the medication may have been used to treat. If choosing to drink after discontinuing the medication, it’s best to consult with a physician and follow moderate consumption guidelines

If we’re still taking methylphenidate and we accidentally drink alcohol, what should we do?

What To Do If You Mix Methylphenidate With Alcohol

Mixing methylphenidate with alcohol can be dangerous, but it’s important not to panic. Increasing our stress levels negatively affects our health, making the situation worse. If we accidentally drink while taking methylphenidate, we can follow these three steps. 

  • Stop drinking. Stopping immediately can limit the extent of interaction between alcohol and Ritalin. It won’t reverse any damage done, but can prevent further consequences. Remember that the medication can lessen the intoxicating effects of alcohol, and, even if we don’t feel intoxicated, alcohol still interacts negatively with methylphenidate.
  • Monitor effects. The interaction between methylphenidate and alcohol can cause mild to severe symptoms. Taking note of what side effects occur helps us determine if emergency medical attention is needed. 
  • Seek medical attention. The combination of methylphenidate and alcohol can be hazardous, leading even to death. In the event of  a dangerous reaction, call 9-1-1 immediately to seek emergency medical treatment. 

Methylphenidate is often used as a long-term treatment. How can we navigate methylphenidate use and alcohol consumption safely?

A Mindful Approach to Alcohol and Ritalin

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, can be a short- or long-term treatment. When taking the medication for any amount of time, avoiding alcohol can be crucial for our safety. Let’s explore some tips to navigate Ritalin and alcohol safely.

  • Discuss with a physician. Alcohol interacts directly with Ritalin — leading to dangerous effects. If we’re working through alcohol dependence, it’s important to discuss other medication options that may not negatively interact with alcohol. 
  • Avoid alcohol. When taking Ritalin, avoiding alcohol is essential in preventing the dangerous effects of the interaction between alcohol and methylphenidate.
  • Seek treatment. We can explore treatment options at any point in our journey to help us quit or cut back on alcohol. We can learn healthy coping strategies and identify the root cause of our alcohol use.
  • Find alternatives. Non-alcoholic options can allow us to continue to participate in the social aspect of drinking while avoiding the negative consequences.
  • Focus on other areas of well-being. ADHD and narcolepsy can require an exhaustive treatment approach. By improving other aspects of our health, we are supporting the management of the condition and our overall well-being.

A Clear Goal In Mind

Alcohol directly interacts with many prescription medications including Ritalin. The mechanism of the drug works by stimulating activity within our brain — directly opposing the mechanism of alcohol. While one doesn’t exactly cancel the other out, the two directly interact and can lead to dangerous effects. Alcohol also indirectly impacts Ritalin by exacerbating symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, which the medication is used to treat. While the idiom “Everything in moderation” can sometimes be applied to alcohol consumption, it doesn’t hold true for drinking while taking Ritalin. Avoid alcohol while on Ritalin to prevent risky side effects!

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-08 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Can You Drink on Lunesta?
This is some text inside of a div block.

We’ve all had sleepless nights, but how do we get some shut-eye and also stay safe from dangerous interactions between alcohol and Lunesta? Find out more in our latest blog!

19 min read

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Read Full Article  →

One hundred … ninety-nine … ninety-eight … still awake? Did counting sheep not work to fall asleep for the 18th night in a row? You counted backwards from 300 only to have to start all over? Or could your lack of sleep have something to do with the drinks you had last night? Either way, there comes a point when sleepytime teas just aren't cutting it anymore, so we may try medications to help. Lunesta (or eszopiclone) is one such medication.

What Is Lunesta?

A glass of whiskey with sugar cubes on the side

Insomnia can be insufferable. Lunesta treats some forms of insomnia, helping us not only fall asleep faster but stay asleep throughout the night. Lunesta works by balancing out chemicals in the brain, including GABA. Lunesta increases the receptivity of GABA in the brain, which produces a relaxing effect and improves our ability to sleep. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not a miracle drug, and it does come with side effects.

Lunesta Side Effects

Let’s take a look at some of Lunesta’s side effects.

  • Addiction. Lunesta can be addictive, and the risk of addiction is higher in those who already abuse alcohol or other drugs, which we’ll get into later. The best way to avoid this? Only take Lunesta as prescribed.
  • Severe allergic reaction. As with most medications, allergic reactions are a risk. Symptoms include hives, nausea, or swelling of facial areas.
  • Dangerous activities in our sleep. Some people engage in activities while fully asleep, such as driving, walking, or making phone calls, with no memory of it the next morning. As you can imagine, this is extremely dangerous (not to mention embarrassing!). So it might be worth deleting your ex’s phone number before taking Lunesta, just in case.
  • Dangers if woken too early. Warnings about Lunesta make it very clear that you need to have time for at least seven hours of sleep after taking it and should not be woken up before that. If we’re awakened too early, we may experience memory loss and impair our ability to safely do daily activities such as driving.

As if these side effects aren’t worrisome enough, adding alcohol makes them worse. Let’s take a closer look at why.

What Happened Last Night? Risks of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol

Is it safe to have a drink and then take Lunesta? Or have a drink the day after we took Lunesta? The answer is “no” to both. Lunesta stays in our system longer than we might think.

How Long Does Lunesta Stay in Your System?

While we feel the effects of Lunesta for around eight hours, the half-life is six hours, and it’s fully out of our system in 24-48 hours. If we take it every day for a couple of weeks, however, there is always some lingering in our system, so we should avoid alcohol for at least a day or two after taking Lunesta.

But what happens exactly when we mix the two?

Side Effects of Combining Alcohol and Lunesta

Side Effects of the Combo: A Living Nightmare

There’s only one way to say it: we should avoid alcohol at all costs before or while taking Lunesta. To start, alcohol depletes GABA in the brain, which counteracts the GABA-producing effects of Lunesta, compounding the side effects. Alcohol is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, and mixing it with sedatives like Lunesta adds to these depressive effects. Let’s take a look at them.

  • Dizziness. Lunesta can cause dizziness by itself. Alcohol also makes us dizzy by interfering with the vestibular system — the part of the inner ear that keeps us balanced. The combination worsens this effect and increases our risk of falling.
  • Drowsiness. There is such a thing as a Lunesta “hangover,” which means we can feel sleepy during the day. Combined with alcohol, which depresses the CNS, it can make us feel extra drowsy during daily activities.
  • Impaired thinking and judgment. Alcohol does this all by itself by depressing our inhibitions, and the combination doubles the trouble.
  • Increased risk of dangerous activities in our sleep. While alcohol may not cause sleepwalking directly, it has been linked as a trigger in 12% of sleepwalkers according to one study. 
  • Memory loss and blackouts. These side effects can follow activities we do in our sleep. Since alcohol affects our memory and can cause blackouts, we’re setting ourselves up for a whole lot of “What did I do last night?”
  • Breathing difficulties and unconsciousness. We shouldn’t take Lunesta if we have any breathing disorders or difficulties, and we certainly shouldn’t mix it with alcohol, since alcohol affects the vascular system and can worsen any breathing issues we may have. In extreme cases, it can render us unconscious.
  • Increased risk of liver disease. Alcohol and Lunesta are both processed by the liver, and prolonged Lunesta use has been linked to liver disease.
  • Increased risk of addiction and overdose. The addictive properties of Lunesta are much more dangerous for those of us who abuse alcohol, and the combination can lead to overdose.

On top of all that, mixing alcohol with Lunesta makes it more likely that the side effects will continue into the next day, sort of like a hangover. 

In some cases, Lunesta can make us behave out of the ordinary. For example, we may act aggressively, be confused or agitated, and even have hallucinations. We may also feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts, especially if we’re prone to them. Adding alcohol to the mix only increases these risks.

Who Have I Become?

As if the immediate side effects of mixing Lunesta and alcohol aren’t bad enough, it gets worse. The Lunesta-alcohol combo can wreak havoc on our mood and personality. Let’s take a look at what research has to say about this.

Lunesta is classified as a sedative — specifically, a hypnotic. Hypnotics in general must be taken with caution and only in the short term. Hypnotics like Lunesta can cause mood swings, personality changes, and even hallucinations. In severe cases, we can develop eszopiclone-induced psychosis, which researchers found in a man only a few months after undergoing insomnia treatment with Lunesta. It can also lead to hallucinations and aggressiveness that may be out of character.

Alcohol impairs the function of the prefrontal cortex, which can lead us to act angrily or aggressively if provoked. If we’re taking both substances, our risk of psychosis increases, and combined with the possibility of us doing things in our sleep, we run the risk of harming ourselves or others and not remembering a thing about it.

Alcohol and Insomnia: Not-So-Sweet Dreams

Another important reason to avoid mixing Lunesta and alcohol is that alcohol may be the cause of our sleep problems. Alcohol disrupts our sleep and worsens insomnia if we have it. Alcohol inhibits GABA, as well as other neurotransmitters that activate the “sleep” cells in our brain. On top of that, it disrupts the release of melatonin. It may help us fall asleep, but it causes poor sleep quality and affects our sleep-wake cycle, which is why we’re often wide awake at 3 a.m. after a night of drinking.

Many people don’t realize this about alcohol, and they blame their insomnia on other things, often using alcohol as a way to help them fall asleep. If you do suffer from insomnia, try quitting alcohol for a few weeks and see if your sleep quality improves. You may find you don’t need medication at all!

If you’re still suffering from insomnia, however, and Lunesta seems too risky for you, there are plenty of other ways to improve your sleep and wake up feeling more rested.

Other Ways To Treat Insomnia

Are you considering other options for insomnia besides Lunesta? If you are, there are plenty of things you can do or medications you can take besides relying on sleeping pills:

  • Melatonin supplements. A hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is safe for short-term use — around two months, depending on the person.
  • Exercise. Research shows that regular exercise helps us sleep better and longer. So don’t be afraid to get those push-ups out of the way before bedtime.
  • Nighttime routine. While it may take a while to kick in, having a bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time each night helps our body get in sync with its sleep-wake cycle. Set an alarm to signal “time for bed” and stick to it.
  • Sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to habits we can do to improve our sleep, such as not using electronics in bed and making sure our environment is relaxing. Turn the lights down, keep the room cool, and put that phone down! 
  • Tryptophan. Tryptophan releases melatonin, which can be taken as a supplement. It also can be found in certain foods such as chicken, turkey, cheese, oats, bananas, dried prunes, milk, tuna fish, bread, peanuts, and chocolate. So enjoy that turkey sandwich, and check out this table to see how much tryptophan you’re getting.
  • Meditation. Remember all that counting we were doing earlier? Well, that’s kind of like meditating. Controlled breathing exercises and visualizations are great for our brain all around.
  • Sleep podcasts. If you struggle with maintaining your focus while meditating, and your mind starts racing again, try listening to sleep podcasts. Some are designed to be as boring as possible, so you’ll fall asleep in no time!
  • Therapy. At the end of the day (no pun intended), dealing head-on with whatever is keeping us up at night might be the only way to get lasting relief.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take Lunesta, but if we do, we should be careful about how long we take it and with what.

Tips To Stay Safe on Lunesta

Finally, if we decide to stick with Lunesta, here are some tips we can follow to stay safe:

  • Avoid alcohol. We can’t stress this enough: if you know you will be drinking, it’s best to avoid Lunesta altogether.
  • Stop after two weeks. We shouldn’t take Lunesta for more than two weeks to avoid dependence or develop tolerance. Long-term Lunesta use is toxic for our liver and other organs and has been associated with a mortality rate similar to smoking. If your insomnia persists, it might be time to explore other options.
  • Create a quiet sleep environment. Remember how we need to block out at least seven hours for Lunesta nights? This is a serious requirement of Lunesta, so it may be a good idea to pop in those earplugs and put on an eyeshade before hitting the sack so we don’t awake too soon.
  • Have someone keep an eye on you. While it may not be feasible for everyone, it may be helpful to have someone stay in the room with you. They can gently lead you back to bed should you start to sleepwalk
  • Don’t mix it. Lunesta has some serious interactions, not just with alcohol but with other medications, too. Avoid mixing Lunesta with other sleep medications, opioid pain medications, muscle relaxers, or other CNS depressants.

Our health should be our priority, and that requires proper sleep. Get that right and you’ll have the energy to tackle whatever comes our way.

Saying Goodnight

Remember, sleep is a requirement, not a luxury. No matter what’s keeping you up at night, alcohol won’t fix it. Those of us with chronic insomnia know how torturous it can feel, and long-term lack of sleep can create a poor quality of life all around. It’s time for you to prioritize your sleep above all else so you can enjoy your waking hours more fully.

One hundred … ninety-nine … ninety-eight … still awake? Did counting sheep not work to fall asleep for the 18th night in a row? You counted backwards from 300 only to have to start all over? Or could your lack of sleep have something to do with the drinks you had last night? Either way, there comes a point when sleepytime teas just aren't cutting it anymore, so we may try medications to help. Lunesta (or eszopiclone) is one such medication.

What Is Lunesta?

A glass of whiskey with sugar cubes on the side

Insomnia can be insufferable. Lunesta treats some forms of insomnia, helping us not only fall asleep faster but stay asleep throughout the night. Lunesta works by balancing out chemicals in the brain, including GABA. Lunesta increases the receptivity of GABA in the brain, which produces a relaxing effect and improves our ability to sleep. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not a miracle drug, and it does come with side effects.

Lunesta Side Effects

Let’s take a look at some of Lunesta’s side effects.

  • Addiction. Lunesta can be addictive, and the risk of addiction is higher in those who already abuse alcohol or other drugs, which we’ll get into later. The best way to avoid this? Only take Lunesta as prescribed.
  • Severe allergic reaction. As with most medications, allergic reactions are a risk. Symptoms include hives, nausea, or swelling of facial areas.
  • Dangerous activities in our sleep. Some people engage in activities while fully asleep, such as driving, walking, or making phone calls, with no memory of it the next morning. As you can imagine, this is extremely dangerous (not to mention embarrassing!). So it might be worth deleting your ex’s phone number before taking Lunesta, just in case.
  • Dangers if woken too early. Warnings about Lunesta make it very clear that you need to have time for at least seven hours of sleep after taking it and should not be woken up before that. If we’re awakened too early, we may experience memory loss and impair our ability to safely do daily activities such as driving.

As if these side effects aren’t worrisome enough, adding alcohol makes them worse. Let’s take a closer look at why.

What Happened Last Night? Risks of Mixing Lunesta With Alcohol

Is it safe to have a drink and then take Lunesta? Or have a drink the day after we took Lunesta? The answer is “no” to both. Lunesta stays in our system longer than we might think.

How Long Does Lunesta Stay in Your System?

While we feel the effects of Lunesta for around eight hours, the half-life is six hours, and it’s fully out of our system in 24-48 hours. If we take it every day for a couple of weeks, however, there is always some lingering in our system, so we should avoid alcohol for at least a day or two after taking Lunesta.

But what happens exactly when we mix the two?

Side Effects of Combining Alcohol and Lunesta

Side Effects of the Combo: A Living Nightmare

There’s only one way to say it: we should avoid alcohol at all costs before or while taking Lunesta. To start, alcohol depletes GABA in the brain, which counteracts the GABA-producing effects of Lunesta, compounding the side effects. Alcohol is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, and mixing it with sedatives like Lunesta adds to these depressive effects. Let’s take a look at them.

  • Dizziness. Lunesta can cause dizziness by itself. Alcohol also makes us dizzy by interfering with the vestibular system — the part of the inner ear that keeps us balanced. The combination worsens this effect and increases our risk of falling.
  • Drowsiness. There is such a thing as a Lunesta “hangover,” which means we can feel sleepy during the day. Combined with alcohol, which depresses the CNS, it can make us feel extra drowsy during daily activities.
  • Impaired thinking and judgment. Alcohol does this all by itself by depressing our inhibitions, and the combination doubles the trouble.
  • Increased risk of dangerous activities in our sleep. While alcohol may not cause sleepwalking directly, it has been linked as a trigger in 12% of sleepwalkers according to one study. 
  • Memory loss and blackouts. These side effects can follow activities we do in our sleep. Since alcohol affects our memory and can cause blackouts, we’re setting ourselves up for a whole lot of “What did I do last night?”
  • Breathing difficulties and unconsciousness. We shouldn’t take Lunesta if we have any breathing disorders or difficulties, and we certainly shouldn’t mix it with alcohol, since alcohol affects the vascular system and can worsen any breathing issues we may have. In extreme cases, it can render us unconscious.
  • Increased risk of liver disease. Alcohol and Lunesta are both processed by the liver, and prolonged Lunesta use has been linked to liver disease.
  • Increased risk of addiction and overdose. The addictive properties of Lunesta are much more dangerous for those of us who abuse alcohol, and the combination can lead to overdose.

On top of all that, mixing alcohol with Lunesta makes it more likely that the side effects will continue into the next day, sort of like a hangover. 

In some cases, Lunesta can make us behave out of the ordinary. For example, we may act aggressively, be confused or agitated, and even have hallucinations. We may also feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts, especially if we’re prone to them. Adding alcohol to the mix only increases these risks.

Who Have I Become?

As if the immediate side effects of mixing Lunesta and alcohol aren’t bad enough, it gets worse. The Lunesta-alcohol combo can wreak havoc on our mood and personality. Let’s take a look at what research has to say about this.

Lunesta is classified as a sedative — specifically, a hypnotic. Hypnotics in general must be taken with caution and only in the short term. Hypnotics like Lunesta can cause mood swings, personality changes, and even hallucinations. In severe cases, we can develop eszopiclone-induced psychosis, which researchers found in a man only a few months after undergoing insomnia treatment with Lunesta. It can also lead to hallucinations and aggressiveness that may be out of character.

Alcohol impairs the function of the prefrontal cortex, which can lead us to act angrily or aggressively if provoked. If we’re taking both substances, our risk of psychosis increases, and combined with the possibility of us doing things in our sleep, we run the risk of harming ourselves or others and not remembering a thing about it.

Alcohol and Insomnia: Not-So-Sweet Dreams

Another important reason to avoid mixing Lunesta and alcohol is that alcohol may be the cause of our sleep problems. Alcohol disrupts our sleep and worsens insomnia if we have it. Alcohol inhibits GABA, as well as other neurotransmitters that activate the “sleep” cells in our brain. On top of that, it disrupts the release of melatonin. It may help us fall asleep, but it causes poor sleep quality and affects our sleep-wake cycle, which is why we’re often wide awake at 3 a.m. after a night of drinking.

Many people don’t realize this about alcohol, and they blame their insomnia on other things, often using alcohol as a way to help them fall asleep. If you do suffer from insomnia, try quitting alcohol for a few weeks and see if your sleep quality improves. You may find you don’t need medication at all!

If you’re still suffering from insomnia, however, and Lunesta seems too risky for you, there are plenty of other ways to improve your sleep and wake up feeling more rested.

Other Ways To Treat Insomnia

Are you considering other options for insomnia besides Lunesta? If you are, there are plenty of things you can do or medications you can take besides relying on sleeping pills:

  • Melatonin supplements. A hormone that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is safe for short-term use — around two months, depending on the person.
  • Exercise. Research shows that regular exercise helps us sleep better and longer. So don’t be afraid to get those push-ups out of the way before bedtime.
  • Nighttime routine. While it may take a while to kick in, having a bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time each night helps our body get in sync with its sleep-wake cycle. Set an alarm to signal “time for bed” and stick to it.
  • Sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to habits we can do to improve our sleep, such as not using electronics in bed and making sure our environment is relaxing. Turn the lights down, keep the room cool, and put that phone down! 
  • Tryptophan. Tryptophan releases melatonin, which can be taken as a supplement. It also can be found in certain foods such as chicken, turkey, cheese, oats, bananas, dried prunes, milk, tuna fish, bread, peanuts, and chocolate. So enjoy that turkey sandwich, and check out this table to see how much tryptophan you’re getting.
  • Meditation. Remember all that counting we were doing earlier? Well, that’s kind of like meditating. Controlled breathing exercises and visualizations are great for our brain all around.
  • Sleep podcasts. If you struggle with maintaining your focus while meditating, and your mind starts racing again, try listening to sleep podcasts. Some are designed to be as boring as possible, so you’ll fall asleep in no time!
  • Therapy. At the end of the day (no pun intended), dealing head-on with whatever is keeping us up at night might be the only way to get lasting relief.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take Lunesta, but if we do, we should be careful about how long we take it and with what.

Tips To Stay Safe on Lunesta

Finally, if we decide to stick with Lunesta, here are some tips we can follow to stay safe:

  • Avoid alcohol. We can’t stress this enough: if you know you will be drinking, it’s best to avoid Lunesta altogether.
  • Stop after two weeks. We shouldn’t take Lunesta for more than two weeks to avoid dependence or develop tolerance. Long-term Lunesta use is toxic for our liver and other organs and has been associated with a mortality rate similar to smoking. If your insomnia persists, it might be time to explore other options.
  • Create a quiet sleep environment. Remember how we need to block out at least seven hours for Lunesta nights? This is a serious requirement of Lunesta, so it may be a good idea to pop in those earplugs and put on an eyeshade before hitting the sack so we don’t awake too soon.
  • Have someone keep an eye on you. While it may not be feasible for everyone, it may be helpful to have someone stay in the room with you. They can gently lead you back to bed should you start to sleepwalk
  • Don’t mix it. Lunesta has some serious interactions, not just with alcohol but with other medications, too. Avoid mixing Lunesta with other sleep medications, opioid pain medications, muscle relaxers, or other CNS depressants.

Our health should be our priority, and that requires proper sleep. Get that right and you’ll have the energy to tackle whatever comes our way.

Saying Goodnight

Remember, sleep is a requirement, not a luxury. No matter what’s keeping you up at night, alcohol won’t fix it. Those of us with chronic insomnia know how torturous it can feel, and long-term lack of sleep can create a poor quality of life all around. It’s time for you to prioritize your sleep above all else so you can enjoy your waking hours more fully.

Alcohol and Medications
2024-06-08 9:00
Alcohol and Medications
Risks of Mixing Alcohol and NSAIDs
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About to pop an Advil and wondering if it’s okay to have a drink afterward? Science says that NSAIDs and alcohol don’t play well together. Learn more about the risks in our latest blog!

17 min read

Reduce Inflammation and Drink Less 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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Read Full Article  →

Parking tickets. Tax deadlines. That loud neighbor upstairs who insists on doing jumping jacks at 5 a.m. There are lots of reasons why we might get a headache, and, when we do, Advil and similar NSAID medications do a great job of relieving it. 

But what happens when we add alcohol to the mix? What are the risks of combining NSAIDs and alcohol? Let’s find out!

What Are NSAIDs?

A person holding a glass of alcohol and a pill

NSAIDs — non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — work to reduce inflammation in the body, making them go-to medications for treating pain and fever. They usually come in pill form but are also available as topical gels.

Inflammation is our body’s first response system to invading pathogens. While useful for fighting off viruses, bacteria, and other invaders, inflammation backfires in the long run. 

We wouldn’t want to call the fire department every time we leave the kettle on for too long or take a hot shower that creates a bit of extra steam, would we? In a similar way, having a full-force response to minor mishaps (or no reason at all) — especially on a chronic basis — can tax the body’s resources, eventually putting us at risk for cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and even cancers. Given that inflammation is part of the immune system’s disease-fighting arsenal, this is clearly the opposite of what we want!

What Are NSAIDs Used For?

NSAIDs are useful for a number of aches and pains, including headaches, menstrual pain, sprains, and strains. They are the go-to medications for common viral infections, including COVID-19. They also ease pain caused by arthritis and other chronic conditions.

Types of NSAIDs

While ibuprofen might be the best-known one, there are several different NSAIDs out there.

  • Ibuprofen is one of the most commonly used NSAIDs, known for its effectiveness in relieving pain and inflammation.
  • Naproxen is another popular NSAID taken to treat pain and inflammation.
  • Diclofenac is a potent NSAID used to treat pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis and migraine.
  • Aspirin is widely used as a pain reliever, fever reducer, and antiplatelet agent.

There are a few lesser-known NSAID varieties out there as well, including celecoxib, mefenamic acid, etoricoxib, and indomethacin. While each is tailored to slightly different needs, the overall side effects and mechanisms are similar.

That said, none of the NSAIDs mentioned above play well with alcohol. Let’s explore why alcohol and NSAIDs are a risky pair.

NSAIDs and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix

Although the NSAIDs-alcohol interaction might not be at the top of your list when it comes to risky combinations, mixing alcohol and NSAIDs is not a good idea. 

1. Increased Side Effects

For one thing, there’s the side effects. Like all other meds, NSAIDs come with them, and most don’t get along with alcohol:

  • Digestive disruptions. NSAIDs can cause upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea, especially if we take them on an empty stomach. They can also increase the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding, which we’ll discuss later on. Likewise, alcohol can do a number on the digestive system, causing nausea and diarrhea if we overdo it.
  • Drowsiness and dizziness. Another common side effect of NSAIDs? They can make us doze off and feel a bit unsteady. And, as we know, alcohol can do that, too. As a central nervous system depressant, it tends to make us tired and throw off our balance. Combining the two substances can tip the scales into dangerous territory, making us more accident-prone.
  • Fluid retention. NSAIDs can make us hold on to extra water. While alcohol initially acts as a diuretic and has the opposite effect, it can lead to rebound water retention as our body tries to balance things out. The result? Extra water weight.

As we can see, mixing NSAIDs with alcohol is asking for trouble. The combined side effects are likely to leave us feeling drained, dizzy, and groggy. Add a stomach ache and nausea on top of that, and we’ll be wishing we had reconsidered.

2. Potentially Dangerous Interactions With the Heart, Liver, and Kidneys

NSAIDs can cause problematic interactions with the heart, liver, and kidneys. And alcohol can add to the strain, which could lead to serious issues.

Heart. NSAIDs can raise blood pressure by causing salt and fluid retention, endangering the heart. Alcohol can make the situation worse. Despite claims that alcohol (in small amounts) is good for our heart, alcohol can stress the heart, especially if we drink too much. After an initial dip in blood pressure, the heart rebounds, and our heart rate increases. Over time, alcohol misuse can weaken the heart muscles and cause heart disease. 

Liver. Some NSAIDs are known to cause liver injury, especially if we overuse them. Alcohol is notorious for straining the liver over time, causing liver disease. Combining the two can compound the damage. 

Kidneys. The kidneys are at even greater risk when it comes to NSAIDs, especially if we use them in large amounts or for a long time. NSAIDs can reduce blood flow to the kidneys by constricting blood vessels. This reduction in blood flow can impair the kidneys' ability to filter waste products from the blood, building up toxins and possibly causing kidney damage over time. NSAIDs may also interfere with the production of prostaglandins, which help regulate kidney function, and lead to a decline in kidney function.

Alcohol can make the problem worse by impairing kidney function, especially with long-term misuse. Moreover, the presence of NSAIDs in the bloodstream can increase the toxicity of alcohol by causing oxidative stress in the body. 

3. Risk of Stomach Bleeding

One of the most concerning risks associated with NSAIDs is stomach bleeding. Here’s what happens in more detail.

  • NSAIDs can break down the protective barrier of the stomach. They work by inhibiting the actions of two enzymes to reduce pain and inflammation. The problem? Blocking these enzymes also reduces the production of prostaglandin, a substance that protects our stomach from its own digestive juices.
  • The acid exposure causes damage over time. The environment in our stomach is quite intense. With a pH of 1.5 to 3.5, it’s acid central in there — about the same as battery acid. Obviously, we want to keep all that stuff safely contained. With the barrier under siege, however, the corrosive acid can damage the delicate tissues of the stomach over time. 

As we already mentioned, alcohol can do a number on our stomach and digestive system, causing irritation and even leading to ulcers and gastritis. Mixing booze with NSAIDs is playing with fire — we’re putting ourselves at risk of perforations and gastrointestinal bleeding, which may require hospitalization and medical intervention.

4. Increased Inflammation

Last but not least, we take anti-inflammatory drugs for a reason — to stop inflammation. Alcohol tends to stoke the fire of the body’s natural response to pathogens or injury in a few different ways:

  • Alcohol triggers the immune system. Our immune system acts as an emergency response system, ready to pounce on pathogens and wipe out invaders from the body. Alcohol acts as a prankster, pulling the fire alarm and taxing our immune resources by causing responses to “empty threats.” 
  • It disrupts the gut barrier. Alcohol disrupts the delicate balance of the digestive system. One of the results of the disruption is the so-called “leaky gut.” If it sounds disturbing, you’re right — it is. A leaky gut refers to weakening intestinal walls, which causes bacteria and toxins that are normally contained to enter the bloodstream. 
  • It stresses the liver. The liver works hard to detoxify our blood and get the alcohol out as fast as possible. But if we give it too much to handle, it gets stressed. The result? More inflammation.
  • It leads to the production of reactive oxygen species. If antioxidants are the hero of the wellness world, reactive oxygen species are the antihero.

Want to know more? Check out “Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation?

Strategies for Safely Managing Inflammation

Tips To Stay Safe While Fighting Inflammation

Here are some tips to get the most out of your NSAID treatment.

  • Hydrate for kidney health. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially when taking NSAIDs. Adequate hydration helps maintain kidney function and can reduce the risk of kidney damage.
  • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine combined with NSAIDs can further strain the kidneys, especially if alcohol is in the picture. So, switch that latte to an herbal tea and give them a break. You might even see your energy levels balance out throughout the day (a bonus!).
  • Protect the stomach with probiotics. Probiotics — found in fermented foods, such as pickles or kimchi, as well as in yogurt and kefir — restore the natural balance of microbiota in the gut. Alcohol can harm these hard-working microorganisms, so giving them a bit of extra support is important.
  • Load up on antioxidants. Antioxidants provide natural protection against free radicals, helping the body fight disease and reduce inflammation.
  • Use NSAIDs sparingly. Limit your use of NSAIDs to the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration possible. Avoid taking NSAIDs on a daily basis for chronic pain unless directed by your healthcare provider.

We wish you a speedy recovery! And remember, Reframe is here to help if you’re having trouble with alcohol. Millions of other users have been exactly where you are and are now thriving and ready to share their stories and advice!

Parking tickets. Tax deadlines. That loud neighbor upstairs who insists on doing jumping jacks at 5 a.m. There are lots of reasons why we might get a headache, and, when we do, Advil and similar NSAID medications do a great job of relieving it. 

But what happens when we add alcohol to the mix? What are the risks of combining NSAIDs and alcohol? Let’s find out!

What Are NSAIDs?

A person holding a glass of alcohol and a pill

NSAIDs — non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — work to reduce inflammation in the body, making them go-to medications for treating pain and fever. They usually come in pill form but are also available as topical gels.

Inflammation is our body’s first response system to invading pathogens. While useful for fighting off viruses, bacteria, and other invaders, inflammation backfires in the long run. 

We wouldn’t want to call the fire department every time we leave the kettle on for too long or take a hot shower that creates a bit of extra steam, would we? In a similar way, having a full-force response to minor mishaps (or no reason at all) — especially on a chronic basis — can tax the body’s resources, eventually putting us at risk for cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and even cancers. Given that inflammation is part of the immune system’s disease-fighting arsenal, this is clearly the opposite of what we want!

What Are NSAIDs Used For?

NSAIDs are useful for a number of aches and pains, including headaches, menstrual pain, sprains, and strains. They are the go-to medications for common viral infections, including COVID-19. They also ease pain caused by arthritis and other chronic conditions.

Types of NSAIDs

While ibuprofen might be the best-known one, there are several different NSAIDs out there.

  • Ibuprofen is one of the most commonly used NSAIDs, known for its effectiveness in relieving pain and inflammation.
  • Naproxen is another popular NSAID taken to treat pain and inflammation.
  • Diclofenac is a potent NSAID used to treat pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis and migraine.
  • Aspirin is widely used as a pain reliever, fever reducer, and antiplatelet agent.

There are a few lesser-known NSAID varieties out there as well, including celecoxib, mefenamic acid, etoricoxib, and indomethacin. While each is tailored to slightly different needs, the overall side effects and mechanisms are similar.

That said, none of the NSAIDs mentioned above play well with alcohol. Let’s explore why alcohol and NSAIDs are a risky pair.

NSAIDs and Alcohol: A Dangerous Mix

Although the NSAIDs-alcohol interaction might not be at the top of your list when it comes to risky combinations, mixing alcohol and NSAIDs is not a good idea. 

1. Increased Side Effects

For one thing, there’s the side effects. Like all other meds, NSAIDs come with them, and most don’t get along with alcohol:

  • Digestive disruptions. NSAIDs can cause upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea, especially if we take them on an empty stomach. They can also increase the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding, which we’ll discuss later on. Likewise, alcohol can do a number on the digestive system, causing nausea and diarrhea if we overdo it.
  • Drowsiness and dizziness. Another common side effect of NSAIDs? They can make us doze off and feel a bit unsteady. And, as we know, alcohol can do that, too. As a central nervous system depressant, it tends to make us tired and throw off our balance. Combining the two substances can tip the scales into dangerous territory, making us more accident-prone.
  • Fluid retention. NSAIDs can make us hold on to extra water. While alcohol initially acts as a diuretic and has the opposite effect, it can lead to rebound water retention as our body tries to balance things out. The result? Extra water weight.

As we can see, mixing NSAIDs with alcohol is asking for trouble. The combined side effects are likely to leave us feeling drained, dizzy, and groggy. Add a stomach ache and nausea on top of that, and we’ll be wishing we had reconsidered.

2. Potentially Dangerous Interactions With the Heart, Liver, and Kidneys

NSAIDs can cause problematic interactions with the heart, liver, and kidneys. And alcohol can add to the strain, which could lead to serious issues.

Heart. NSAIDs can raise blood pressure by causing salt and fluid retention, endangering the heart. Alcohol can make the situation worse. Despite claims that alcohol (in small amounts) is good for our heart, alcohol can stress the heart, especially if we drink too much. After an initial dip in blood pressure, the heart rebounds, and our heart rate increases. Over time, alcohol misuse can weaken the heart muscles and cause heart disease. 

Liver. Some NSAIDs are known to cause liver injury, especially if we overuse them. Alcohol is notorious for straining the liver over time, causing liver disease. Combining the two can compound the damage. 

Kidneys. The kidneys are at even greater risk when it comes to NSAIDs, especially if we use them in large amounts or for a long time. NSAIDs can reduce blood flow to the kidneys by constricting blood vessels. This reduction in blood flow can impair the kidneys' ability to filter waste products from the blood, building up toxins and possibly causing kidney damage over time. NSAIDs may also interfere with the production of prostaglandins, which help regulate kidney function, and lead to a decline in kidney function.

Alcohol can make the problem worse by impairing kidney function, especially with long-term misuse. Moreover, the presence of NSAIDs in the bloodstream can increase the toxicity of alcohol by causing oxidative stress in the body. 

3. Risk of Stomach Bleeding

One of the most concerning risks associated with NSAIDs is stomach bleeding. Here’s what happens in more detail.

  • NSAIDs can break down the protective barrier of the stomach. They work by inhibiting the actions of two enzymes to reduce pain and inflammation. The problem? Blocking these enzymes also reduces the production of prostaglandin, a substance that protects our stomach from its own digestive juices.
  • The acid exposure causes damage over time. The environment in our stomach is quite intense. With a pH of 1.5 to 3.5, it’s acid central in there — about the same as battery acid. Obviously, we want to keep all that stuff safely contained. With the barrier under siege, however, the corrosive acid can damage the delicate tissues of the stomach over time. 

As we already mentioned, alcohol can do a number on our stomach and digestive system, causing irritation and even leading to ulcers and gastritis. Mixing booze with NSAIDs is playing with fire — we’re putting ourselves at risk of perforations and gastrointestinal bleeding, which may require hospitalization and medical intervention.

4. Increased Inflammation

Last but not least, we take anti-inflammatory drugs for a reason — to stop inflammation. Alcohol tends to stoke the fire of the body’s natural response to pathogens or injury in a few different ways:

  • Alcohol triggers the immune system. Our immune system acts as an emergency response system, ready to pounce on pathogens and wipe out invaders from the body. Alcohol acts as a prankster, pulling the fire alarm and taxing our immune resources by causing responses to “empty threats.” 
  • It disrupts the gut barrier. Alcohol disrupts the delicate balance of the digestive system. One of the results of the disruption is the so-called “leaky gut.” If it sounds disturbing, you’re right — it is. A leaky gut refers to weakening intestinal walls, which causes bacteria and toxins that are normally contained to enter the bloodstream. 
  • It stresses the liver. The liver works hard to detoxify our blood and get the alcohol out as fast as possible. But if we give it too much to handle, it gets stressed. The result? More inflammation.
  • It leads to the production of reactive oxygen species. If antioxidants are the hero of the wellness world, reactive oxygen species are the antihero.

Want to know more? Check out “Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation?

Strategies for Safely Managing Inflammation

Tips To Stay Safe While Fighting Inflammation

Here are some tips to get the most out of your NSAID treatment.

  • Hydrate for kidney health. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially when taking NSAIDs. Adequate hydration helps maintain kidney function and can reduce the risk of kidney damage.
  • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine combined with NSAIDs can further strain the kidneys, especially if alcohol is in the picture. So, switch that latte to an herbal tea and give them a break. You might even see your energy levels balance out throughout the day (a bonus!).
  • Protect the stomach with probiotics. Probiotics — found in fermented foods, such as pickles or kimchi, as well as in yogurt and kefir — restore the natural balance of microbiota in the gut. Alcohol can harm these hard-working microorganisms, so giving them a bit of extra support is important.
  • Load up on antioxidants. Antioxidants provide natural protection against free radicals, helping the body fight disease and reduce inflammation.
  • Use NSAIDs sparingly. Limit your use of NSAIDs to the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration possible. Avoid taking NSAIDs on a daily basis for chronic pain unless directed by your healthcare provider.

We wish you a speedy recovery! And remember, Reframe is here to help if you’re having trouble with alcohol. Millions of other users have been exactly where you are and are now thriving and ready to share their stories and advice!

Alcohol and Medications