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Mental Health Drugs You Didn't Know Interacted With Alcohol

Updated on May 4, 2011

Alcohol be a finicky beast. Our favorite social mediator (ethyl alcohol) functions to decrease glutamate (a prevalent brain chemical responsible for general stimulation) and increase GABA (also a common brain chemical, but instead responsible for general inhibition). Many mental health medications also work with glutamate and GABA, which creates a potentially risky problem when mind meds and alcohol are mixed. In the simplest sense, too much glutamate (causing general physiological overactivation such as rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, etc.) or too much GABA (causing a widespread depressant effect, possibly stopping essential involuntary systems such as breathing) can throw your system out of whack.

Here are some common prescription brain buddies that can interact negatively (and possibly dangerously) when unknowingly mixed with alcohol.


Examples: SSRIs (Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Luvox), MAOIs (Nardil, Marplan, Nardate)

Complications with alcohol may produce:

  • Decreased antidepressant effectiveness
  • Increased sedative effect
  • Increased feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation
  • A dangerous rise in blood pressure (mostly seen in MOAIs antidepressants)

Anxiety Management

Examples: Ativan (Lorazepam), Valium, Xanax, Klonopin

Complications with alcohol may cause:

  • Increased sedative effect
  • Memory impairment
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Impaired motor control
  • Unusual behavior
  • Increased risk for overdose

Pain Management

1. Moderate Pain Management Examples: Excedrin (aspirin), Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve, Tylenol (acetaminophen)

Complications with alcohol may produce:

  • Reduced drug effectiveness
  • Increased alcohol effects
  • Stomach upset, stomach bleeding, ulcers
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Liver damage (specifically for acetaminophen)

2. Severe Pain Management Examples: Percocet (Oxycodone), Vicodin, Demerol

Complications with alcohol may produce:

  • Increased sedative effect
  • Dizziness
  • Memory impairment
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Impaired motor control
  • Increased risk for overdose

Sleep Aids

Examples: Ambien, Lunesta, Prosom

Complications with alcohol may cause:

  • Severely increased sedative effect
  • Severe dizziness
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing
  • Impaired motor control
  • Impaired memory
  • Increased risk for coma or fatal overdose

Generally, small amounts of alcohol with these medications is not a serious offense. But of course, ALWAYS make sure to discuss your drinking habits and medication regimen with a medical professional.


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    • JenPsych profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thank you, tsmog! I appreciate your feedback

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      7 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Another great hub , , ,very simple and powerful

    • JenPsych profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks, Mel! I'm glad you found it useful! I'm working on another hub about mixing common supplements and alcohol - very surprising. Have a great day!

    • Mel Jay profile image

      Mel Jay 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Great hub, I learned a few things here, thumbs up and useful from me - Cheers, Mel


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