Prozac and Alcohol
What is Prozac?
Prozac is a brand (trade) name for fluoxetine. It is a prescription drug used for depression treatment, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) treatment – (bothersome thoughts that won’t go away and the need to perform certain actions over and over), treatment of some eating disorders, and panic attacks treatment – (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks) . Prozac is also used to relieve the symptoms of the premenstrual dysphoric disorder, including irritability, mood swings, bloating, and breast tenderness.
Fluoxetine (Prozac) comes as a capsule, a tablet, a delayed-release (releases the medication in the intestine) capsule, and a solution (liquid) to take by mouth. Fluoxetine may be taken with or without food. Fluoxetine capsules, tablets, and liquid are usually taken once a day in the morning or twice a day in the morning and at noon. Fluoxetine delayed-release capsules are usually taken once a week.
How Does Prozac Work?
Prozac is in a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance. Experts believe fluoxetine’s effects are due to its ability to block the reuptake of serotonin by nerves, leading to an increase in serotonin concentrations in the nerve synapse (space between two nerves).
Prozac is also used along with olanzapine (Zyprexa) to treat depression that did not respond to other medications and episodes of depression in people with bipolar I disorder (manic-depressive disorder; a disease that causes episodes of depression, episodes of mania, and other abnormal moods).
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Side Effects of Prozac
One distressing side effect of Prozac is it alters the normal sleep cycle, consisting of several stages. Normal sleep includes a necessary stage called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. During this phase, eye muscles move while other muscles do not; because neurons turn on in the brain to prevent sleepwalking and the acting out of dreams. Prozac and other antidepressants are known to suppress REM sleep, which has serious consequences.
The longer an individual uses Prozac, the greater the likelihood that a dependency on the drug will develop, both psychologically and physically. Dependence on a medication to treat depression may decrease motivation efforts to make positive life changes. Research has shown that Americans treated with antidepressants like Prozac have remained on the medication for more than a year, perhaps demonstrating poor outcomes for treatment with medication alone.
The long-term use of Prozac has been associated with damaging changes to the brain. Some research has shown that the use of SSRIs, such as Prozac, has been associated with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. The chronic use of antidepressants like Prozac could lead to a blunted emotional response, changes in mood, and increased experience of agitation, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and nervousness, with the highest rates among people taking the highest doses.
Side effects from Prozac (fluoxetine) are relatively common, especially when first starting to take the medication or when increasing your dose. The possibility of side effects occurring varies by individual and by the dose you are taking. The side effects are generally mild and self-limiting however. In most cases, side effects tend to subside in a few weeks.
Common Prozac side effects may include:
- Sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams
- Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, vision changes
- Tremors or shaking, feeling anxious or nervous
- Pain, weakness, yawning, tired feeling
- Upset stomach, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Dry mouth, sweating, hot flashes
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Stuffy nose, sinus pain, sore throat, flu symptoms
- Decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm
Prozac and Alcohol Interaction
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that disturbs the brain’s chemistry and slows down bodily functions. Separately, Prozac also changes brain chemistry and body functions. Alcohol use, while also taking Prozac, can lead to the amplification of both drugs’ side effects. Mixing Prozac and alcohol can result in heightened feelings of depression and anxiety. These are the same symptoms that Prozac treats. In some cases, combining Prozac and alcohol can lead to suicidal feelings and tendencies.
The ingredients in Prozac are designed to help calm your mood. One of the side effects of the drug is tiredness. Prozac can interfere with coordinated movement and alertness like alcohol does. Combining Prozac and alcohol can quickly lead to increased sedation. Having even one drink while you take Prozac can cause extreme drowsiness. This effect can lead to potentially dangerous situations. These include poor decision-making, impaired driving, and an increased risk of injuries.
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Dangers of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol
Mixing Prozac and alcohol can have some serious repercussions. While drinking alcohol during pregnancy is always risky, using the antidepressant Prozac to relieve symptoms of depression does not have any known risk to the unborn child. It gets transferred through breast milk in most cases. The situation is reversed when alcohol is added to the equation.
This ultimately results in several conditions from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, poor brain function, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to abnormalities. Mothers who develop tolerance to alcohol can accidentally combine Prozac with alcohol which can harm the unborn child.
Some Prozac and alcohol dangers are listed below to help you better understand the gravity of this deadly combination:
- Persistent lack of sleep negatively affects your body in a way that you are unable to think or function. Although taking Prozac for depression with alcohol can help you fall asleep quickly, you tend to wake up more in the middle of the night, which ultimately results in insomnia.
Risk of Overdose
- Overdose is always a possibility when someone is abusing the drug independently or mixing it with other substances. Similarly, individuals who fail to understand the gravity of mixing Prozac and alcohol eventually end up overdosing, leading to a life-threatening situation. Contrary to popular belief, the risk of overdose is still at large even if you combine Fluoxetine with even a small amount of alcohol.
- The extent of mixing Prozac and alcohol reaches the point of suicide when people feel there is no solution to their problem. As mentioned earlier, alcohol does provide some short-term relief. However, in the long run, these feelings gradually shift back to loneliness and, in severe cases, suicide.
- One of the biggest misconceptions a drug abuser has is that mixing Alcohol and Prozac will make them capable of performing any task. They don’t understand that although this combination does elevate your energy, it impairs the alertness that renders you incapable of performing even simple tasks.
- While the exact mechanism between Prozac and alcohol is yet to be discovered, doctors often warn people taking Prozac against consuming this medication with alcohol. Unfortunately, it is easy for people to ignore the warning signs due to the immediate relief they get. Unconsciousness is one of the alarming signs on the list of Prozac and alcohol dangers. Since the function of both is to change the chemical activity in the brain that results in improved mood. Unconsciousness is the result of excessive intake of Prozac and alcohol.
Prozac and Alcohol Side Effects
Alcohol should never be combined with an antidepressant medication like Prozac, as both substances may amplify the effects of the other, increasing the risk for overdose and other potentially dangerous side effects. Drinking alcohol while taking Prozac can also interfere with treatment for depression and/or anxiety.
Mixing Prozac and alcohol may cause fatigue and weakness, which may interfere with your ability to finish simple tasks. You may find yourself needing to take a break to rest. Alcohol can also keep Prozac from working as well as it should. Taking antidepressants like Prozac doesn’t mean you’re immune to the depressive effects of alcohol.
Instead, alcohol may actually keep your medication from working to its full effect. This means you won’t get the full benefits of Prozac. This can make the symptoms of your condition even worse.
Mixing Prozac and alcohol can also lead to other side effects. These can include:
- Sudden fatigue and weakness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
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Prozac and Alcohol Liver Damage
Two thousand cases of liver failure occur each year in the United States, and half of them are due to medications. Also, the harmful effects of drinking on the liver are well-known. The liver is an organ that cleanses toxins from the blood. Extreme alcohol abuse over long periods of time can damage the liver, and even cause fibrosis or alcoholic cirrhosis. A healthy liver is required for anyone taking Prozac since it is metabolized in the liver. If the liver cannot efficiently metabolize Prozac, the benefits will be lost. Even if the liver is not damaged or diseased, introducing alcohol will in effect reduce the dose of Prozac and thereby reduce its effectiveness and benefits.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) , liver test abnormalities have been reported to occur rarely in patients on fluoxetine (Prozac). Rare instances of acute, clinically apparent episodes of liver injury with marked liver enzyme elevations with or without jaundice have been reported in patients on fluoxetine.
Alcohol and Depression
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and depressive disorders are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders and co-occur more often than expected by chance. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) , given that symptoms of depression co-occur with alcohol dependence in about 80 percent of patients and 30 to 40 percent of alcohol-dependent men and women struggle from an independent major depressive episode during their lifetime. Many individuals who struggle with depression, especially people who have not been properly diagnosed, usually turn to alcohol to escape.
Hopeless and desperate to feel better or anesthetize the pain, even for a small amount of time. Individuals who suffer from depression often use the numbing and pleasurable effects of alcohol for that purpose. Alcohol abuse is prevalent among people who suffer from depression. Drinking alcohol may increase depression, anxiety, and other mental health condition. This is according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .
Several potential developmental pathways have been proposed to explain the high rate of co-occurring alcohol use disorder and depressive disorders, including: (1) depressive disorders increase the risk for alcohol use disorder, (2) Alcohol use disorder increases the risk for depressive disorders, and (3) both conditions share pathophysiology or have common risk factors. Although evidence supports all three of these pathways, much research is still needed to understand the development of co-occurrence.
Treatment for Prozac and Alcohol Addiction
There is a strong link between mental health and substance abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper treatment.
To determine the most effective ways to treat Prozac and alcohol addiction, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of depression is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.
Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of alcohol withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to alcohol use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.
Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of alcohol withdrawals.
Psychotherapy for Depression
Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.”
- Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
- Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Alcoholism and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.
Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for alcohol use disorder and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.
If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.
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