The Risks of Drinking Alcohol While Taking Lexapro

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Lexapro?

The Risks of Drinking Alcohol While Taking Lexapro

Lexapro is a brand name for the drug escitalopram oxalate. Lexapro is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). The FDA approves Lexapro to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, panic attacks, and other mental health issues.

Lexapro works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that affects various functions in the body and mind. Lexapro helps to balance brain chemicals that can lead to depression and anxiety.

SSRIs Lexapro are among the safest classes of antidepressants, so they're frequently prescribed. However, Lexapro is not entirely risk-free, and when combined with alcohol, it could increase your risk of problems.

Side Effects of Lexapro

For most people, escitalopram is safe to take for a long time. But many other medicines, Lexapro can cause side effects in some people.

Here are the common side effects of Lexapro that may occur in more than 1 in 10 people:

  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual side effects affecting ejaculation and sexual desire

Many people have no side effects while taking Lexapro. The most common side effects of escitalopram will gradually improve as the body gets used to it. If you experience any of these common side effects while taking Lexapro, you should continue taking the medicine and talking to a doctor if these side effects bother you or don't go away.

Here are some serious side effects of Lexapro that are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people:

  • Painful, long-lasting erections
  • Severe dizziness or fainting
  • Any bleeding that's very bad or you can't stop, such as cuts or nosebleeds that won't stop within 10 minutes
  • Constant headaches
  • Long-lasting confusion
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • A high body temperature (100F and above) 
  • Agitation
  • Trembling and twitching
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Weight gain or loss 
  • Changes in menstrual periods, such as heavy bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between periods

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Can You Drink Alcohol With Lexapro? 

You should avoid using alcohol or illegal drugs while on antidepressant medications. Drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs while on Lexapro may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your condition) and increase the medication's adverse effects (e.g., sedation). 

In addition, Lexapro compounds the adverse effects of alcohol, especially those related to muscle control, making driving a car or operating machinery especially dangerous.

Why You Shouldn't Mix Alcohol and Antidepressants 

Healthcare providers generally advise against drinking alcohol while on antidepressants because alcohol can worsen depression. Alcohol also increases the side effects of some antidepressants, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and coordination problems.

Combining alcohol with antidepressants can cause a potentially fatal interaction. Alcohol can cause depression and also keeps some antidepressants from working as well as they should. When your antidepressants don't work correctly, it can increase suicidal thoughts and actions. 

Also, if you drink alcohol while on a particular type of antidepressant called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), your blood pressure could rise dramatically and even cause a stroke. Finally, sometimes the liver cannot process toxins present when alcohol is combined with antidepressants, and fatal toxicity can occur.

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Side Effects of Mixing Lexapro and Alcohol

There are both short- and long-term side effects:

Short-Term Effects

Many people who take Lexapro will not experience side effects from drinking. However, for others, drinking while on Lexapro can be extremely dangerous. Prior to drinking alcohol while on Lexapro, it's important to understand the way these two strong substances can affect each other. 

Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro may cause the following short-term effects:

  • Decreased efficacy of the medication (it may not work as well to treat your condition)
  • Increased anxiety
  • Worsened depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
  • Lack of energy
  • Liver problems
  • Alcoholism

Long-Term Effects

Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro may cause the following long-term effects:

  • Decreased effectiveness of medication
  • Nausea
  • Lack of energy
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you experience any of these long-term side effects of mixing alcohol and Lexapro, you should contact your healthcare provider urgently to avoid further complications.

The Risks of Mixing Lexapro and Alcohol 

Most people usually start using an antidepressant to address a mental health condition such as depression. Therefore, it's generally not advisable to destabilize the recovery process by introducing alcohol use into the equation.

Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro can affect your decision-making process, affect coordination and motor skills, and increase your risk of suicide and self-harm. Combining these two drugs can also put you at an increased risk of developing an addiction.

How to Avoid the Dangerous Effects of Lexapro and Alcohol

To avoid dangerous side effects of Lexapro and alcohol, you should not drink alcohol while taking Lexapro. Avoiding alcohol consumption altogether is the only way to prevent the adverse side effects of drinking alcohol while on Lexapro.

Is Any Amount of Alcohol Safe While Taking Lexapro?

According to the FDA, clinical trials have not shown with certainty that alcohol increases the effects of Lexapro on the brain. However, there is still a risk with drinking alcohol while on Lexapro, as research has not shown that it is safe otherwise.

Most doctors advise against drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro. However, some doctors allow their patients to have one standard drink per day while on Lexapro.

Individuals who drink alcohol while on Lexapro may feel more depressed or anxious. This is potentially dangerous as it can lead to the development of suicidal thoughts.

Many mental health issues and alcohol use disorder can occur concurrently. Some of the most common conditions that often occur with alcohol use disorder include depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Alcohol use can cause psychiatric symptoms associated with mental health disorders, including erratic behavior, aggression, depression, anxiety.

Treatment Options for Lexapro and Alcohol Use & Misuse

If you or a loved one are experiencing Lexapro and alcohol misuse, there are treatments available. Treatment for Lexapro and alcohol misuse includes inpatient, outpatient, detox, and partial hospitalization treatment. 

The best addiction treatment considers each patient's unique needs and background and will treat any other health disorders concurrently. To find the proper addiction treatment, contact an addiction specialist today.

What's Next?


Lexapro (Escitalopram) and Alcohol: Side Effects & Risks

The Risks of Drinking Alcohol While Taking Lexapro

Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. It’s also one of the most highly treatable, especially with medication. 

Lexapro (also known as Escitalopram) is often prescribed for depression because it’s an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This means that it blocks the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, making it more available for use. Since serotonin is important for regulating mood, it is important to have sufficient amounts of this neurotransmitter available in the brain.

While Lexapro is one of the most effective antidepressant medications available, it can be potentially dangerous when mixed with other substances. In particular, mixing alcohol and antidepressants may lead to some unwanted side effects.

Let’s take a look at some of the possible ways that alcohol and Lexapro can interact. Additionally, we’ll discuss how Lexapro interacts with other medications.

Can I Take Lexapro (Escitalopram) With Alcohol?

Clinical trials have not yet shown that drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro increases any of its effects. With that said, it doesn’t mean that it is safe to combine — it just means that there isn’t enough research yet to conclude one way or the other.

When you first start taking Lexapro, it can take some time for the medication to adjust your body’s chemistry. This means you might not notice a difference for as long as a month or two. During this time, it is important to avoid alcohol so you are fully aware of the effects of Lexapro on your mind and body.

Side Effects of Alcohol and Lexapro (Escitalopram)

Not everyone will experience side effects from combining alcohol and Lexapro, but it is important to understand that there are some potential complications when the two are mixed.

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the communication between neurons in the brain — that’s why drinking can impair your judgement. This means that alcohol can worsen the symptoms of depression, which might then counteract how effective Lexapro can be.

Other possible side effects of drinking while taking Lexapro include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Liver problems
  • Lethargy
  • Spikes in blood pressure

Alcohol can potentially render Lexapro ineffective. What occurs is a temporary relief from depression or anxiety before the alcohol wears off and the depressive symptoms are worsened.

When you need to rely on both Lexapro and alcohol to ease depressive symptoms, it can lead to a substance use disorder that can become life-threatening if not properly treated.

Alcohol and Depression

Even if you’re unmedicated, drinking alcohol can make your depression worse. Since many people with depression turn to alcohol as a form of relief, this can create a cycle that worsens and can lead to substance use disorder.

If you have depression, your doctor will ly recommend that you avoid alcohol regardless if you take Lexapro.

The following symptoms of depression may worsen if you drink alcohol:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep disturbances

Lexapro (Escitalopram) Drug Interactions

many antidepressants, you should not take Lexapro alongside MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. This can increase levels of serotonin in your body to a point of toxicity.

Additionally, you want to avoid taking Lexapro with other medications that increase serotonin, such as other antidepressants, migraine medications (triptans), and some pain medications. Although rare, this can lead to a serotonin syndrome, marked by symptoms such as dizziness and nausea, among others. 

You also want to avoid taking Lexapro with medications that thin the blood or cause bleeding, such as ibuprofen, warfarin, or aspirin.

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t take any medication alongside Lexapro without speaking to your doctor first.

What If I Already Had a Drink?

If you’ve already had a drink while taking Lexapro, don’t panic. Remember that the side effects are possible, but not guaranteed. Additionally, most symptoms are temporary and will subside within a few hours as the alcohol is metabolized.

Monitor yourself over the next 24 hours for any severe side effects. If you experience any of the following, seek emergency care as soon as possible:

  • Tremors or seizing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of cognition
  • Disorientation

Be sure you do not try to operate a vehicle. Contact 911 in the case of a medical emergency, or have a family member take you to the nearest urgent care facility if you need assistance.

In Conclusion

Lexapro (Escitalopram) is an antidepressant medication prescribed for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety. Though it’s an effective medication for most people, its efficacy may be decreased when mixed with alcohol.

While there are no known studies that suggest mixing Lexapro and alcohol is dangerous, alcohol can negate Lexapro’s positive effects. This may lead to a substance use disorder if you become dependent on using alcohol and Lexapro concurrently. Alcohol may also worsen some of the existing side effects of Lexapro, including irritability, fatigue, anxiety, or lethargy. 

Alcohol is never recommended for individuals with depression, regardless of medication. 

There are also some medications that should not be taken with Lexapro, including MAOIs, blood thinners, and serotonin-increasing drugs.

If you’ve already had a drink, you don’t need to worry. Monitor your symptoms for 24 hours, and if you experience severe side effects seizures or tremors, seek emergency assistance.

Depression and substance use disorder are serious mental health conditions. If you need help overcoming either, know you are not alone. YANA Mental Health can help kickstart your recovery by pairing you with a doctor who will develop a personalized treatment plan and prescribe medication Lexapro if needed. The medication will be sent straight to your door – quickly and discreetly.

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Drug addiction (substance use disorder) – Symptoms and causes. | The Mayo Clinic.

Alcohol and Depression: What is the Connection? | American Addiction Centers

Escitalopram (Lexapro) | National Alliance on Mental Illness

Serotonin syndrome – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic 


Mixing Lexapro (Escitalopram) And Alcohol — Interactions

The Risks of Drinking Alcohol While Taking Lexapro

Any time you are prescribed a new medication, it’s important to understand everything you can about the drug before beginning to take it. Many medications can have side effects as well as interactions with other drugs, so it’s imperative that you know what to avoid when taking certain medications.

Some prescribed drugs, as well as over-the-counter medications, cannot be taken with alcohol. One such medication is escitalopram, or Lexapro. This is a commonly prescribed medication for depression and other mental health disorders.

If you are currently taking Lexapro, it’s important to avoid drinking alcohol while on this medication. Doing so can potentially cause serious side effects, such as drowsiness and increased anxiety.

What Is Lexapro (Escitalopram)?

Lexapro, or escitalopram, is an antidepressant commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and depression. Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI. SSRIs work on the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain to boost the mood and minimize feelings of anxiety.

SSRIs are a very commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Before a physician prescribes a new medication, he or she will first evaluate the patient’s medical history and go over any potential side effects that the new drug may cause.

Before beginning any new medication, you will need to discuss any current drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines, as well as the activities you regularly participate in, such as drinking. This is because some medications can cause interactions with other drugs or alcohol that can be severe or even life-threatening.

Can You Mix Lexapro And Alcohol?

While there has not been substantial testing on the interactions of Lexapro and alcohol, it is still advised to not mix the two drugs. Both substances affect the brain, and any interactions that may occur can potentially be serious.

Any time you drink while taking Lexapro, you are taking a risk. If you do choose to drink alcohol while taking Lexapro, it’s important to first discuss this with your doctor and keep your drinking to a moderate level.

Dangers Of Mixing Lexapro And Alcohol

When mixing any two substances, there is always a danger of potential side effects. This is especially true when mixing an antidepressant Lexapro and alcohol. While not everyone will experience side effects, it’s important to be familiar with the potential interactions that may occur.

Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro can cause a number of side effects and can worsen any side effects that may be caused by Lexapro on its own. For example, side effects nausea, dry mouth, sleepiness, dizziness, diarrhea, and insomnia may become more severe when drinking.

Additionally, anxiety and depression can worsen when using alcohol and Lexapro together. This is because alcohol can lower the ability of Lexapro to treat the symptoms you are taking the drug for. As a result, it is best to avoid alcohol to ensure that Lexapro is working to its fullest potential.

Effects Of Mixing Lexapro And Alcohol

In addition to worsened side effects and decreased efficacy of Lexapro, there are additional risks when mixing Lexapro and alcohol.

Mixing these two substances can put you at an elevated risk for alcoholism. Many people who are taking Lexapro are experiencing depression. Depression can lead individuals to consume drugs or alcohol in an attempt to deal with the symptoms and negative feelings of this mental health disorder.

However, alcohol can lessen the ability of Lexapro to treat the symptoms of depression. This, in turn, can cause individuals to drink more to cope.

As a result of increased drinking in an attempt to deal with depression, other risks inevitably arise. One of these risks is liver damage as a result of increased consumption of alcohol.

The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins such as alcohol, and when high amounts of the substance are consumed, the liver cannot keep up, causing alcohol to be stored in the liver and slowly deteriorate this important organ.

Combining Lexapro and alcohol can also increase your risk of suicidal thoughts. One side effect of Lexapro is the increased risk for suicide, especially in individuals younger than age 24. Because alcohol increases your risk for depression, mixing Lexapro and drinking can elevate your risk for suicide.

Side Effects Of Lexapro

Possible side effects of Lexapro include:

  • nausea
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • dry mouth
  • increased appetite
  • dizziness
  • heartburn
  • unusual sweating

These side effects, if they occur at all, tend to subside after the first few weeks of taking the drug. More serious side effects that are less common include lowered sex drive or diminished interest in sex, muscle stiffness, irregular heartbeat, fainting, fever, and panic attacks. While highly uncommon, if these symptoms arise, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Long-Term Effects Of Mixing Alcohol And Lexapro

While there are no known long-term effects of mixing alcohol and Lexapro, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. Many of the short-term effects can worsen over time when combining alcohol and Lexapro.

Because Lexapro is a drug used for long-term treatment of anxiety and depression, it’s important to discuss drinking while on this medication with your doctor.

Your physician may say that it is okay to consume alcohol on an occasional basis, or he or she may suggest that you avoid alcohol entirely while on this drug.

Everyone’s situation is different, and it is imperative to follow the advice given by your physician.

Medically Supervised Detox Programs For Alcohol Abuse

Drinking alcohol excessively for an extended period of time puts you at high risk for alcohol use disorder. If you are suffering from alcohol addiction, a medically supervised detox program is the first step to recovery.

While detoxing from alcohol alone is certainly possible, it’s not recommended, especially if you have a high physical dependence on the substance. Withdrawing from alcohol can not only be incredibly uncomfortable but can lead to severe symptoms that can be dangerous or even life-threatening.

A medically supervised detox program offers the medical support needed to ensure that you withdraw from alcohol as safely and comfortably as possible. Detox programs can last anywhere from one to 10 days and are generally offered in a medical environment, such as a hospital or treatment facility.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start as soon two hours after your last drink and can last for days or even weeks depending on your physical dependence on the substance. Mild symptoms include shaky hands, nausea, excessive sweating, trouble sleeping, and vomiting.

Individuals with higher physical dependence are also at risk for more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms can include hallucinations or seizures, both of which require immediate medical attention.

Additionally, if physical dependence is severe enough, individuals may even experience delirium tremens, commonly referred to as DTs.

Delirium tremens can begin as soon as two to three days after the last drink and can be life-threatening. Symptoms of this condition include shaking, confusion, hallucinations, and high blood pressure.

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Medications For Alcohol Withdrawal

Some treatment facilities and detox programs will administer medications to help the detoxification process as easy as possible.

One of the most popular drugs used in the treatment of an alcohol use disorder is naltrexone, which has the brand name of Vivitrol.

This medication is often administered intramuscularly once a month and works by stopping the action of alcohol on the body and brain. This helps patients by reducing cravings for alcohol and helping to prevent relapse.

Inpatient Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction

Once a detox program has been completed successfully, the next step is to enter a treatment program for alcohol abuse and addiction. Inpatient rehab programs are one of the most commonly suggested forms of treatment for an alcohol use disorder. These programs provide a high level of structure and intensive therapy on a daily basis.

Inpatient rehab programs require patients to reside in the treatment for an extended period of time, usually between 30 and 60 days. Each rehab facility will be different, but most tend to focus on a particular form of treatment and integrate other therapies to provide a comprehensive approach to recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Some treatment facilities incorporate medication-assisted treatment (MAT) into their overall plan of recovery. Some of the most commonly used medications in the treatment of alcoholism include naltrexone (Vivitrol, ReVia), disulfiram (Antabuse), and acamprosate calcium (Campral).

Vivitrol works by preventing alcohol to cause a euphoric effect in the mind and body, helping to reduce alcohol cravings. Campral is a drug that helps to reduce physical and emotional distress once the alcohol has left the system. Antabuse works by causing individuals to become ill if alcohol is ingested, helping to prevent relapse.

Outpatient Treatment For Alcohol Dependence

If you have a more mild form of alcohol use disorder or are unable to get away from daily responsibilities such as work or school for an extended period of time, another treatment option for alcoholism is outpatient alcohol rehab. These programs are still intensive but do not require patients to live at the facility and allow individuals to continue to go to work or school while receiving treatment.


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