If you’ve recently been prescribed antidepressants, congratulations! You’re taking action to improve your mental health, and you’ve decided that medication is the right path for you. If you’re one of the 500,000 Delawarians that consume alcohol, however, this could mean a lifestyle change for you.
At SUN Behavioral Health Delaware, we know it can be difficult to stop drinking alcohol when you’re taking antidepressants. If you’re wondering how much you can drink while taking your medications, this article is for you. Let’s talk about how alcohol affects antidepressants, and how much is actually safe to consume.
Alcohol and antidepressants don’t go together. If you’ve ever looked at the side of your antidepressant bottle, it likely says something along the lines of “do not take with alcohol” – and for good reason. While some physicians allow their patients to drink in moderation with their medication (1 glass for women, 2 for men), most of them will ask you to steer clear. But why? What’s the big deal?
There are a variety of reasons why alcohol and antidepressants shouldn’t be taken together. Let’s talk about some of the most likely scenarios:
It doesn’t take much alcohol to impact the way your antidepressants work. Depending on the type of antidepressant you’re on, as little as 1 drink per night can impact your mental and physical health. That’s why it’s important that you communicate with your doctor. If you don’t want to give up your glass of wine each night, it may play a role in what your doctor decides to prescribe you. If you’re living with an alcohol use disorder, your doctor may ask that you seek treatment for that before you start an antidepressant routine.
If you’re unable to stop drinking while taking antidepressants, it could be a sign that you’re developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. If your doctor is asking that you abstain from alcohol, or that you moderate your drinking, and you find that you can’t – it might be time to seek treatment.
Almost 25% of people managing a mood disorder (like depression) use alcohol to self-medicate. Unfortunately, while drinking can make you feel better in the moment, it destroys mental health over time. One of the reasons antidepressants are prescribed is to eliminate the need for self-medication. If you’ve found the right medication, your desire to “drink away the pain” should decrease. Your medication can’t do its job if you’re unable to stop drinking.
That being said, enjoying alcohol does not make you an alcoholic. Not everyone who drinks while taking antidepressants has an alcohol use disorder. Everyone’s situation is unique.
If you’ve been using alcohol as a form of self-medication, it’s going to be a massive change to switch to antidepressants. You may still be tempted to self-medicate with alcohol, especially on the hard days. This history of using alcohol as a way to de-stress or unwind could put you at risk of mixing alcohol and antidepressants in the future. If you’re worried about this happening, tell your doctor. Remember: antidepressants won’t make you feel better instantly.
Many of them take up to 6-8 weeks to start working. If you’re tempted to self-medicate with alcohol during this time, speak with your clinician. There are ways your treatment plan can be modified to suit your needs. Therapy may also be useful during this time.
If you or someone you love is having a hard time controlling how much alcohol you drink (or how often you drink), it might be time to seek treatment. At SUN Behavioral Delaware, we know that every patient’s healing journey is unique. That’s why we offer a large variety of treatment programs for alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol detox happens in the first 72 hours after your last drink. It’s the process your body goes through to flush the alcohol out of its system. During this time, your body is working hard to rid itself of any toxins left behind. This is when withdrawal symptoms usually start, peak, and subside.
SUN Behavioral Health’s Alcohol Detox happens during this time. You’ll come in and meet with one of our clinicians to be assessed for your needs and to create some goals for yourself. People who choose detox stay in our facility so we can monitor their condition, treat their withdrawal symptoms, and help them heal safely and efficiently.
Inpatient treatment provides patients with a stable and supportive environment. Here, they can focus on their recovery while being surrounded by trained and licensed professionals and others who are going through the same thing.
During inpatient treatment, patients stay on sight at the rehab facility 24/7. They get to experience a wide variety of activities and programs during their day from individual therapy sessions and group sessions to activities such as yoga or hobbies that help rebuild new habits and focus the mind on healing.
If inpatient treatment doesn’t work for your schedule or your lifestyle, outpatient, and PHP can help. Outpatient programs can also act as a stepping stone between inpatient and the end of treatment. This type of care usually does not require patients to stay at the facility while being treated. When visiting the facility, patients spend time in customized sessions throughout the day. This can be beneficial for full-time employees seeking treatment because it allows patients to continue to maintain a life outside of treatment.
If you or someone you know is living with an alcohol use disorder, SUN Behavioral Health Delaware can help. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our available treatment options, call us today at 302-604-5600 so we can help you get your life back.
While some antidepressants (like SSRIs) shouldn’t cause too much harm when mixed with the occasional drink, others (like MAOIs) should never be combined with alcohol. Make sure you speak with your doctor before consuming alcohol while taking antidepressants.
Take your next dose on time. Don’t skip a dose. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned or if you’ve consumed a large amount of alcohol.