Lexapro is a common SSRI antidepressant and a good option for people with certain mental disorders. However, all antidepressants have some side effects and limitations that are important to consider, and may mean that you need to change your everyday behavior when starting a new prescription for antidepressants.
SSRIs are some of the safest antidepressants, which is one reason that Lexapro and other SSRIs are often the first antidepressants your doctor will recommend.
However, mixing SSRIs and alcohol isn’t a good idea. Here’s what you need to know about SSRIs and alcohol, why it can be dangerous, and why mixing alcohol and Lexapro might be a sign of an underlying addiction or substance use disorder.
If you’re considering mixing Lexapro and alcohol or are worried about a loved one that is mixing Lexapro and alcohol, you’re in the right place.
What Are The Side-Effects Of Lexapro And Alcohol?
We’ll talk a bit more about what happens when you mix Lexapro and alcohol in the next section, but first, let’s dive into some of the side effects of mixing Lexapro and alcohol.
Remember, your experience may differ, and the more additional medications you take, the more different side effects you might have when you drink alcohol.
Your side effects are also more likely to be severe or harmful the higher your dose of Lexapro and the more alcohol you drink in one sitting.
Possible side effects include:
- Negative moods
- Excessive Sleepiness
- Mood Swings
- Impaired memory
- Impaired concentration
- Slurred speech
- Slowed breathing
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased violent or aggressive behavior
- Nausea and vomiting
- More severe hangover symptoms that last longer
If you’re taking any medications in addition to Lexapro, it’s important to make sure you contact a pharmacist and learn more about the risks of mixing all of your medications and alcohol before drinking. Alcohol can change how some medications work, may increase your chances of getting a medication interaction that could be harmful, and may make it more difficult for your body to process and eliminate alcohol from your system.
If you have any increase in your symptoms of depression and anxiety after drinking while taking Lexapro, that may be because of the negative effects of alcohol.
These symptoms are in addition to the basic problems of mixing Lexapro and alcohol, which aren’t so many side effects as the natural effects of both drugs.
What Happens When You Mix Lexapro And Alcohol?
One of the biggest reasons that doctors recommend you don’t drink if you’re taking SSRIs, including Lexapro, is that alcohol is a depressant.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that alcohol makes you depressed. Depressants are drugs that slow your central nervous system, which can be used to deal with various symptoms and problems.
That said, alcohol isn’t a viable treatment like other drugs. If you need a depressant effect to deal with a health problem, your doctor will prescribe a safer and more easily dosed depressant that doesn’t have as many negative side effects.
At the same time, depressants aren’t usually a good idea for people dealing with depression because they can make some of the symptoms of depression worse, both short-term and long-term.
In addition, some of the side effects of Lexapro can be made worse by alcohol and other depressants. Especially things like feeling fatigued and having trouble with sexual arousal. Since alcohol can have the same effect on some people, the two drugs together can have a much stronger effect.
Like some other medications, SSRIs and alcohol can create side effects worse than the side effects of either medication alone. You also can’t predict the side effects by combining them. The drugs can work to have stronger effects than would normally happen at the same dose.
People who use either drug can have the following side effects, but they are likely to be much stronger and harder to deal with in people who use both Lexapro and alcohol:
- Liver problems
- Worsening depression
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Extreme fatigue and lethargy
- High blood pressure.
Over time, alcohol use can also make the symptoms of anxiety and depression worse. A drink can affect your mood and energy levels for several days, long after the alcohol buzz goes away. The more often you drink and drink in each sitting, the longer the effects are likely to last.
That means mixing Lexapro and alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of Lexapro for treating depression and anxiety. That might lead some people to drink more alcohol to relieve their negative moods that are no longer being managed by Lexapro, which makes the Lexapro even less effective, creating a vicious cycle.
Suppose you’re working with a doctor to manage your moods, which is common in depression and anxiety. In that case, that feedback loop may additionally lead to your doctor increasing the dose of Lexapro, adding another SSRI, or adding a different kind of medication that can help your mood.
Unfortunately, the higher doses or additional medications can make drinking alcohol even riskier and the consequences more severe.
People who take Lexapro for depression or anxiety may also be at increased risk for substance use disorders. Therefore, the urge to mix alcohol with Lexapro, especially if you feel the need to drink regularly, could mean you have a deeper problem.
Can Mixing Drugs Like Lexapro And Alcohol Point To An Underlying Addiction?
Wanting to consistently drink alcohol, by itself, can be a sign that you have a substance use disorder, alcoholism. Alcohol addiction is relatively common in our culture, in part because alcohol is highly accepted and because there can be a lot of peer and professional pressure to engage in drinking.
But when you’re taking Lexapro, there are more reasons to be concerned about drinking behavior, especially excessive drinking behavior and alcoholic substance use disorder.
People with almost any mental illness are more likely to become addicted to substances. The substance doesn’t necessarily matter, but easy access to alcohol in our culture can make it one of the easiest drugs to get addicted to.
Whether you have an addiction or not, wanting to drink alcohol while you’re taking Lexapro can be a sign that you may need more coping mechanisms in your life, better support, or a higher dose of the medication.
Addiction is complicated, and spotting addition to alcohol is often harder in our society because of the widespread acceptance of alcohol use. But, if you suspect that you might be addicted, drink more often than you should, or have more drinks in a single sitting than you should, those can all be good indicators of a problem.
If you suspect that you might be dealing with an underlying addiction, it’s important to consider treatment options and what you can do to help manage your addiction and mental health.
Dual diagnosis, where you have both mental health disorders and at least one substance use disorder, can make treating both disorders much more difficult.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should give up hope. It just means that it’s important to get the help and support you need and that it may be more important to consider treatment centers and medical assistance.
What To Do If You’re Addicted To Mixing Drugs Like Lexapro And Alcohol
If you are addicted to mixing alcohol and Lexapro, especially if you have a history of addiction or risk factors for addiction, like neglect or abuse, it’s important to get help with your addiction. Mixing Lexapro and alcohol can lead to many potentially dangerous side effects and conditions and may mean that your Lexapro doesn’t do what it’s supposed to for your mood and mental state.
If you suspect that you might be dealing with an addiction, the first step is to reach out for support and resources. Next, you can ask trusted friends and family for help finding resources and providing emotional support while trying to recover from your addiction.
You can also talk to your primary care physician to see what addiction resources are in your area. Your physician may also recommend additional medications, temporarily lowering your dose of Lexapro or other protective measures to ensure you’re as safe as possible while dealing with your addiction.
If you’re committed to overcoming your addiction but are worried that dual diagnosis problems or your mental health and history might make it more difficult to overcome your addiction, treatment centers may be a good option.
Ocean Recovery has the experience and skill needed to help you manage a dual diagnosis addiction, to help you find healthier coping mechanisms to manage your mental health and find meaning and joy in life without mixing Lexapro and alcohol.
Does that sound like the right place for you? Reach out to Ocean Recovery today.
Ocean Recovery has sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our Editorial Policy.
- Silva JC. Mixing Lexapro and alcohol: Side effects and risks. Published July 25, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322569
- Cherney K. The Effects of Mixing Lexapro and Alcohol. Healthline. Published September 17, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/lexapro-and-alcohol
- 3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription CNS Depressants DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published March 6, 2018. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-cns-depressants