Doctors usually advise you to avoid alcohol while taking certain medicines, especially those used to treat mental illness. Although it is fair to assume that drowsiness is the main problem, there may be other more serious consequences of mixing alcohol with biphasic drugs.
Whether you are a heavy drinker or an occasional drinker, alcohol can disrupt your treatment and increase the risk of drug toxicity, side effects, and even suicide.
Bipolar disorder and alcohol use
Bipolar disorder and substance use disorder often go hand in hand. According to a 2014 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people with mental health disorders experience substance use disorders more frequently than the general population.
This is mainly because co-occurring diseases such as substance abuse and bipolar disorder (BP) are usually treated as a single problem rather than a separate entity. Therefore, the symptoms suggesting bipolar depression or mania may actually be related to drinking problems and not being treated. vice versa.
Research published in Journal of Affective Disorders The conclusion is that alcohol abuse is the most common substance use disorder among patients with bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.
According to the analysis of extensive studies, no less than 30% of patients with bipolar disorder meet the clinical definition of substance abuse disorder (SUD). Of these, 42% are classified as alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). 20% of BP patients abuse cannabis, followed by 11% of cocaine and methamphetamine. Men with BP are two to three times more likely to suffer from AUD than women with BP.
Complications of BP and AUD
Alcoholism can complicate the treatment of bipolar disorder. Drinking alcohol can impair your judgment, make you more impulsive, and increase the risk of suicide, injury, hospitalization, and sexually transmitted infections (such as HIV). According to research, people with BP and AUD have almost twice the risk of suicide attempts than people with BP alone.
In addition, the effects of alcohol on people’s mood and judgment can make it more difficult to adhere to drug treatment, thereby destroying the goals of treatment.
Because of these inherent risks, if you suffer from bipolar disorder, it is best to abstain from alcohol altogether. Not only will drinking alcohol worsen your blood pressure symptoms, but it may be much more difficult to stay awake when faced with a double diagnosis.
The following psychotropic drugs may have serious interactions with alcohol, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening:
Group A: Anti-anxiety and sedative drugs
This group of drugs includes benzodiazepines and certain prescription sleeping pills, such as:
- Ambien (Zolpidem)
- Ativan (Lorazepam)
- Clonazepam (clonazepam)
- Lunesta (right Zopiclone)
- Prosom (estazolam)
- Restoril (temazepam)
- Sominex (Diphenhydramine)
- Valium (Diazepam)
- Xanax (Alprazolam)
Group B: Tricyclic antidepressants
Tricyclic antidepressants are older drugs used to treat severe mood disorders, including:
- Anafranil (clomipramine)
- Ilavir (amitriptyline)
- Nopmine (desipramine)
Group C: SSRI and SNRI antidepressants
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) antidepressants include:
- Celexa (Citalopram)
- Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
- Effexor (Venlafaxine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Luvox (fluvoxamine)
- Paroxetine (Paroxetine)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
Group D: Atypical antidepressants
Atypical antidepressants are newer antidepressants and include:
- Desyrel, Oleptrol (trazodone)
- Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Serzone (Nefazodone)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
St. John’s Wort is an herbal supplement that is believed to have antidepressant effects and is also included in this group of drugs and has many other potentially dangerous interactions.
Group E: Anticonvulsants
Anticonvulsants used as mood stabilizers for BP patients include:
- Lamictal (Lamotrigine)
- Ticagrelol (carbamazepine)
Group F: mood stabilizers
Other commonly used mood stabilizers include:
- Depakene, Depakote (Valproic acid)
- Lithobid, Eskalith (lithium)
Group G: Antipsychotics
Examples of antipsychotics used in biphasic therapy include:
- Abilify (aripiprazole)
- Geodon (ziprasidone)
- Risperidone (risperidone)
- Seroquel (quetiapine)
- Zaipule (olanzapine)
|Drowsiness or dizziness||All groups|
|Increased risk of overdose||Groups A, B, C and G|
|Slow breathing or difficulty breathing||Group A and Group D|
|Damaged motor control||Groups A, F and G|
|Abnormal behavior||Group A, D, F|
|Memory problem||Group A and Group D|
|Depression worsens||Groups B, C, F and G|
|Loss of effectiveness of antidepressants||Group B & C|
|Increased risk of suicide or suicidal ideation (especially among teenagers and young adults)||Group B & C|
|Convulsions and heart rhythm disturbances||Group B|
|Liver damage||Group C (Duloxetine) and Group F (Valproic acid)|
|Increase the effects of alcohol||Group D (bupropion)|
|Upset stomach||Group F|
|Muscle or joint pain||Group F|
|Loss of appetite||Group F|
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Some over-the-counter products, especially cough syrups and laxatives, may contain enough alcohol to interact with your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they are safe to use.
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