Alcohol is one of the most widely misused drugs in the world. Given its high popularity and presence in modern culture, it is no surprise that some people experiment and mix alcohol with other drugs. Unfortunately, the dangers of mixing alcohol with other drugs will almost always cause a negative reaction. Prozac and alcohol is a common combination with many people not realizing the dangers.
What is Prozac?
Prozac (brand name fluoxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It is used to treat major depressive disorder, bulimia, nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder. It is taken daily in pill or in liquid form and is typically taken for weeks at a time as a long-term treatment option. Fluoxetine works by binding to neurotransmitters in the brain and preventing the release of serotonin. By preventing the release of the chemical, it begins to build up in the brain which improves the transmission of neurons. Ultimately this causes a temporary elevation in mood and can cause euphoric effects. SSRIs are considered selective because they do not affect the release of any other neurotransmitters and are the most common type of antidepressants. Other types of SSRIs used to treat depression include Lexapro, Paxil and Celexa.
In 2017, the National Institute of Mental Health reported that 17.3 million Americans reported dealing with at least one major depressive episode. Further, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that 1 in 5 US adults will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. With mental illness on the rise, it is not surprising to see an increasing number of people getting prescriptions for antidepressants such as Prozac. More access to antidepressants may encourage the mixed use with alcohol which can be dangerous.
Common side effects of Prozac are:
- Dry mouth
How long does Prozac stay in your system?
Prozac is a long-term drug. Its main chemical, Fluoxetine has a half-life of around 2-4 days whereas its metabolite (norfluoxetine) has a half-life of 7-15 days. A half-life is the determination of how long it takes for a chemical to breakdown into half of its original strength. Therefore, it can take around 4 weeks to completely remove Prozac from the body.
What is Alcohol
Alcohol is a very common drug so naturally, most people know what it is. However, it can still be beneficial to understand what kind of effects it has on the body as it can inform you on how it will interact with a drug. What people most commonly refer to as alcohol is actually ethanol. It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant which works to slow breathing, heart rate and cognitive function. Some believe that in low doses, alcohol works as a stimulant. This is because it can make people feel more relaxed or can take the edge off in social situations. However, this is not entirely true as those feelings of relaxation and calm are created by the depressive effects of the alcohol. How much the alcohol affects you really depends on various body composition factors such as how much you have eaten, body weight and drinking history.
Some common side effects of alcohol include:
- Slurred speech
- Upset stomach
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
- Decreased perception and coordination
Mixing Prozac and Alcohol
The purpose of Prozac is to provide a calming effect and elevate mood. However, similarly to alcohol, Prozac can cause motor coordination and movement to worsen and can also affect alertness. The synergistic effects of mixing two drugs that affect movement and attention can cause an overall powerful depressive effect on your body’s nervous system. Further, the combination of the two can cause extreme drowsiness which can in turn lead to dangerous behavior. If you take Prozac and drink a light amount of alcohol- one you are usually comfortable driving with, you may not notice the overpowering effects until it is too late. The abuse of multiple drugs is polysubstance abuse.
Effects of Mixing
An important tip to keep in mind is that alcohol tends to enhance the effects of any other drugs combined and vice versa. So in general, mixing alcohol with any sort of drug should always be avoided. Mixing Prozac and alcohol can also lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. It is possible for alcohol to be a catalyst for depressive thoughts and feelings. Thus, drinking alcohol while dealing with symptoms of depression is not advised.
Even though Prozac should help reduce your symptoms of depression, the alcohol will likely be overpowering. One study even found that the “level of baseline alcohol consumption was significantly related to poorer response to Fluoxetine in a sample of depressed outpatients who did not abuse substances” and that alcohol use in general causes individuals to stop taking antidepressants for treatment.
It is also possible that the loss of effectiveness with Prozac can lead to less effective treatment with other drugs such as Lexapro.
Other side effects of mixing Prozac and Alcohol include:
- Worsening depressive condition
- The effectiveness of Prozac decreases
- Decreased alertness
- Increase risk of alcohol addition
You do not need to take Prozac and alcohol at the same time to feel their mixed effects. Prozac is a long-term medication. Its main chemical Fluoxetine and the other metabolites/chemicals will last in your body for some time. Subsequently, taking alcohol at any point during that period can cause a mixed reaction.
Prozac is meant to help a number of conditions, and for many it does. However, it should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Mixing two substances can be very dangerous. Further, it can be made even worse if you are dealing with depression or alcohol abuse. If you or a loved one is dealing with depression or drug abuse, please contact us today.