Prescription medications are some of the most abused substances. This is largely due to the fact that they are easy to access and can carry “desirable” effects.
Prescription drugs are sometimes abused with alcohol to emphasize or increase the effect of the substance.
However, mixing prescriptions with alcohol is never a wise idea. Many substances, like phentermine, are known to have unpleasant or even dangerous effects when mixed with alcohol.
Breakdown of Phentermine
Phentermine–also known by its brand names as Adipex P or Lomaira–belongs to a unique stimulant subclass of drugs known as anorectics.
Doctors prescribe anorectics to help patients overcome obesity. Due to its unique effect of hunger suppression with few-to-no side effects, it is a valuable medication for individuals who are experiencing health complications due to weight.
The side effects of phentermine are relatively mild compared to some other prescription drugs. While there are some rare side effects that can be dangerous, the most common reported symptoms are usually just ‘unpleasant.’
In the brain, phentermine causes the release of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is responsible for the brain’s reaction to stress responses and emergency situations.
The medication suppresses the hunger sensation in the brain and also acts upon the rest of the body by releasing adrenaline and epinephrine. Together, these two chemicals communicate to the body to break down fat, further helping the treatment of obesity.
Phentermine diminishes in effectiveness over time, so prescriptions for it are usually short-term. Three months is around the maximum amount of time that a phentermine prescription lasts.
After as few as three weeks, the effectiveness of the substance weakens, and the treatment no longer benefits the patient. The eventual lack of effectiveness seems inevitable, but tolerance might not be to blame.
Though the substance might appear to be dangerous if taken for extended periods of time, there has been little demonstrated abuse potential for phentermine.
Phentermine Abuse Potential
Stimulants are notorious for having substances that have a high potential for abuse: methamphetamine and cocaine are two of the most recognizable illicit substances.
However, not all stimulants hold the potential for abuse. Despite multiple studies exploring the potential for abuse of phentermine, no recorded cases have emerged.
Phentermine also does not appear to affect withdrawal symptoms upon users. This likely has to do with the way that the substance interacts with the chemicals of the brain.
Many addictive substances interact with either dopamine or serotonin. Since phentermine interacts only with norepinephrine, this might explain why patients who have taken it for long periods of time do not experience withdrawal symptoms.
While a chemical dependence to phentermine is extremely unlikely to develop, psychological dependence might be another story.
Psychological dependence has to do with an individual’s specific thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes towards a substance. Even if a substance is not chemically addictive, someone who takes it for an extended period of time might become so accustomed to the pattern, that it forms an attachment phenomenon mirroring addiction.
For phentermine, this might become a problem since it inhibits hunger. Extreme weight loss as a result of abusing phentermine could bring its own health complications.
Mixing Phentermine And Alcohol
When mixed, the side effects of either alcohol or phentermine may worsen to unpleasant levels. Sometimes “new” side effects may even develop as a direct result of the combination.
One of the major reasons to avoid the combination is due to the area that each of these substances affect.
Both phentermine and alcohol interact with the central nervous system. Together, they may trigger unexpected and unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, trouble concentrating, and mood swings.
Additionally, alcohol can make losing weight more difficult. Even if no interaction occurs, drinking alcohol–especially in excess–blocks phentermine’s effectiveness by encouraging weight gain. The most serious interaction between the two, however, occurs in the heart.
Since both phentermine and alcohol can cause an increased heart rate, the combination can cause dangerously irregular cardiac function. Individuals dealing with obesity are already at greater risk for heart complications, so this can be especially risky.
It is better to err on the side of caution with phentermine and alcohol and avoid drinking while taking this prescription.
Help for Psychological Dependence and Polysubstance Abuse
Fortunately, phentermine shows very little risk of addiction, but this does not mean it is beyond the capacity for abuse. Psychological dependence can be just as debilitating as chemical dependence–and may even have longer-lasting effects.
If you suspect someone you love may be dependent upon any prescription medication or combining them regularly with alcohol, it’s important to seek professional advice. Reach out to us today to speak with one of our caring, professional staff about how to identify addictive behaviors and practical options.