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Zoloft and Alcohol

Oftentimes, persons struggling with substance abuse will combine various drugs and alcohol in order to produce heightened effects. What most people are unaware of, however, are the specific interactions from combining substances. One such combination is Zoloft and Alcohol; though commonly taken together, this mix can be dangerous and even fatal. 

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft, also known as Sertraline, is a prescription medication taken orally, belonging to the class of antidepressants known as SSRIs.  Zoloft is frequently a prescription to treat conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Especially for persons displaying depression symptoms, Zoloft is known to improve mood, energy, and ‘zest for life’. However, there are numerous side effects which can occur, including diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, and decreased libido.

In terms of efficacy, Zoloft (and other SSRIs) have been proven advantageous in treating persons suffering from melancholic depression as compared to Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs). This other class of antidepressants, TCAs, is more effective in treating severe depression in inpatient settings.

What is an SSRI?

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are a category of antidepressants, whose distinguishing characteristic is an increased level of serotonin in the brain. This neurotransmitter, Serotonin, is primarily responsible for feelings of happiness and contentment. The process by which this occurs is scientifically complex, as are all matters relating to neurochemistry. Put simply, serotonin is “held in place” (inhibited) so that is more available for neurons (brain cells). While Zoloft is an SSRI, it is not the only; other SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Pexeva. 

How long does Zoloft stay in your system?

In order to understand how long Zoloft stays in your system, it is important to understand the concept of half-life.  In the world of substances, half-life refers to how long it takes for 50% of a drug to be gone from a person’s body.  So, for instance, if a substance’s half-life is one week, then it is 50% out of the system after one week.

For Zoloft, the half-life is approximately 25-26 hours.  Thus, after one day, the levels of Zoloft in a person’s system will be decreased by 50%.  Two days after stopping usage, the levels will be at 25%.  This process continues until Zoloft has completely left the body.  

Is Zoloft Addictive?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedules or categorizes thousands of drugs based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. Zoloft, and by extension, Sertraline, is not included in the Controlled Substance Act, and thus has no scheduling attached.  SSRIs in general are not classified as controlled substances.

Because of this, most do not typically regard Zoloft as addictive or narcotic.  When compared to other prescription medications, such as opiates and benzodiazepines, many feel that Zoloft is not dangerous.  

However, many persons taking Zoloft can become psychologically and physically dependent.  This mostly occurs when individuals attempt to wean themselves off of the drug, and discover that there are in fact withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms can include aggression, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and paranoia.  

If you are currently prescribed Zoloft and would like to stop taking it, please consult with your doctor first.  Withdrawal symptoms can and do occur if an individual rapidly decreases the level of the medication in their system.  Speaking with your doctor about how to effectively wean off of the medication will save you lots of uncomfortability.

Mixing Zoloft and Alcohol

While Zoloft on its own, following a prescription, is generally safe, the combination of Zoloft with other substances can be dangerous. The most common co-occurring substance people use with Zoloft is alcohol.  

Again, Zoloft is not typically dangerous. When combined with alcohol, there are many side-effects that can occur, because of how the biochemistry behind the two substances interact. Some of the side effects potentially include:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Drowsiness

Alcohol and Zoloft share these common side effects, and when combined in the system, the side effects tend to be amplified. For this reason, the FDA has recommended not drinking alcohol while prescribed Zoloft.  

One more piece to be aware of is that both alcohol and Zoloft affect levels of serotonin in the brain. Remember, Zoloft is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor); it actively affects serotonin levels in order to mitigate depression symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it will commonly exacerbate symptoms of depression.  Mixing the two is not advisable.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction to Zoloft and alcohol? If you need help, please call us today so that we can provide adequate information and education. Or, keep reading about other drug combinations here!

ETOH Abuse

ETOH is the chemical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol, and is usually synonymous with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3% of Americans over the age of 18 have reported consuming alcohol at some point in their life. A further 26.45% of Americans engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Given the popularity of alcohol, it is not surprising how prevalent ETOH abuse is.

What is ETOH?

ETOH, or ethanol, is the main substance found in alcohol. ETOH is responsible for any alcoholic beverage’s intoxicating effects. Ethanol is able to move through your body quickly. It passes through your bloodstream and heart, eventually reaching the brain where it begins to depress the central nervous system. Here, the feel-good chemical dopamine is released and begins to attach to nerve receptors. This is one of the reasons that alcohol can be so addictive. Your body craves things that make you feel good in order to get you to repeat certain behaviors. Dopamine is released during activities such as eating, sex, or taking certain drugs.

The brain slows down when ethanol binds to glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for exciting neurons. By binding to the glutamate, it can no longer become active and therefore slows brain function down. Ethanol also activates the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which in turn makes you feel sleepy and calm. 

Some of the most common types of alcoholic beverages include beer, wine, and spirits. The “proof” is the standard for measuring a drink’s strenth. The United States’ preferred measuring system, the proof is double the alcohol by volume (ABV) in a drink. Whiskey, for example, is 50% alcohol by volume, and therefore 100 proof. Some beverages have such a high alcohol content (such as Everclear, which is 95% ABV, or 190 proof) that certain states restrict them.

ETOH Abuse

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

Your liver is primarily responsible for breaking down the ethanol alcohol as it enters the body. However, most livers can only process so much alcohol at a time (around one ounce of liquor per hour). Once it reaches a certain point, the liver cannot process any more alcohol. The alcohol then proceeds into the bloodstream, where it creates an intoxicating effect.

While proof or ABV plays a big role intoxication levels, many other factors can make a difference. These include age, gender, body composition, and drinking history. For example, a person with a low body fat percentage will feel alcohol’s effects more quickly than someone with more body fat. Additionally, an individual with a longer history of drinking can develop a “tolerance.” This means they will feel less than someone who has never had a drink before.

ETOH Abuse

 ETOH abuse

Long-term ETOH abuse can cause severe damage to your organs and take a toll on the body and mind. Some long-term effects of ETOH abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Liver failure/disease 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk for cancer

Another component of alcohol abuse is the increased likelihood of engaging in dangerous or reckless behavior. In the U.S. alone, drunk drivers cause approximately 1 in 3 car accidents in the United States. (These collisions kill 30 people every day.) While moderate drinking is usually safe, binge drinking or long-term dependent drinking can increase your chances of death.

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

ETOH Abuse

Age, gender and body composition all help determine how long alcohol’s effects will last. It can usually be detected in the body for some time after the effects wear off.

Treatment

Another component of alcohol abuse is mental health. Most alcohol treatment groups and centers spend a great deal of time treating mental health issues. Mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety are often a major reason why people start drinking. While the problem is difficult, it is not impossible to overcome. As with many addictions, seeking professional help gives you the best chance of reaching lifetime recovery. Instead of just managing substance abuse symptoms, an addiction specialist will try to diagnose and treat the root cause. It is also important to have close circles of support, such as AA groups, to encourage sobriety. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, please contact us today.

Sleeping Pill Overdose

When people think about overdosing, sleeping pills are usually on the bottom of the list of drugs that can cause an overdose. Many individuals seem to think that sleeping pills improve the quality of sleep and therefore it has to be ok or at the very least, harmless to the body. Realistically, how much damage could come from sleeping? Unfortunately, the dangers of sleeping pills is commonly underestimated and can cause your sleep to worsen, and potentially result in permanent damage or even death. 

Sleep 101

Sleep feels amazing. There is no doubt about that. However, many people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. According to the Sleep Research Society (SRS), the US economy loses $63 billion each year due to loss in productivity related to insomnia. Further, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that nearly 35% of Americans do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. The causes of insomnia and other sleep issues are very complex. In some cases, there are reports of family history, depression, increasing work hours and even obesity as a cause for insomnia. Other issues such as the blue light emitted from our devices can contribute to sleep disorders. 

sleeping pill overdose

Millions of Americans use sleeping pills to help achieve better sleep and there are many options to pick from. For example, Benzodiazepine (benzos) sedatives are powerful prescription medications which sedate the body. Benzos are a less popular option due to the high potential for developing a dependence to the drug. Other popular options include Ambien, a sedative which falls under the hypnotic class of drugs, or Melatonin, a very common OTC sleep aid.

sleeping pill overdose

Can You Overdose on Sleeping Pills?

The short answer to “can you overdose on sleeping pills’ is yes. It is indeed possible to suffer a potentially fatal overdose on drugs such as Ambien. However, it is quite rare. Instead, most people will find that taking large doses or mixing sleeping aids with other drugs will produce a very bad experience, or in severe cases, permanent damage to the body. Sleeping pills in the past were more dangerous than they are now (such as Halcion) and saw high use among suicidal people as the idea of slowly falling asleep and never waking up sounded more pleasant.

Newer sleeping pills and sedatives have a design meant to help reduce the possibility of an overdose. For example, Ambien is typically prescribed in 10mg doses. Anything above 600mg can put you into overdose territory and cause permanent damage to your body. 2000mg is reported to be the fatal dose of Ambien- 200x the recommended dose.

Side Effects of Sleeping Pills

While all sleeping pills help induce some form of lethargy and sedation, different types of sedatives can have different side effects. 

For example, some side effects of pills such as Ambien, Rozerem, and Halcion include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pain

In some severe cases, people may experience parasomnias. Parasomnias are involuntary actions during sleep which you are not aware of or have control of. Some parasomnia behaviors include sleepwalking, sleep eating, making phone calls or even sleep driving. It is difficult to predict if you will experience parasomnia until you try taking sleeping aids. 

sleeping pill overdose

What Does a Sleeping Pill Overdose Look Like?

A sleeping pill overdose may be hard to identify at first. Most pills help people sleep by sedating the individuals central nervous system and slowing brain activity until they fall asleep. The danger of taking too much is that the drug will suppress the body too much and critical organs such as your lungs, slowly cease to work. This can be worsened when sleeping pills are combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.

Some indicators of a sleeping pill overdose are:

  • Extreme lethargy- By design, these medications will make you feel tired and very lethargic. However, there is a noticable difference between just sleepy and unable to function properly. In the latter case, it may be smart to contact emergency services just in case. 
  • Breathing problems- As mentioned, sedatives slow critical bodily function. However, a healthy dose will not make it uncomfortable and should be barely noticeable. If bodily functions begin to slow too much, this may be a sign of an overdose. Paying attention to breathing patterns is usually a good indicator of whether or not someone is experiencing an overdose.

Unfortunately, sleeping pill overdoses may even go unnoticed by the victim as they are fast asleep and too sedated to do anything about it. It may take the help of a bystander to get someone the help they need.

sleeping pill overdose

Sleeping Pills and Alcohol

While it is unlikely that someone will overdose on just sleeping pills, the mixing of any two central nervous system depressants can greatly increase the risk of an overdose. CNS depressants slow critical body function like breathing and brain function. Mixing ambien and alcohol for example can overpower the body causing the cessation of breathing and dangerously low brain and heart function. The mixing of two drugs is also known as polysubstance abuse and brings about its own deadly set of consequences.

Sleeping pills are not the only option when seeking better quality sleep. Usually, people struggle with getting sleep because of environmental and behavioral habits. Some ways to manage your sleep are:

  • Reducing stress or finding ways to manage it by picking up hobbies such as yoga
  • Better time management
  • Avoiding stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine in the evenings
  • Drinking more water
  • Avoiding daytime naps
  • Eating healthy food
sleeping pill overdose

The Bottom Line

Sleeping pills can be helpful for those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, everything comes in moderation and taking more of a sleeping aid does not mean you will enjoy a better night’s sleep. In fact, taking too much of an aid like melatonin, can cause more sleep problems and make you feel less rested and more tired the next day. It is always recommended that you moderate your use to the prescribed amount and always seek professional opinion before taking any sleep supplements.

If you or a loved one you know is suffering from dependence to sleeping pills, please contact us today so we can help you on your path to recovery.

Melatonin and Alcohol

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in humans. However, it is increasing in popularity as a supplement as a sleeping aid. When taken in its correct dose, melatonin is very effective. But what if you have been drinking and want to take melatonin? What are the risks? These are important questions to consider when taking any drug or combining drugs. Melatonin and alcohol are both common substances. While the combination is not deadly, there are potential risks to consider. It is important to consider this with any substances.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycles our bodies naturally develop. Melatonin releases during the night or evening as the light around us decreases. Long before the abundance of technology, there was no exposure to artificial light such as that produced by our cellphones and laptops. Historically, the setting sunlight and onset darkness were the only things to help the release of melatonin. Light stimulates the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which resides in the hypothalamus part of the brain. With light exosure, the SCN sends signals to the brain to release certain hormones such as cortisol, increase body temperature and prevent the release of melatonin. However, without light, the SCN essentially allows for the release of melatonin. 

Most of us know the news reports and medical journals advising us to avoid cell phone use before bed. It is because that artificial ‘blue’ light keeps the SCN active. This is preventing the release of melatonin and making sleep more difficult to achieve. Melatonin is also a very powerful antioxidant and is known to regulate fat cells in the body.

melatonin and alcohol

Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug found in most vitamin aisles in stores. There is no need for a prescription. It is usually sold in its pill form, although liquid melatonin is available.

Melatonin Abuse and Addiction

Most people use melatonin to help them fall asleep and there are no well known cases of melatonin abuse. Some individuals experience a decrease in natural melatonin production as they get older. Thus, they take melatonin pills to supplement what their body is already producing. In addition, the supplement is seen as a helpful aid in dealing with jet lag. Generally, melatonin supplements are considered to be safe for short and long term use. Currently, there is little risk of developing an addiction.

melatonin and alcohol

There are no well documented cases of melatonin abuse or addiction. There is no risk of developing a dangerous tolerance as there is with other substances. Subsequently, if you take the same dose everyday you feel essentially the same effects. Although, some feel it is less effective after long-term use. Still, anyone with a family history of addiction, or for themselves, should discuss with a doctor.

How Much Melatonin is Too Much?

While melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical, it is important to take the correct amount. Too little is not enough to help you fall asleep. Further, with too much there are potentially negative effects. It is also possible too much interferes with your sleep cycle. Melatonin does not work the same for everyone. If you are looking for ways to sleep, consider speaking with a medical professional to find solutions.

melatonin and alcohol

Can You Overdose on Melatonin?

While it is important find balance with anything, there are no known cases of melatonin overdose. It is possible that taking too much causes unwanted side-effects such as extreme drowsiness and can cause very vivid dreams. In some cases, taking excessive dosages have been reported to little effect and rather made it more difficult to fall asleep.

Other effects of melatonin include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Low-blood Pressure
  • Tiredness the following day

Mixing Melatonin and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It has sedative effects on the body after just a few drinks. Even though alcohol seems to do essentially the same job as melatonin, mixing the two substances is never recommended. For some, alcohol helps with sleeping. However, it also promotes the release of stress hormones in the body that causes restlessness during sleep. Also, some studies show that alcohol inhibits the natural release of melatonin in the body. It potentially therefore interferes with any supplementation of the hormone. If you need to take melatonin, it is recommended that you wait around 2-3 hours after your last drink to consume melatonin. It is best not to combine another sedative with alcohol, a substance with potentially deadly sedative effects.

The Bottom Line

Melatonin is a rather harmless but useful supplement. Many people rely on it to have a good night’s rest. Some also rely on alcohol to achieve the same effects. Some refer to this as a ‘nightcap’. However, they frequently find that their sleep is more restless. Mixing the two substances is not likely to have deadly consequences as seen when mixing other drugs with alcohol. However, there are still potential negative side effects. Both are sedatives which is where some of the danger is.

Generally, mixing various substance with alcohol is a bad idea. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. Yet, the common usage makes it difficult to recognize when it is abuse or addiction. Few also recognize the dangers of alcohol. Further, its interactions with other drugs are potentially deadly. It is always best to discuss interactions of any substances with a medical professional if possible. Someone dealing with alcohol abuse or addiction is at risk. They likely do not realize the danger though of mixing something like melatonin with alcohol. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse, please contact us today.

Resources:

Suprachiasmatic nucleus and melatonin – Neurology
Blue light has a dark side – Harvard Health Publishing
Significance and application of melatonin – NIH
Alcohol and Fatigue – Harvard Health Publishing
Alcohol and Sleep: What you need to know – Psychology Today

Ambien and Alcohol

Americans are now more distracted than ever. Since the end of the 20th century, more and more screens have been introduced into the average household. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, massive TVs- all contribute to the increase in sleeping disorders. Many people turn to options like Ambien to help. A lot of people in America also drink alcohol, sometimes even with the thought that it helps sleep. Subsequently, the increasing risk of mixing Ambien and alcohol is a real danger.

ambien and alcohol

What is Ambien?

Ambien is the brand name for Zolpidem Tartrate, which is a sedative and falls under the hypnotic class of medication. In general, the purpose is to treat insomnia in patients and is seen as a better alternative to benzodiazepines or barbiturates. Ambien’s design is to provide the same sleep relief as other drugs but without the dangerous side-effects commonly associated with drugs such as Valium. It was approved by the FDA in 1992 during a time where the prevailing sleep-aid, Halcion, was being linked with psychosis, suicide and addiction and was welcomed with open arms. 

ambien and alcohol

Ambien works by binding and activating GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for blocking impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Ambien binds to the same receptors as benzodiazepines. By binding to the receptors, the chemical essentially slows down brain function, making it easier to fall asleep. While Ambien became popular because it was believed to have less of the harmful side effects of other sleep-aids available at the time, it comes with its own risks:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • “Drugged” feeling
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Headache

Some of the serious side effects of Ambien include:

  • Memory loss
  • New or worsening depression
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety

Ambien Addiction and Abuse

A chemical tolerance is when a higher dose is required to get the same desired results while taking a drug. Essentially, the body gets used to the drug and more of it is required to feel the effects. Unfortunately, Ambien tolerance develops quickly in some patients. Ambien was never designed to be a long-term use drug. However, some patients require their physician to increase the dosage to get the same relief. Increasing the dosage may cause users to develop a dependency to the drug. Some may find that they are unable to fall asleep without it.

ambien and alcohol

In high doses, it is possible for Ambien to provide a euphoric high, which is then be sought after by some. At this point, normal use begins to turn to abuse. According to SAMHSA, Ambien abuse is rare with those who are have a prescription. It is more likely to be with those who acquire it illicitly.

Overdose of Ambien is possible. According to SAMHSA, there were 64,175 Ambien related emergency room visits (ER) and of those 20,793 were related to over-medication. While your risk of overdose will depend on various factors such as body composition, tolerance level and history of use, it is generally considered that taking more than 150mg per kilogram of body weight is lethal. An individual weighing 50 kilograms will need to take 7,500mg of Ambien to experience a fatal overdose. While that may seem like a lot of medication, the 150mg can be greatly reduced when taken with other drugs, especially alcohol. 

How Long Does Ambien Stay in Your System?

Once Ambien enters the body, it takes around 30 minutes for the drug to reach peak potential blood concentration meaning that the full effects are felt around this mark. Compared to other drugs, this is quite fast. However, Ambien has a short half-life of around 1.5 hours. A chemicals half-life is a determination of the time it takes for the chemical to reduce to half of its ingested dose. In other words, after 1.5 hours, the 10mg dose of Ambien is essentially reduces to 5mg. However, it’s possible to feel the effects of the drug for 8 hours and the chemicals will be completely out of the body in about 14 hours. 

It is possible to detect Ambien in the body after the 14 hour mark in various tests:

  • Urine – 72 hours after use
  • Hair – 3 to 5 weeks after use
  • Saliva – 8 hours after use

Drug testing for Ambien is quite rare however circumstances such as traffic incidents may call for testing.

Mixing Ambien and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. A CNS depressant will slow brain and nerve function thus having an effect on motor and cognitive function. Ambien has very similar CNS depressant effects by binding to the GABA receptors in the brain. Two depressants or drugs mixed together (also referred to as polysubstance abuse) will amplify the overall effects and can pose serious overdose risks. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), mixing alcohol with other depressants such as Ambien can cause drowsiness, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired motor skills, and memory problems. With two powerful depressants working, it can cause breathing to slow to a dangerously low level or stop completely. Death can also occur by engaging in dangerous behavior often associated with alcohol use. 

Getting Help

Getting off Ambien may seem difficult. Especially if the user has been using it for an extended period and believes it is necessary for a good night’s sleep. Someone with a problem with ambien and alcohol needs specialized help. However, with the proper attention and guidance, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to see how we can help.

*Resources:
Hypnotic medications and suicide – NIH
Emergency Department Visits – SAMHSA
Harmful Interactions – NIAAA

Prozac and Alcohol

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.

prozac and alcohol - major depressive episode

Common side effects of Prozac are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

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. 


One main advantage of a longer half-life is that it covers individuals who miss a daily dose and prevents them from developing SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome.

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. 

prozac and alcohol

Some common side effects of alcohol include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Distorted vision and hearing 
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Decreased perception and coordination 
  • Unconsciousness 

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.

prozac and alcohol

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
  • Drowsiness
  • 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.

Treatment

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.

Kratom and Alcohol

Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia. It is typically used for recreational purposes and has slowly made its way into the US market. Its leaves contain chemicals which produce a psychotropic (mind-altering) effect when ingested. While there is a lack of any known medical properties, there is currently no federal widespread ban on the drug. In fact, it is pretty easy to buy online in various forms. While it is not illegal in most states, that does not mean it can not be deadly or harmful. As many people consume alcohol, they will possibly mix Kratom and alcohol without realizing the potential risks.

Kratom 101

Kratom is the name given to the Mitragyna speciosa species of trees. It goes by several other names such as Biak, Ketum, Kakuam or Thom. In its native regions, Kratom is used as a painkiller and stomach medicine but has no legitimate medical use. It is typically found online in its powdered or capsule form, but the leaves can be eaten raw or crushed. 


The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies drugs in the US under several schedules. A schedule 1 drug for example is considered to have a very high risk for abuse and has no accepted medical purposes. Drugs such as marijuana and heroin are considered schedule 1 drugs. The DEA however has not scheduled Kratom under any of its classifications. Still, the DEA has listed Kratom as a ‘Drug of Concern.’ There is a push to make the drug illegal in the U.S. and in fact, 7 states have so far made it illegal to possess or use.


In 2016, the DEA announced that it was going to place Kratom under a schedule 1 classification. However, later in the year, the agency withdrew their notice of intent and began “soliciting comments from the public regarding the scheduling of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine under the Controlled Substances Act”. There have been no significant updates since then.

kratom and alcohol

Kratom Side Effects

Kratom effects on the body can be unpredictable. In low doses, the drug acts as a stimulant, causing users to feel an increase in energy and alertness, but can also have sedative-like effects when taken in high enough doses. The two main compounds in the leaves, mitragynine and 7-a-hydroxymitragynine, bind to the opioid receptors in the brain which can cause sedation, a euphoric high and pain killing effects. 

Kratom presents similar properties as some opioids. One of the cases for making Kratom a controlled substance rather than outright banning it is because some believe it can be used to treat opioid addiction. While there still needs to be more clinical trials to prove this, there is a push to keep it legal in the U.S.

Significant research is still necessary on Kratom, and it is difficult to say with certainty what effects Kratom will have on users. In general, users can expect to experience:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Increased energy and alertness
  • Drowsiness
  • Cough suppression
  • Pain reduction
  • Psychosis
  • Weight loss

While not all of these effects are necessarily negative, some negative short-term effects include:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation 
kratom side effects

Mixing Kratom and Alcohol

It is difficult to predict what the effects of mixing kratom and alcohol might be. Generally, mixing alcohol with anything is inherently dangerous. Mixing two or more drugs (also known as polysubstance abuse) will generally cause the effects of the one drug to enhance the effects of each other, in particular the negative effects. Kratom can present sedative or stimulant properties while alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.

Given that Kratom can enhance the effects of alcohol, mixing the two drugs can cause the depressive effects of alcohol to be enhanced and as a result lead to alcohol poisoning or death. According to the National Poison Data System, between 2011-2017 there were 11 deaths associated with Kratom use. Nine of those deaths involved other drugs such as alcohol, fentanyl, cocaine, benzodiazepines and even caffeine.

Additionally, substance use often lowers inhibitions and causes impaired judgement. The more substances are added, the more at risk someone might be for potentially serious consequences.

kratom and alcohol

Is Kratom Addictive?

There are two different types of addiction: chemical and psychological dependence. Given the similar effects to opioid drugs, it is very possible for an individual to become addicted to Kratom. It is still yet to be seen how severe Kratom addictions can be, as there lacks any clinical trials or an abundance of data to draw a conclusion from. Some users have reported becoming addicted to Kratom and have even experience Kratom withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Muscle aches
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Emotional changes
  • Involuntary movements
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia

You can also develop a tolerance to Kratom, where you will need to take more of the drug to feel the same effects.

How long does kratom stay in your system?

There are currently no specific drug tests to detect the presence of Kratom in the body, most likely due to the obscurity of the drug. However, like most other substances, the duration of the chemical traces in your body will depend on the following factors:

  • Frequency of use
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Body fat
  • Metabolic rate

There is no known half-life for Kratom but one the primary alkaloids found in Kratom, mitragynine, has a half-life of around 24 hours. Essentially, it would take a person a full day to remove 50% of the alkaloid and the alkaloid can be detected in some drug tests. 

kratom and alcohol

Treatment

With the lack of research on Kratom, it may be easy to believe that the drug cannot be dangerous. Its lack of popularity is not due to medical acceptance as the drug can still be very dangerous when misused. Alcohol is legal and widely used, but also presents serious risk of misuse, abuse and addiction. More research is necessary on Kratom and alcohol, but it is better not to mix at all. Staying informed on the dangers can help keep you safe against abuse, addiction, or overdosing. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please do not hesitate to contact us

Tramadol and Alcohol

Tramadol and Alcohol

Tramadol is an opiate analgesic (or narcotic). To this end, its purpose is to treat moderate to severe pain. As an opiate, there’s a significant risk of addiction and this increases with long-term use.* For the most part, it’s meant to help people that need 24/7 help for their pain. The need for continuous pain management contributes to the potential for long-term use – something medical professionals should monitor. Tramadol, like any opiate, should only be used under medical supervision. Likewise, it should not be stopped without medical supervision. Of course, someone taking tramadol might not always disclose use of other substances. In spite of the danger of mixing substances, a somewhat common combination is tramadol and alcohol. 


The mixture of tramadol and alcohol might not result in overdose every single time, but there is always the risk. Indeed, excessive alcohol intake significantly increases the risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further, they state there is no safe use of alcohol and opioids. Additionally, most people likely do not realize how few drinks it takes to reach excessive or binge-drinking levels. Increased consumption of alcohol heightens the effects of alcohol increasing the risk when combined with tramadol. To this end, excessive alcohol use can depress the central nervous system, impairing breathing. Likewise, a side effect of opioids is also suppressed respiratory function. As stated by the CDC, there is really no safe combination of tramadol and alcohol, and the risk increases the more either substance is used.

How long does tramadol stay in your system?

Tramadol comes in different forms (tablets, capsules, drops, injections, etc.) as well as slow-acting and fast-acting forms. According to the National Health Service (NHS-UK), fast-acting will work within 30 to 60 minutes. This is better for pain that is expected to only last for a short term. Slow-acting will be released into the body over 12 to 24 hours and will take longer to work, but will last longer. Thus, this is better for long-term pain management. What is more, it’s important to take Tramadol only under medical supervision. 


Depending on the dose and length of time, someone might have different reactions with tramadol and other substances. Above all, it’s important to communicate consumption of any other substances with medical professionals. According to the Mayo Clinic, tramadol and Tylenol (acetaminophen), is a safe combination. However, it is still best for anyone taking tramadol to communicate with their doctor if they are taking any other type of medication.

Tramadol Side Effects

Some common side effects of tramadol can include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue, low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sweating

These symptoms are common and not immediate cause for concern. However, anyone should always communicate with their doctor any concerns. 

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Under proper medical supervision, tramadol should not cause serious issues or withdrawal. However, it is possible for someone to mistakenly take an extra dosage, miss one or more doses, mix with other substances that cause issues, or even of course be using tramadol illegally. Ultimately, any of these possibilities, and many others, can cause someone to experience tramadol withdrawal symptoms. Equally important, sudden disuse of tramadol is more likely to cause withdrawal, so when possible it’s best to taper off with the help of a medical professional.

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms may set in 12-20 hours after the last dose. Symptoms can include:*

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Tinnitus

Psychiatric withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Confusion

With this in mind, it’s important for anyone experiencing tramadol withdrawal symptoms to seek medical help right away. Moreover, it’s important to call 911 if anyone’s in immediate danger or in fear of overdose.

Tramadol Overdose

Under proper medical supervision overdose is not common. However, even someone using under supervision may accidentally take too much tramadol. As a result of tramadol misuse, from 2005 to 2011, emergency-room visits from tramadol misuse tripled to 21,469. In regards to what tramadol overdose looks like, the a Wall Street Journal article states, “Excess tramadol intake tends to cause seizures and a fast collapse.” 

According to a U.S. National Library of Medicine resource, other symptoms of overdose include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness

Again, under proper medical supervision the chance of overdose should be extremely low. However, mistakes happen as well as abuse being a common reality. It’s important for anyone using tramadol to be aware of the signs, as well as those with loved one’s using tramadol. Should you or anyone experience these symptoms as a result of tramadol use, it is important to call 911 as soon as possible.

Treatment

Most resources affirm that low-dosage, short-term use of tramadol under medical supervision shouldn’t result in addiction or serious health problems like withdrawal or overdose. Nonetheless, many people react differently and it’s always important to watch out for side effects and other problems. In many countries, this has led to a lack of oversight over the usage of tramadol. Moreover, in the United States, it was not controlled at a federal level until a few years ago. This allowed (and continues to allow) widespread use and abuse around much of the world. While it’s not as strong as morphine, it’s still an opioid and has the potential for abuse and addiction. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with tramadol abuse or addiction, we can help at Reflections Recovery Center. We can provide help and resources for intervention, if needed. Initially, each client goes through an assessment, which will help us determine if detox is necessary. We offer a 5-day detox program. Throughout treatment, we will help our clients improve their physical and mental health as well as providing the skills to maintain sobriety long after treatment. In addition to this, each client goes through an assessment so that we can determine what exactly they need. No person is the same, nor is their experience with addiction the same. Therefore, we form a treatment plan around each person’s unique needs. If you or a loved one needs help, please reach out today.

*Resources:
Tramadol: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2019, June 17). Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695011.html

Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for People Who Consume Alcohol and Use Opioids. Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/prescribing/AlcoholToolFactSheet-508.pdf

Tramadol. (2018, November 26). Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/tramadol/

Tramadol And Acetaminophen (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names. (2019, May 01). Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/tramadol-and-acetaminophen-oral-route/description/drg-20062870

Epstein, D. H., Preston, K. L., & Jasinski, D. R. (2010, September 22). Abuse liability, behavioral pharmacology, and physical-dependence potential of opioids in humans and laboratory animals: Lessons from tramadol. Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943845/


Epstein, D. H., Preston, K. L., & Jasinski, D. R. (2010, September 22). Abuse liability, behavioral pharmacology, and physical-dependence potential of opioids in humans and laboratory animals: Lessons from tramadol. Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943845/

Scheck, J. (2016, October 20). Tramadol: The Opioid Crisis for the Rest of the World. Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/tramadol-the-opioid-crisis-for-the-rest-of-the-world-1476887401

Schedules of Controlled Substances: Placement of Tramadol Into Schedule IV. (2014, July 02). Retrieved July 23, 2019, from https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2014/07/02/2014-15548/schedules-of-controlled-substances-placement-of-tramadol-into-schedule-iv