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Updated on September 13, 2023
3 min read

Why Is Mixing Lexapro and Alcohol Risky?

Mara Sugue
Elena Borrelli M.S.PAC
Written by 
7 Sources Cited
Mara Sugue
Written by 
7 Sources Cited

Can You Drink Alcohol With Lexapro?

Health professionals strongly advise against drinking alcohol while on Lexapro. Alcohol can decrease the benefits and increase the adverse effects of the medication. Lexapro can also intensify the negative effects of alcohol.

Lexapro
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Effects of Mixing Lexapro and Alcohol 

Mixing Lexapro and alcohol comes with side effects and general risks.

General Risks

In general, drinking alcohol while on Lexapro can: 

  • Affect your decision-making process
  • Impact your coordination and motor skills
  • Increase your risk of suicide and self-harm
  • Prevent some antidepressants from working as well as they should
  • Increase your risk of developing an addiction 
  • Increase the side effects of some antidepressants

Short-Term Effects

Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro may cause the following short-term effects:

  • Decreased efficacy of the medication (it may not work as well to treat your condition)
  • Increased anxiety
  • Worsened depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
  • Lack of energy
  • Liver problems
  • Alcoholism

Long-Term Effects

Drinking alcohol while on Lexapro may cause the following long-term effects:

  • Decreased effectiveness of medication
  • Nausea
  • Lack of energy
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you experience any long-term side effects from mixing alcohol and Lexapro, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately to avoid further complications.

Side Effects of Lexapro

SSRIs like Lexapro are among the safest classes of antidepressants, so they're frequently prescribed. However, Lexapro is not entirely risk-free.

For most people, escitalopram is safe to take for a long time. However, it still has some side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual side effects affecting ejaculation and sexual desire

Many people don’t experience these side effects. If they do, they should continue taking the medication until the body gets used to it.

Speak to your healthcare provider if these side effects bother you or don't go away. Some serious but rare side effects of Lexapro include:

  • Painful, long-lasting erections
  • Severe dizziness or fainting
  • Uncontrollable bleeding after sustaining cuts or nosebleeds
  • Constant headaches
  • Long-lasting confusion
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • A high body temperature (100F and above) 
  • Agitation
  • Trembling and twitching
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Weight gain or loss 
  • Changes in menstrual periods (heavy bleeding, spotting, or bleeding between periods)
  • Worsening depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
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Is Any Amount of Alcohol Safe While Taking Lexapro?

According to the FDA, it’s not certain that alcohol increases the effects of Lexapro on the brain. However, research has not shown that it is safe to drink while on the medication.

Most doctors advise against drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro. Every time you drink while on Lexapro, you’re putting yourself at risk for dangerous side effects.

In some cases, doctors may allow you to drink moderately. However, this amount varies since everyone’s bodies react differently to these substances. Drinking in moderation usually means:

  • One alcoholic drink per day for women
  • Two alcoholic drinks per day for men

Always consult with your doctor beforehand to see whether drinking while taking Lexapro is safe for you. 

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Link Between Mental Health Issues and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Many mental health and alcohol use disorders can occur concurrently. This is called a dual diagnosis. Some of the most common conditions that often occur with alcohol use disorder (AUD) include:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Alcohol use can cause psychiatric symptoms associated with mental health disorders, including: 

  • Erratic behavior
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Summary

Lexapro is an antidepressant that increases serotonin levels in the brain. It's essential to avoid drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro. Doing so will increase the risk of experiencing adverse side effects from combining the two substances.4

Updated on September 13, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. “Can I Drink Alcohol If I Am Taking Antidepressants?” NHS Choices, National Health Service.
  3. “Escitalopram (Lexapro).” NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  4. “Escitalopram.” NHS Choices, National Health Service.
  5. Muhonen et al. “Treatment of alcohol dependence in patients with co-morbid major depressive disorder--predictors for the outcomes with memantine and escitalopram medication.” Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 2008.
  6. “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): Use and Safety.” GOV.UK, The Government Digital Service.
  7. "Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2018.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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