Seroquel & Alcohol Interactions

What is Seroquel (Quetiapine)?

Seroquel (more commonly known by its brand name, Quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic medication that is primarily used to treat schizophrenia in adults and children of at least 13 years old. It can help to alleviate some of the following symptoms of schizophrenia, for example:

  • Hallucinations (imagined voices or images)
  • Delusions (untrue beliefs)
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Trouble organizing thoughts
  • Diminished desire to be around others
  • Trouble speaking clearly
  • Lack of motivation

Seroquel is also used to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression) in people over the age of 10 years old. Bipolar disorder is defined by manic episodes that last for at least seven days. It is also characterized by manic symptoms that are severe enough that the person needs immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes can last at least two weeks. These symptoms may include the following:

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  • Intense emotions
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in activity levels
  • Uncharacteristic behaviors (without recognition of potentially dangerous effects)
  • Mood swings

Fortunately, Seroquel can treat these symptoms during that time.

Seroquel is often used in conjunction with antidepressant medications to treat major depressive disorder in adults. These are some symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) that Seroquel can treat:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Severe sadness
  • A sense of doom and despair
  • A loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased energy
  • Decreased motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Indecisiveness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Seroquel works in two different ways. First, it binds to dopamine receptors, interfering with their functioning. This plays a role in motor control and thinking abilities. Second, Seroquel blocks serotonin receptors (particularly one known as 5HT2A), which plays a role in psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, dyskinesia, and depression.

The medicine is available in both brand and generic form, and most Medicare and insurance plans cover it.

What are the Negative Side Effects of Seroquel?

Like all medications, Seroquel may have some adverse effects. Here are some of the common side effects of Seroquel:

  • Mood changes
  • Behavioral changes
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Higher or lower blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Insomnia
  • Changes to the menstrual cycle
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Suicidal thoughts

Studies suggest that people who take Seroquel and other antidepressants may experience unexpected changes in their mental health and an increased risk of suicide. Especially at the beginning of their treatment and when the dose is changed, they may become suicidal.

If you or someone you know has become suicidal, help is available. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at any time. The program offers 24/7 help for anyone in distress; it’s free and totally confidential. You can also find prevention and crisis resources on the site for you and your loved ones.

You should also contact your doctor if you are experiencing unbearable side effects from your Seroquel prescription.

Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Seroquel?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider it safe to drink alcohol while taking Seroquel. Therefore, people who are taking Seroquel should not drink alcohol. Alcohol can affect the body’s ability to use Seroquel effectively and may make smaller amounts of the medicine more potent.

Moreover, alcohol can add to the drowsiness that this medication causes. Drinking alcohol can also exacerbate some other side effects of Seroquel, since alcohol has some similar effects on the mind and body.

In severe cases, the increased side effects of consuming alcoholic beverages while using Seroquel can be fatal — just as drinking an excessive amount of alcohol or substance abuse can be fatal on their own. However, the effects of alcohol consumption while taking Seroquel are not considered to be majorly dangerous.

It’s best to consult your doctor before combining alcohol and Seroquel.

Side Effects of Mixing Seroquel and Alcohol

Mixing Seroquel and alcohol may put you at a higher risk of experiencing certain symptoms. Some possible side effects of mixing Seroquel and alcohol may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Mood swings
  • Behavioral changes, such as agitation, aggression, and forgetfulness
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in liver function

You may experience some or all of these side effects, as well as some others that are not listed here.

How Long After Taking Seroquel is It Safe to Drink?

Seroquel has a half-life of about six hours. After about 12 hours, it will be almost entirely eliminated from your body. You should wait about a day and a half to drink alcohol before the prescription medication has been completely metabolized out of your system. 

Consult your healthcare provider for medical advice about the effects of alcohol use and antipsychotic drugs.

Resources

“Bipolar Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

“How Long Does Seroquel Stay in Your System? (Blood, Urine, and More).” Arete Recovery, 21 Aug. 2020, areterecovery.com/seroquel/stay-in-system/

Neidler, Sarah. “Seroquel (Quetiapine).” Huntington's Disease News, 23 July 2018, huntingtonsdiseasenews.com/seroquel-quetiapine/.

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Major Depression.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/major-depression-a-to-z

“Quetiapine (Seroquel).” NAMI, www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Quetiapine-(Seroquel)

“Quetiapine.” Cigna, www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/hw/medications/quetiapine-d04220a1

“Quetiapine: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a698019.html

“Seroquel.” Food and Drug Administration, www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2004/20639se1-017,016_seroquel_lbl.pdf .

“Side Effects of Seroquel (Quetiapine Fumarate), Warnings, Uses.” RxList, RxList, 24 June 2020, www.rxlist.com/seroquel-side-effects-drug-center.htm

“What Is Quetiapine?” GoodRx, www.goodrx.com/quetiapine/what-is

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Updated on: October 22, 2020
Author
AnnaMarie Houlis
About
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Medically Reviewed
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
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