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Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Wellbutrin?
The prescription medication Wellbutrin treats depression and major depressive disorder (MDD). In some cases, it is also prescribed to treat bipolar disorder or a related mental health condition.
It is also prescribed for smoking cessation (nicotine replacement) under the brand name Zyban.
Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL (bupropion), sold under the brand name Aplenzin, are prescribed to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Bupropion was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006.
You’ll receive guidelines from your doctor if you are prescribed Wellbutrin for depression or smoking cessation. Medical experts consider Wellbutrin safe when used as directed and not mixed with alcohol or medications or drugs not approved by your doctor.
Before taking Wellbutrin, seek medical advice if you have high blood pressure, have had a heart attack, or have a history of other medical conditions.
It is not safe to drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin. Drinking and using Wellbutrin increases your risk of seizures and addiction. Wellbutrin and alcohol interact chemically. This increases the impact of both substances in the body.
Side Effects of Wellbutrin
Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant. It is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), unlike many other antidepressants which are serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It works by balancing the brain’s neurotransmitters, which improves feelings of self-confidence and mood.
However, Wellbutrin use also comes with the risk of developing mild to severe side effects.
Common side effects may include:
- Shakiness and sweating
- Racing thoughts
- Unusual changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain)
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Eye pain
- Unusual excitement or mania
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased urination
- Gastrointestinal problems (constipation, upset stomach, etc.)
Serious side effects may include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Joint pain
- State of mental confusion
- Panic attacks
If you experience blisters, hives, chest pain, body swelling, hoarseness, or an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin, contact medical care immediately.
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What are the Side Effects of Wellbutrin and Alcohol?
Combining Wellbutrin and alcohol increases the risk and severity of the side effects of bupropion.
Many people who have experienced serious side effects when taking other antidepressant medications take Wellbutrin. The drug reduces the risk of common antidepressant side effects, such as fatigue, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction.
Epileptic seizures are one of the risks associated with taking Wellbutrin. This risk increases if you combine the drug and alcohol.
Other common side effects of Wellbutrin and alcohol use include:
- Digestive distress
- Dry mouth
In addition to alcohol increasing the risks of side effects of Wellbutrin, the drug increases the effects of alcohol. Someone drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin is at risk of:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Dizzy spells
- Blurred vision
- Poor judgment
- Suicidal thoughts
Combining Wellbutrin with alcohol or any other mind-altering substance is potentially fatal. Despite some people drinking alcohol when using Wellbutrin without any adverse reaction, combining these two substances is dangerous. The risk of severe side effects increases with long-term combination of the two substances.
People with an eating disorder, especially anorexia or bulimia, should not use Wellbutrin. Some people using the drug find that symptoms associated with their eating disorder are worse when taking the drug. These include:
- Shortness of breath
The symptoms listed above indicate cardiovascular stress, which is a concern for people with eating disorders. Using Wellbutrin when you have an eating disorder can exacerbate these symptoms and put you at risk for serious health complications.
Wellbutrin (bupropion or bupropion hydrochloride) does not treat alcohol addiction. Wellbutrin users are advised not to consume alcohol while taking the drug.
Dangers of Drinking Alcohol with Wellbutrin
Drinking alcohol while using Wellbutrin increases a person’s risk of seizures. There is also a risk of addiction. Wellbutrin interacts chemically with alcohol, increasing the impact of both substances on the body.
Some of the most common intensified side effects someone experiences when mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol include:
- Impaired motor control
- Memory lapse
- Paranoia and other unusual thoughts
- Impaired judgment
- Suicidal thoughts
There is also an increased risk of overdose when combining alcohol and Wellbutrin.
Alcohol is a sedative and it increases the risk of sleepiness when taken with Wellbutrin. This increases the risk of coordination and injuries. People taking Wellbutrin and drinking alcohol simultaneously face a higher risk of falling due to lightheadedness and impaired coordination.
Anyone mixing alcohol and Wellbutrin to achieve a chemical high is at a high risk of developing an addiction. Physical dependence on Wellbutrin and/or alcohol is a serious health concern and creates long-term medical problems.
The combination of Wellbutrin and alcohol also leads to long-term problems, including:
- Decreasing the overall effectiveness of Wellbutrin, which leaves you with few options for using medication to treat depression
- Increasing the risk of developing a physical dependence on alcohol
- Increasing the risk of alcohol abuse disorder
Wellbutrin is also not recommended for use by people with an eating disorder.
Wellbutrin and Alcohol Overdose Risks
Mixing Wellbutrin with alcohol increases the risk of overdose. Taking Wellbutrin while drinking lowers your alcohol tolerance and causes you to become severely intoxicated, even after drinking small amounts of alcohol. If you keep drinking more alcohol, death can occur.
The combination also impairs your judgment, so you might not be as careful when using these two substances. All of these factors put you at risk of accidentally overdosing.
Wellbutrin and alcohol, when used together, enhance the effects of one another. There is a high risk of overdose and a greater potential for seizures when combining the drugs.
Unfortunately, the combination of Wellbutrin and alcohol is one of the most commonly used dangerous drug combinations. Addiction and rehabilitation treatment is available for those who have developed a Wellbutrin and alcohol addiction.
If you believe you have developed an addiction to alcohol while using bupropion, Wellbutrin, or any drugs of related brand names, speak to your healthcare provider about treatment.
Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction
There are many treatment options available for alcohol abuse and addiction, including:
- Inpatient Programs — Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center. These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring. The first step of an inpatient program is detoxification. Then behavioral therapy and other services are introduced. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer. Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) — Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are sometimes referred to as intensive outpatient programs (IOP). Compared to inpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs provide similar services. These include medical services, behavioral therapy, and support groups, along with other customized therapies. However, in a PHP program, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation, but services vary by program. PHPs accept new patients as well as people who have completed an inpatient program and still need intensive treatment.
- Outpatient Programs — Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient or partial hospitalization programs. These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment. They are best for people who have a high motivation to recover and cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school. Outpatient programs are often part of aftercare programs once you complete an inpatient or PHP program.
- Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) — Sometimes, medications may be used in alcohol addiction treatment. Some medicines can help reduce the negative side effects of detoxification and withdrawal. Others can help you reduce cravings and normalize body functions. Disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat AUD. When combined with other evidence-based therapies (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), MAT can help prevent relapse and increase your chance of recovery.
- Support Groups — Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery are open to anyone with a substance abuse problem. They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober. They can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.
Does bupropion cause weight loss?
Most antidepressant medications can cause weight gain. Bupropion, however, is known for causing weight loss in some people.
What happens if you take too much Wellbutrin?
Taking more Wellbutrin than prescribed can lead to an overdose. Symptoms of an overdose include hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren't there) and seizures.
Can you smoke while taking Wellbutrin?
You should not smoke or use nicotine products while taking Wellbutrin because the combination can increase blood pressure. If you are using Wellbutrin to quit smoking, it takes eight days for the body to start easing the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
Is Wellbutrin used to treat alcoholism?
Wellbutrin (bupropion or bupropion hydrochloride) does not treat alcohol addiction. Wellbutrin users should not drink alcohol while taking the drug.
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