Alcohol and Wellbutrin

How Wellbutrin Treats Alcohol Addiction

Wellbutrin (bupropion or bupropion hydrochloride) does not treat alcohol addiction. Users of Wellbutrin are advised not to consume alcohol while taking the drug.

Wellbutrin is a drug used to treat depression. It is also prescribed for smoking cessation under the brand name Zyban. Wellbutrin and Wellbutrin XL or bupropion sold under the brand name aplenzin is prescribed to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Bupropion was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006.

Wellbutrin SR tablets 150mg

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.

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.

Side Effects of Mixing 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 their 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 mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • 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
  • Blackouts
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • 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:

  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Excitability
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

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.

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
  • Dizziness
  • 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.

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 enhances 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.

Resources

“Harmful Interactions.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 25 Apr. 2019, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/harmful-interactions-mixing-alcohol-with-medicines#:~:text=Commonly%20Used%20Medicines%20%28Both%20Prescription%20and%20Over-the-Counter%29%20That

Harris, C. R., et al. “Fatal Bupropion Overdose.” Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 321–324, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9140330/, 10.3109/15563659709001220.

Updated on: September 4, 2020
Author
Alcohol Rehab Help Writing Staff
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Medically Reviewed
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
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