What Are the Dangers of Drinking While Taking Antidepressants?

What Are the Dangers of Drinking While Taking Antidepressants?

Teenage drinking is harmful for a surplus of reasons. Drinking is hazardous for teens who are taking antidepressants in an attempt to manage depressive symptoms. When an individual consumes alcohol while taking antidepressants, it counteracts the positive effects of the drug, which worsens depressive symptoms. In some cases, antidepressants can worsen the effects of alcohol. Therefore, alcohol and antidepressants make no healthy combination.

The temptation to self-medicate with alcohol may be strong if an antidepressant does not seem to be working or isn’t working quickly enough. However, drinking is a short-term, dangerous, and temporary fix to a long-term problem. Depression can be managed with medication and therapy, although it often takes time to find a working combination. If your teen’s medication doesn’t seem to be helping their depression, you may want to be cautious if they are possibly using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The Effects of Alcohol Mixed With Antidepressants

Not only is there a clear link between alcohol use and developing depression symptoms, but there is also an increased risk of liver and brain damage, among other health consequences. Different antidepressant medications have varying effects, as each one uniquely affects neurotransmitters that regulate emotions in the brain. It is important to recognize that any side effects of antidepressants can be worsened with alcohol. These side effects can include worsened fatigue, nausea, dehydration, impaired concentration, and more.

There are no positive side effects when mixing alcohol and antidepressants. The most serious side effects may include:

Worsened Depression and Anxiety

Antidepressants were not designed to be taken with alcohol, which means drinking can make depression worse and harder to treat. The emotional “boost” from drinking is short-lived compared to the long-term damage that can occur from mixing substances that aren’t meant to be taken together. Drinking can exacerbate existing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety.

Dangerous Reactions

Drinking on antidepressants can result in medical complications such as high blood pressure, seizures, nausea, dizziness, and headaches, not to mention fatigue that makes it difficult to function at work or in school. Thus the consequences of mixing antidepressants and alcohol can be both physical and social.

Some of the long-term effects of mixing alcohol and antidepressants may not be detected right away. These can include an inability to form blood clots and damage to vital organs such as the liver. If alcohol is a threat to your teen's health, you should keep it inaccessible for them within your home.

When to Be Concerned

For many depressed people who turn to alcohol, they don’t necessarily want to get drunk; they just want to feel better. But a person will eventually have to consume larger amounts of alcohol to get to the same level of “escape” as their body develops a tolerance. This damaging cycle can result in what doctors call a co-occurring disorder, which is experiencing a substance use disorder and mental health disorder at the same time. Other times, teens may try to mix alcohol with their antidepressants as a new way to get high. Any time a prescription drug is used for something other than what it was intended for, it is known as substance misuse and can quickly develop into a substance use disorder.

If you think your teen is misusing their medication, it’s important to seek help right away. But bear in mind that a sudden withdrawal from the medication can trigger serious side effects, such as seizures. You should always discuss options with your teen's medical professional before allowing your teen to quit or wean off their medication.

Be sure to talk with your teen about the importance of taking their medication consistently to see a positive difference. If they stop taking their medication to drink, the drug will not work the way that it is meant to. The dosage must be constant and consistent to feel a difference in mood. Stopping and starting antidepressant medications over and over again can also have the adverse effect of making depression worse.

Effective Treatment Options for Co-occurring Conditions

It is common for individuals to struggle with co-occurring conditions. As mental health problems can cause substance use problems and vice versa, co-occurring disorders must be treated simultaneously.

When patients are screened and treated for mental and substance use disorders together, the quality of care they receive is greatly increased. This is because the treatment approach for co-occurring disorders addresses a whole person, including physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. This can lead to effective long-term recovery from both conditions.

Treatment for co-occurring disorders may include a combination of therapy and tweaking the dosage or brand of antidepressant medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective form of therapy for patients with co-occurring disorders because it can help clients recognize how thought patterns can affect behavior.

The process of finding the right antidepressant, and the right dosage, can be time-consuming and frustrating. As teens wait for their medication to start working, they may turn to alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms. Early intervention is critical to ensuring your teen's long-term health and successful treatment of clinical depression. Fortunately, Clearfork Academy is here to help. With several different treatment programs, outdoor summer programs, and detoxes, we specialize in helping young people conquer their substance abuse addiction and go on to live full, healthy lives. Our high success rate speaks for itself: our methods really work! If your teen is struggling with depression and substance abuse, don't wait. Learn more about us through our website, along with information about insurance coverage. Call us today at (817) 259-2597 to speak with an informative and compassionate staff member. We look forward to chatting with you!

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