Lexapro and alcohol are two substances that it is unwise to mix. Depression and anxiety can often make a few drinks seem desirable, but it almost always makes things worse. Mixing Lexapro and alcohol can undermine the effectiveness of Lexapro and precipitate many unwanted side effects.
What Is Lexapro?
Lexapro is the brand name for a prescription medication called escitalopram. Escitalopram is a member of the antidepressant class of drugs.
Specifically, escitalopram is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescribed to treat major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
It has also seen some off-label use to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Another common brand name for escitalopram is Cipralex.
Lexapro Effects and Side Effects
Lexapro is an SSRI that works by increasing concentrations of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with the regulation of mood, cognition, learning, reward, memory formation, and several other biological processes. The therapeutic purpose of this action is to decrease feelings of sadness and anxiety and allow the user to feel better.
Some effects and side effects of Lexapro may include the following:
- Abnormal dreams
- Appetite changes
- Decreased libido
- Delayed ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Muscle and joint pain
- Nasal congestion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Suicidal ideation
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol) is one of the oldest and most regularly abused recreational substances worldwide. It is highly accessible and available for purchase at bars or stores for those over age 21. Despite its legality, alcohol contributes to a substantial portion of instances of crime (both violent and non-violent), automobile deaths, and worsening of health conditions each year.
Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that causes intoxication when consumed. It is abused primarily for its ability to cause feelings of happiness and euphoria, increased sociability, decreased anxiety, and sedation in the short term.
Alcohol Effects and Side Effects
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that effectively slows down certain bodily functions, such as heart and breathing rate. When consumed, it also affects a number of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. When the liver breaks alcohol down, it produces toxins that can accumulate and cause damage to the liver and other vital organs.
Alcohol is a powerful drug that profoundly affects an individual’s emotional stability, cognition, and decision-making skills. Because of this, regular alcohol abuse can easily cause a litany of problems in a person’s life. Moreover, chronic abuse of alcohol often results in physical and psychological dependence and addiction.
Some effects and side effects of alcohol abuse may include the following:
- Alcohol dependence
- Alcohol poisoning
- Brain damage
- Cognitive impairment
- Decreased anxiety
- Decreased inhibitions
- Feelings of happiness
- Impaired judgment
- Increased cancer risk
- Increased sociability
- Liver disease
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Poor motor coordination
Lexapro and Alcohol Abuse
When a doctor prescribes an antidepressant like Lexapro, they generally advise against consuming alcohol. Combining Lexapro and alcohol dramatically increases the frequency of side effects of both substances and undermines the therapeutic effects of the antidepressant.
Combining Lexapro and alcohol not only reduces the effectiveness of the antidepressant but often makes matters worse than they otherwise would be. Drinking while on Lexapro can worsen depression, compelling the user to drink even more alcohol to cope, leading to a vicious cycle that can have terrible consequences. Perhaps most dangerously, alcohol can impact rational decision-making and, at the same time, increase the suicidal thoughts associated with severe depression.
Substance abuse usually co-occurs alongside some other mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Much of the time, addictions begin as misguided attempts to self-medicate the unpleasant symptoms of mental disorder. Drinking while on Lexapro can rapidly lead to alcohol dependence and addiction.
Individuals who chronically abuse alcohol may develop a dependence and require that substance just to function normally. When an alcohol-dependent person attempts to quit drinking, they will suffer unpleasant or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The person may then be forced to continually abuse alcohol just to avoid withdrawal.
The hallmark feature of addiction is the inability to quit despite the incurrence of negative consequences. Consuming Lexapro and alcohol together increases the likelihood of addiction and undermines what little emotional resilience that individual may have left. Recovery from alcohol addiction and depression requires dual diagnosis treatment that works on both conditions at the same time.
Get Treatment Today
At Just Believe Recovery Center, we offer state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary programs in intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and residential formats. We also feature treatment for co-occurring disorders that treats the whole person and not just one aspect. Our comprehensive approach employs therapeutic methods and activities clinically proven to benefit recovery, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Peer support groups
- Substance abuse education
- Relapse prevention planning
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events