Paxil and Alcohol

by on July 30, 2012

Considering the potential for side effects and interactions between Paxil and alcohol, the manufacturer of the drug, as well as many healthcare providers, recommends avoiding all alcohol use while being treated. This is because both alcohol and Paxil (Paroxetine) are central nervous system-active (CNS-active) substances.

Possible Side Effects

It is believed that alcohol and paroxetine act on the same brain chemicals therefore should not be used together. Combining Paxil and alcohol may enhance the effects of alcohol, possibly causing an increase in symptoms of depression; affect motor skills; or impairment in thinking and judgment.

Although patients are advised to avoid alcohol while taking Paxil, consuming moderate amounts of alcohol is not expected to cause life-threatening side effects. Generally, some patients can safely drink moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages. Depending on your condition, your healthcare provider may advise limiting your intake of alcohol to light to moderate amounts, and only if you already know the effects of Paxil on your body and if your condition is well-controlled. People who are taking other medications for depression should also consider drinking alcohol with extreme caution.

Alcohol Health Risks

The extent of risks associated with alcohol drinking may vary with persons. For patients diagnosed with depression and other emotional conditions, alcohol can have negative impact on the treatment goal. Excessive amounts of alcohol can give a false sense of feeling better which can mask emotional symptoms of the condition.

Alcohol can also suppress anxiety and numb physical symptoms. The positive reinforcement given by alcohol can cause craving for it instead of drug. In addition, simultaneously taking Paxil and alcohol can also cause more severe ‘hangover’.

Safe Drinking Guidelines

As much as possible, patients taking Paxil (Paroxetine) should avoid alcohol. However, if it becomes inevitable or if you decide to drink alcohol, you should be aware of some safety considerations to avoid possible adverse effects.

  • Limit your alcohol intake to moderate amounts. This means that you should not consume more than one drink per day, for women, and two drinks per day, for men. Take note, however, that alcohol content of alcoholic beverages may vary. For instance, you should limit your consumption of beer to only 12 ounces, wine to 5 ounces, and 80-proof whiskey to 1 ounce.
  • If you want to learn more about moderate alcohol intake for each type of alcoholic beverage, consult your healthcare provider for specific recommendations. Your healthcare provider can assess your current health condition and can best give specific instructions about your alcohol consumption. Every patient’s situation is different, and your doctor can give you the best advice.
  • Before you start drinking alcohol, make sure that you are aware of how Paxil affects your body. Do not drink huge amounts in an instant. Drink slowly to see how it affects your body and monitor for any unusual symptoms. Avoid driving or operating machineries or appliances if you have drunk.