Very often, we wonder about the impact of alcohol consumption on the success of drug treatments.
In the case of the combination of antidepressants and alcohol, we must keep in mind the fact that these substances are psychoactive, which can have very harmful consequences on our organism.
The consumption of these two substances is very frequent in our society. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find depressed people who consume alcohol. It is also not uncommon to find alcoholics suffering from depression. However, it is important to know the effects and consequences of this combination. Learn more in this article.
What is alcohol and how does it work?
When we talk about alcohol, we mean ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance found in alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, liqueurs or spirits.
In our body, alcohol works by weakening the central nervous system. Concretely, it inhibits the GABA-A receptors of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma amine-butyric acid).
Some effects of consuming it in large quantities can be:
- Disinhibition combined with euphoria
- Decreased reflexes
- Slowing of movements
Alcohol acts on the same receptors as many mind-altering drugs. In some cases, therefore, its effects may be similar. Benzodiazepines are an example of drugs that act similarly to alcohol.
Antidepressants and alcohol
Generally, alcohol consumption is contraindicated during pharmaceutical treatments. In the case of antidepressant treatment, the contraindication is even stronger.
As we have seen, some antidepressants work by using the same mechanism as that used by alcohol. The combination of antidepressants and alcohol therefore presupposes an increase in the individual effects of each substance.
The most important consequence of the combination of the two substances is the very profound reduction in the activity of the central nervous system. This implies an increase in depressive symptoms as well as an increase in disinhibition and violent and uncontrollable behavior.
Likewise, the following sedative effects are enhanced:
- Decreased alert state
- Increased drowsiness
- Decreased coordination and control of movements
- Decreased and slowed motor skills
- Slowing of reflexes
- Decreased memory capacity
On the other hand, an increase in psychotropic effects occurs. It is the result of the ability of certain antidepressant drugs, such as MAOIs, to inhibit the metabolism of alcohol by the liver. They thus inhibit the metabolic oxidation reactions of substances such as alcohol or other substances. Their effects on the central nervous system are therefore multiplied.
Another important consequence associated with the combination of alcohol and antidepressants is the intensification of their side effects. Sleep impairment is a good example of this information.
Antidepressants for the treatment of alcoholism
Alcoholism is a complex pathology on which several factors act. As we mentioned before, this disease is closely related to depression. Some symptoms of alcoholism can also be treated with psychotropic drugs such as anxiolytics or antidepressants.
The effect of using antidepressants in the detoxification process from tobacco is currently being investigated. Examples of drugs used are trazodone, venlafaxine, and fluoxetine.
The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs, have been shown to be effective in the symptoms of alcohol abstinence syndrome as well as in reducing craving .
Antidepressants are also useful when severe depressive episodes occur during alcohol treatment. There are also many cases of patients suffering from both depression and alcohol dependence. Treating this type of patient is a real challenge.
In conclusion, the combination of antidepressants and alcohol has important effects on our body. We must know their consequences and avoid the complications that may arise. During pharmacological treatment, it is essential to follow the specialist’s instructions and to ask any questions that we may have.