Can You Drink Alcohol With Lexapro?

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 11/15/2021

Lexapro is an antidepressant. While Lexapro is an antidepressant, it can be consumed with alcohol. Still, that doesn't mean you should consume both Lexapro and alcohol. The combination of the two substances can lead to side effects and health risks.

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is the brand of a drug known as escitalopram oxalate. Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is one of the leading types of depression medication available. These medications are well-rounded and don't cause side effects like some older types of depression medication.

SSRI medications are one of the safest antidepressants on the market, which is why Lexapro is popular. Lexapro treats depression by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for the reuptake of serotonin. The process leaves more serotonin in the brain, which improves mood and levels of normalcy. While Lexapro won't induce feelings of happiness, the medication can help people react to emotions and situations in a normal way.

Lexapro is typically prescribed to people with depressive disorders and other mental health conditions. It can treat depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and even major depressive disorder.

Is Lexapro a Stimulant?

No, lexapro is not a stimulant. Lexapro is an antidepressant, specifically an SSRI antidepressant. Lexapro blocks neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for the reuptake of serotonin. Stimulants are designed to increase activity within the brain. Some common stimulants include amphetamines, cocaine, and caffeine.

While antidepressants and stimulants can be used to treat the same conditions sometimes, it's important to consult with your doctor if you plan on mixing the drugs.

Does Lexapro Make You Feel Weird?

Lexapro is designed to alter brain chemistry in a way that restores balance, so in the first few weeks, users may experience side effects. These side effects include fatigue, drowsiness, and headaches. While Lexapro has a few side effects, it balances mood and helps users approach emotions and situations normally. Therefore, Lexapro should make you feel normal –not happy or weird.

If you stop taking Lexapro abruptly there are additional side effects and you might feel off. These side effects include stomach discomfort, irritability, dizziness, and even vomiting.

Depression and Lexapro affect everyone differently, so make sure you speak with your doctor if you begin to feel weird.

What is the Chemical Structure of Lexapro?

Lexapro is a brand name for escitalopram drugs. These drugs are SSRI antidepressants that block the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Lexapro alters brain chemistry to restore balance, improve mood, and treat depression or anxiety disorders.

The molecular formula for Lexapro is C20H21FN2O. The drug binds to high-affinity locations on the serotonin transporter protein and also binds to a secondary location, which makes Lexapro unique. The secondary location is a lower-affinity allosteric site. The drug binds here to prolong its effects and binding.

Is Lexapro Similar to Xanax?

No, Lexapro and Xanx are not the same drugs. Xanax is a benzodiazepine and Lexapro is an SSRI antidepressant. Benzodiazepine drugs are depressants that lower brain activity. Benzodiazepine medications are typically prescribed for anxiety attacks, panic attacks, PTSD, and other panic-inducing disorders.

Lexapro and Xanax are different because Lexapro blocks neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for the reuptake of serotonin. Lexapro needs to be taken consistently and its effects begin to work over long periods. On the other hand, Xanax works immediately.

Xanax and Lexapro treat similar conditions but Lexapro is a long-term solution whereas Xanax is typically a quick fix.

What Can You Not Mix With Lexapro?

There are a handful of drugs that can limit Lexapro's effectiveness and cause side effects. Everyone's body is different but some common medications continue to produce adverse effects when used with Lexapro.

If you're taking Lexapro, you shouldn't use:

  • Amphetamines 

  • Buspirone

  • Fentanyl

  • Tryptophan 

  • St. John's Wort

  • Zomig 

  • Ultram

  • Rizatriptan

  • Sumatriptan 

  • Frova 

  • Alcohol (in some cases)

  • Opioids 

  • Tramadol 

These are a handful of the most common medications you can't mix with Lexapro. You should always consult with your doctor before mixing medications and other drugs with Lexapro. 

Why do Individuals Mix Lexapro With Alcohol? 

Many individuals mix alcohol with antidepressants like Lexapro because they think it will enhance the drunkenness produced by alcohol or the mood changes produced by the antidepressants. While this is possible for some people, combining antidepressants and alcohol is seldom a good idea.

People may also mix Lexapro and alcohol because Lexapro is a long-term drug. When Lexapro is prescribed it's rarely for less than a month. Therefore, people might feel socially restrained if they can't hang out and share a drink with friends.

Drugs like Lexapro work by binding to serotonin receptors and blocking the reuptake of serotonin. For this reason, SSRI medications like Lexapro alter brain chemistry to reduce depression and help people return to normalcy. When combined with alcohol, the process can get interrupted because alcohol binds to the same receptors.

While some people enjoy mixing the two substances, it's never a good idea and you should consult with your doctor if you plan on mixing Lexapro and alcohol.

What are the Most Common Side Effects of Lexapro?

When taking antidepressants like Lexapro you might encounter side effects. While most side effects subside after one or two weeks, you should consult with your doctor if side effects get worse or don't improve.

The common side effects of Lexapro include:

  • Trouble with urination

  • Painful urination

  • Constipation

  • Nausea 

  • Drowsiness 

  • Nosebleeds 

  • Heavy menstrual periods 

  • Decreased libido

  • Inability to orgasm 

  • Anxiety 

  • Muscle twitches or feeling shaky

  • Dizziness 

  • Weaknesses 

  • Insomnia

You should contact your medical provider if you experience serious side effects like:

  • Low blood sugar

  • Low levels of electrolytes

  • Blurred vision 

  • Fever

  • Tremors

  • Irregular heartbeat 

While Lexapro is one of the safest antidepressants around, there can still be complications. If you experience severe side effects like skin rashes and other allergic reactions, it's important to make a trip to the emergency room.

What Side Effects Occur When You Combine Alcohol With Lexapro? 

When you combine alcohol and Lexapro there is a risk that you'll experience side effects. In many cases, consuming alcohol while taking Lexapro can enhance the side effects of Lexapro and even worsen symptoms of depression.

When you combine alcohol and Lexapro you might experience:

  • Blurred vision 

  • Confusion 

  • Dizziness 

  • Flushed skin

  • Changes in blood pressure 

  • Depression 

  • Irregular heartbeat 

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea 

  • Headaches 

  • Dehydration 

  • Frequent urination 

If you're going to drink alcohol while on an antidepressant, Lexapro is one of the safest options. That said, you should always limit your alcohol consumption when being treated for depression.

If you have to consume alcohol while taking Lexapro, 1 drink is recommended for women and 2 drinks are recommended for men.

Does Alcohol Affect How Well Lexapro Will Work? 

No, alcohol doesn't directly impact how Lexapro works. That said, it's not a good idea to mix them with alcohol. While clinical studies haven't shown concrete evidence that alcohol affects Lexapro's effectiveness, some people may experience side effects and worsening depression.

Alcohol impacts similar regions of the brain as Lexapro, so adverse reactions can occur. While modest alcohol consumption won't ruin the medication's ability to balance brain chemistry, binge drinking and frequent drinking can lead to negative effects and side effects.

You can mix alcohol and Lexapro but it shouldn't be done in large quantities and you should always consult your doctor before mixing substances.

How Long After Taking Lexapro can You Drink Alcohol? 

You can consume alcohol while taking Lexapro, so you don't need to wait for an extended period before drinking. In fact, if you drink alcohol in moderation there is a good chance that alcohol consumption won't cause any adverse effects. That said, there are some exceptions.

First and foremost, if you have alcohol abuse disorder (AUD) you shouldn't consume alcohol with Lexapro. Speak with your doctor about treatment options and address the alcohol issue first. Solving the alcohol abuse issue can enhance Lexapro's effectiveness and prevent unwanted side effects.

With Lexapro, you also want to avoid drinking alcohol after you conclude your treatment period. When you stop taking Lexapro your body needs to adjust to not having the substance. Adding alcohol into the mix during this stage can lead to intense side effects and medical complications. Plus, individuals may develop a dependence on alcohol during this period which can lead to alcoholism.

While it's safe to drink alcohol while you're taking Lexapro, you should avoid drinking as you're coming off the medication or if you suffer from alcoholism.

What Should Be Done to Reduce Alcohol Addiction?

Reducing alcohol addiction is important if you're seeking treatment for depression and other mental health disorders. Moreover, alcoholism can be the cause of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions. While hard to notice during the early stages of addiction, alcoholism begins as a frequent and hard to control the urge to consume alcohol.

Luckily, alcoholism can be treated in numerous ways and treatment modalities continue to improve. Some of the most common treatment modalities include:

  • Inpatient Treatment: Residential clinics where patients are housed, fed, and kept on the premises. These can be luxurious and expensive options depending on where you go.

  • Outpatient Treatment: This consists of patients going to clinics in a set frequency each week or month. Treatment methods consist of therapy, detoxification with medications like Diazepam, and partial hospitalization.

  • Sober Living: Sober living programs give patients more freedom but also more responsibility. These programs teach values, life skills, and responsibility alongside alcohol treatment.

  • Detox: Detox is for severe cases of alcoholism that require medications to ease potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Many people also choose to join AA groups after treatment concludes –these groups can also be joined before and during treatment. These groups give you a sponsor to monitor your behavior and a chance to speak about the addiction. For long-term sobriety, a program like AA can make a difference. 

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Thomas Roth
Lead Editor

Thomas has been working in the substance abuse industry for over 3 years and he's made it his mission to help those in need. Tom started out by writing content to help people find addiction treatment centers near their location. Once he understood the value in the words he wrote Tom shifted to outreach, editing, and content creation. If nothing else, Tom wants to see those who struggle with Alcohol abuse disorder recover.