Prozac and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that disturbs the brain’s chemistry and slows down bodily functions. Separately, Prozac also changes brain chemistry and body functions. Alcohol use, while also taking Prozac, can lead to the amplification of both drugs' side effects. These are the same symptoms that Prozac treats. In some cases, combining alcohol use and Prozac can lead to suicidal feelings and tendencies.
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Mixing Prozac (Fluoxetine) and Alcohol: Interactions & Health Risks

What Is Prozac (Fluoxetine)?

Prozac, otherwise known as Fluoxetine, is an antidepressant. Prozac is an SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. These types of drugs affect the serotonin neurotransmitter in the brain. They also improve mood and prevent feelings of depression and anxiety.

Prozac is available as a liquid, tablet, capsule, or a delayed-release capsule. It is suitable for adults and children over the age of 10 years. However, only children with major depressive disorder (MDD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are allowed to take Prozac.

Prozac is prescribed for various mental health disorders, including:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

It is estimated that around one in ten people in the United States uses SSRI drugs. This includes one in four women in their 40s and 50s.

UNC 2016

Side Effects of Use

Prozac has many side effects, including the risk of suicidal thoughts. The FDA requires Prozac to be packaged with a black box warning. This warning states that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicide in people younger than 25 years of age. Suicidal thoughts resulting from Prozac are more common in children, adolescents, and young adults.

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The complete list of side effects include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Decreased libido and sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Unusual dreams
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Skin rashes
  • Tremors
  • Flu
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Sinusitis 
  • Indigestion 
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vasodilatation 
  • Increased risk for addiction
Graphic human body showing symptoms.

Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Heavy drinking over an extended period can lead to chronic physical and mental health conditions. Alcohol abuse can cause or contribute to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and various types of cancer.

Every person is different, so the effects of alcohol on the body will vary. A range of risk factors influences these effects. These include:

  • The amount of alcohol consumed
  • How long alcohol has been consumed
  • A person’s medical history
  • A person’s tolerance to alcohol and other drugs that are mixed with it

Short-Term Effects of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol 

Mixing Prozac and alcohol can be dangerous, leading to various symptoms of discomfort or damage. Common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased risk of Prozac overdose
  • Memory lapses
  • Impaired cognition

Long-Term Effects of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol 

No long-term effects are confirmed through research or studies. However, there are some likely consequences suggested from the continuous mixing of Prozac and alcohol. Common side effects include:

  • Heart damage
  • Liver or kidney issues
  • Blood sugar irregularities 
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Risks of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that disturbs the brain’s chemistry and slows down bodily functions. Separately, Prozac also changes brain chemistry and body functions. Alcohol use, while also taking Prozac, can lead to the amplification of both drugs' side effects.

Mixing alcohol with Prozac can result in heightened feelings of depression and anxiety. These are the same symptoms that Prozac treats. In some cases, combining alcohol use and Prozac can lead to suicidal feelings and tendencies.


Detoxification & Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 

If you are addicted to alcohol, you may experience both psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or reduce how much you drink. This is called alcohol withdrawal.

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. If you only drink occasionally, it is unlikely that you will experience alcohol withdrawal. If you have experienced alcohol withdrawal before, you will likely go through it again the next time you try to quit.

Alcohol withdrawal is likely to begin between eight hours and a day after your last alcoholic drink.

Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Mood swings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure, body temperature, and sweating
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Mental confusion
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Seizures
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Treatment Options for Addiction

There are various methods of treatment for alcohol addiction. These range from inpatient rehab to therapy and support groups.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, and every individual is different in what works for them. What may be a good fit for one person may not work for another. Understanding and discussing the various options with a medical professional is an essential first step to recovery.

Inpatient Treatment 

Those with more severe cases of alcohol addiction may opt for inpatient treatment. This is where patients stay within a facility.

At inpatient treatment facilities, patients are often offered a range of behavioral treatments. These treatments involve working with a trained medical professional to identify and help change patterns of behaviors that result in heavy drinking. 

These behavioral treatments often include the following features:

  • Developing the skills and mindset to stop or reduce drinking
  • Building a strong social support system
  • Setting attainable goals
  • Coping with or avoiding trigger that may lead to a relapse

Depending on the individual, inpatient treatment may also involve medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Dual Diagnosis Treatment 

Alcoholism and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. 

When both alcohol addiction and mental illness are present, the first step is to treat alcoholism. Treatment for a mental health disorder will not work unless the addiction to alcohol is addressed first. During dual diagnosis treatment, doctors may administer medications to assist with withdrawal symptoms. Therapy sessions can also help the patient deal with negative feelings caused by their mental health disorder(s).

Therapy and Support Groups 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other support programs offer peer help and care for those addicted to alcohol. Therapy and support groups often combine with treatment led by medical professionals to add an extra layer of support.

Medication-Assisted Treatment 

Doctors may prescribe medications to treat alcohol addiction, also called alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD). These treatments work by offsetting adjustments in the brain caused by alcoholism. All prescribed medications are non-addictive and can be used alone or combined with other types of treatment. These can include behavioral practices and therapies.

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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. November 2016.

University of North Carolina Health Care. "How do antidepressants trigger fear and anxiety? Researchers map the anxiety circuit in the brain and use a compound to limit fearful behavior -- an acute side effect of commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2016.

Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Revised 2014. Web.

Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 23, 2017. Web.

Fluoxetine. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, November 15, 2014. Web.

Mental and Substance Use Disorders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, March 8, 2016.Web.

Outpatient Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, November 2013.

Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help, 2014.

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Updated on: July 17, 2020
Ellie Swain
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Medically Reviewed: June 17, 2020
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Annamarie Coy,
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