For those who may not be familiar with the term polydrug use, it involves using two or more psychoactive drugs in conjunction with one another to achieve a desired high, and it is a practice commonly seen in those who abuse alcohol. This form of drug abuse can have devastating consequences and should be avoided at all costs. To further illustrate this point, in 2011, more than half of all alcohol-related hospital emergency room visits involved the use of illicit and prescription-based drugs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
While combining any drug with alcohol is dangerous, some combination can pose a greater risk than others. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most dangerous antidepressants and alcohol combinations and how they can impact one’s physical and psychological health.
HOW COMBINING ALCOHOL WITH OTHER SUBSTANCES CAN LEAD TO A MORE INTENSE HIGH
One of the most important things to note when it comes to polydrug abuse involving alcohol is that alcohol intensifies the effects of many street-level drugs by making them as much as three times more available to the body, according to a study published by the American Chemical Society, a United States-based scientific society. The same holds true for combining alcohol with prescription-based drugs as well. Enzymes and other substances can alter how the body metabolizes these drugs. In many cases, they do not completely dissolve in the digestive tract.
Instead, they remain in the bloodstream, triggering an even more intense effect than if they were taken by themselves. When it comes to prescription-based medication, alcohol can partially or fully diminish the effectiveness of certain medications, which can nullify the whole point of taking them in the first place and further compromises your health.
WHAT ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS ANTIDEPRESSANT AND ALCOHOL COMBINATIONS?
While it is reasonably safe to say that you should avoid combining alcohol with any antidepressant, certain combinations can significantly jeopardize your health, some of which include
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors – Commonly referred to as MAOIs, these medications, which are often prescribed to treat depression, should not be combined with alcohol as the combination can cause a spike in blood pressure, which, in turn, can lead to difficulty breathing, an irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and much more.
Tricyclic antidepressants – Commonly referred to as TCAs, tricyclic antidepressants, which include popular medications like doxepin and amitriptyline, should be strictly avoided if you’re intent on consuming alcohol. The combination of TCAs and alcohol can lead to feelings of drowsiness as well as impaired motor coordination.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – Also known as SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors make up a large percentage of the most commonly prescribed antidepressant mediations. Some of the most popular SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, and Prozac. When combined with alcohol, all of these medications can trigger extreme drowsiness.
It is also worth noting that all antidepressants can intensify feelings of intoxication, which can cause you to feel extremely inebriated after consuming fewer drinks. Also, alcohol nullifies the impact that these medications would otherwise have on your mental health. Furthermore, the combination can also make feelings of depression, aggression, and anxiety even worse.
ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE
Alcoholic beverages that contain soda should also be avoided as the caffeine in these drinks can trick you into not only feeling less intoxicated but also less tired than you would otherwise feel. As a result, you will be more inclined to keep on drinking, which could potentially lead to alcohol poisoning. Beyond that, the combination of alcohol and caffeine can lead to extreme hangovers, not to mention dehydration, which may require hospitalization.
ALCOHOL AND DEHYDRATION
If your polydrug use entails consuming alcohol, antidepressants, and caffeine, you’re more likely to develop a severe case of dehydration. As you drink, vasopressin, which is an antidiuretic hormone, goes to work by restricting how much fluid the body is capable of holding. That said, the more you drink, the more you will urinate. The longer this cycle continues, the more dehydrated you ultimately become. Of course, if excessive drinking leads to vomiting, your risk of extreme dehydration is that much greater. In most cases, extreme dehydration can be resolved by continuously replenishing the body with water or electrolyte-containing sports drinks like Gatorade, for example. If the body becomes too dehydrated, however, fluid levels will have to be replenished intravenously, which will require hospitalization.