Bupropion and Alcohol: Dangers in the Mix

It’s never wise to mix prescription medications like Bupropion and alcohol–or illicit drugs and alcohol for that matter. Alcohol can significantly amplify the effects of bupropion. Clinicians prescribe Bupropion to treat depression and, in some cases, to help smokers quit smoking. Alcohol is a depressant so it depresses the central nervous system. Bupropion impacts levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. As both chemicals impact the central nervous system, there’s considerable risk for adverse reactions like increased sedation and seizure onset. 

The dangers of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs like bupropion are real. Although some people may drink while taking antidepressants without incident one time, another time may involve dangerous side effects. Bupropion and alcohol are a dangerous mix that people should avoid. It’s never wise to mix alcohol with any prescription drugs. The alcohol may prevent the drug from doing its job or it may increase drug side effects. 

WhiteSands offers treatment for alcohol use disorder and drug addiction. Our addiction treatments include evidence-based therapies and holistic treatments that target each aspect of addiction. Abusing drugs and alcohol may not involve addiction–yet. However, if you have a pattern of abusing drugs and alcohol, you are at risk for developing a substance use disorder. Visit us for an evaluation. We can help you transform your lifestyle and learn how to manage your condition. With treatment, you can achieve lasting recovery. 

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Understanding Bupropion and Its Uses

Bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin) is a prescription medication that is used to treat depression. Bupropion is an aminoketone antidepressant that primarily impacts the neurotransmitters in the brain known as norepinephrine and dopamine. It is not an SSRI, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and though regarded as an atypical antidepressant, it is often prescribed for individuals who are concerned about common antidepressant side effects like increased drowsiness, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. 

Even though Bupropion is less likely to cause certain side effects, it is associated with others. Bupropion can cause side effects that include seizures, gastrointestinal complaints, appetite loss, gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea, increased sweating, increased urination, vision changes, ringing in ears, weight loss, tremors, joint aches, insomnia, and weight loss. 

In some cases, Bupropion can cause more serious side effects–even some that could be life-threatening. These include irregular heart rate, dark urine, peeling skin, blisters, chest pain, sexual dysfunction, yellow skin and eyes, severe headaches, hallucinations, seizures, and breathing difficulties. Patients should seek medical attention if side effects become severe or remain persistent.  

Bupropion is also prescribed to help people who are trying to stop smoking. The cravings associated with smoking cessation and mood swings can be challenging to deal with. Bupropion offers relief from these unpleasant symptoms and can make quitting smoking easier. 

It should be said that one of the more common risks of using Bupropion is seizures. A person who has a history of seizures should not take Bupropion. Someone with brain tumors, certain eating disorders, and withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines should not use Bupropion. 

The Chemistry of Bupropion: How It Affects the Brain

mixing bupropion and alcohol

Bupropion affects the central nervous system by impacting neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers. Bupropion inhibits the reuptake of these neurotransmitters and also increases their release. This dual action has a positive action on depression. Even though Bupropion isn’t specifically formulated to impact serotonin, it does have some effect on that neurotransmitter, but it’s not known precisely how. There’s a strong likelihood that Bupropion impacts the entire neurotransmitter system, but again, it’s not altogether understood how. What the medical community does say, is that the drug is effective for treating depression and is, generally, safe when used as directed. 

Clinicians at WhiteSands treat clients who take Bupropion. In some cases, patients have not responded positively to SSRIs, which are typically first-line antidepressants. In these instances, Bupropion might be the ideal medication alternative. 

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body and Mind

Alcohol can have a serious impact on mind and body health. First, an acute episode that involves a large intake of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning, a potentially deadly situation. Long-term use of alcohol can cause the slow deterioration of mental and physical health. A person who is addicted to alcohol is at increased risk of developing an alcohol-related health condition such as cirrhosis or kidney disease. Alcohol can also impact aspects of a person’s lifestyle, including their job and relationships. 

Alcohol can have a wide range of effects on physical health that could include:

  • Liver damage/liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Dehydration
  • Weight gain
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia
  • Weakened immunity
  • Increased risk of injury

The effects of alcohol on the brain can include:

  • Mood changes
  • Increased sedation effects
  • Cognitive issues
  • Memory problems
  • Increased risk-taking behaviors (i.e. driving while under the influence, unprotected sex)

Light or moderate drinking may not trigger these health problems; however, heavy drinking can increase the risk of negative mental and physical health effects. Moreover, untreated alcohol use disorder is likely to cause mental and physical health to deteriorate. 

Why Mixing Bupropion and Alcohol Can Be Dangerous

Mixing Bupropion and alcohol is a dangerous and potentially deadly mix. Combining alcohol and bupropion can increase the risk of seizures. People taking high doses of Bupropion or people vulnerable to seizures are at heightened risk for seizures when consuming alcohol. Combining these two substances can also cause increased sedation; people using both chemicals may become extremely dizzy or experience changes in their cognitive function. This dangerous combination can also worsen existing mental health problems and lead to increased sensitivity to alcohol. 

A person’s response to mixing Bupropion and alcohol may vary depending on their dose or other medications they might also be taking. Reactions to the mix can also vary from one person to another. The dose of medication and amount of consumed alcohol will also impact the reactions a person may experience. If you are taking Bupropion and thinking of drinking, don’t. Alcohol can also increase the likelihood of adverse Bupropion effects. If you are struggling to stop drinking or need help managing a dual diagnosis, you can rely on WhiteSands for help. 

WhiteSands Treatment Approach: Ensuring Patient Safety and Awareness

WhiteSands is a leading addiction treatment center. We offer individualized treatment for clients that is based on clinically approved therapies and medications. We rely on evidence-based treatments because they’ve been rigorously and scientifically tested to be safe and effective for treatment. We complement evidence-based treatments with holistic and alternative treatments that can enhance the recovery process. 

If you need addiction treatment, contact WhiteSands to learn more about our broad range of treatment plans. Our clinicians have the training and experience needed to treat substance use disorders as well as a wide range of mental illnesses. We can provide medication management that may or may not involve Bupropion. Antidepressants are frequently prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, and other disorders, but they are often not the only remedy. Psychotherapy and other treatments can also impact condition management. 

Call WhiteSands at 877-640-7820 to learn more about our high-quality treatment center. We have a reputation for providing high-quality, caring treatment. Our rehab centers also provide medical detox and dual diagnosis treatment. We look forward to helping you achieve your recovery goals. 

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.