Antidepressants are medications used to treat major depressive disorder, some anxiety disorders, various conditions associated with chronic pain, and to help manage some substance use disorders.
Common types of antidepressants include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro). Although the specifics aren’t clear, antidepressants are believed to work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin and noradrenaline, which are linked to mood and emotion as well as pain. Unfortunately, because these substances boost mood and alleviate pain, they’re also commonly abused along with other drugs. Our substance abuse treatment center in Stuart, FL, is highlighting the dangers of mixing drugs with antidepressants.
What Not to Mix with Antidepressants
Usually, whenever people are prescribed antidepressants, their doctors give them a rundown of things they should avoid doing while taking their medications, such as using other drugs. Taking drugs while on antidepressants can either interfere with the effects of the medication, making them ineffective, or they can intensify these side effects to create an abnormal reaction. Mixing antidepressants and illegal drugs, in particular, can also increase the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.
Additionally, “mixing” drugs doesn’t just refer to using them at the same time. Drugs will interact with any other substance you have in your system. If you take Prozac, for instance, it will accumulate in your blood, liver, and other organs over time. If you use any other drugs during this period, an interaction can occur. Below are some dangers of mixing drugs and antidepressants you should look out for if you’re taking anything for anxiety or depression.
Taking cocaine and antidepressants can interfere with your medication’s ability to balance the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, making them ineffective and possibly worsening your symptoms. Essentially, antidepressants are meant to correct any chemical imbalances that may contribute to depression, such as low serotonin. Cocaine, on the other hand, is abused to spike dopamine and serotonin levels, producing an energetic and euphoric high. Although this rush of dopamine and serotonin makes them feel great for a few minutes, mixing antidepressants and cocaine can produce serotonin syndrome, which is marked by symptoms like confusion, anxiety, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and coma. Additionally, taking cocaine with other drugs also increases the individual’s risk of addiction. Chronic users often require cocaine addiction treatment and treatment for cocaine withdrawal symptoms to recover.
Among our list of drugs you shouldn’t mix with antidepressants is alcohol. Like cocaine, alcohol can also interfere with the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, counteracting with antidepressants. There are also some serious physical side effects of mixing antidepressants with alcohol, including an increased risk of blacking out, extreme drowsiness, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. The last two of these side effects can contribute to cardiovascular disease if repeated over time, including issues like heart attack and stroke. On top of all this, mixing antidepressants and alcohol can also cause serotonin syndrome, which can be physically and emotionally uncomfortable, especially for someone who’s taking medication for depression or anxiety.
MDMA, also referred to as Molly or ecstasy, is a psychoactive drug that's used recreationally. Molly is known for producing side effects like altered sensations, increased energy, empathy, and pleasure. Surprisingly, many people take antidepressants to combat the hangover-like feeling they experience after a long period of ecstasy abuse. To sum it up, MDMA spikes serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain to elevate mood. Once the drug wears off, the levels of neurotransmitters drop lower than they originally were, which can contribute to symptoms of depression. In an attempt to mitigate these symptoms, Molly users may take antidepressants. Not only can the mix greatly impact the liver, but it can also produce serotonin syndrome, as well.
In addition to illegal drugs, mixing certain cough medicines with antidepressants can also be dangerous. For example, when certain antidepressants are mixed with drugs like Alka-Seltzer and Dayquil, the user may experience extreme drowsiness. Because many cough medications are available over the counter, some people who take antidepressants may take these medications together without realizing the impact they can have together. As a result, driving or operating heavy machinery can be dangerous. Also, taking these kinds of medications together can have a serious impact on the liver, especially if taken together for long periods.
If you’re ever prescribed any medications, be sure to ask your doctor whether there are other substances that you need to avoid. Moreover, polydrug use also increases the likelihood of addiction, as well, especially when illicit drugs are involved. If you or someone you know has been impacted by drug addiction, call Banyan Treatment Centers Stuart at 888-280-4763 to learn how our Florida drug and alcohol treatment can help.
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