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Mixing Amitriptyline and Alcohol: Side Effects, Interactions, & Blackouts

Mixing Amitriptyline and Alcohol: Side Effects, Interactions, & Blackouts

It’s always important to follow your doctor’s instructions whenever you’re taking prescription medication. For most antidepressants like Elavil, doctors often advise against alcohol use. This can be considerably challenging for someone who relies on alcohol to socialize or doesn’t want to be the only person who isn’t drinking at a social event. However, information on the effects of mixing amitriptyline and alcohol is there to prevent any adverse reactions from occurring. In this guide, Banyan Delaware goes over the risks of drinking alcohol with Elavil and why you should avoid it. 

What Is Elavil (Amitriptyline)?

Elavil is the brand name for amitriptyline, which is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). This was one of the first antidepressants to be developed and distributed, meaning that Elavil has been around since the 1960s. Since then, advancements in medical research have allowed doctors to produce safer antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, better known as SSRIs and SNRIs, which have become the preferred choice of medicated treatment for depression due to their milder side effects. 

Nonetheless, Elavil is still prescribed to patients because of its efficacy in treating chronic nerve pain, including pain caused by illnesses like fibromyalgia and arthritis. In higher doses, it also provides the added benefit of treating both chronic pain and any depression or anxiety disorders it causes. 

In addition to its desired side effects, Elavil may also produce side effects like: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble urinating
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of libido
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Overexcitement
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low energy
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

Amitriptyline With Alcohol Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects of amitriptyline are drowsiness and fatigue, so much so that doctors will usually tell their patients to take their dose 30 minutes before bed to promote sleep and help them sleep through the night. However, for those who don’t have this option, Elavil is prescribed in doses that can be taken throughout the day. 
Can you drink on amitriptyline? Because both substances act as depressants, you should not mix amitriptyline and alcohol. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that, in large quantities, can produce sedation, drowsiness, and even loss of consciousness. 

Combining Elavil and alcohol can increase symptoms like fatigue and drowsiness, making users feel excessively sleepy and impairing their judgment. In extreme cases, mixing alcohol and amitriptyline can even lead to blackouts. Blackouts are temporary losses of consciousness, during which a person may experience memory loss. 

Blackouts can be caused by many things, one of the most common being excessive alcohol consumption. On the other hand, drinking can also exacerbate the side effects of Elavil, such as dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness. Although you shouldn’t drive or operate any heavy machinery while drinking alcohol, amitriptyline use while drinking can also impair one’s judgment and coordination severely to the point where driving and operating heavy machinery is also unsafe.

To sum it up, amitriptyline with alcohol effects may include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blackouts and memory loss 
  • Dehydration

Keep in mind that alcohol can also interfere with Elavil’s efficacy in treating symptoms of depression or pain. Oftentimes, this lack of effect can cause the person to take higher doses of the medication than directed, increasing their risk of adverse effects like serotonin syndrome. 

With that said, it’s equally as important not to skip a dose of your medication so you can drink. This could trigger withdrawal symptoms like headaches, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and even worsened mental health symptoms like anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 

Amitriptyline Overdose

If a person were to overdose on amitriptyline, they are facing a significant medical issue that has to be treated right away. The drug functions as a tricyclic antidepressant by raising the concentrations of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Amitriptyline, however, can cause a number of potentially fatal effects when taken in excess amounts. The effects of an overdose on the cardiovascular system are among the things that are most worrisome.

Amitriptyline may cause tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and other potentially fatal arrhythmias by altering normal cardiac rhythms. Additionally, the medication might cause electrocardiogram (ECG) QRS complexes to expand, a sign of serious toxicity. These cardiac effects can be highly harmful, particularly for people with established heart issues. Combining alcohol and amitriptyline may only increase the likelihood of this occurring.

What Should You Not Mix Amitriptyline With Aside From Alcohol?

In order to avoid potentially harmful interactions, amitriptyline should not be taken with a number of other drugs and substances besides alcohol. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a significant class of medications that require caution. Amitriptyline and MAOIs together can cause serotonin syndrome, a serious and sometimes fatal illness. Overproduction of serotonin in the brain is the cause of this illness, which can cause symptoms like confusion, fever, rapid heartbeat, and muscle rigidity. It is essential for people who are prescribed amitriptyline to let their doctor know if they have recently used MAOIs in order to ensure correct management and prevent this harmful combination.

Furthermore, caution should be exercised when using amitriptyline with medications that impact the central nervous system, such as sedatives, tranquilizers, and other antidepressants. These drugs may intensify the sedative effects of amitriptyline, which could result in excessive sleepiness, decreased cognitive function, and a higher risk of accidents or falls. It is crucial for people on amitriptyline to let their doctor know about all of their prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as any herbal supplements or recreational drugs. This knowledge will help medical practitioners make wise choices regarding drug modifications and prospective substitutes to guarantee the patient's safety and well-being.

Help for Polysubstance Abuse

Unfortunately, many people abuse antidepressants by mixing them with alcohol to get high. In the end, however, they’re only increasing their risk of toxicity, overdose, and possibly death. Addiction is among the most common risks of polydrug use or the use of multiple substances. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, the addiction specialists at our Milford treatment center can help. Our facility offers medical detox in Delaware for a variety of substances, including alcohol and prescription drugs, to help patients who are addicted to either one or multiple drugs. 

Our Milford rehab even offers inpatient Delaware addiction treatment, during which clients meet with counselors individually and in group sessions to develop sober habits that will keep them abstinent from drugs and alcohol long-term. Regardless of the severity of your addiction, our specialists can set you up for a successful, sober life. 

For more information about our Delaware drug rehab programs, contact Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763

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Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Mixing Amitriptyline and Alcohol: Side Effects, Interactions, & Blackouts
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