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Why You Shouldn’t Mix Bupropion and Alcohol

Why You Shouldn’t Mix Bupropion and Alcohol

When people start taking antidepressants like bupropion (Wellbutrin), it’s common to have lots of questions about the side effects, you might expect and possible interactions. Usually, one of the questions patients ask is, “Can you drink on Wellbutrin?” If you’re taking this medication, there are a few things you should know before you pour yourself a glass of wine or crack open a beer. Keep reading with Banyan Massachusetts for some reasons why you shouldn’t mix bupropion and alcohol.

How Bupropion (Wellbutrin) Works

Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion, which is an antidepressant that’s used to treat symptoms of major depressive disorder, reduce depressive symptoms in people with seasonal affective disorder, and treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s also prescribed in some cases to help stop smoking under the brand name Zyban.

Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant, meaning it works differently than other common antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), meaning it works by keeping neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine available in the brain for longer periods.

It prevents the brain from reabsorbing these chemicals, allowing them to take effect. This helps to improve concentration, focus, and other symptoms of ADHD.

In people with depression, bupropion improves mood and produces well-being by preventing the reuptake of dopamine. Wellbutrin is different from most antidepressants because it doesn’t affect serotonin.

Drinking on Wellbutrin: Is It Safe?

No, you cannot drink alcohol with Wellbutrin. A bupropion and alcohol interaction can lead to numerous adverse side effects, which can potentially be life-threatening.

Alcohol naturally produces sedation and drowsiness, especially when consumed in large quantities. When combined with Wellbutrin, these effects are elevated because both substances can depress the central nervous system (CNS).

This increased sensation of fatigue, dizziness, and drowsiness can become dangerous and even deadly in certain cases, such as while driving, operating heavy machinery, or engaging in physical activity. This combination can also impair one’s ability to perform at work or school.

Wellbutrin and Alcohol Side Effects

Wellbutrin and alcohol both increase each other’s side effects. The liver may struggle to properly process each drug entirely, which means it will end up processing less of each. This slower processing time can lead to increased side effects as well as an increased risk of overdose and intoxication.

Common side effects of drinking alcohol with Wellbutrin include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired motor skills and coordination
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Increased risk of seizures

Because alcohol and bupropion both produce central nervous system depression on their own, taking them together also comes with the danger of overdose, including symptoms like respiratory depression. This is among the most common and deadliest depressant overdose symptoms, which can be fatal depending on the amount of alcohol and Wellbutrin consumed.

Furthermore, not only can drinking on bupropion lead to intense CNS depression, but alcohol can also interfere with bupropion’s ability to mitigate depression and ADHD symptoms. As a result, existing depression may become worse and depressive symptoms may even occur in people who don’t have the diagnosis.

This development or worsening of depression and ADHD symptoms can disrupt a person’s life significantly, not only making normal day-to-day activities difficult but also increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts. Wellbutrin and alcohol use can also lead to the development of seizures.

The interaction of the two disrupts brain function and nerve cell communication, which can lead to seizures. Wellbutrin and alcohol withdrawal is also marked by seizure and other symptoms. For this reason, it’s crucial to receive treatment from our Massachusetts drug detox partnerships to mitigate these symptoms and make the withdrawal process as safe and comfortable as possible.

With that said, if you’re thinking of skipping a day of Wellbutrin to drink alcohol, don’t. Alcohol remains in your system for a while after your last drink, so it’s possible to experience an adverse reaction if you take Wellbutrin the day after drinking. Overdose is also a serious risk of this combination, so it’s best to avoid consuming alcohol while taking prescription drugs.

Can Wellbutrin Help With Alcoholism?

Doctors have studied how Wellbutrin impacts alcohol dependence and cravings, despite the FDA not having specifically licensed it to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). Two neurotransmitters in the brain that are altered as part of the Wellbutrin mechanism of action are dopamine and norepinephrine, which are connected to reward circuits and addiction.1

It is believed that Wellbutrin may lessen alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for patients to stay sober. Wellbutrin must always be used in conjunction with other treatments that have been shown to be effective, such as counseling or support groups, because the drug's efficacy in treating alcoholism can vary from person to person.

There could be negative effects and drug combinations, and the medication might not be suitable for everyone. As stated before, actually combining bupropion and alcohol can cause serious complications in users. It is critical for people with alcoholism to speak with a licensed healthcare provider before contemplating Wellbutrin as a therapy option.

Additionally, treating alcoholism alone with medication is insufficient. For the best results in treating alcoholism, a holistic approach to addiction treatment is needed, one that incorporates psychotherapy services, counseling, and social support is often advised. Overall, even though Wellbutrin may show some promise in helping with alcoholism, it should only be taken as a part of an extensive treatment strategy that is adapted to the specific needs and circumstances of the patient.

Help for Alcohol and Bupropion Abuse

If you have any questions about prescription drugs like Wellbutrin and what you should avoid during treatment, speak to your doctor. It’s important to be aware of all the possible reactions and side effects that could occur before you begin taking any medication.

Additionally, if you have a history of alcohol abuse, be sure to mention it to your prescribing physician. This way, they’ll be on the lookout for any signs of polysubstance abuse and can keep you accountable while taking your medication

If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to alcohol or shows signs of mixing alcohol with other drugs, consider seeking professional help. Our Banyan Rehab in Massachusetts offers a variety of drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs that can help you take that first step toward sobriety.

For more information about our Massachusetts addiction treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.


  1. NIH - A Review of the Neuropharmacology of Bupropion, a Dual Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor

Related Reading:

What Happens When You Mix Vyvanse and Alcohol?

Impact of Alcohol on Mental Health

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.
Why You Shouldn’t Mix Bupropion and Alcohol
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