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Paxil, Alcohol, and Abuse

Paxil and Alcohol

Paroxetine (Paxil) is an antidepressant used to treat symptoms
of a range of conditions. It may be used for depression, generalized anxiety
disorder (GAD), and social anxiety disorder. It may also treat obsessive-compulsive
disorder (OCD). Paxil is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It improves mood by altering levels of chemicals in
the brain called neurotransmitters.

As with other SSRIs, mixing alcohol with Paxil can lead to
some uncomfortable side effects. But Paxil can lead to other potentially
surprising problems with alcohol.

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Mixing Paxil and Alcohol

People who take Paxil should avoid alcohol while they’re on
the medication. One reason is that alcohol can make Paxil less effective. If
the drug doesn’t work as well, your symptoms may come back.

Alcohol can also increase some of Paxil’s side effects,
especially dizziness, sleepiness, and trouble concentrating. Other side effects
that may be exacerbated with alcohol include:

  • abnormal thoughts
  • changes in vision
  • dizziness
  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that
    are not really there)
  • high or low blood pressure
  • increased sex drive
  • intense excitement or lack of emotion
  • irregular heart rhythm
  • joint pain
  • loss of feeling
  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • paranoia
  • racing thoughts or excess energy (mania)
  • rigid muscles, poor muscle control, or
    uncontrolled muscle movements
  • suicidal thoughts or actions
  • uncontrollable laughing and/or crying
  • weight gain

Could Paxil Lead to Alcohol Abuse?

Some people who rely on alcohol to feel more comfortable in
social settings may find help in Paxil. A study in the journal Alcoholism:
Clinical & Experimental Research investigated the relationship between
Paxil and social drinking. Researchers found the drug could help people engage
in social situations more easily, reducing the need for alcohol. In turn, this
reduced reliance for social comfort could lead to a reduction in alcohol
dependence and abuse.

Serotonin is linked to alcohol abuse, anxiety, and impulsiveness. A review shows that Paxil has the potential to reduce alcohol cravings or lead to increased drinking in some people.

However, some research has linked SSRIs like Paxil to
increased alcohol cravings and abuse. That risk might be higher in people who
carry certain genes that already make them more susceptible to alcohol abuse.
In a review of studies on SSRIs
and alcohol dependence, researchers found the drugs actually led to an increase
in alcohol consumption in some groups.

This side effect is very rare, and the research is still in
its early stages. More studies need to be done to confirm whether there is
really a link between Paxil and alcohol abuse. For now, it’s important to avoid
alcohol entirely, or use it very carefully while you’re taking any SSRI. Let
your doctor know right away if you start to feel an urge to drink.

Further Words of Warning

Beyond alcohol, Paxil can also interact with a number of
other drugs you might be taking. While you’re on Paxil, you should avoid taking
MAOI inhibitors and thioridazine (Mellaril). You should also avoid the
antipsychotic medicine pimozide (Orap). These medicines can cause serious side
effects when taken together with Paxil.

According to information from the National
Institutes of Health, other drugs that can cause problems when taken with
Paxil include:

  • cimetadine (Tagamet), used to treat
    gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • fentanyl, an opioid pain reliever
  • drugs that thin the blood (warfarin, aspirin,
  • epilepsy medicines
  • medicines used to treat irregular heartbeats,
    schizophrenia, and HIV infection
  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), a blood
    pressure lowering drug
  • other antidepressants (tricyclics, lithium,
    SNRIs, or SSRIs)
  • pimozide (Orap), an antipsychotic drug
  • procyclidine (Kemadrin), a drug used to treat
    Parkinson’s disease
  • tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug
  • triptans used to treat migraine headaches

Doctor Discussion

If your doctor has prescribed Paxil or another drug in this
class, ask about all the possible side effects and interactions it can cause.
Be careful about using alcohol or medicines that might interact with your

you feel that Paxil is increasing your alcohol use, talk about it with your
doctor. They may be able to recommend a medication better suited for you.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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