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Wellbutrin and alcohol

Are you a drinker? Most adult drink some form of alcohol and some are frequent drinkers. A question that is on every person's mind however when taking medication, specifically antidepressants (we will use Wellbutrin as an example) is "can I drink while using an antidepressant?" For some patients, drinking is not only a personal habit, it's also a lifestyle. For most medications, your healthcare provider will not forbid you to indulge in an alcoholic drink (however, this depends what you are being treated for, what you are prescribed for treatment and the overall alcoholic content of the drink). Wellbutrin is a brand name for the drug bupropion which is used to treat depression and under another brand name, Zyban, to help a person to quit smoking by decreasing cravings and decrease other smoking withdrawal effects. People will also use Wellbutrin if they are struggling with other antidepressant's side effects.

With a unique drug like Wellbutrin there are many things to take into consideration before deciding if you should really have that drink or not. One of the side effects of Wellbutrin is seizures; the risk of having a seizure while on this particular drug is mostly dose dependent (you are at a higher risk if you are already susceptible to seizures before starting your treatment on Wellbutrin). The risk of having a seizure while using Wellbutrin is slightly higher than the risk with other common antidepressants. If you are on a dosage that exceeds the daily recommended dosage (450mg per day), then you are at an even higher risk of having a seizure. If your dosage is quite low, then your chances of a seizure are also lowered. Drinking alcohol while using Wellbutrin can also increase your risk of having a seizure because alcohol lowers your seizure threshold. This refers to how resistant you are to having a seizure-if you are already quite resistant to them you won't have a seizure under normal circumstances. So it will vary from person to person and your own medical history and condition.

Your healthcare provider may not absolutely forbid you to have the occasional drink (unless you already have a history of seizures or you are on other medications on top of Wellbutrin), but they might recommend you have a moderate to light drink. The possibility for side effects varies from person to person. If you do not have a very high alcohol tolerance, your doctor may recommend that you avoid alcohol altogether. One of the main concerns of drinking alcohol while using Wellbutrin is that both the drug and the drink act on similar chemicals in the brain (the drug may increase the effects of your drink by increasing your symptoms of depression or by affecting your motor skills). On most medicine labels, there are warnings which caution you on the effects of the particular medication while inducing alcohol or the labels will just say not to drink any at all because alcohol can enhance the effects of most prescribed drugs. In addition, if you already consume alcohol on a regular basis and suddenly cut back, this can change your seizure threshold as well. This is why it is important to discuss alcohol consumption while using prescribed medication with your healthcare provider. Always be sure about the effects of alcohol before you consume the medication drugs.

Anything that has a major impact on your health such as consuming alcohol should always be brought forward to your healthcare provider (there is no such thing as too many questions!). Decisions like this without getting a professional opinion can have devastating results.