If you take Cymbalta (the brand name of the generic drug duloxetine), what should you know about the potential interaction between it and alcohol? Alcohol does not mix well with several types of medications and can cause serious and sometimes deadly side effects. Mixing alcohol and Cymbalta is not safe or advisable, and this combination should be avoided.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Cymbalta

Should you use alcohol and Cymbalta together? The simple answer is probably not, but why? Several reasons to not mix these two substances exist.

Worsened Side Effects of Both Substances

Mixing Cymbalta and alcohol may increase the effects of each substance. Because both act on the brain in similar ways and affect the same chemicals, any side effects that you experience with either Cymbalta or alcohol will likely be worse when these two substances are combined than it would be with just one of them.

Possible Liver Damage

One of the first reasons it’s not a good idea to mix alcohol and Cymbalta use is because of the possibility of liver damage. Cymbalta on its own can lead to liver damage, but this risk is significantly amplified if you’re using both alcohol and Cymbalta.

The highest risk of liver damage associated with alcohol and Cymbalta are in people who have three or more drinks a day. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that Cymbalta not be prescribed to people who regularly use alcohol or have a history of liver damage.

Worsened Depression

With alcohol and Cymbalta there is also the potential that drinking while using this medicine could worsen symptoms of depression. Alcohol can make symptoms of depression worse, particularly over time. Cymbalta, while an antidepressant, can sometimes lead to an increase in depression. If you’re using alcohol regularly while also on Cymbalta, the alcohol may change the way your body uses the medicine or alter your brain chemistry to increase your depression. An increase in depression could raise the risk of suicide.

If you are concerned about the possible side effects of mixing Cymbalta and alcohol or have started to experience some of these side effects, speak with your physician and discuss whether to change your medications or drinking habits.

Cymbalta and Alcohol Withdrawal

Some evidence suggests that Cymbalta may benefit people who are going through alcohol withdrawal if the drug is taken once alcohol use is stopped. Cymbalta can reduce some of the anxious feelings and other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal for some people in certain circumstances. While Cymbalta may be useful in this case for some, it can also have some of the negative effects already discussed.

A small amount of evidence indicates that the use of Cymbalta may increase cravings for alcohol. There are anecdotal stories of people experiencing increased intoxication and blackouts when taking Cymbalta with alcohol, but these side effects have not been well studied.

Cymbalta should never be self-prescribed for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and should always be used under the direction of a physician. The physician should analyze the benefits and risks that could come from using Cymbalta for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, depending upon your unique circumstances.

Key Points: Alcohol and Cymbalta

While there may be some circumstances in which it might be okay to mix small amounts of alcohol with Cymbalta, it is typically not safe or advisable.

Mixing alcohol and Cymbalta may lead to:

  • Increased likelihood of liver damage
  • Increased depression and risk of suicide
  • Increase of the side effects normally experienced with alcohol
  • Increase of the side effects normally experienced with Cymbalta
  • Possibility of blackouts or increased intoxication

Mixing alcohol and Cymbalta can be dangerous or life-threatening. If you or a loved one find that you are mixing these substances even with the knowledge that it may be harmful, or continue to habitually take one of these substances even though you would like to cut back, you should consider speaking with an addiction specialist.

The Recovery Village is here to help you. Our caring, expert staff want to help you reach a full recovery, and would welcome the chance to talk with you more about what The Recovery Village can offer you.

    

National Alliance on Mental Health. “Duloxetine (Cymbalta).” December 2018. Accessed April 4, 2019.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Highlights of Prescribing Information.” 2004. Accessed April 4, 2019.

Medscape.com. “Duloxetine (Rx).” October 2018. Accessed April 4, 2019.

Skelly, Mary J. & Weiner, Jeff L. “Chronic treatment with prazosin or duloxetine lessens concurrent anxiety-like behavior and alcohol intake: evidence of disrupted noradrenergic signaling in anxiety-related alcohol use.” Brain and Behavior. July 2014. Accessed April 4, 2019.

Ciccocioppo, Roberto. “The Role of Serotonin in Craving: From Basic Research to Human Studies.” Alcohol and Alcoholism. July 1998. Accessed April 4, 2019. 

Alcohol and Cymbalta: Craving, Blackout, & Side Effects
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