Alcohol can worsen Lamictal’s side effects as well as exacerbate the underlying conditions that Lamictal is meant to treat.

When taken on their own, Lamictal and alcohol have similar negative side effects. As a result, using both of these substances at the same time can cause side effects to worsen. There are also other consequences to consider before mixing the two substances, particularly for people who take Lamictal to treat bipolar disorder.

What Is Lamictal?

Lamictal, the brand name version of lamotrigine, is an anticonvulsant drug. It is typically used as an anti-epileptic medicine to treat epileptic seizures in children and adults, often in combination with other medications. In some cases, it can also be used to treat certain symptoms of bipolar disorder in adults.

You should speak with your doctor before taking Lamictal if you have liver or kidney disease, a history of depression or suicidal thoughts, or you’re allergic to other anti-seizure medicines.

The possible side effects of Lamictal include:

  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep problems

One potentially serious side effect of Lamictal is a rash, which can become life-threatening. If you take Lamictal and get an unexpected rash, tell your doctor immediately.

Can You Drink Alcohol While on Lamictal?

Many of the negative side effects of Lamictal are the same as alcohol. Shared symptoms include dizziness, drowsiness, confusion and concentration problems. If you combine alcohol and Lamictal at the same time, it can make these symptoms worse. As a result, it can be dangerous to operate a vehicle or machinery after combining these substances, although you shouldn’t do those things when drinking regardless.

While the symptoms of alcohol and Lamictal may worsen when combined, there are currently no specific warnings about using them together. Still, it is best to avoid heavy alcohol use and only drink in moderation when taking Lamictal. A moderate amount of alcohol is considered one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men. A drink equals 1.5 oz. of liquor, five oz. of wine, eight oz. of malt alcohol or 12 oz. of beer.

Alcohol and Bipolar Disorder

Lamictal is frequently prescribed to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder. If you use alcohol and Lamictal while experiencing bipolar disorder symptoms, the combination can create significant problems. For example, many people who have bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction, which can develop when someone uses drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate. Further, bipolar disorder may increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol intake may also vary based on the period of bipolar disorder a person is experiencing:

  • During a manic phase of bipolar, some people may drink because they’re experiencing a lack of inhibitions.
  • During a depressive period, someone with bipolar disorder might drink in an attempt to feel better.

If a person with bipolar disorder drinks, mood swings can worsen and the risks of addiction, violence, depressive periods and suicide can increase. If you’re taking Lamictal to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder, you should speak with your doctor before consuming alcohol.

Alcohol and Epilepsy

Research suggests that most people with epilepsy can consume moderate amounts of alcohol without a problem. However, excessive intake of alcohol is linked to increased seizures in people with epilepsy, especially if their epilepsy is genetic. For this reason, it is safest to avoid heavy drinking if you have epilepsy, whether you take Lamictal or not.

If you’re struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition like bipolar disorder, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about dual diagnosis treatment plans and programs that can work well for your situation.

Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Jessica Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol“>Dietary […]s for Alcohol.” December 29, 2020. Accessed August 26, 2021. “Drug Interaction Report: Ethanol, Lamotrigine“>Drug Int[…], Lamotrigine.” Accessed August 26, 2021. 

Sonne, Susan C.; Brady, Kathleen T. “Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism“>Bipolar […]nd Alcoholism.” Alcohol Research & Health, 2002. Accessed August 26, 2021. 

Hamerle, Michael; Ghaeni, Leyli; Kowski, Alexander; et al. “Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Seizures in Patients With Epilepsy“>Alcohol […]With Epilepsy.” Frontiers in Neurology, June 5, 2018. Accessed August 26, 2021. “Lamictal“>Lamictal.” March 1, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. 

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.