Mixing Alcohol and Paxil: Side Effects And Interactions

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil are used to help treat people who abuse alcohol and have depression. Paxil should not be used with alcohol since it can make a person feel drowsy or dizzy. It can also raise the risk of depression and thoughts of suicide. The risk of overdosing on alcohol is higher when mixed with the drug due to impaired judgment.
Paxil is a brand name of paroxetine, which was first sold in 1992 by the company SmithKline Beecham.

Paxil is one of the most prescribed antidepressant drugs in the world. SSRIs are usually the first type of antidepressant that doctors try on new patients. Paxil has a high rate of success, mild side effects and a low risk of complications.

A lack of serotonin is a common cause of depression. Paxil treats depression by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. It does that by limiting the reuptake of serotonin. Serotonin needs to be present in the synaptic gap between neurons to improve a person’s feelings and to treat depression. Paxil allows serotonin to remain in the synaptic gap for a long period.

In addition to treating depression, Paxil is also often used for treating PTSD, PMDD, anxiety and OCD. Paxil is also prescribed to women who are going through menopause to reduce the severity of night sweats and hot flashes.

Paxil may have mild side effects. They can usually be managed by adjusting the dose of the drug. Some side effects include nausea, changes in weight, headaches, drowsiness, restlessness, dry mouth, low sex drive and suicidal ideation.

Intense thoughts of hopelessness and suicide are common for patients under age 25 who use Paxil. They are most likely to occur in the first weeks of treatment and at the end of treatment during the discontinuation phase. While rare, severe side effects of Paxil can include a fast heart rate, skin inflammation, fevers and seizures.

Paxil (Paroxetine) pills on a table
Mixing Paxil and alcohol can cause side effects. Some side effects are dizziness, drowsiness, increased feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts. Mixing alcohol with Paxil can lead to impaired judgment and can increase the likelihood of alcohol toxicity and overdose. While resuming alcohol use has a negative impact on mental health, the combined effects of using Paxil can make side effects even worse.

The risk of people in recovery having suicidal thoughts is higher after a setback. Negative thoughts are also a common side effect in young people who take Paxil. People who resume alcohol use while taking Paxil should notify their doctor immediately. A doctor who is familiar with the person’s medical history will know the best way to respond. Most likely, they will adjust the dose or introduce a new medication.

For most people with depression who are going through treatment for alcoholism, SSRIs like Paxil help to balance brain chemistry and ease the symptoms of withdrawal. For a small percentage of people in recovery, drugs like Paxil may cause cravings. The cravings most often stop once Paxil use ends.

Sometimes, treatment for depression with SSRIs results in the start of new-onset alcohol dependence. In other words, someone who did not have an addiction can get one when they begin taking Paxil. In most cases, alcohol cravings stop when the person stops taking Paxil.

While the side effects that result from mixing alcohol with Paxil are not as severe as when alcohol is mixed with other substances, combining the two is still not a good idea.

Mixing alcohol and Paxil can cause dizziness, drowsiness, depression and thoughts of suicide. The risk of suicidal thoughts increases during the start and end of treatment.

SSRIs like Paxil are commonly prescribed to people in recovery for alcohol misuse. For many, Paxil reduces both depression and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Learn how professional treatment can help manage alcohol use. Contact The Recovery Village to take the first step toward a healthier future.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.