Citalopram And Alcohol: Celexa Side Effects While Drinking Alcohol

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Any mixing of Citalopram (Celexa) with other substances, including alcohol, is unrecommended. Alcohol and citalopram combination may pose great mental and physical health risks to a patient. That’s why it is critical to be aware of the possible side effects of drinking on Celexa and how to prevent them.

Can One Drink On Citalopram?

Most people want to know if they can drink on Celexa and still have a normal recovery process just like other patients. The answer, however, is that there is no chance for the two having equal chances of recovery.

Referring to the FDA guidelines, a person taking citalopram does not increase the effects of alcohol. Still, the medication is recommended not to be mixed with alcohol. Citalopram and alcohol combination defeats the whole logic of managing depression as alcohol is proven to worsen psychiatric conditions. Seeking a full recovery from stress requires a commitment to the course which demands to avoid circumstances that could aggravate the condition at hand.

The question of whether a person can drink alcohol while taking citalopram is a matter of self-persuasion depending on individual wellness goals. For most patients with depression, citalopram is used to treat severe cases for a few weeks or months. During the weaning off period using Citalopram with alcohol would be a big mistake as the symptoms of withdrawal would intensify making it even harder to stop Celexa.

How Celexa Interacts With Alcohol

citalopram and alcohol interactionCelexa with alcohol works in different ways. Citalopram enhances recovery from depression by increasing the scale of serotonin production in the brain, hence, achieving better moods. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant for most people. Despite many drink to feel happier and more relaxed, it is only temporary relief. As a result, drinking on Celexa makes the situation even worse.

Alcohol is a potential stress trigger for most people, and if initial use of Celexa is said to have some mild side effects to the body, such effects can level down or get worse after drinking on citalopram. The moderate use of alcohol after the body gets accustomed to the drug; however, does not pose any threat as long as a certain level of control is exercised.

Citalopram And Alcohol Side Effects

Celexa and drinking is an unrecommended combination as it can worsen the side effects the medication has as such. Celexa and alcohol combination plunges the body into a state of instability which makes it difficult to stay coordinated. Lack of coordination is risky as it often ends up in overdosing or abusing prescribed medication.

Some of the possible side effects of drinking on citalopram include:

  • Some minor effects such as insomnia, nausea, sweating, and vomiting
  • Impaired motor skills, hence, inefficiency in executing basic functions
  • Torsades de pointes condition which is characterized by an irregular heartbeat, which can result in lethality.
  • Citalopram with alcohol often renders the medication powerless in combating depression escalating stress
  • Chances of an overdose which is characterized by hyperventilation, convulsions, and even amnesia
  • Extreme dizziness that may lead to high chances of inflicting harm to the body
  • Long term side effects could revolve around increased dependency on substance use.

Citalopram use for a typical individual has a desirable outcome in regards to managing psychiatric disorders, while alcohol has directly opposite effects. Drinking alcohol while taking citalopram increases the side effects of the antidepressant resulting in increased drowsiness or lack of coordination.

Celexa With Alcohol Effects On Heavy-Drinkers

Heavy drinkers put a lot on the line consuming citalopram and alcohol. The combination can lead to fatality mostly caused by an overdose on each of both drugs. For heavy drinkers, the side effects of using citalopram HBr 20 mg include:

  • amplified dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and sleepiness, hence, incapacitating an individual
  • decreased risk of medication abuse
  • higher chance to become physically and mentally addicted to the drug
  • higher risk of overdose resulting in coma or even death

The prescribed dosage of the medication may lose its effectiveness when drinking on Celexa and do not affect a patient’s disorders. Consequently, a heavy-drinker will continue to experience adverse manifestations of the condition.

Avoid Mixing Both Substances

can you drink alcohol while taking citalopramAlcohol and citalopram is a recipe for disaster and mixing them should be avoided entirely. The major argument is that it delays recovery from depression, and the longer the two are used, the higher intensity of discontinuation syndrome one will experience. Safe use of alcohol is allowed after treatment and withdrawal periods and only after doctor’s consultation.

Celexa And Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Like any other drug, combining Celexa with alcohol may lead to abuse of both substances and subsequent addiction. In this case, an individual requires professional treatment in drug rehabilitation facilities. Some of them provide a dual-diagnosis treatment. It is dangerous to pass withdrawal process when alone when it refers to one substance abuse. In the case of polysubstance abuse, an addiction treatment program is required to ease the symptoms and speed up recovery.

Drinking On Citalopram Is A Red Flag

Despite the fact that there is no strict prohibition of alcohol with citalopram use, many individuals mix them. However, the FDA does not recommend to take both together as it can pose tremendous health hazards. Celexa and alcohol, as well as Celexa and Xanax, should not be mixed, especially without doctor’s consultation.

Page Sources

  1. Balldin J, Berggren U, Engel J, Eriksson M, Hård E, Söderpalm B, Effect of citalopram on alcohol intake in heavy drinkers,
  2. Naranjo CA, Poulos CX, Bremner KE, Lanctôt KL, Citalopram decreases desirability, liking, and consumption of alcohol in alcohol-dependent drinkers,
  3. Citalopram,

Published on: April 23rd, 2019

Updated on: June 3rd, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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