What Happens if You Mix Wellbutrin and Alcohol?

Written by Theresa Valenzky

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

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Last Updated - 09/12/2023

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Updated 09/12/2023

If you take bupropion (Wellbutrin), you might wonder what happens if you drink while taking the drug. Like many antidepressants, Wellbutrin has a drug interaction with alcohol. However, Wellbutrin’s potential effects, when mixed with alcohol, may be more serious than many other antidepressants. For this reason, it is very important to be aware of the risks of mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol if you take the medication.

Can You Drink While Taking Wellbutrin?

Drinking is not recommended if you take Wellbutrin for a couple of reasons. Mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol can lead to mental status changes or may lessen your alcohol tolerance, causing you to become excessively intoxicated on less alcohol than expected. In addition, if you drink heavily and then stop drinking, there is an increased risk of seizures if you are on Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin and Alcohol Side Effects

Mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol can be dangerous. The combination can lead to a range of neurological and psychiatric side effects, including:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Mood or behavioral changes
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks

Additionally, some people have reported a lower alcohol tolerance while taking Wellbutrin. For these reasons, it is safest to avoid drinking if you take Wellbutrin.

Alcohol, Wellbutrin and Seizures

Both alcohol use and Wellbutrin may increase your risk of seizures, and combining the two may make matters even worse.

If you drink heavily and suddenly stop, you are at risk of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can sometimes cause seizures.

Taking Wellbutrin can also increase your risk of seizures in general, and the higher the dose, the higher the seizure risk. Experts think this is because bupropion stimulates a part of your brain called the hypothalamus and may lower the threshold at which a seizure can take place in your brain. For this reason, Wellbutrin should not be used in people with a history of seizures.

Mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol is extremely dangerous. Both substances may make a seizure more likely, and combining them is known to result in seizures in some people.

Alcohol, Wellbutrin and Depression

Alcohol, depression and Wellbutrin have a complicated relationship. Mental health issues are common in those who drink heavily, and almost 64% of people dependent on alcohol also have depression. Having depression can make it harder to stay sober, and many people who drink heavily may do so to self-medicate their depression.

As an antidepressant, Wellbutrin can help improve mood, but alcohol may interfere with this. A common side effect of mixing Wellbutrin and alcohol is depression, with some people even developing suicidal thoughts or actions. Alcohol, therefore, may not only undo the benefit of Wellbutrin but may cause even worse mood symptoms than before. This is one reason why avoiding alcohol is important if you take Wellbutrin for depression.

How Long After Taking Wellbutrin Can I Drink?

You should avoid alcohol while taking Wellbutrin. However, if your doctor has agreed to take you off Wellbutrin, you may be able to consume alcohol after the Wellbutrin has left your system. Understanding the concept of half-life is important in knowing how long this takes. A drug’s half-life refers to the time it takes your body to eliminate half of it. Generally, a drug takes about five half-lives to leave your system completely.

If you have been taking Wellbutrin over the long term, its half-life is around 21 hours. This means it can take just under five days to be entirely out of your system.

Even if Wellbutrin is eliminated from your body, it is still important to talk to your doctor before you start drinking because Wellbutrin is usually prescribed to treat conditions like depression, which may worsen with alcohol intake. As a result, even after Wellbutrin is out of your system, it still may not be a good idea to start drinking.

Finding Help for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction in Colorado

It can be hard to quit drinking on your own, and even harder if you have underlying mental health issues like depression. But if you or a loved one struggles with drinking, help is here. Our alcohol addiction treatment program at The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers a full continuum of care to help you every step of the way as you become sober, starting with our medical detox program to end alcohol use safely and our rehab programs to keep you sober for good. Don’t wait: contact ustoday to learn how we can help.

Sources

Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life“>Half Life.” StatPearls, June 23, 2022. Accessed July 10, 2023.

Drugs.com. “Bupropion“>Bupropion.” January 26, 2023. Accessed July 10, 2023.

Drugs.com. “Drug Interaction Report“>Drug Int[…]action Report.” Accessed July 10, 2023.

Kuria, Mary W.; Ndetei, David M.; Obot, Isodore S.; et al. “The Association between Alcohol Dependen[…]r Alcohol Dependence“>The Asso[…]ol Dependence.” ISRN Psychiatry, January 26, 2012. Accessed July 10, 2023.

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