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, could 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.

What Is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, along with Zyban, is a brand name for the antidepressant bupropion. Although experts are not sure exactly how Wellbutrin works, the drug is prescribed to treat a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa

Although Wellbutrin is generally well-tolerated, it is important to be careful while taking the medication, including avoiding alcohol.

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

Alcohol use and Wellbutrin may increase your risk of seizures, and combining the two may worsen matters.

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 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.

What To Do if You’ve Already Had a Drink

If you take Wellbutrin and have already had a drink, it is important not to panic. You should avoid drinking any more alcohol and seek medical attention if you experience any side effects like:

  • Mood changes, including:
    • Depression, including suicidal thoughts
    • Anxiety
    • Panic attacks
  • Mental status changes, including:
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Paranoia
    • Seizures

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 us today to learn how we can help.

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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
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

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.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake 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.