Is it Safe to Combine Amitriptyline and Alcohol?

Combining amitriptyline with alcohol is not recommended.
Combining amitriptyline with alcohol will intensify the medication's side effects.
An antidepressant, amitriptyline is also sold under the trade name Elavil.
Amitriptyline works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Article Details
  • Written By: S. Berger
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Amitriptyline is an antidepressant medication that belongs to the family of drugs known as tricyclics. It works by increasing the levels of a hormonal substance known as serotonin in the brain. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood, and inadequate levels of serotonin have been associated with depression and other mood disorders.

Unfortunately, many people believe that drinking while taking psychotropic medication is safe, since both substances are available legally. Alcohol can be hazardous when taken with a number of medications, and amitriptyline is no exception. Unlike some other medications that assist in regulating mood, there is not a large chance of life-threatening complications from drinking while taking this medication. Safety issues can arise with this mixture, however, which is why the patient literature included with the medication recommends that patients do not drink at all while taking it.

Several reasons make the prospect of this combination hazardous, mainly pertaining to adverse effects that can occur rather unpredictably. Mixing amitriptyline and alcohol can increase the chances of experiencing negative side effects from the medication. Adverse side effects that have been seen in people taking this drug include nausea, stomach discomfort, and drowsiness. These same effects can often result from drinking alcohol, as well, and the combination of alcohol and amitriptyline makes these effects occur with a much greater frequency.

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Other effects that result from alcohol consumption can become much more pronounced when amitriptyline and alcohol are taken together. Slowed reactions to outside stimuli, problems with judgment and higher-order thought, and poor motor control can all be the products of drinking excessive alcohol. These effects can become even more apparent when combining amitriptyline and alcohol. Due to he additive effect of these two drugs, these types of side effects can arise from drinking relatively small amounts of alcohol.

It is possible for people to operate heavy machinery and drive while taking this antidepressant, after an individual knows how they respond to it and have grown used to the side effects. The unpredictability of side effects that can come about from drinking with this medication means that these activities might not be engaged in safely after even a single drink. Despite the fact that many laws allow a small blood alcohol content while driving, mixing amitriptyline and alcohol in any amount can still be dangerous. Even activities that do not involve machinery, but that require intense concentration, may not be completed properly after drinking and taking this medication.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

As long as it doesn't become a common occurrence, it may be okay to have a drink or two while on amitriptyline if you respond well to the drug and talk to your doctor about it.

I got my doctor's permission to have some champagne on my sister's wedding even though I was on amitriptyline. He said that since I don't experience any side effects of the medication and I won't be drinking much, it's okay for me to combine them just that one time. But he did have me lower my dose and take it early in the day so that there was at least eight hours in between the medication and the alcohol.

I didn't have any problems though, everything was great and I continued back on my regular dose the next day.

SarahGen
Post 2

@MikeMason-- Wow, that's horrible. I'm on amitriptyline too, my doctor actually gave it to me to help me fall asleep. I would have never thought this drug would be used in such a way. I guess the alcohol just increases its effects ten-fold. That's scary.

stoneMason
Post 1

It's a terrible idea to combine amitriptyline and alcohol and not just for health reasons. My close friend was raped several years ago. The day of the incident, she had taken amitriptyline in the evening and then went to a party a few hours later and drank. Apparently, both amitriptyline and alcohol have sedative effects and it put her to sleep. When she woke up the next morning, she realized she had been raped.

At first she thought that she was given a date rape drug but the tests at the hospital didn't show any other drugs aside from amitriptyline and alcohol in her blood. Doctors have told her that some people do use amitriptyline and alcohol as date rape drugs to sexually assault others. So it's a really bad idea to combine these two because you can go into deep sleep and might not be able to defend yourself in certain situations.

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