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Moderate alcohol consumption while using antidepressants is not dangerous, generally speaking, but it can make you feel drowsy and sleepy. Are you on MAOIs? Then ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information. Certain types of wine and beer do not combine well with MAOIs and should be avoided.

What about combining drugs & alcohol with antidepressants?

Always read your medication’s patient information leaflet for more information about alcohol and your specific antidepressant.

Using both drugs and antidepressants is strongly discouraged. Drugs disturb the same neurotransmitters that are affected by antidepressants. This can result in all kinds of problems. For example, some antidepressants cause certain drugs to be broken down more slowly by the liver. Consequently, these chemicals stay in the body for too long and at too high concentrations.

Especially the use of stimulants (‘uppers’) such as amphetamines (“speed”), cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy, molly or “E”) is not without risk and strongly advised against when using antidepressants. Both antidepressants and these drugs increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which can cause serotonin poisoning. Symptoms of serotonin poisoning include heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), increased blood pressure and overheating. In the worst cases this leads to brain haemorrhage, heart failure and/or death.

Do you use drugs and are you prescribed antidepressants? Tell your doctor this before starting to take the medication. Even with illegal drugs, you can be open and honest about it to a doctor.

Extra information:

More information on specific antidepressants can be found at (in English and Spanish).

Prof. dr. Jim van OsChair Division Neuroscience, Utrecht University Medical Centre. Jim is also Visiting Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Jim works at the interface of ‘hard’ brain science, health services research, art and subjective experiences of people with ‘lived experience’ in mental healthcare. 

Jim has been appearing on the Thomson-Reuter Web of Science list of ‘most influential scientific minds of our time’ since 2014. In 2014 he published his book ‘Beyond DSM-5‘, and in 2016 the book ‘Good Mental Health Care’. 

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