Wellbutrin mixed with alcohol

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JohnA89
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Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/5/2010 11:14 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi ya'll,

A month ago I was prescribed .5mg klonopin/once at night/once when i wake and 150mg/day (just got bumped up to 300mg/day) in the morning of wellbutrin to deal with my social/anticipatory anxiety as well as my depressive state. I'm currently a college student, which means I drink usually 1-2 heavily a week. Since starting the medication, I havent noticed any change in my behavior while drunk, nor any blackout, nor any severe depression the next day. I met with my Psychiatrist yesterday to ask if there was any biochemical risk of taking the wellbutrin and drinking at all. She said there was. She said essentially that because the receptors that the Wellbutrin are trying to build up, the alcohol just cuts them off. The Depressant vs. The AntiDepressant. She said that drinking, even one drink, any night, would render the wellbutrin useless, ineffective. As a college student, drinking is a large part of my social life, I don't want to have to stop drinking. I'm just curious if she's trying to use "scare" tactics to get me off drinking. Would it really render the Wellbutrin completely ineffective? Also, I know the risks of combining benzos with alcohol and I was skipping doses when I drank so it wouldn't affect me.

Thanks!!!

stkitt
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Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/5/2010 11:19 AM (GMT -6)   
The Doctor is correct and has advised you well.
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

Tirzah
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Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 10/5/2010 12:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with Kitt. The doctor is right. I have seen people try mixing the two & insist that the advice they got can't possibly be right. Then they get angry that their depression never improves.

If you like drinking to hang out with friends switch to something nonalcoholic. Honestly, I even had friends in sororities who couldn't drink either due to meds, diabetes, allergies or whatever and 85-90% of the people really didn't care. Sure, there will always be some idiot who demands that you must drink -- I had a dumb friend who knowingly spiked my drink b/c she didn't believe me when I said I was deathly allergic; she changed her mind after the ambulance showed up to treat me for anaphalactic shock.

I know it seems impossible to fit in unless you're drinking but I really didn't miss out on any parties, any fun at all without drinking. I had a few lousy people here & there who would give me a hard time, but mostly people were totally cool with it. You don't have to say you're on a/d's just make something up (there are internet sites that can give you ideas).

If you're drinking b/c you like to get drunk then I would encourage you to get help for that. Treating depression while you are still young means a much higher likelihood that it can go away. I know people who waited longer than I did to get help & they really struggle, but I wish I would have gotten help in high school or college so it would be easier on me right now. Giving up drinking for a year or two seems like an eternity in college, but trust me when I say that it is nothing compared to a lifetime of struggling with depression. Your buddies will give you a hard time about not drinking for a few months & then they'll be over it (tell them that since you're not drinking they should drink an extra beer "for you").
Trust me when I say that grief is worth the lifetime of happiness you'll gain.

take care,
frances

Trying to Understand
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Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 776
   Posted 10/5/2010 5:41 PM (GMT -6)   
Great advice from all.

Remember, Depressant vs. The AntiDepressant, counter productive.

Its hard to tell if you are self-medicating using alcohol for your symptoms cuz you are after all a college student. Lots of alcoholics get started that way, its the only way they can escape the crummy way they are feeling. You would be wise to cut back on the beer. It isn't "just" beer. Great idea saying, go on you, have a beer for me why don't you.

When the Wellbutrin has a chance to work, it may seem worth the price of giving up drinking.

Good luck to you !

Crystal388
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/5/2010 11:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there JohnA89. I am a recent college graduate and wellbutrin taker of 2.5 years...I am going to be honest with you, since I have been in your shoes.. Yes there are times when I have drank while on my medication..however, I do not do it regularly I would say maybe 3-4 times a month. When I have drank, I have not experienced any adverse side effects, just the fact that the medication seems to intensify the effects & i would become a "lightweight"... I am in no way shape or form advocating for drinking while on this medicine..however I am saying as a 22 year old that I have done it..it was never a huge part of my social life like 1-2 times a week but it happens here and there. I really hope this helps & best of luck.

Trying to Understand
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 776
   Posted 10/6/2010 4:16 AM (GMT -6)   
John -
This is info that you have been given from people with a LOT of experience. Just to remind you: (Please don't take it lightly)

"I have seen people try mixing the two & insist that the advice they got can't possibly be right. Then they get angry that their depression never improves."

"The receptors that the Wellbutrin are trying to build up, the alcohol just cuts them off."

"Remember: Depressant vs. The AntiDepressant"

Not a scare tactic. Just solid advice to help you get better. What you want, right?

In your best interests,
Sandy

Bipolar II
Severe depression
BP II
Severe depression

JohnA89
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/6/2010 1:01 PM (GMT -6)   
First, by no means am I using alcohol as a medicator of the symptoms of depression. I'm in more of an existential crisis than anything. It's completely social, standard, college life drinking, in my opinion. Second, would it really render the Wellbutrin completely ineffective to say drink 3 or 4 times a month?

Oh, PS, Thanks so much for all the input! You're making this a lot easier for me.

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 10/6/2010 3:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi John,
If you're really concerned that your doctor is giving you inaccurate information, really your best bet is to talk to another doctor. All we can share here is our own experiences.

But alcohol does bind with NMDA and GABA receptors. It latches on much more tightly when higher doses are administered all at once. So let's start with the GABA. Depressed individuals already have less GABA in their system. Then you mix in alcohol & it binds with the receptor & prohibits the release of GABA. In the short term, the alcohol can make you feel less stressed but with increased amounts, after each drinking session some of those receptors permanently fail. So after the alcohol is out of your system, the "benefit" goes away but the damage is done & you remain permanently less able to transmit the neurochemicals that can make you feel happy/excited. Wellbutrin is an activiating anti-depressant. It's job is to try to "excite" some of those receptors. When there are fewer & fewer receptors, that is harder & harder to do. NDMA helps us deal with stress & still feel happy. The most cutting edge treatments out there (still experimental) focus on activating those receptors. Wellbutrin doesn't actually seem to act on NDMA receptors, but the fact that they also are damaged by alcohol means that the Wellbutrin needs to work twice as hard.

None of those effects are really ideal for anyone, but for someone already struggling with depression, alcohol can be the "straw that breaks the camel's back" so to speak. No, you're not likely to see any earth-shattering side effects from combining to two; it just seems kinda pointless to take the Wellbutrin if you're going to be drinking a few times a week. Kinda like the former co-worker I knew who was maybe 300 pounds overweight. For lunch he would have 3 Big Macs, 2 large fries, 3 apple pies and a large Diet Coke. Can Diet Coke help you lose weight? sure. But you can't be downing 5000 calorie meals and then wonder why the Diet Coke isn't making a difference.

Depression & drinking are kinda like that. You are staring off with a health condition -- your neurotransmitters are not getting to the right places in the right amounts. Would having 1-2 drinks once a month make a difference? No, not really. Just like if you eat a couple Big Macs once a month it's not going to totally derail a diet. But when you're already at a disadvantage & then go damaging the very receptors that the Wellbutrin is trying to get working again, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Is it possible that the Wellbutrin still might make a tiny sliver of difference in your particular case even with the drinking? Yeah, maybe. Did the Diet Coke maybe keep my colleague from getting even more severely obsese? Yeah, maybe. But do you really want to get hung up on whether she should have told you that you have a 99% probability of ruining any chance of the Wellbutrin working vs. telling you that you have a 100% probability?

There's a lot of research showing the impact. There's not really any reason to believe that you will be the special case who can mix Wellbutrin & alcohol and still get all (or even most of) the benefits of the medication. I truly mean it when I say that I know a lot of people who have all kinds of regrets about fun that they missed out on in college [mostly things I can't post here on the forum] but I've yet to meet a single person who says they gave up drinking for part or all of college & feel like they've missed out. The fun is in the parties, the crazy games (other than the drinking games), relaxed people, ridiculous stories to tell for days & years to come... it really isn't in the drinking. And I don't know what year you're in, but if you're not a senior, there's no reason to believe that you couldn't lick this depression, go off the medication & then be able to participate in some of the drinking again.

Hope that helps. I'll shut up now. ;)
frances

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/6/2010 4:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Here is my Believe it or Not fact for the day:  Some people go to college and never drink alcohol.  It is OK to be your own person and hold true to your own beliefs.
 
Good luck John and nobody here is judging you.  :-)
 
Kindly,
Kitt
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

myjoy
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Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 686
   Posted 10/6/2010 6:11 PM (GMT -6)   
I guess I wonder what kind of friends you have that would not understand that you just don't feel like drinking anymore. What's more important - your health or looking cool? Please take care of yourself - and yes, I'm a mother.
DX fibromyalgia 2007, OCD, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, sleep problems, lack of energy.
meds - fluoxetine (prozac), abilify, trazodone, lorazepam, nabumetone, hydrocodone, ambien, provigil, c-pap machine.
A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17

JohnA89
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 10/6/2010 6:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Well, thank you all so much for your input. I really do appreciate it. It's not a matter of peer pressure into drinking, or looking cool, it's more just the fact that I do relax, I do enjoy myself more, when I've had a few drinks in me. I am a senior and I enjoy the lifestyle I was leading here at college, it's brought me bounds of happiness. My depression isn't related to this, it's more of the fact that I'm having an existential crisis and a sentiment of unfulfilled of what i've done in my life up until now. I dont spend every waking moment partying, drinking, but I do enjoy the release of steam and the having a couple of rounds with my friends.

For me to give up drinking would be a huge lifestyle change, in which, I would not enjoy going out, to bars, to any parties, to any social settings. Essentially, I'd be alone on weekends, staying in. I feel like this would only add to my depression. I feel as if I'd not only have a existential crisis but also a social crisis on my hands. Yes I hangout with people when I'm sober and have meaningful friends, that I can speak about with in depth about life, philosophy, etc., but when weekends come around we have a routine of having drinks and hanging out with other "drinking friends", that I very much enjoyed doing. So yeah, I dont necessarily know what to do. I feel as if I'm in a lose-lose situation. But thanks for the advice, everyone. You're amazing people.

Regards,
John

stkitt
Elite Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/6/2010 6:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey John,
 
We wish you the best and hope you can come to terms with making a decision on to drink or not to drink? I think we have advised you well and I do understand your  wanting to drink to relax and have fun.  It is your choice, my friend, which road to take.
 
Sincerely,
Kitt
 
 
~~Kitt~~
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.
www.healingwell.com

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

Trying to Understand
Veteran Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 776
   Posted 10/7/2010 1:17 AM (GMT -6)   
My final 2 cents.

Drinking is relaxing, and pleasant. If drinking till drunk and then some is necessary, you're in dangerous territory.

You sound like an intellligent, introspective guy. Don't think you are living in Animal House. Wonder why at such a young age, and a senior just now, you are so concerned that you question what you have done so far in life. The future is yours. Run with it.

Do you think the Wellbutrin has helped? Just a question, no need to answer.
BP II
Severe depression

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 10/7/2010 11:43 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi,
If you think that your depression is related to not feeling like you've done enough with your life so far, why not start doing something with it? I can't relate to feeling the way you do when I was in college but I got very ill & needed a lot of surgeries and had to quit my job teaching to save my life. But lately I was really struggling with what the point of getting well was. I went to a counselor & she reminded me of a book I had read back while at university called "The Night is Dark and I am Far from Home" by Jonathan Kozel. His view on depression (and I point out that he is a sociologist, not a psychologist) is that it exists b/c we are not acting on what is upsetting/compelling in our world. His advice, in a nutshell, is that if a precocious young child is depressed about wars & injustice & the rough things in the world, that parents should not spend thousands of dollars on counseling trying to convince the child not to worry about those things but that instead they should help the child figure out how to contribute to the solution.

So I suppose it's possible without knowing your situation that maybe you don't need medication at all. Maybe you just need to figure out how to take action on the things in the world that bother you. For me, those things are immigrants, urban education, diversity & child welfare. If you already know what issues matter to you, try volunteering. If you don't know, maybe some introspection and/or counseling are warranted.

Not everybody needs medication. And medication is almost never the total answer. In 90-some % of the cases, there is a psychological component as well that needs to be addressed. The important thing is that you realize you can't keep on the way you have been living your life. Change is so hard but it gives us a chance to escape to something much better than where we were. Sometimes medication can be an important piece of getting there -- giving us a running start. But if it's not for you, there are a lot of other therapies & self-help strategies that you can try.

best wishes,
frances
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