Why Shouldn’t You Mix Abilify and Alcohol?

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Picture showing side effects of Abilify that can be worsened with alcohol use

Nearly 28 million Americans suffer from depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. This figure rises to over 330 million worldwide, and researchers believe many more people remain untreated for these conditions. Typically, atypical antipsychotics are prescribed to treat these three mental disorders.

Alcohol use changes how your central nervous system (CNS) — brain and spinal cord — interprets body signals. Many medications, including atypical antipsychotics like Abilify, can have similar effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Combining both substances might cause new or worsening symptoms and increase the risk of alcohol and Abilify’s side effects.

What is Abilify?

Abilify is an antipsychotic drug that belongs to the class of atypical or second-generation antipsychotics. You may also be familiar with the other five medications in this class: ziprasidone (Geodon), clozapine (Clozaril), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), and olanzapine (Zyprexa).

Like other atypical antipsychotic drugs in its family, Abilify affects the neurotransmitter chemicals in your brain by acting on the central nervous system. Abnormal levels of these neurotransmitters have been linked to mental health problems, including schizophrenia and depression. Abilify modifies these chemicals and alters how the body reacts to them. This can help you improve your behavior,  mood, and thinking patterns.

Can You Mix Alcohol with Abilify?

Both alcohol and Abilify have an effect on the brain. Because of this, it is crucial to examine the consequences of combining alcohol and Abilify since they might intensify each other when used together. Alcohol is a depressant, and combining Abilify with alcohol might amplify the depressing effects of alcohol, jeopardize your judgment ability and control over your actions and physical body, and cause difficulty breathing.

Abilify alone causes drowsiness and sedation, which are also negative effects of heavy alcohol consumption. Medical professionals do not recommend combining alcohol and Abilify for this reason. Combining the two might place you in a potentially dangerous situation. Depending on the circumstances, you may choose to inquire with your healthcare professional about the possibility of mixing Abilify with alcohol.

What are the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Abilify?

Even if you are healthy and not on Abilify or other antipsychotic drugs, alcohol use can cause temporary mental health difficulties and raise your chance of developing mental health disorders. This implies that drinking alcohol while taking Abilify might exacerbate your mental condition and lead to more severe difficulties, such as suicidal thoughts and suicide.

According to the findings of a 2017 study published in CNS Drugs, alcohol can exacerbate the intensity of depressive and manic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder and alcoholism. In addition, the study indicates that those with this dual diagnosis are likely to have greater rates of hospitalization and suicide than those diagnosed with bipolar disorder or alcohol use disorder alone.

Effects of Alcohol on Conditions Treated by Abilify

Atypical antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, can treat a variety of mental disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Each of these disorders has a unique impact on the brain and distinct symptoms. Let’s take a look at how alcohol affects individuals with these conditions.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is triggered by a chemical imbalance that changes a person’s perception of the world. They may see or hear things that normal people without schizophrenia do not. They may also exhibit instances of physical or emotional withdrawal.

It is possible that some people with schizophrenia consume alcohol to alleviate the symptoms of their condition, while others may consume alcohol to manage the negative effects of their prescription medications.

However, this can worsen the condition over time and increase the risks of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD). Some studies indicate that an issue with the brain’s reward system is responsible for this association between schizophrenia and AUD.

Bipolar Disorder

Those with bipolar disorder may experience mood swings that are sudden and out of control. They can go from feeling incredibly pleased and energized (a manic episode) to feeling exhausted, depressed, and worthless (a depressive episode).

It is estimated that more than 40 percent of people with bipolar disorder develop alcohol problems at some time in their life. Similar to those with schizophrenia, those with bipolar disorder may use alcohol to reduce their symptoms.

Due to its initial calming effects, alcohol may appear to help manage anxiety, racing thoughts, and other bipolar disorder symptoms. However, drinking alcohol can have several negative effects on the condition in the long term.

Alcohol can worsen the severity of bipolar disorder’s depressive and manic episodes. One study revealed that individuals with both AUD and bipolar disorder are at a greater risk for mental health complications, such as hospitalization and suicide.

Depression

Many people experience hopelessness, feelings of sadness, or poor self-esteem from time to time. These are common signs of depression; however, their duration is often short.

Some people have depressive symptoms that are more persistent, frequent, or disruptive to their everyday life. When these symptoms linger for more than two weeks or interfere with your everyday routine, you may have a major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as depression.

No matter how long a person has been depressed, drinking alcohol might contribute to additional or worsened negative feelings. Multiple studies demonstrate a correlation between AUD and depression.

According to one study, having one medical condition doubles the likelihood of developing the other. Therefore, if you already have depression, your chances of having drinking problems are doubled. Similarly, excessive alcohol use increases the likelihood of getting depression.

Is It Possible to Be Addicted to Alcohol on Abilify?

Anyone who consumes alcohol frequently and in high amounts is susceptible to addiction, regardless of whether they are taking Abilify or any other medicine.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly half of all individuals with a mental condition will also develop a substance use disorder (SUD) at some time in their lives, and vice versa. Due to this, many drug and alcohol rehab centers provide dual diagnosis therapy, a specific treatment for those with both mental illness and addiction. Dual diagnosis therapy can help you recover from both conditions concurrently or educate you on how to live with a mental illness while abstaining from alcohol and drugs.

If you have schizophrenia or a serious mental disease that needs you to be hospitalized or stabilized throughout your recovery from alcoholism, you may find it helpful to know that many rehabilitation centers, like The Haven Detox, provide inpatient programs with 24-hour medical care and monitoring.

At The Haven, these programs allow alcohol detox under the direct supervision of medical specialists who can alleviate symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible. The doctors and nurses supervising these treatments are highly competent and qualified to assist you in managing your mental condition as you recover from alcohol addiction.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it okay to drink alcohol while taking Abilify?

Alcohol might exacerbate the dangerous side effects of aripiprazole on the neurological system, including drowsiness, dizziness, and concentration problems. Some individuals may also suffer from impaired thinking and judgment. You should avoid or minimize alcohol consumption while using aripiprazole.

What can you not mix with Abilify?

Medications that may interact with Abilify and are recommended not to mix with it include:

  • The antiarrhythmic agent quinidine
  • Antifungals, such as itraconazole (Sporanox®), fluconazole (Diflucan®), and ketoconazole (Nizoral®)
  • HIV medications, such as the protease inhibitors indinavir (Crixivan®), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra®), ritonavir (Norvir®), and saquinavir (Fortovase®, Invirase®)
  • The antibiotic clarithromycin (Biaxin®)
  • Antidepressants, such as paroxetine (Paxil®), fluoxetine (Prozac®), and nefazodone

Can someone take antipsychotics to drink alcohol?

Antipsychotics have depressive effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and should not be used with alcohol (ethanol) owing to increased adverse effects of one or both substances.

The Haven Detox Can Help You Recover 

At The Haven Detox, we provide a variety of treatments and addiction treatment programs for patients with co-occurring mental illnesses, such as those treated with Abilify who suffer from alcoholism. When you are ready, we will gladly meet with you to discuss all of your available treatment options and offer alcohol detox and residential care.

Contact us at (844) 933-4145 today for professional medical advice or to schedule an appointment so we can discuss treatment options for your dual diagnosis.