(This story was first posted on davidhealy.org. It has been the most commented on post there. It epitomizes what RxISK.org is all about – one woman getting to grips with a problem she has on treatment.)
I have been asked to write this story to raise awareness about a strange side effect of treatment and my efforts to get to the bottom of it.
Before my problems began I had been working as a health care assistant at my local hospital in Surrey for five years. I enjoyed my job. I had a stable life. I owned my own home and car.
Following the sudden and devastating death of my father I became anxious and over a period of a year developed a fear of choking which got worse to the point that I was avoiding food and losing weight. I realized I needed help.
I went to my GP and was prescribed paroxetine 20mg in liquid form because I couldn’t swallow the tablets. I had nausea, dizziness, felt spaced out and detached but was assured by my doctor that these symptoms would settle down.
After a few months things did start to improve. I noticed my eating had returned to normal. I felt much more energized and more confident and was able to complete a day’s work without feeling drained and exhausted. I started socializing again.
To begin with I was concerned about drinking alcohol on the medication. I checked the patient information leaflet which gave, what seemed to me, to be a mild warning that “although it is always advisable to avoid alcohol whilst taking medication there is no known interactions with Paroxetine and alcohol”. This reassured me that it was safe enough to have a few drinks with friends.
At first I was only having a few glasses of wine but slowly over time I drank more and more. I began saying and doing things I had no memory of later. I got banned from restaurants and bars in my local town and became an embarrassment to my friends. Eventually some of my close friends and family distanced themselves from me. I was losing everyone around me and losing control of my life but I just didn’t care. I felt like I was in a dream and that none of this was real.
I became verbally aggressive and my behavior was reckless. On one occasion I climbed out of a velux window and onto my roof. I was not trying to kill myself. I didn’t even consider the dangers of what I was doing.
I began to get into trouble with the police, in the main for continual nuisance phone calls to the police station. This happened on a regular basis when I was drinking. Sometimes I would ring them 20 to 30 times a night on their non-emergency number with only a very vague memory of doing so. It resulted in me getting arrested on numerous occasions.
After getting arrested several times I began to feel that something was wrong. I started taking time off work. I got cravings for alcohol that were so intense I felt I was possessed. I would start drinking and couldn’t stop. I’d continue until I was either arrested or I collapsed into a coma. Things were getting very out of hand. I felt alone with my problem and couldn’t understand why I was behaving like this. I felt that no one understood what was happening to me or cared.
I began to research on the internet to find an answer and I found other people reporting cravings for alcohol on SSRI medication on many websites. This really shocked me. Yet no one in the medical profession seemed to be taking any notice of it. Why? The first time I saw a psychiatrist I was told that it was due to my drinking problem.
I knew I was drinking too much but I also had terrible overwhelming uncontrollable cravings for alcohol. I printed some of the information from the internet out and gave this to my doctor and tried to explain that I thought the medication was giving me intense cravings for alcohol.
My doctor was very sympathetic but not convinced. Again I was told that I had a drink problem and was in denial. He did however agree to change my medication and prescribed me 20mg of citalopram. I was referred to my local drug and alcohol clinic.
Following the switch to citalopram over the course of a couple of months, I felt less aggressive. However my cravings for alcohol were as strong as ever and I still couldn’t stop drinking. Things spiraled further out of control. I spent time in prison, was suspended and eventually sacked from the job I loved. Even a couple of alcohol free months in rehab, where I was provided with overwhelming help and support, wasn’t enough to stop the pattern continuing as soon as I returned home.
By now I had given up on trying to tell my medical team that I thought it was my medication that was causing the problems. I was accused of being in denial over the alcoholism but I was certain that these intense cravings for alcohol were being induced by the SSRI.
Before I had searched for others with similar problems, now I began searching for answers. First I googled alcohol cravings induced by paroxetine and then by citalopram. The first web pages I came across were from the depression forums and similar websites where people where sharing their stories about the same alcohol cravings and looking for answers. I came across the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, the Seroxat Users Support Group and the Seroxat Secrets website where many people were reporting the same thing.
I decided to start looking at research papers but I couldn’t find any on SSRIs and alcohol cravings. I then read a message on one of the forums that mentioned a Yale study from 1994 that had a link to serotonin. This pointed me toward reading about alcoholism and the serotonin system.
I read many papers that I only vaguely understood. I had to learn all about serotonin receptors, transporters and neurons to understand the research papers I was reading. I had to leave it several times and go back to it as my head was hurting trying to understand it. I nearly gave up looking several times but couldn’t because I knew the answer was there somewhere. I learnt that there were seven serotonin receptors and was very disappointed to learn that there were even more receptors connected to these receptors. There was also only one receptor though that had a gateway to dopamine which was the S-3 receptor. I now needed to learn what all these different receptors did and to see if any were connected to cravings for alcohol. There were no easy answers to this.
I wanted to wean myself off citalopram. I knew it was ruining my life. In the first month I couldn’t believe the change in me. I felt as if I had been given back my sight and hearing again. I felt in awe of everything around me. Had I really been like this for ten years and hadn’t realized it? Almost immediately the cravings for alcohol reduced by about 50%.
But withdrawal wasn’t easy and I went through two months of distress with extreme mood swings, panic attacks, sensitivity to noise, feeling like I had the flu with aches and pains. I couldn’t cope with this so went back to my GP and was put on mirtazapine 15mg, which was later upped to 30mg as I was experiencing restless leg syndrome at the lower dose. (I had seen on the internet that another woman had a similar experience as me on 15mg mirtazapine which disappeared at 30mg).
My cravings went completely. I realized that mirtazapine may have the answer. I knew it worked differently to the SSRIs.
I looked up medications for alcoholism and came across a drug called ondansetron, which works by blocking the S3 receptor and eliminating cravings. I discovered that mirtazapine also blocked S3 receptors.
I searched for alcoholism and S3 receptors and found that the S3 was the only serotonin receptor that had a gateway to dopamine and a paper ‘Functional Genetic Variants That Increase Synaptic Serotonin And 5HT3 Receptor Sensitivity Predict Alcohol And Drug Dependence’. I was amazed. It makes sense that if some people have a genetic link to alcoholism mediated through the serotonin system that SSRIs might increase this sensitivity and mirtazapine block it.
I have also just found another research article that was carried out on mice back in 1990’s that also found that if S3 was blocked in mice it stopped the mice from drinking alcohol.
It’s taken me a lot of time, reading and learning but I now have understanding of why I had such intense cravings for alcohol whilst taking SSRIs.
It makes me angry that we never had warnings like they do in the United States. Why were we not being protected here in the UK with appropriate warnings in the same way? If my GP had known that SSRIs could cause cravings for alcohol in some people he would have taken me off these drugs at the very first signs of drinking.
This would have saved me years of suffering and maybe helped many other people too. I’m sure that this is a problem that is more common than people realize. In addition to all the people I have come across reporting these effects on various internet websites, I have met many people who have had similar problems or who know of people who have also had problems on these drugs.
People on these drugs are vulnerable anyway and it is worrying to think how many could be drinking to excess across the country because of a craving for alcohol caused by treatment. It’s absurd to give the impression these drugs are relatively safe with alcohol if the tablets cause some people to experience intense cravings. It’s worrying also that both the drug and alcohol can independently cause confusion, disorientation, hypomania, aggression, and obsessional and bizarre thoughts and behaviors and that the combination in some people can make this much worse.
It’s crazy that patients have to get together on the internet to compare their side effects and discuss their problems because there is nowhere else to go. It has made me look to other people’s experiences for information now regarding drugs as they seem to be more accurate and honest in their findings than companies, regulators or doctors.
I didn’t realize until I came off the medication how bad I was. I feel ashamed and guilty for what I put people through. I have lost my job, had to move home, have a criminal record and lost the respect of family and friends. This could all have been avoided if there had been proper warnings in place and effective communications between different authorities.
I saw my retired GP in Asda recently and he asked me if I was back in Nursing. I told him no, I will never be able to go back now after what has happened to me. He said nothing and walked off. I didn’t mean to sound as if I was blaming him but I think he felt that was what I was doing. I felt guilty afterwards. I don’t blame my GP at all, I blame the drug companies and MHRA. What annoys me is that even the Department of Health wrote back to my MP basically laying the blame on the GP who they said should have noticed any changes in my behavior.
I want to tell my story as a warning to anyone who may be craving alcohol on SSRIs. I also want to tell people that sometimes it’s a mistake to leave it to the experts. And finally I want to tell doctors that your patients can often see that the information you are getting is wrong — we don’t blame you for this, we just want you to listen to us.
(The extraordinary twist in the tail here is how the regulator manages both to deny the existence of this problem and blame the doctor at the same time. This is becoming ever more common in modern healthcare systems — DH).
This post and the comments on davidhealy.org (attached to Out of my mind: Driven to drink) offer a compelling case that antidepressants can make alcohol abuse significantly worse.
Update: See the published paper, Ninety-three cases of alcohol dependence following SSRI treatment.
My story is so similar to yours! Only, I live in the U.S. My story began the same.. Paroxetine, then citalopram much later. I have an appointment with my Pdoc on Friday, and I am worried what he will say when I tell him what has been going on. The citalopram completely eliminates my aggression, but causes drinking problems that have landed me in treatment programs for fear of losing my job or my child (which will happen if something doesnt change). I hope he will listen.
I have the same problem. i believe lexapro at 10 mg a day has really increased mt addiction for wine. i am 64 years old and i want to get off this stuff.
I had a horrible experience with Lexapro and alcohol that caused me to act irrationally and landed me in legal trouble two years ago. I am still in the process of going to court to fight the charges. I was allegedly completely out of my mind, aggressive, violent and not compliant. This is the complete opposite of my character on a regular basis. I don’t recall any of my supposed actions. I noticed that when I was on the medication I felt “loopy” and confused all the time. People I worked with would literally ask me “what are you confused about?”. I can recall wondering how this drug is legal to take everyday and drive, because of the way it made me feel. Needless to say, after my legal trouble I stopped taking the medication and started going to the gym instead, to get my endorphin’s going. It helped a lot in addition to the time that has lapsed. I stopped attending work functions (which is where I was coming from that dreadful night) because alcohol was pushed on everyone. I didn’t feel it was worth the possibility of more trouble and embarrassment.
The same thing happened to me on Cymbalta. Would like to talk to you about it if you’re open to it.
Hi I’m on the same drug and having the same problem. It’s getting worse. But on the other hand the Cymbalta Took my mind out of the fog I was in because of Effexor I’m lost and don’t know what to do ? Any help. Linnie
I experienced the same thing. Wellbutrin is a different type of medication. My doctor prescribed a “Prozac bridge” to ween me off of Effexor without the horrific side effects. It worked! Afterwards, I started Wellbutrin. Alcohol cravings gone.
For me the alcohol cravings began with Lexapro. My Dr switched my medication to Cymbalta because it was supposed to help with the pain I was having from arthritis. Although it absolutely helped with my daily pain, it exacerbated my cravings for alcohol. I was off to the races! To make a long and difficult story short, a very knowledgeable psychiatrist made the connection between the meds and addiction and weaned me from Cymbalta. Not easy coming off the meds and strongly encourage doing it under a psychiatrists care. The result is I no longer have the intense cravings and got my life back!
I can confirm that i am having the same symptoms right now as i type this message. I have an extreme craving for alcohol. The only thing that makes the anxiety subside is alcohol. It feels to me as if these medications are designed to kill people. If i die or if anyone else dies because of drinking on Sertraline or Cymbalta no one will blame the medication. They will blame alcoholism. Oh you should not have been drinking on those medications. Well if the medication makes you want to drink more then it means it must be triggering the very thing you are trying to get rid of via the medication which is depression and anxiety. So maybe, just maybe there is some sinister agenda behind these medications. This world we live in is so evil and it drives all of us insane. Seeing as we live in an order out of chaos society it’s not hard to believe that the ones in control would create medications that simply numb out the damage that this reality is doing to each of us daily and eventually will kill you. Now i am in a position where i cannot cope without the medication and cannot cope with it in my system. That would give anyone thoughts of suicide because it automatically creates a scenario where you feel trapped and hopeless. Thank god i am intelligent and very resilient. I wish the same for others going through this. We are guinea pigs. Lab rats. The elite will do anything to keep us quiet. Depression is not a disease, it is what we are all living. We are all just part of a new world slavery system. And we are making it easier for the new world order to take control of us by taking their medications. You will always see case studies and reports of how many people have been helped or saved by antidepressants. Everyone is at a different stage of being or awareness. I believe the more aware you are the more prone you are to becoming depressed or anxious. it doesn’t mean you have depression, it means your soul and entity is crying out for help. How long can we all just sit back and let this go on. We are all being silently silenced. I wish everyone the best and i hope that you grow from this experience. I know i have.
Hi Shane, I really can relate to what you said. I started taking sertraline in November and have been drinking more on it. I want to come off the tablets!
I’m replying to your post because it is the most recent. I was put on SSRIs at a very young age. I have recently decided to stop taking it. I have horrible withdrawal symptoms but guess what I don’t have anymore? An alcohol problem. I always knew something was wrong when a 100 pound woman could out drink men twice my size. I don’t know if anyone is still replying to this. I’m really not all that familiar with the site. If anyone wants to hear my experience or share their own experience with me, I would love to talk about it.
I would like to hear your story. I am just so grateful others like you have been through the same thing as me. Just wish my psychiatrist would listen to me. I have weaned myself off my SSRI and my alcohol compulsion has gone but I have a police record now for drink driving. I am worried about how I will be without an antidepressant
Hi Leslie, I am getting alcohol cravings on 10mg citalopram.
Can you please help me get off this poison.
Dancoonkey@hotmail.com – I’ve been suffering from this for 25 years, since 11 years of age… I never connected the dots that the times I would stop taking my paroxetine or citalopram I all of a sudden would lose the INSATIABLE urge to drink. If anyone wants to share stories – Dancoonkey@hotmail.com.
I don’t know if genetic testing will help. It’s worth a shot.
Thank you for saying this. I’m on venlafaxine (effexor) and am caught between wanting to come off completely andble side effects. I feel mad because I think the same things as you do but then I doubt myself and think
I’m being paranoid. Im not paranoid, I see what’s going on and that’s what’s affecting my mind. The world is sick, not the people in it. Anxiety/depression/ personality disorders etc are written off as being problems in the individual when the problems are with society and how it treats humans.
Hello good people. Since the time I was about 45 until now I went through a personality change that cost me my family, friends, and a great job. Add to that behaviour that got me banned from pubs, landed me in drunk tanks, and resulted in a DUI. The culprit of all this turned out to be SSRIs. It was only recently that I titrated myself off them. The results were almost immediate. Not only did my cravings go way down, but the high I was getting from alcohol diminished as well. It was my discovery through the internet such as these experiences that I was convinced to get off depression meds. The damage is done, but now there is real hope. Thank you all.
Shane, you nailed it. I’ve been on antidepressants for 11 years and I am totally getting everything you said. I am now down to 37.5 mg of Effextor a day weaning myself off from 225 mg. My alcohol cravings are gone. I tell this to my friends and they say, ‘well, why wouldn’t it be in the side effects?’ Really??? “Side effects may include: BECOMING AN RAGING ALCOHOLIC.” Sure, that will sell Big Pharma’s drug. It’s our society that has done this. You wake up and get on FB, you see nothing but media, advertising, go to work and stress out…It’s a no win situation. And you’re right, the one’s that are the most aware of what’s going on around them are the most depressed. It was one of the reason’s why I drank. I wanted to be blissfully dumb like everyone else. I know you wrote this a couple years ago so I hope you found the happy place you were striving for.
I’m on 10mg Lexapro which I started this past fall- I’m in college and didn’t realize the extent to which it would effect my drinking. I was blacking out very easily and becoming very aggressive both of which I had never done before (let me say this was typically after 2 beers which wasn’t normal) I’ve tried weening myself off it because I do not like how I become when I drink on it, but doesn’t anyone know how long it takes for these negative effects of the drug to stop? I don’t feel like myself anymore.
Hi Kelsey, I’ve was on lexapro for 14 years and me drinking was out of control. I’ve been off for 2 years and although I feel much better, I am still not the same.
I am very interested to know about it because a close person is on citalopram and he craves alcohol quite often. There is no limit for him when goes out on Friday or Saturday and can be aggressive in the end. To describe it, it is a psychotic, aggressive behaviour where he starts swearing at you, saying toxic things for at least 40 minutes. The next day he either feels really stressed imagining the police will come and get him or he does not remember a thing. What are your ideas?
I have been on lexpro now for over 12 years and that is when my drinking really took off. I had gone off of lexapro for awhile and when I did I had no desire to drink. But my anxiety and depression came back, so I went back on Lexapro. My drinking took off again. I am now going cold turkey off of Lexapro and the withdrawals from Lexapro are back, you know the feeling that someone is taking a cattle prod to my brain, non stop crying and then a half hour later, very manic. But I have no desire to drink. Put me back on Lexpro and I can guarantee you I will be back to putting away a case of beer with no thoughts about the hell I will put myself or loved ones through. Not sure what I can do, maybe try Remeron.
Remeron can help but at the cost of weight gain. No one knows what Buspirone will do – might be worth trying
I am going to get the genetic testing for “mental health medications”, I am interested in finding out what that says. Hopefully it will take the guessing out of the equation. It would be interesting to see if there is a genetic component to SSRI’s causing some people to crave alcohol. Anyone on here that has had the genetic testing for SSRI’s, and what were the results. I also have HH, did that genetic test when it first came out.
I am on paroxitine and find it is excellent for my depression and anxiety. I used to love getting drunk on this stuff and then learnt how to meditate. I never crave alcohol if I meditate regularly. I love meditation and paroxitine together. I’m just so much happier. It is the meditation which really adds the calm to the whole thing. My therapist said my drinking was actually about stress and people who aren’t on antidepressents drink to let go of their day. For people on antidepressents it is best to meditate and not drink.
I have tried several times to come off my meds especially when life was going really well and my meditation practice was excellent.
My depression and anxiety returned very quickly and was horrible. I do mindfulness based cognitive therapy with meditation and anti – depressents and this is the best I have felt. So after work now I always meditate and I don’t go out and drink anymore.
Try meditation. The mindfulness of breathing is very good as are body scans. Good luck 🙂
Antidepressents are very good for my meditation too. In fact my meditation practice became ineffectual when I came off my meds.
Would love to hear more on how you use the 2 together!
I’m a smart health professional and with PMS I really hate alcohol yet with escitalopram I developed alcohol dependence. I’ve stopped the tablets now and just don’t feel like it much. Used to have 1/2 to a bottle of wine every night (past 12m since meds) and previously only rarely drank let alone at home alone and it was not because of depression or mood. Serious change, antidepressants made me really like the taste of alcohol and I was thinking about it a lot. I honestly can’t believe its just gone away now, 2 weeks I’ve found it hard to finish or enjoy a glass of wine and I think that part of life is passed. Very weird! I wouldn’t have believed anyone else til I experienced it myself and found this site.
OMG – so I’ve been on Escitalopram for a year – and my craving for wine increased greatly – like a lot – I’m a women in my 50’s – I don’t feel things at all on this drug – like I don’t give a shit – I’m a professional women with a family – need to get off this stuff
Ok! This is exactly how I have been feeling! I am so happy I found blog, I am getting off of this ASAP.
Thank you ALL!
Jane and everyone. Thank you so much for all of your replies. Now I feel like I’m not crazy. I, too am on escitalopram and alcohol cravings are through the roof. It doesn’t make me violent. It actually makes me nice and less anxious, but it is the “I don’t care” effect for sure. Can easily start drinking first thing in the morning, a bottle of wine a day no problem. I was actually making progress with sobriety before I started taking it. I tried weaning off of it before but got almost suicidal… it’s like what the heck is this? Menopause? Depression? Stress? I’m a professional, too and don’t want to lose it. Also major addiction issues in family history. I’m just going to have to try to wean off it again. I meditate better when not on it anyway.
doctors are like mechanics and can be replaced very easily.
I have experiened increased desire for “strong beverages”
over 10 years on fluoxetine ( luvox )
Hello my name is donna I been on effexor for about 3 months and followed by serequel and klonopin I been noticing I been drinking like 2 beers Now end up to now 4 a day I’m so scared right now don’t want to drink I don’t no what the hell is going on please help I don’t want to kill my self…..
Just read your comments, are you still on here? Im on venlaflaxine and have been drinking lots since starting. What happened to you? Did you come off? Any help would be appreciated!
I seem to only have increased cravings when I am on Effexor and seroquel. I don’t seem to be able to stop drinking when I’m on seroquel and also crave nicotine.
Agree with everyone’s comments. If you find yourself guessing if the drugs are the problem, i can assure you 100% the drugs are the problem. Please wean off the drugs and your life will drastically improve. It may be a struggle to get off the drugs but with the proper support system you will succeed! Exercise and proper nutrition is the key to coming off the drugs. You may have problems sleeping because you will feel more anxious and alert but with time this will all go away. These doctors need to be locked up in a mental institution and fed these drugs to see how it feels. Next time you see you Doctor ask him/her if they would take the drugs themselves and if they would give their children the drugs. If they say YES, they are lying and not revealing all the harmful side effects. Your doctor will continue to use excuses and feed you bull shit to keep you in the drugs saying its a risk benefit ratio, etc. Dont believe any of it! People who take these drugs only get worse. Everyone I know who’s been on these drugs is worse off than they were. Again, doctors will tell you that the drugs cannot it solve all your problem and that your mental disorder is a disease that can only be improved. They will switch their advise constantly throughout your therapy and sometimes you will walk out of the session thinking that what they told you is the opposite of what they said weeks or months before. These drugs cause so much confusion for a person, he/she will sometime not know what right or wrong. If you read this please trust me and wean yourself off the drugs. You may need talk therapy but find another provider or better yet friends and family to talk to for talk therapy. Nothing bad will happen to you if you wean yourself off these drugs. You will not lose your job, relationship, or family. I thought the same thing but I can assure you that all will work out and your life will improve. You will start to enjoy life and have goals and aspirations. If you continue on the drugs you will continue to have problems and your life will spiral out of control. Psychiatrists are paid by the number of patients they see and you are worth tens of thousands of dollars to that doctor. They will continue to keep you on the drug to bring in money into their practice or hospital system. These doctors will claim that you drank before you were on the drug or that you were suicidal before going on the drugs when in fact the drugs only make that worse. I was a driven person before I went on these toxins and started to not care about my goals and relationships as soon as I went on these drugs. I was being treated for anxiety and OCD both of with do not exist. Anxiety abd OCD can be overcome by positive right thinking. When you come off these drugs you will see that your anxiety is because you care about life and its okay to worry because if you don’t worry then you are concerned with your well being. Your OCD is your obsession to improve your life and want an enjoyable fulfilled life.
Hello, Are your comments for “real”? I am not very savvy about this internet stuff so I am a bit skeptical if this is for real or not…but here goes.
I have been on Paxil since 2000. I was experiencing anxiety. It worked my anxiety was gone, I couldn’t believe how good I felt. My husband and I retired and moved to AZ in 2004….my drinking took off, but I figured it was because we were “living the dream”. I started having thoughts like, “why am I pouring these drinks down?” why do I feel like I can’t slow down”? why am I spending money like there is no tomorrow?” My friend described me as running around like a “raped ape”. So I went on the internet and looked up Paxil & increased alcohol use….I found sites where people had posted similar stories. Not having much confidence in myself and dismissed it and thought it couldn’t be true. We moved back to our home state in 2007….continued to drink and checked into rehab in 2008. I have remained sober since rehab but continue to question the Paxil involvement. I find myself not craving alcohol but I still like to drink socially. I want to get off the Paxil. I have tried several times and just give up and tell myself….just live with it! My friends, my Primary Physician, laugh at me and say it’s my imagination and just resign yourself to the fact to be on the med for the rest of your life. I am contemplating weaning myself off without telling anyone. Thanks for your comments.
Yes my comments are all accurate
I completely agree! I’m in the process of weaning off sertraline and have now been completely off for 2 month. These drugs absolutely destroyed me for the last 5 years and the withdrawal coming off them is also horrendous. I’m now starting to finally get my life back. The doctors don’t have a clue about the effects of SSRIs!
I haven’t smoked in 25 years but since taking Trintellix I’ve had very strong cravings for a cigarette! It’s so strange!!
I started off with Lexapro 10mg and was experiencing some unwanted sexual side effects. My GP switched me to Trintellix. Both made me crave alcohol more but the Trintellix took it to a whole new level. I switched back to Lexapro but continued to drink. I finally stopped taking all of it and my cravings are about 90% gone. I expect there would be some still around just because of how much I drank, but it has been an eye opening experience.
I hope I can help!
I was on Effexor 150mg for 8 months. In 6 months I gained 30 pounds and KNEW it was the Effexor.
In the same amount of time I began drinking heavily. I have always had a glass or 2 of wine or liquor after dinner.
But…I would go through half or even a whole bottle of liquor in a day. My therapist AND my psychiatrist told me, you have an alcohol problem.
Well, YES..I do. But I never did before. Why?
I would crave it the moment I woke up and would drink until I passed out almost daily.
I am currently weening off this Effexor. Not because of the alcohol, but because I continued to gain weight.
I went from 150mg to 75mg. I have been on 75mg for 2 weeks now.
And AMAZINGLY, I am not longer addicted to alcohol. I am back to a few glasses after dinner.
I have a slip up here and there because I’m still on this drug, but I am now CONVINCED it was the drug!
Hi, I know this is 3 years later but I have been on effexor for about 5 years now. And I can’t go a day without drinking, I start having cravings about 430 everyday and drank til I went to bed. I didn’t start realizing it until I started Prozac and started weaning of effexor and I noticed my cravings for alcohol is beginning to subside. I can’t believe how my desire for alcohol is beginning to decrease. It will probably take a few more months to completely taper of but relieved that it was the effexor that was causing to drink so much. I never drank like that before starting effexor. Hope u are doing well.
I am the same… only a couple months on the lowest dose of effexor and I am like an alcoholic when I drink… nothing can stop me and I don’t think of the consequences. Happened years ago too when I was on fluoxetine … I am so glad I found this blog. I thought I was losing my mind!
donna how are you? I have experienced the same feelings please feel free to contact me you are
Not alone x
I am sooo in the same situation! Do not know what is wrong with me UNTIL I read this!!! Always been a “social drinker”My Doctor put me on Fluoxetin ( Sarafem) for PMSPD. But after marriage issues & the loss of my sister I began to drink to “UNWIND”. Only now it seems I CAN NOT STOP! PLEASE offer some ADVISE! STRUGGLING!
If I had it to do over again I would probably go to an in house rehab, if I could find one that would allow me to just get over the paroxetine addiction without prescribing other medications. Instead I was forced to go cold turkey, my Dr. insisted there were no withdrawals. He lied my withdrawals were on par with what’s known as alcohol delerium tremens, with seizures and psychotic symptoms that continue today, 3 years later, it’s possible that this is from the many head traumas I suffered during paroxetine withdrawal seizures. As of yet the only medication I have found that helps, is cbd’s with no thc from marijuana and that is not legal in my state I’ve only found it in very short supply and it’s very expensive. With it I’m nearly 100%, and I’ve tried many many psychiatric medications including anti convulsants, anti psychotics and every combination I was willing to tolerate. All of this for something that is just suppose to take the edge off, with no risk of side effects, and no risk of withdrawal’s. Turns out that’s a lie to, drug manufactures originally Glaxo Smith Klein changed the definition of addiction to make SSRI’s appear safer and more marketable.
My advice? GET OFF OF YOUR SSRI OR SNRI MEDICATION!!! Taper, if possible. I did this with Effexor, by removing 2-5 of the little granules in the capsule daily, till I was off. After this, my alcohol cravings disappeared. To reiterate: you will NOT resolve your alcohol cravings until you completely quit any and all antidepressants.
Has Sertraline been an issue for anyone or could this med be a cause of heavy drinking as well? I’m on only 50 mg but have suffered with several of the same issues. Blackouts frequently when drinking. I honestly would take the depression over this alcohol issue any day.
I am on 50mg Sertraline, and feel that my drinking is harder to control. I am craving alcohol more and strufgling to go a day without it. I took Sertraline some time ago and decided not to drink at all and was fine… it worked well. Recently i started taking sertraline again but do now drink and i feel that its becoming a problem. I think the craving is intensified through sertraline. However if i had never had even 1 drink like my 1st time on sertraline i would’ve been ok.
I don’t know if this thread/discussion is still active, but will post anyway. Back in 1996, I was in a severely abusive relationship with a woman with schizophrenia. I became quite depressed and the doctor gave me Zoloft. I had never been a heavy drinker and never gambled in my life. After maybe 3 weeks on Zoloft, I developed uncontrollable cravings for alcohol. My drinking went from maybe 6 beers a week, to 15 beers everyday. I quit the Zoloft cold-turkey after about 4 years, but the cravings for alcohol have never gone away. At the same time as I was on Zoloft, I had never once been into a casino. Within 2 weeks, I started gambling and drinking all my money away. I’ve been off Zoloft for 20 years, yet the alcohol and gambling cravings have never gone away…in fact, they just got worse. How was this terrible drug approved in the first place, and is there any recourse for financial compensation from the evil company that marketed this drug as safe? I feel my life was ruined by this drug the doctor told me was perfectly safe. The makers (Pfizer?) should have conducted longer clinical trials before this drug was approved. Best of luck to all that have suffered from the side effects of Zoloft.
Hi Dan, my situation was very similar. I took lexapro and it completely destroyed my life. I started literally pouring beers down my throat until blackout. My finances fell apart, I stopped talking to all my friends and treated loved one like shit. I was a happy very nice guy that excercised all the time. I started lexapro and gained 40 pounds and slept 10-12 hrs a day. I’ve been off 2 years and although I feel much better I’m definitely not the same.
I can’t believe I’ve just come across this forum. I have been on sertaline for a few weeks and my alcohol cravings are through the roof. I’m also blacking out completely. I need to get off the meds and fast. I’d rather have anxiety.
Yes. I was on 200 mg per day. I have been in it for years. I never made the connection until I ran out and I could not get anymore for a few days. My cravings completely stopped. I wish I had known that years ago.
I totally agree 100% DANGEROUS DRUGS AND THEY SHOULD BE BANNED.
I totally agree also.
Same thing here! I used to drink socially. The most I would drink at a time was a 6-pack of beer on the weekends. I was going through a nasty divorce, and told my Dr. I was coping well with the stress by having a few beers. He got angry, and said alcohol was bad. He prescribed 150 Mg./day of Zoloft. Wow! After 2 weeks, I developed severe cravings for alcohol…not beer anymore, but the hard stuff. I could swig a 40 ounce bottle of Rye down straight in 1 1/2 hours. If I didn’t drink, I was fine, but even 1 beer, and I was on a 2 week bender. I couldn’t get enough booze. The other thing I noticed with the Zoloft, was I could drink a 40 oz bottle of whiskey in less than 2 hours, go to sleep, and wake up with no hangover whatsoever, which just made alcohol cravings worse. After quitting Zoloft for 10 years, I can finally drink “normally” again. I thought I was the only person to have this effect from SSRI’s. Never again will I take that poison!
That is literally my story. That is scary. I was also depressed and stressed after a divorce and was told Zoloft was the last push I needed to get on top again. I was on Zoloft for approximately 6 months and the last 3 months was horrible with anxiety, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, blood pressure through the roof and alcohol cravings in the end from the moment I got up in the morning. Alcohol was the only thing keeping me from crawling on the walls. Despite the warnings from my doctor I went cold turkey on the SSRI and dragged my sorry ass to rehab which cost me my job. I know it sounds dramatic but I think I would have died had I not done what I did. My BP was 230/130 when I checked in to rehab. I am now 6 months out of both SSRI and alcohol and feeling much better. I am however labeled an alcoholic and told I can never have a beer with my friends again. And still looking for a job. But I am alive and still kicking….
I hope to God these posts can help at least some people to avoid going down that road. For those of you in it stay strong and get of the poison.
Oh my goodness! This is where I am today.
I’ve been taking Sertraline for 10 months.
I suffered with depression and anxiety after a trauma.
Wine has been my coping mechanism it’s fair to say. But now. It’s horrendous. I’ve joined AA because it’s destroying my life.
I never thought the SSRIs were a cause.
I am shocked.
Wow, thank you. I pray this will prove to be the case for me too. Scared about coming off the Sertraline, scared about continuing to drink in a manner that I can’t seem to control. Was arrested last night for driving over the limit. Feel so stupid, angry at myself etc etc?
I began taking Celexa for anxiety 15 years ago in my 50’s. I was a social drinker all my adult life. After starting Celexa I began drinking more and attributed it to some really tough times I was going through. As time went on, I drank more & more, eventually blacking out and not remembering anything. My husband believed from early on that there was a connection between my drinking and Celexa, but I couldn’t find any information to back that up, and several doctors said there was absolutely no evidence that antidepressants lead people to alcoholism. I joined AA in January and no longer drink. I am slowly weaning off Celexa now. I’m really angry to think this could have been avoided. Has anyone successfully resumed social drinking after complete withdrawal from their SSRI?
” Has anyone successfully resumed social drinking after complete withdrawal from their SSRI?”
Yes, my longer story and follow up is posted here. It has been over four months off Lexapro. I have been able to resume social drinking, but I will say I was very nervous the first time I cracked a beer at a concert…ended up having five light beers during a three band show and called it a night. Was a fun “normal” night.
I think the biggest issue for me was fear. Fear of the excess and those blackout moments I experienced. But I can definitely take it or leave it now (alchohol), no drinking every day…not even close.
If you got as bad as I did, it has to scare the crap out of you and those memories (or lack there of) will stay with you for some time.
Don’t rush back to social drinking, give yourself some time to really get your head straight and really think long and hard about what you’ve been through. Then get your ass out and live from time to time 🙂
Withdrawal issues have been more emotional than physical and I would say they peaked around the three month mark. At this point I am about as close to what I remember being like before the medication. Some anxiety…yes…but I will take that any day over the two year nightmare the medication put me through.
I’m so glad to hear that you experienced the same thing I did. I started to take antidepressants when I was around 21 so I just assumed that it was my nature even though I felt something was wrong. I had drank before in high school but never to the extent that I did after prozac. I never get hangovers, and I’m always aggressive after a few beers. Also, one beer and I’m on a long bender.
I didn’t notice there was any problem until it was just about too late, my doctor assured me my sudden alcohol addiction and psychotic issues could not be caused by paroxetine. Well I gave him 2 years and rehab to fix the problem, and his answer was always to increase the dose of paroxetine which always made things immediately worse. So I quit paroxetine on my own he assured me there were no real withdrawals from it, and there were, like seizures. But after getting off of it my alcohol addiction vanished into thin air, I wish my psychotic issues, bad reputation and police record I accrued on it would do the same. His healthcare network has told me that they will not give me a diagnosis until the statute of limitations is up for medical liability, and every lawyer in town has told me no one wins in my situation with SSRI’s and that’s why hospitals do not mind flaunting their mistakes with them. Seeking help elsewhere my psychotic issues are dissociative another condition caused by SSRI’s. How’s that for a pill that has no risk of side effects and no withdrawal or addictive potential, it was just suppose to take the edge off. I haven’t been able to return to work for nearly 3 years now, due to the dissociative symptoms. The strangest thing to me, is that I’m told I did not discriminate during the times I don’t remember I sexually harassed both men and women, that is why I do not ever leave the house now. I can completely relate to the author of this page in getting into trouble through repeatedly calling people and the police department I broke a record with just over 300 calls in one night to the same #, that makes no sense to me either but it’s comforting to know it happened to someone else. I tried seroquel and then seroquel and klonopin for my psychotic issues, and said no more to psychiatric medicine, all it did was allow that someone else to take over and I never want to hear about that happening again. All of these symptoms are commonly reported and Dr’s know better they just really don’t give a shit becuase they also know they will never be held accountable for ignoring the instructions for the safe and responsible dispensing of SSRI’s even though it is plainly listed on every drug manufacturer’s website. So little is truly known about how SSRI’s work on humans, that claiming one triggered a pre-existing condition is 100% foolproof in court, unless there is an injury to an infant.
Repeatedly calling the police in a confused state does make sense its a sub conscious cry for help.
[…] link between SSRIs, SNRIs and alcohol cravings is everywhere. This guys story is just one example Antidepressants and alcohol cravings | RxISK i think im going to taper off zoloft completely and if anxiety persists ill look asking my doctor […]
I am so sorry to hear that you went through all that you went through, but I am somewhat glad to find this article. I am in somewhat of the same situation and I have so many questions, but feel like I have no one to turn to for answers! I was put on SSRIs (first Lexapro and then Citalopram) and I began showing signs of alcoholism. I live in the U.S. so I knew the risks of drinking while on SSRIs but I am wondering if the risks were actually greater than was ever told to me. I put myself in AA and have no been sober for a little over 6 years. I stopped taking my meds almost a year ago. I have begun wondering if I really am an alcoholic or if it was perhaps a side effects of my meds. I don’t think I have the courage to try a drink again and see how it goes, but I want to understand so many things, and feel like I just don’t have access to people who know. I want to understand alcoholism more in depth. I am curious as to if it is something that is always there or if a “switch” is turned on after a certain amount of drinking. I used to be able to drink like a normal person and in fact, I never even liked it much before I went on my meds. I wish there were some sort of test that could be performed to tell me if I truley am one or not. I also hate bringing this subject up to people for fear of being told the usual, “Get over it. You’re an alcoholic and can’t drink.” That may be the case but I just hate all the wondering. Anyway, I am rambling on. Sorry again to hear what you went through, but thank you for sharing your story. If anyone has any info that might be something that could help me, please send it my way! Thanks.
Dear Lindsey – just want to reply, as someone with personal experience of anti-depressant withdrawal and alcoholism. There is more and more evidence accumulating that SSRI’s cause alcohol cravings in some people who never had them before, and were occasional social drinkers for years. It sounds VERY much like this could be the case with you.
That being said, if being a Former Drinker is working for you, and you don’t find yourself avoiding perfectly nice social situations to preserve your sobriety, it might be a good idea to just stay on the wagon. Don’t feel like you need to perform the experiment on yourself “just to know for sure”!
There’s an old AA cliche: “once you’ve been pickled, you can’t go back to being a cucumber.” (In other words, once you’ve gotten into a bad relationship with alcohol, for whatever reason, you’re not likely to return to a good one.) Who knows, it may be true. Anyway … if you find yourself thinking that without booze you are missing out on a great part of what life has to offer, THAT’s a good sign you may be an alcoholic. Because it just ain’t true. Most non-alcoholics who quit drinking for a medical reason like diabetes don’t feel any big void in their lives. Many feel better once they kick the habit.
I truly hope we can force the medical community to take this seriously. I’ve been alarmed in recent years to see how many people coming into AA from “medical” addiction treatment programs have been put on multi-drug cocktails that include both benzos and SSRI’s! (It used to be common knowledge that benzos were like alcohol in pill form, and very dangerous for recovering alcoholics. But no more.) If these drugs can make non-alcoholics crave alcohol, they could be doing terrible harm to recovering alcoholics struggling to stay sober.
I have a question for everyone. I have been on antidepressants since I was 14 years old and am now 31. I had my first drink at age 18 and have struggled with a bit of a drinking problem since then. I have no idea if this was caused by the antidepressants because I started on them years before I ever had my first drink. Alcoholism runs in my family so I’m not sure if that is it or what. I guess it doesn’t even matter thought because without antidepressants I would certainly commit suicide. I have tried to go off them multiple times over the years or decrease my dose and it always ends in disaster. Is there no solution for this? There is no way I can stop taking my medication so that isn’t an option but I also don’t want to be an alcoholic.
The antidepressants are the problem. You will stop drinking over time once you stop the antidepressant.
I lost 10 years of my life because of the same things. I had been on so many different pills to the point that every dr. Visit I was handed another script. I was a train wreck waiting to derail. I was only on the pills for a few years but once I put two and two together I tossed them all in the trash and my life slowly started coming back to me immediately. Although it still took several years to return to what I last remembered as normal , I will say today I’m really close but still think the pills and alcohol did it’s damage. I have no doubt had I continued taking the pills and the un controlled desire to drink would have killed me and maybe others from driving so drunk! I still have daily issues just like the happiest people on earth but I’m able to deal with it much better than some fixer pill. We as a person have a responsibility to ourselves to pay attention to what makes us tick and if we study ourselves and work on our defects we can work through the hard times without mind altering medications designed to make people rich. I am a better person without the medication. That’s me , maybe not you.
Same thing happened to me! Great write up! SSRI’s, especially paroxetine, DO make for incredibly intense alcohol cravings, at least in some people.
Same thing happened to me. I was on Lexapro. Here is another research paper on SSRI’s and alcohol. Yes we shouldn’t drink on SSRI’s but what if SSRI’s causes acute alcohol cravings. In order to get rid of the alcohol cravings we have to get off of the SSRI’s first. Here is a link to the article. https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/news/drinking-alcohol-during-antidepressant-treatment-a-cause-for-concern
This from another article. “SSRIs may aggravate alcohol cravings
While antidepressants may help some heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption, other evidence suggests that SSRIs can actually worsen alcohol cravings in certain people who combine both drugs, leading those people to drink more. If you’re at risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD), an SSRI could push you over the line from controlled drinking to alcohol abuse.” Here is the link. https://riahealth.com/blog/antidepressants-alcohol/
This is all sorts of terrifying. I take an SSRI (Sertraline) for anxiety and I cant seem to stop the alcohol cravings. I have 2 paternal aunts who are alcoholics (clinically diagnosed). Its 6pm and I’m drunk………..
This is unreal. I have been on Sertraline for almost 2 years, and for the last year I have labelled myself an alcoholic, compulsive eater, compulsive smoker, and hated myself and my genes for it.
Until a month ago, when I had a dental implant, and stopped taking Sertaline for a week.
I knew I had to stop smoking and drinking for a while, so I thought I’d stop everything, including the meds. And wow. I found myself being able to effortlessly refuse drink, not obsess about cigarettes, maintain a low sugar diet, and stick to my exercise plan!
Unfortunately, I did not taper, and the WD’s got quite bad a few weeks in, so I started up again, and LO and BEHOLD, I am craving sugar, booze, cigarettes.
I will taper off the meds from now, but I really think some awareness needs to be raised about SSRI’s. I am convinced that they do serve a purpose, but the side effects are more than what is listed at the side of the packet. Even knowing the origin of my cravings for alcohol and such like would have reduced my anxiety. I am annoyed, because for over a year I have toyed with the prospect of ‘all or nothing’ alcoholism – Do I join the AA and abstain forever, or do I continue by weekend binging? Well, I think both are irrelevant until I am off the meds. We shall see. It may be the case that I shouldn’t drink at all, and I am prepared for that, however, I am not prepared for SSRI induced cravings for the rest of my life. It just isnt productive.
Hi Jack – I saw your comments about taking Sertraline and having cravings for grog and smokes etc. Wondering how you went after going off sertraline for the second time- did the drinking end again?
So glad I found this story. Always worked, then needed knee surgery for long term problem. Suddenly was ‘thrown on the scrap heap’ as no one wanted to know me, help me or anything, and lost job as physically couldn’t do it anymore. Slipped into depression and givens ssri’s. Initially they were fantastic and I felt so much better, but I went from an occasional drinker to three plus bottles of vino a week, and increasing. Haven’t yet got to the stage where the police are involved but that’s cos I’ve been drinking in my room, on my own, in the dark. Found this piece as I was getting concerned as I felt I was losing control of the drinking. Thank you so much everyone who has commented on here. You help people like me so much, and hopefully my comments will help others. Bless you all 🙂
I don’t like the taste of any alcohol, I do sometimes though like to binge in one night but i suffer the worst hangovers literally a whole day of vomiting and discomfort. This is something that didn’t even matter when I was put on lexapro and then citalopram. I did a whole 360 my life turned upside down not long after I was put on thus medication. I was drinking 2 bottles of wine everyday at work, going out a night being so reckless even sexually. Eventually when I stopped them my self control came back . I settled down, when u got the urge to drink I stopped myself because the consequences and dud to me not liking the taste. After a few years I found myself again trying anti depressant prozac….that day and for two weeks I immediately lost my appetite. My cravings were back with a vengeance, I needed to drink and didn’t down care that it was going to ruin my relationship I even started snorting no doze then my partner broke up with me. I came of the proactive and again it all went away. I realize that I turn into a person I can believe is me. My cravings are so string to get high or drunk on these tablets I just can’t control at all…I’m on this never ending path of doctors thinking I’m bi polar 2 due to thus experience and mood but no bi polar medication helps me at all…I’m so confused what’s wrong with me and I have had so many diagnoses thrown at me but not one fits fully.
Effexor, and previously Paxil, both caused or influenced my increased consumption of of alcohol and alcohol tolerance. I can outdrink most, and I am a small woman. I told a GP this back in the late 90’s. Going off Effexor now after 10 years of use. Was not working anymore, maybe because I was drinking too much. I really believe that my body for some odd reason can tolerate more alcohol on antidepressants, and very little while not taking any. Luckily, I have not messed up anything in my life.. I am closet/ evening only drinker, except my relationship with God, myself, and my physical body / organs.
Someone has to stop this some how I lost fourteen years to these drugs until I weened myself from them I never even knew it was the drugs on till they started to come out of my system and my whole life changed, not really, but everything cleared up I could think! I cared! I still drank alcohol but like I should no more urges like in the first store mine is so the same….. I lost my store, My kids in a way, My freedom, I have a record could have killed someone drinking and driving and went through hell. I’m still bipolar nothing has changed. I just don’t go out anymore I’m afraid of taking any other meds. To lose anymore time from my life knowing what I know now man they are so bad!
im so glad I found this site right in time. I was busy searching online for AA meetings around my neighbourhood when I came across this site. as I write this message Im drinking a glass of wine and I know it will lead to few more glasses. I was on citalopram for 6 months and I have noticed an increase in my alcohol consumption. im starting to worry that I might turn into an alcoholic
More than a year after your original comment but so true. As I write this comment I’ve just opened my second bottle of wine tonight, and it’s still early, and I was an occasional drinker to someone who’s thinking what can I afford this week. Thank you all, I’m coming off my medication.
I wish I or one of my doctors had known this information fifteen years ago. I was prescribed SSRI’s by the age of 13. For years I complained of a compulsion to drink. I felt compelled to do it, it was horrible. I will never forget what it felt like, it almost killed me several times, there was nothing in the world that would take it away. Rehab, AA, self help, nothing in the world could relief this compulsion. The compulsion to drink over took the reason I was prescribed the SSRI’s in the first place. I almost died of “alcoholism”.
I discontinued my SSRI at the age of 28, and did not immediately make the connection that my compulsion to drink went with it. It wasn’t until I was again prescribed the SSRI for anxiety the alcohol cravings came back with a vengeance. I white knuckled through the compulsion to drink until I could report it to my dr. He, thank God, was a good doctor who listened, and actually found some evidence supporting what I was telling him. I have a huge family history of alcoholism, and apparently SSRI’s can cause compulsive drinking in “type B” alcoholics. I have remained sober for years. I do not attend AA meetings, I do not even drink socially. Alcohol disgusts me and I just associate it with pain. The anxiety remains an issue, however I will take my chances with the anxiety and panic disorder over compulsions to drink myself to death. Unfortunately, I now will carry the label as “substance abuser” likely for life. I had my baby several towns away afraid that I would be accused of drug seeking if I asked for an epidural. People have a right to know about this side effect. I wish somebody had told me.
Agree with all of your comments
I am still in the process of withdrawal from escitalopram which I took for over 5 years. Before that I took efexor, but weaned myself off of it when it caused too many side effects. I was just telling my husband that its weird how I don’t feel like drinking all the time now like I used to. Prior to taking SSRI’s I wasn’t much of a drinker, so I went looking to see if this had happened to other people and found this article.
Following my Mothers death and a number of other traumatic life events, I was prescribed SSRI’s, and then again while experiencing hormonal symptom the SSRI was changed and increased.
Years later, after reporting numerous lifestyle changes that should have made me feel better and lose weight, my Dr started testing for health problems. He concluded that I had issues with very low thyroid and low levels of vitamin D. After getting the thyroid issue in check and supplementing with the D he suggested that I may not need SSRI’s as my condition may have been misdiagnosed, so I started tapering off of the escitalopram. Thats when the hell of withdrawal began!
Getting off of the SSRI after so many years has been an uphill struggle for me. I am still having side effects, mainly the brain zaps and ringing in my ears. I found out that my Tramadol has a mild SSRI, so I started taking a half of one twice a day to help alleviate the symptoms. This doesn’t make it go away, but helps me get through the day. My other recourse was to go back on SSRI’s, which I am not willing to do.
Thanks for writing this article which sheds some light on why I may have had an alcohol problem. I am glad to off of the SSRI’s and will never take them again!
I have been on Effexor for 1 1/2 years. This is my second time trying. I have depression and anxiety due to many difficult situations the past 9 years.
The first time I tried it I noticed a major difference in not carrying about the important things in my life and then I noticed how much I would crave my wine.
I am 115 lbs and 5 4″. In all of my adult life would I never consume more than 2 glasses of wine. Occasionally maybe 2 1/2. Sometimes never finish 1 though. Not to mention not even drink more than 1 to 2 days a week. I am a complete health freak. My main addictions besides taking care of my family were running, juicing, spinning, and bikram yoga. Unfortunately it did not completely help with my depression. I have 3 beautiful children a very loving husband, and I’ve owned my own hair salon for 13 years.
This past weekend was my rock bottom and wake up call.
Here is my story for the last year and 1/2.
After 4 months of being on it the second time this time I went back to talk to my Dr. About my alcohol intake and cravings. He had told me he never heard of such a thing. I then got embarrassed and lied about the amount I was consuming. Even though I had researched it already and found that it could be a problem.
As time went on I tried to monitor it better, but it just wasn’t working. I started to go next door to my salon if I had a break and have a glass of wine. Then go home and drink a bottle. No one at first saw it as a problem bc many people I associate with do very much enjoy drinking wine. I still would get up and go running, do my yoga and take care of my family. My children one day asked me why I don’t order wine at the drive through of Dunkin Donuts since I drink so much all the time.
How embarrassing and sad is that?
A couple of months ago I drank so much I blacked out and my children had to call my mother to come help them.
Fast forward…. the past month I decided to start pursuing someone else. Someone that respected me and would never imagine it. We started talking at a bar and I had about 3 glasses of wine by the time we started talking. I guess I had said some things that are definitely not me and acted very inappropriately by the end of the night. I don’t remember much, but the next day I could remember that what I did do was wrong. Very upset I did go and apologize. He accepted it and reminded me about my husband and children. Another very embarrassing moment.
Didn’t stop me though bc the start of one drink and that pain will go away.
in the meantime my husband, mother and kids are telling I’m drinking too much and I am telling my mom and husband for the past few months i need to go off this medication i am on. They of course don’t think I should and don’t believe me. They tell me that maybe I just need a different one and to give up the alcohol.
Well, this weekend after having a bottle of wine 2 dirty martinis and a couple of shots out at a bar with friends I decided to leave without telling anyone bc I was going to go and see if I can meet up with that other man at his restaurant.
I had an ANGEL watching over me!!!! I remember nothing from the time I left until the time I woke up the next day.
This is what I was told. A car saw me driving and called the cops from my home town bc my kids sports stickers are on my car. In the meantime I hit a guardrail on the way a parked car in the center of town and kept going. I was arrested for DWI and 2 other counts. On top of it my husband found my text messages to the other guy asking him to please meet me.
I have created my own nightmare. I truly know this medication is not healthy. When your running across the street to a package store that has been there for as long as I owned my salon to buy a bottle of wine during work the past 9 months and drink at the restaurant next door during the day and never ever, ever did that up until the last year just doesn’t suddenly start happening. After the first time I went off this medication I went back to normal. That was 8 years ago. I tried it again bc maybe I was wrong.
I am taking myself off and I am going to find my old self again. I am going gain the respect from my children, family, friends who now think I am an alcoholic and most importantly my husband..
I know who I am. I many times pouring my first glass of wine would say what the hell is wrong with you. You know this isn’t you, just call your Dr. Just go off of this stuff, you know this is what’s causing this. I would go out for a 10 mile run and tell myself I wasn’t going to drink when I got home after showering and cooking dinner. As much as I would think about not doing it and tell myself it was wrong it didn’t matter. It was like a demon pulling me to the package store to buy that bottle.
Not anymore! The old me, the real me is a hell of a lot easier to deal with then who I’ve turned out to be. I am just so thankful that I have had the people around me to point it out and not stop pointing it out, along with My thoughts during my running, hot yoga have also helped keep it right in my face. This weekend happened for a reason. I am going to go to my Dr. I am showing him this sight and tell him to do his research. These medications are ruining lives. I thank GOD mine was only 1 year 1/2.
Thanks for all your posts.
I was prescribed Seroxat and more and more SSRIs which induced hypomamina, depression, extreme agitation and suicide ideation in me. I had no mental health issues at all (excluding a panic attack once during a bad menstrual period) before being prescribed an SSRI.
When the doctors seemed confused as to why I said I felt the all SSRI medication was making me worse they prescribed Effexor, an SNRI. Within 3 months of taking Effexor I had developed a serious drinking problem despite no former problems with alcohol, and I became anorexic… In a highly agitated spiralling down I ended up making a impulsive no cry for help suicide attempt on drink and Effexor. I was told by staff in intensive care I was lucky to alive. The doctors actually kept me on Effexor and the drinking didn’t stop until I knew I had to get off the drug – even I, at the time, made no possible link between what happened and Effexor. These drugs have almost cost me life three times. Because mention stress at work to a doctor in a five minute appointment fifteen years ago! Hopefully any studies proving a link between SSRIs will and cravings for alcohol will become known or better known.
I have had some serious problems also. Has anyone got legal representation to sue the company who sell these drugs?
I was told by a physical therapist that antidepressants zap your bones of calcium. Anyone know anything about this?
they do increase the risk of fractures
Hi Dr Healy, can you please please guide me in getting my mind back. I need to get off 10mg of escitalapram urgently as I’m losing my mind, family and life. Please help.
I m’sorry to dont speak english, i’m French. I have a problem with alcohol since i have a medication with one type of antidepressant. When i stop these antidepressants : no alcohol or easy to stop drinking but i am bad… With these antidepressants : a lot of alcohol and very very difficult for me to stop.
I have been on luvox for about 10 years with heavy drinking and many blackouts. I thought the obsessing about drinking or not drinking were due to ocd (the reason for the luvox) or just plain alcoholism. I binge drank before I got on the mediation, though, unlike many of the people here.
First and foremost thank you for this post. Citalopram was a nightmare for me. I had terrible manic episodes. I drank non stop… To the point where I locked myself in the house and drank for 4 days straight. I woke up one morning after two weeks of this nonsense and thought I was dying. If you think panic attacks are bad for 10 minutes, try having one for 3 hours. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breath. I finally was able to scrape myself off the bed and into the ER. My resting heart rate was 168. I discontinued using Citalopram and now a year later I’m on and off setraline. The side effects are mild in comparison. It’s been an uphill battle, but there’s hope on the horizon. The same thing happened to my best friends husband on Citalopram. Not all medications have equal and similar reactions in people. But that is one medication I don’t ever want to encounter. Thanks again for the post. I was weirded out that I craved alcohol and wanted to drink that badly! Good luck to everyone on here.
By the way, with the heart rate… I am a long distance runner and have seen it as low as 65 which alarmed some medical providers until I told them this. The extreme rise was scary for me.
have been on duloxetine (cymbalta) since 2008 and i want a drink so f*cking badly right now. can’t go out without someone getting suspicious, so i’m sitting here just craving it. keep me in your thoughts.
My wife died just over a month ago because of this. She first got on lexapro in may, then switched to zoloft. I have never seen anyone drink like her before. It was like leaving las vegas. She got on anti depressants to deal with anxiety, and depression caused by other events in her life. The drugs that were supposed to help her, killed her. A friend of hers described her as literally insane. She would hide and sneak alcohol. I didn’t realize that it was the drugs that was causing the cravings. She had drunk before as a way to deal with some very bad things that happened to her, but when she got on the drugs, she was like a freight train going through a china shop. She was irrational, angry, aggressive, and doing bat shit crazy stuff all the time. I was trying to tell her that she can’t stay here when she drinks. She tried to kill herself on this before, by sitting on a 6th story ledge wanting to jump, but she didn’t do it cause she didn’t want to die. The final time, she left and stayed at a nearby hotel. I didn’t know where she was. I filed a missing person’s report on her, and 2 days later the coroner called cause she drank a huge bottle of vodka, and a fist full of aspirin. Still waiting for toxicology report. In just 6 months, she spiraled out of control, and now she’s dead. Doctor’s didn’t tell her of the risk of her wanting to drink more alcohol. She trusted the doctor’s and now she’s dead. My life is ruined. I have nothing without her. I am nothing without her.
I am so sorry for your loss, I will keep you in my prayers
I’m so sorry for your loss, Steven. How frightening and so very sad!
Thank you so much for this article and all the responses I can’t believe I’ve found it. I Googled the link between alcohol cravings and my fluoxetine after reading on the sober recovery website about someone that had made the link.
I’ve always been a drinker, alcoholism runs in my family. However the last year or so things have progressed quickly. I have gone from drinking a bottle of wine 3 or 4 nights a week which was bad enough to drinking 1 and a half to 2 bottles 5 or 6 nights a week.
Alcoholism is progressive so I figured that that was why I’m drinking more and have serious problems resisting the urge….
Thinking about it now though I’ve been taking the anti depressants for the time that my drinking has escalated. I had made no connection and was actually feeling grateful for being on them as they have helped the depression but now …. I’m not so sure they’re good at all!!! I’ve decided to start weaning off them, do it sensibly then assess if there is any difference to my compulsions to drink. Thank you again x
Hi Adelina, It’s been two years and I’m only reading your post today. Just wondering how all of this worked out for you? My story is similar to yours and many others on this page. I’ve been going to Alcoholics Anonymous to help with my drinking thinking that I must be an alcoholic but now I’m wondering if it is my medication.
Well I appealed 2 times with an expert and lost my case I then reapplied with a different expert to the CCRC and not only had to wait 4 years almost but I then came across a comment on my original story “out of my mind driven to drink” on David Healys blog by a dr who said this “Blaming SSRI’s for addiction is like blaming bullets for shootings. Alcoholism/addiction is a disease. The genetic dysfunction is based in the nucleus accumbens and has a documented genetic component. Will altering the serotonin/dopamine level have an effect on cravings for a mood altering chemical? Of course. But relating it as the “cause” shows a lack of knowledge in peer reviewed pharmaceutical addiction” . I decided then to give up my appeal as I do not have faith in the system and believe they still will regardless of what ever proof I have take the side of this Dr’s comment. I would have risked quite a lot to have gone on with the appeal even though I know it was the drug. I have already been to prison five times because of the combination and don’t feel strong enough to risk landing up there again. My advice as a patient/defendant to anyone considering legal action is I wouldnt bother unless more of the medical community are alongside but of course the risks are up to you but as things stand at the moment I don’t think our cases are strong enough.
I’m sorry if I only skimmed through most of these and when I saw your’s I kind of related. The reason I found this article was just by chance because I’m still going through the ramifications from being misdiagnosed with bipolar and initially put on Prozac by the quack. By the time it was all over after in total going through four psychiatrists each of who had their own misdiagnoses for the PTSD that it turned out to be,
I’d been put on Paxil, Lithium, Effexor and I can’t remember how many others. The whole time claiming that it was those things making me drink in the beginning so I could sleep and all I had to do was when I got up take more and I didn’t suffer any noticeable hangover. Unfortunately I went from a fairly good career ending up on disability at which point it was impossible to get anyone to listen to me with “an indeterminable mental disorder”.
Eventually it turned out through a Criminal Injuries Compensation Claim as the result of a serious assault that occurred while I was still working for the Government, before they released me from the Queen’s Park Institution (Ontario Government offices) they were counselling me to avoid problems with PTSD in the future.
Even after that it was virtually impossible to find a psychiatrist that would believe it wasn’t really a drinking problem (that I was telling them about, but in denial?) and that I wanted help getting off the SSRI’s so I wouldn’t experience a problem like I had before when I tried to stop taking them myself.
If it’s of any value, I finally smartened up and of all things went to an addiction clinic. Not claiming that I needed help with the drinking on the intake form, but help getting off the SSRI’s that were making me drink.
I’m as amazed finding this site as I was with my addiction counselor who wasn’t really all that surprised to hear the problems I was going through. Until now I wasn’t really sure if it was just to prove my point that I haven’t had a drink since then in about 2002. I wish it had helped as much with the PTSD but at least I can deal with it better without the rose colored glasses, drunk half the time and having to listen to Narcissists that do nothing but make it worse.
I have long drank too much. I spent 15 years on the wagon. Had a rough patch and started drinking.
I went on Pristiq and it did wonders but I noticed that I drank much more thany normal heavy. I went off and continued to struggle with booze.
I began to take NALTREXONE. It is an antiopioid and prescribed to reduce alcohol intake and consumption. Wow! Over the next six weeks my alcohol consumption was in safe limits.
A family member has been pushing me for months to get back on Pristiq and really pushed as I was more irritable as my alcohol consumption decreased. I was convinced this was related more to the slow withdrawal and adjustment from drinking 12 to 20 drinks a day down to 4 over six weeks.
Finally I relented and took Pristiq again, while taking Naltrexone. Within two weeks my drinking had again skyrocketed. While not as high as pre-naltrexone, almost as high.
I knew it was probably the Pristiq, but have continued to take both then I came across a government website regarding how to reduce drinking through medicine (how i learned about naltrexone) that I refer to often. I saw the section about using antidepressants to curb drinking but had not read it.
Read that section today. Wow…. It even states that people who develop alcohol use disorders (AUDs) later in life are usually helped with SSRIs…..BUT and this is huge, people like me with strong genetic factors and who developed and AUD younger in life often end up drinking more and are hindered when put on antidepressants!
The site is:
If you have an alcohol disorder, this site is a blessing. naltrexone has been a lifesaver to me. I wish I had read the SSRI section earlier and had my doctor put me on gabopentin for the irritability. I am making that call today.
Naltrexone works best when taken 1 hour before drinking only on days that you drink. Cravings can vanish over a 2-6 month period. This is called The Sinclair Method, which is used widely and successfully in Finland and now is catching on in the US. Google this method TSM for short.
Check out the Facebook page and the non-profit site
New Documentary: One Little Pill is great !
New Book Amazon – by Dr. Eskapa – The Cure is also great.
My loved one is doing so well using TSM and naltrexone !
It’s self-administered with only occasional Dr. visits.
Best to all,
I highly recommend gabopentin! I take it around 7pm 600mg and it helps calm my nerves so I don’t crave alcohol.
I have been on ssris for 20 years. They landed me in AA for the past 10. Something didn’t feel right. I was sober but so jittery. The cravings never went away. I relapsed a few years ago and went to a doc for help. He gave me Effexor (was on sertraline previously). Cravings were worse – horrible! Would be sober 6 months, 3 months etc over the past 3 years and any time I relapsed I would pound warm white wine, hide it etc. I physically could not stop until I was passed out. I was in a blackout after 2 glasses.
I quit Effexor after my docs solution was to double my dose from 75 to 150 and I was so jittery and restless I wanted to jump out of my skin.
I’ve just come off 5 days of nightmares that had me screaming, extreme dizziness and confusion but it’s getting better.
I never want to crave alcohol like that again. It was hell and AA only helped somewhat bc the PHYSICAL CRAVING NEVER WENT AWAY and worsened with increased dosage. I had panic attacks in my 20s – this is the origin of the problem. I know I was drinking too much then but no one ever told me they can result from too much drinking and create a cycle of addiction.
The solution as I see it is don’t drink and don’t take SSRIs if drinking is how you solve anxiety issues. They will send you down a hellish spiral. I was very open with my docs about my recovery and entered AA before anything tragic or legal happened. They still prescribed these drugs for a few panic attacks instead of pointing me i a different direction.
I am soooo thankful for this article. I spent many years of my adult life craving or wanting to drink without thinking of the repercussions that happen in the morning. I have broken bones, driven drunk and got myself into risky situations. I quit taking paroxetine approximately three months ago and I have no craving to drink alcohol to the extent I use to drink which was basically to drink until I was good, drunk and falling down. I couldn’t stop once I started and before I started, all I could think about was when I was off work so I could drink. I still drink, one to two times a week, up to 3 drinks at home and I’m done. I no longer need to drink until 3-4 in the morning. I just had two beers an hour ago and have been in bed ever since relaxing. I don’t even miss alcohol! Getting off paroxetine can be challenging. It was tough and while I was weaning myself over several months, I had many second thoughts and wanted to start up again and wanted a stronger dose! I am happy that I didn’t revert back and give up. I won’t lie, it wasn’t pleasant because also with the brain zaps come emotions. Real, raw emotions I hadn’t felt or had to deal with in many many years. It’s not always fun crying at the drop of a hat, but now at least I know I am ALIVE and I feel!!! Good luck to those who get off of these dangerous meds, but again, it’s not my life or my position to decide for you. But honestly, I knew I wasn’t an alcoholic even though I acted like one. Thank God someone wrote this article!!! It’s not just me alone in this!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
This article saved my life.
Was put back on effexor in 2009 having previously taken it with few issues. I had my youngest son in June 09 and was prescribed effexor so that depression wouldn’t happen. Rarely drank at that point.
Fast forward to 2011 and I was off the scale. unmerciful alcohol craving. Mad behavior. Out of character completely.
Didn’t see the original article until last November after a chat with a friend at a concert where she said she stopped effexor as within 6 months of starting she was killing a bottle of gin a day. So I weaned off the pills and went cold turkey at Xmas.
Yesterday I finally went to the doctor and told her why I did it and she said I wasn’t the first she’d heard of.
I have been having anxiety, lockdown and menopause aren’t great companions but I asked for mirtazipine and got it. Had first night of sleep in two years and anxiety is much lessened today.
I just started Effexor about a month ago or so. It’s been worrisome. I’d had trouble with alcohol in the past during my time in the military, and it put me in a lot of compromising situations. Fortunately I never saw any prison time or serious injury, and I was able to pretty much cut it out of my life after I got out in 2019, having become too familiar of the consequences of heavy drinking. Well, fast forward to about a month ago when I started Effexor, and I almost immediately started engaging in more pleasure seeking behavior. Increased caffeine, nicotine, and marijuana intake, and I frequently take higher doses of the medicine itself than was needed because it too has stimulating effects. About a week into starting it I noticed that I really wanted to drink again. The day after I did, I also noticed that my hangovers weren’t nearly as bad as before, so I had even less reason to abstain. I went from 0-4 drinks a month to 35+ drinks a week, mostly by myself in my room. Just went on a bender yesterday. I’ve resolved to start taking things day by day because I can’t continue to do this.
Mark is my name. I was a fire-fighter for 19 years: I ended up suffering PTSD which eventually led to my early retirement. I was initially diagnosed with depression, and the treating brigade health-worker recommended escitalopram. Before this, I was a casual drinker that could easily go without beer for several days; nowadays, I can drink all night without so much as a slight hangover. My wife is concerned, as am I, with my intense cravings for alcohol. I do suffer extreme depression on a regular basis, so on the odd occasion I have doubled my dose of escitalpram to 40 mg. In combination with alcohol, I become obnoxious to people around me, and I recently abused my father-in-law over something rather minor. It’s like I observe this character that is not me, carrying on in an anti-social manor…..and I don’t like this character. Thank God I came across this article and the associated comments; I now feel some sense of solidarity and hope-at least-a new sense of direction. Thank you to all you brave people for your help.
Like everyone who is reading these responses… Mine rings so true.. I have tried many AD’s over the years… When they work, I am a happy non drinker.. Sometimes for years. But when I change meds, I become an alcoholic… I wake up thinking of alcohol instead of coffee.. I can and have drunk 3 bottles of wine per day… No hangover!!! I feel alienated from my family, my life and myself. EVERYTHING that was precious to me has gone… My husband of 26years has had enough… I was on Effexor 75 mgs. I do not talk anymore…. It’s like the cats got my tongue… I hate shopping which I used to call my no.1 pass time. Family feel estranged… I feel like I am inside a fishbowl… Void of emotions… I am going off the medication now. I’ve had enough.. Whatever happens,happens. I no longer want to have my life sliced up into feeling good or feeling s*^t. I used to be called so kind and considerate and loving. Can anyone else relate??? BTW, I’m 52 and female…
Lyn, I was 51 and a social drinker when I started taking Celexa. I began drinking more right away. My alcohol abuse continued to increase until I had black outs every time I drank. Started AA this year. Now I don’t drink at all. I just found this site tonight. I’m definitely getting off this medication. I also gained 60 lbs. on it. Looking forward to finally being able to lose weight and maybe be a social drinker again.
I started drinking the moment I was prescribed antidepressant medication – Citroplim & lexapro. I was at my worst on lexapro. I spoke to my doctor and he said it’s not possible!! I now know it’s the truth
Firstly, Anne-Marie and the rest of you, thank you for taking the time and courage to share your experiences.
This has been an interesting read and really quite enlightening. I have been taking SSRIs for many, many years for GAD as well as Benzos for peak anxiety. Though I have always enjoyed alcohol and happy to have a beer or wine with friends (keep clear of hard stuff) part of the culture here in Europe, I have noticed that when on SSRIs there is an element where, once that first drink has been taken, there is an accelerated thirst for more drinks and this until I reach a pretty drunk stage, whilst still being fairly “normal”…Having gone through some challenging moments these last 2 years, I have had to up my SSRIs and take Benzos on a daily basis; following this regime, I have noticed that my end of day beer, quickly became, beers followed by a few glasses of wine if not a bottle. Also, if I would go for a lunch with a friend where we had wine, we would down some pretty frightening amounts, not that I felt that it affected me all that much, but I clearly had a high percentage of the alcohol in my blood. More recently I have also noticed myself sneaking in a couple of beers before heading out to an event so I am already a couple of drinks ahead before getting there, not to be drunk but just to be a bit steady (probably related to anxiety management of sorts), and would then keep downing quite a few at the party or dinner (also noticing that I am filling up my glass a lot more regularly than others – something my wife has recently spotted as well making me feel somewhat shameful, blaming it on stress). Unfortunately, the spiral is not healthy, as it does affect recovery sleep, makes me wake up more anxious, and also quite foggy so tend to throw down some caffeine (which for an anxious person like me is like downing liquid anxiety – another really strong and needless habit to break) which further amplifyies anxiety, and thus more benzos are required, etc. After reaching a more comfortable benzo-induced cruising altitude, and I then attend a dinner party I can down a serious amount of beer and wine. Being surrounded by “good” drinkers, it goes rather unnoticed, but my wife has commented that I have said certain odd things, but also I sense more aggression in that state, and, more concerning have noticed I can’t remember certain conversations the following day.
I was sort of suspecting that there was some sort of link to the medication and do know that benzo’s (with or without alcohol do have an impact and may lead to dementia down the road, not that reassuring), but the SSRI link was less clear as there is not much out there. Most side effects that come up are more about people having physical side-effects or sense of disconnection, fatigue, stomach pains and the overall-winner-and-most-common-reason-to-quit weight gain which will happen with some rare exceptions.
I have a checkup next week and will indeed discuss this element with my GP – I am currently working on reducing my SSRIs anyhow as want to shed the weight (probably in good part brought on by the alcohol calories and stress) but also taken up mindfulness and will start yoga in the spring.
Good luck to all. Sharing is always useful!
My 1st wife was a alcoholic. Our doctor put her on citilpram (maybe misspelled). For anxiety. He knew she was an alcoholic has he was her doctor for many years.
In August of 2011, while I was home with her (I was on the couch taking a nap) my wife went into the bathroom, put a 9 mm handgun to her head and pulled the trigger. She is no longer with us.
After reading the above story it was like reliving what was happening to her before she chose that answer.
I hope you all find the answers you need, and stay away from. These nasty life taking drugs…….
Add Brintellix/Trintellix/vortioxetine to the list. An excerpt from a post on crazyboards dot org. It is the member’s only post, so take it with a grain of salt.
–YOU CANNOT DRINK ALCOHOL while taking Brintellix. Why? At least in my case, it literally turned me into an alcoholic. While taking it, I found that the desire for alcohol extended to all hours of the day. I wound up being let go from my job; I lost my housing; and for a month I was homeless. I had been a high-earning tech professional.
Fortunately, the city of San Francisco came to my rescue. I had become physically addicted to alcohol after 2 months of continuous drinking. The Brintellix went away, as I lost my health coverage, but not until after I found myself in the psych ward at the hospital. After 3 months in alcohol rehab, and now 4 months in a sober living house, I have finally come to the conclusion that I’m not an alcoholic. I still have no craving for alcohol — I have no problem being around drinking people (though I’ve been sober now 8 months) and I must come to the conclusion that the combination of Brintellix and alcohol was, well, responsible.—
Thanks so much for this! I have always had a tendency toward drinking and depression and when I started taking lexapro a few months ago the problem became much worse–I both wanted to drink more and alcohol affected me much more negatively. Before making the connection to lexapro I went and told my doctor about the drinking problem getting worse. I felt like my depression was better but also that I was more impulsive and wanted to drink more. I asked him about another drug I had read about called naltrexone which reduces alcohol cravings. It helped some but not enough. I finally realized that I had to stop lexapro. The naltrexone is still there if I need it and it sounds like mirtazapine and ondansetron might help too! Thanks!
My question is: Why are any of you on medication in the first place? What makes a person decide they need to take these very harmful and unnatural drugs? Thank you!
I took these medications bc I thought I had anxiety and OCD both of which do not exist. I thought I was being helped. Once you get on these drugs its very difficult to get off. You become a zombie and doctors will control you. You become spellbound into thinking the drug is okay but it’s actually creating more problems. The commercials and media makes people think they have mental disorders. Dont be luered into thinking this bullshit.
Wow, Kem, you have obviously never had a nervous breakdown, status panicus, in my case. It is pure and absolute hell, enough to make a person want to kill themself. Hence the reason I started taking a SSRI, plus it was prescribed by a “professional”
I can’t describe how incredible thankful and relieved I am to have found this site – and especially all the comments posted by people around the world.
My story with psychatric medicine started in Dece,ber 2009, I was 20 years old. I’ve always suffered periods with severe depression ever since I was a child. Following a week with panic attacks caused by smoking weed (nothing I was doing regularly) the doctor at the psychatric clinic I was enrolled in finally “won” (having tried for 2,5 years to convince me to take antidepressants). I started taking cipralex and finally this year I felt strong enough to taper down from 20mg of escitalopram. I was giving citalopram instead in a wrong dosis, and I’ve been dealing with the most fucked side effects particularly electric chocks, fatigue, bizarre thoughts, I sleep no more than 2-3 hours at night and during the day I am a zombie. BUT, these physical side effects I can live with, but the alcohol, the alcohol is ruining my life in the age of 27.
I experience exactly the same as many of you. I’ve been thinking for years that these cravings and excessive consumption is caused by genetic factors (my father has affininity towards alcohol as well) and simply the fact that I am a weak character. I go binge drinking 2-3 times a week. Once I have tasted the first zip of wine, gin, beer whatever, I can’t stop. I have no filter left, I haven’t blacked out yet, but the last 4 months I’ve had such horrible suicidal hangovers after a night of drinking. I don’t know why I can’t stop! Every time I ask myself “how can you continue doing something that is this bad for you?” I try to look at people around me, friends, family and colleagues and I am the only one with this kind of behavior.
So I feel completely alone untill stumbling upon this site!
My problem now is that I am afraid of going of the meds after so many years. How long does it take before things get back to normal? I’ve heard of people going for 12 months with these serious side effects and I can’t afford that job wise (since fatigue brings lack of concentration and I need to focus)
How does your everyday life work? I mean, are you able to have jobs etc. with these alcohol/SRRI related problems?
Hi -sending experience during 1 year , several years ago.
Regarding drinking while on psych. meds (which medical advice always advises against )
-For six months , I had similar experiences i.e taking antidepressants , the meds. seemed to increase my tolerance for higher and higher doses of alcohol. I ended up being able to drink 2 bottles of wine + for instance a night , and only felt mildly to moderately stimulated and energetic . Also no hangovers the next day, which initially I thought was great, ( I’d always had rotten hangovers with only a few glasses for most of my life) I was drink driving , then drinking on the way home from work in the end.
Prior to going on antidepressants (Lexapro) If I drank more than 3 glasses of wine I would be becoming unsteady on my feet , slurry in speech etc, sleepy .
Why was I drinking anyway? -if the meds were doing the thing they promise-i.e reduce/ get rid of anxiety and depression? Well I still had an anxious stressy edge to my life that I could not seem to shake off.
For the whole year I was going to pychotherapy 1x aweek , trawling through my 45yr life history , unloading and unravelling some things that I had always been too ashamed or conflicted , to speak about with friends and family . But the therapy finally got to a plateau point where I felt like I had said all I could say and needed 5o go in a different direction, or needed inspiration to shift my thinking further ) -my therapist did a lot non judgemental nodding to encourage me to share and was good at ‘ listening’ but I wanted more in the end for the $150 per hour) I was still feeling isolated, lonely and my welfare job stressful, my long term defacto relationship was bringing up trust and insecurity issues . I left therapy and my job.
I weened my self slowly off meds over three weeks , and my alcohol use dropped to normal use and 6months later I stopped drinking and smoking altogether.
I like everyone , wish there was a magic bullet /easy way to create equanimity and a sense of balance, self confidence , and heathy happy relationships in my life.
The best I have found to help me is one on one or group learning mindulness meditation lessons (2×6weeks courses avail. for free if you are low income etc from some universties or Buddhist meditaton centres. Exercise daily, what ever you enjoy most , my choices are to swim, calming yoga practse , walk , bike , ride – then to help control negative thinking, for half hour , at least meditate 30mins minimum daily. Eat well , fresh health, fruit , vegies , drinks lots of water . Find the sort of self help books /tapes that apeal to you . Laugh , its good for mind body and soul, strive to engage postitively with everyone you cross paths with , work at getting rid of anger , fear, worry , envy, excessive critical judgment of others. Remember /remind yourself several times a day that our lives are so short , aim to be in the moment enjoying who you are , who your friends are , and recall what is wonderful in the world . At the same time be proative when you can to help others in need , and stand up for injustices that you see , but remember stay calm!!! Look after number 1 -thats you !
Ps Pych meds are meant to be used short term 6 months in many cases , and ideally should be administered by a experienced pychiatrist who knows you well , your history and surrounding heath and social situation,- too many times pills are given out without enough in depth knowledge of the persons circumstances .Try to get counselling , therapy etc to get to the bottom ofwhat is the causes of your problems , be 100% honest with yourself .
I can also relate big time. I’ve had General Anxiety and mild Social Anxiety my entire 49 years of life. Was always a social drinker and very light social smoker. Worked out regularly including martial arts. Spent years just dealing with the anxiety the best way I could, using meditation and low doses of benzo’s as needed. Finally, about two years ago I was going through a real stressful period at my already stressful tech job. Decided to take the plunge after years of doctors telling me I would do better on SSRI’s long term. Total BS…While I had absolutely no major side effects when I started Lexapro 10mg and eventually 20mg, I had no idea how my relationship with Alcohol, Smoking and Gambling would change. I went from 0 to 100 in a matter of months. I became the binge drinker’s binge drinker. Over a short period of time I noticed my need to stay up for 10 or more hours sitting at my PC watching youtube videos and downing beer after beer, when normally I would just have two or three and go to bed. I like others have mentioned would also not get drunk until way late in the game, maybe 15 beers. I smoke outside my house, so I would go out on the front walk to smoke and smoke and smoke. Last year I took a header, while rolling out my ashes, the only thing that saved me was my muscle memory from martial arts which enabled me to roll out of it enough to just hit my face and not my head. Funny thing is, I got up thinking it was so funny and had a few more beers. I go to rock concerts…started binge drinking at those also, now nobody wants to attend with me. I play poker once a week and used to have maybe 5 beers in 4 hours time. Now I am ordering 2-3 per hour and running up to the bar just before last call to get my last two…hitting on female players and dealers and being uncharacteristically aggressive with other males. Then only to return home and drink more while sitting at the PC, drunk dialing old girlfriends and even more embarrassing and costly endeavors, like live chat. I don’t even want to mention my behavior in Vegas, not that I can remember the late night action. Before Lexapro, most would have considered me a square healthy guy…now I am at the point of decision, stay on the medication and lose everything or get off as soon as possible. I am choosing the latter and will wean myself off the best I can. So far even moving back to 10mg has really helped, now I only go out on the weekends and have been able to stop drinking during the week. Also working out a bit more after going through the laziest 18 months of my life. Cant wait to get this out of my system for good.
Good Luck to all!
I’m shocked to see all of these responses. I actually researched to see if alcohol would help withdrawal symptoms because I lost my medication. However, I have noticed increased addiction to drinking. My doctor prescribed citalopram and buspirone because I was starting to drink too much. My drinking is getting to the point where I pass out while putting my 5 yr old daughter to bed and affecting my relationship with my bf of 7yrs who is now second guessing proposing because of drinking. I have PTSD and recently reacted to a situation by fighting, hitting, and screaming, all because my bf tried to take my drink. This is not me!! I’m starting to not remember what happens when I drink as well as remembering anything throughout the day, drinking or not. Im having trouble taking care of myself, daughter, or keeping track of anything in life!
Writing this to encourage all of you…weaned myself off Effexor/Venlafaxine XR after 10 years. The drug helped me immensely over that time with major depression and severe social anxiety. The only reason I came off was due to the “breakthrough” side effects because my RX plan insisted I use generic drugs of various manufacturers. I noticed in January, I was incredibly irritable and had other strange brain zaps, dizziness, dry mouth, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
I realized that over the course of a year, these various generic drugs were probably not releasing the drug evenly and this was effectively causing withdrawal. I stopped cold turkey in Feb from 75 mgs/day because I knew I had probably been weaning off anyway…it wasn’t ideal, I had 4 days in which I could not leave my apartment – tired, sweating, no apetite, terrible stomach pain, hot flashes, anxiety, dizziness, and terrible impulse control…wild mood swings. But now, after 5 months, things are improving, I’ve lost about 15 pounds – without trying, finally sleeping well, and energy is so much more even. There are some changes in mood, some dips but nothing I can’t handle when I tell myself it will pass. And it does indeed pass.
Regarding the alcohol, I noticed over time my tolerance increased to the point that a bottle was easy to consume in one night. I am a small woman and had developed a tremendous craving for alcohol. These cravings were most intense during periods of excitement and happiness, and also during time of dissapointment and depression. I also noticed the cravings came on if I was very hungry or tired. As if my body was craving immediate sugar. This resulted in nights with lots of alcohol, and some with none. Yet it was always a downward spiral once the first drink hit the brain – compulsive eating, sugar/carb cravings and also hyperactivity and excitement and then crash. One particular evening I argued with a friend on the phone and we are no longer friends. I don’t remember half the conversation, but what I do remember was so harsh and so unlike me.
I realized then that it was there was something wrong with my impulse control – and admitted to myself that the drug had gradually altered my mind and my emotions in a subtle progression over years. It then took me a few more years to face the fact, once I had weaned off the drug I can see how changed I was.
I don’t regret taking the drug because it truly helped me survive several difficult times in my life, yet, I now know that clean diet, meditation, exercise and the right supplements can even out depression and anxiety. Sadly, the drug covers over the intensity of the feelings but the moods are still there underneath. Now, in a healthier place, I am revisiting all my moods, and thoughts and I am able to see I am not damaged or defective but instead just a human being afraid of her own thoughts. The help of a good cognitive therapist, and friends is invaluable but so are these blogs, and comment boards. Any of you who are suffering, please know that things can get better, whether you decide to come off drugs or stay on, just stay focused on your behavior and the person you know yourself to be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if one practitioner doesn’t understand, try others. I have also been greatly helped by quitting caffeine altogether – which also reduced my craving for alcohol -It was the other half of my mood swings – a kind of hyperactive clarity bordering on euphoria. The alcohol provided euphoria in a dull and tranquilizing way. And between the two poles I swung for many years. Now, happily, I’ve come to know myself, and I’m really not so bad, nor are the problems of life insurmountable if you begin by treating yourself with respect and kindness first. Then you can be effective and join the world without fear. And eventually you will sleep real sleep and wake up with natural energy. Best warmest wishes to everyone who is suffering with the choices and the fears. I can tell you it’s possible to get to the other shore…don’t give up on yourself.
Hi to all fellow sufferers, I feel sad yet a little relieved to read about all your stories, only because at least now I don’t feel that I’ve been losing my mind for the last eight years. My early years as a child were not great to say the least which left me suffering from depression from an early age, not that I knew what depression was back then. Over the coming years after many failed relationships maybe caused by the depression, I met and married a wonderful person when we were 33 years old and we are still together at 50 ( she deserves a medal). Until 8 years ago we would spend our weekends out together socialising with friends or family which always involved in probably drinking too much ! Then on one such a weekend I had a fall out with my sister whom I was very close to, she had been on antidepressants for some years and had tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion as had I. Sadly after that we never contacted each other for a number of months. Which left me feeling much lower than I usually did. I went to my doctor and was prescribed Prozac. At the time I was running a small building business and never ever drank during weekdays. My sister and I had made up which was great. Then for reasons I could not understand before long I was drinking every night of the week. I went back to my doctor who then put me on duloxetine my drinking increased even more. Something had to be done ! A home detox, no drink for the next few months hurray! At the end of those months I was prescribed venlafaxine what a big mistake 300mg a day the alcohol cravings came back big time. I gave up my work and sat at home like a cabbage drinking all day long as I have for most of the last 5 years. Strange thing to me is I don’t feel any different after the first drink or the last 10 hours later just a little tired then I go to bed after taking my 30 mg of diazepam to help me sleep. I would like to add that 3 months ago I felt so unwell at the end of the day I really thought I was going to die, racing heart, terrible sweats, pains all over my body, weakness like I have never known, chest pains ,my head felt like it was in a compression chamber. I cut my 300mg dose to 150mg and within 36 hours these symptoms went away, hard to believe maybe but my friends it’s the truth. At this time over the past few weeks I have been taking out 5 more of the little granules in the venlafaxine capsules every other day, I have at moments noticed the odd flickers of normal human emotion. Hopefully over the coming months the alcohol cravings will ease and most of all I wish to be off of ” in my own opinion this evil drug called venlafaxine “. Good luck and good health to you all.
I also had this horrid experience. I had a tragedy in my family that I could not cope with. My doctor put me on Paxil and I felt much better. However, when I drank alcohol the effect was horrible. The craving was like nothing I had ever experienced in my entire life!!!!! I blacked out, fell down and acted foolishly. I ran to my doctor and and told him that I was an alcoholic. He explained that it was a progressive disease and since I had known him all my life was completely baffled! Neither if us made the connection. Finally, after all most 2 years of trying everything, including prescription drugs, it dawned on us both and I got off that drug as fast as I could. Now THAT was an experience! But the worse part is that I am now unable to drink. I still have cravings and blackouts, and once I have one drink I want more and more. I was a normal, social drinker and cannot have alcohol any more. I actually go to AA but nobody believes my story because they say that people are born alcohols. But I was in my forties when this happened and never craved alcohol before. I am now 57 years old. I didn’t read everybody’s post, but the ones I have read are still able to drink after getting off the drug. I will go back and read all of them to see if anybody else has my story.
All of your stories ring true for me as well. I have suffered from depression and anxiety my whole life, and finally listened to my gp two years ago and started taking escitalopram. Honestly, it really has worked for my anxiety. I sleep better, can perform daily social activities without freaking out beforehand, and even got certified to become a yoga instructor (something I never would have dreamed of doing before – standing up in front of a group of strangers!? Never!!). All of this is amazing, except the drinking.
I drink so much more now than I ever did before. I am able to consume much more than I ever have and I don’t have hangovers. I drink more than anyone I know. I black out all the time and never, ever did before I started taking this medication.
I am going to try and wean myself off of this medication, and hope that my yoga practice and family can help me through it. Thank you all for sharing your stories!
My grandmother was an alcoholic but it was never in my home so I didn’t think of it much. I’ve always known that when socially drinking I over indulge but very recently it is monopolizing my thoughts. I have always prided myself on NEVER drinking alone or much at all during the work week.
I began taking Prozac 6 months ago and it helped the depression but seemed to stop working. My psychiatrist also put me on Wellbutrin 2 months ago. The last few weeks I scare myself. I have a job, children and s husband and find myself sneaking wine. It is the afternoon and I’m drinking wine while the kids are in school. I appreciate this article so much because this is a new problem and now know what the cause is.
Worm with a follow up. Stopped taking Lexapro Aug 22nd. Very few side effects..just a little dizziness from time to time. I absolutely feel like a million dollars compared to being on Lexapro. All I required was low dose of Xanaz as needed for occasional anxiety. Damn benzophobe doctors push these meds on you.
Anyway, back to the drinking part. I have absolutely lost my alcohol cravings, almost immediately. I feel like I did before the medicine. I am working out like a mad man, not procrastinating and not sleeping all the time. I thank God that I did not get arrested or killed while on this medication. What a hell ride. Two years of my life given up to major dysfunction.
If you are having alcohol cravings on SSRI’s or any other similar medication, GET OFF OF IT NOW!!! Suck it up and deal with the withdrawal symptoms. You could die.
Thank you for posting this. It has provided me the comfort in knowing that I am not insane, not a stone cold alcoholic, but instead experiencing intense side effects of this medication.
Mental illness is no joke and should be treated when need be, but alcoholism is also no joke and because of SSRIs I have experienced exactly what you have. I’ve gotten in car accidents, lost jobs, friends and more because of my alcohol abuse on lexapro. I’ve only just now started researching the effects because I wanted to know there wasn’t something wrong with me that was causing this aggressive incoherent behavior. I told my doctor that I drink heavily and he said not to stop taking my lexapro, that the side effects are miniscule, and that infuriates me because this medication has taken a hold of my life and my sanity.
I’m weening off of it, starting today.
These stories all sound so familiar. I, too, became a raging alcoholic while taking paroxetine and later, Wellbutrin. The first time was in the 90s and I was about 25 and living in NYC. I started taking paroxetine for depression. Unfortunately my apartment building was right next door to a liquor store and I found myself buying vodka during the daytime frequently. I would drink early and alone in my place and be drunk by 6 pm. I spent evenings alone listening to music and ruminating and was really in a bad place. This went on for months. When I did go and drink socially, I acted weird. At one point I threw a pint of beer down on the pavement at an outdoor bar because the guy I was seeing made me mad. This was totally unlike me, but on Paxil and booze, I had transformed. I behaved inappropriately and people stopped wanting to be around me. Eventually I got off the Paxil, went through horrible withdrawals and didn’t know that it was the Paxil. My doctor never said a word about quitting cold turkey, and I ended up in the ER several times for extreme vertigo and massive panic attacks. Again, no one there helped me figure out I was experiencing withdrawals. It was 1998, they know better now but should have then, too. My drinking eventually decreased but I was full of shame at how much I’d hated myself and how everyone in my life could tell that I did. It was just so clear.
Fast forward to 2009. By then I was married with two small children living back in my home state of Idaho. I was feeling depressed again so was put on Wellbutrin. Shortly thereafter I was having an online affair with a man in another state. My husband found out and I tried to stop contact with him. He was married too. It dragged out for several months in secret with my husband eventually coming home from work at his lunch hour unexpectedly to catch me talking to him again. He flew to my city and we ended up sleeping together. I had separated from my husband right before that as if that would somehow make it less wrong. I sat in the parking lot of his hotel chugging from a bottle of vodka until I was completely drunk so I could sleep with him and not feel so ashamed. This whole thing was so unlike me and to this day I really believe it was the drug itself combined with the copious amounts of vodka I was craving and able to drink on it. We eventually ended the affair and I quit taking the drug and as time went on and I could understand how out of my mind I was, I tried to save my marriage. We went on for several more years but eventually divorced. During our separation I also slept with other men who were 15 years younger than me, I was 35 and partying with young people, so sad and pathetic. I’d have my bottle of vodka and just do straight shots like a hardcore alcoholic. I’d blackout and be terrified upon waking up in the morning, to check my phone to see what crazy things I’d done, or ask my friends, I couldn’t believe my behavior. I could just drink and drink on the Wellbutrin and the drug also made me have no conscience. It was awful.
I arrived at this site today because I’ve been spending years trying to regain my health and eating well and exercising, I’ve been off antidepressants for years now, but I recently started supplementing with omega 3’s and I’ve noticed that while I feel less depressed, I am really really craving alcohol again. So maybe it isn’t the pills per se but the changing levels of serotonin, that cause us to crave alcohol. I don’t want to ruin a good thing I’m doing for myself by drinking a bunch again. Yesterday I drank five drinks but could have had many more. My tolerance is just so high, more so since taking the omega 3’s. And I have moments of real happiness and energy but the desire to drink is also there too which seems so paradoxical. I’m hoping that I can be strong and just stay away from all alcohol at least for a few months and let my poor brain heal. I know it takes a year really, and I would love to be strong enough to stay away from it for that long. Thanks for sharing all your stories.
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Lexapro almost cost me my family. I was only on 10mg. It made me manic, drinking everyday, fighting with family. Its poison! Do not take Lexapro or any ssi
I am so very glad I found this website and I am grateful to everyone who shared their story. I started on lexapro in June 2015 and moved on to generic after a few months. My history with alcohol is that it was generally under control, just a social drinker, typical single femal professional level. I might have a glass of wine during the week but I could abstain also. I quit drinking a few times in the past for long periods due to wanting to be healthier. When I started the anti depressant I was only having the odd drink as my doctor said it was best to limit drinking while on the meds. In the past year when I realised that odd drink had become a daily habit as well as alcohol cravings which start at 11am and do not quit until I have my first drink, I tried to cut down or quit. Without success despite trying methods that had worked before such as the control alcohol books by Allen Carr and Jason vale, and also other books on alcohol addiction, and finally hypnotherapy. No luck. I read brain over binge recently ( I recommend ) and the authors experience with binge eating was very similar to my experience. I had a dual obsession with quitting drinking AND engaging in drinking, which was taking all my free time. And then some. In the past six months the situation has escalated off the charts. I missed work recently due to a hangover which has literally never happened to me. My family has also become very concerned. I find that once I start drinking, I can’t stop until I have consumed 10 to 15 units. The craving is so intense it is hard to describe. I had been reading about the increased risk of alcohol cravings while on ssri but I couldn’t figure out if it was the depression or the medication causing the cravings. Then just a few days ago I read that alcohol can sharply increase the serotonin in your brain, and it you are on an ssri, this can cause a dangerous level which results in mania and risky behaviour. So I have decided that 1. I need to come off the ssri and 2. I need to stop drinking at least until I get off the medication.
I have also had weight gain of 10 kg on my formerly steady 53 kg. Along with the increased wine consumption I also experience food cravings while I am drinking, for chocolate, ice cream, snacks, crisps. I never had this issue prior to taking the ssri. I feel completely out of control during these wine and junk food binges.
I will start the taper tomorrow and I want to quit drinking today, I am reading Jason Vale book kick the drink easily and please god it will work for me. Best of luck to all.
Angelina. I empathise with your experience completely. It is a spiral but realisation is a turning point. It’s so easy to blame other factors but it’s a relief in a way to figure out that these meds are a cause of so many issues. Withdrawal is hard I am going through it at the moment and it has taken me by surprise after 1-2 months and I have got to the point where I don’t know or trust my behaviour anymore. I have done some reseach, I didn’t relate it to the meds initially I thought I was having a breakdown. Now I know and have researched and it’s so good to find millions of people out there are struggling also. GPs are an easy and badly informed option for support. Unless you have an amazing one!!😜 Good luck. There is an amazing article I found through survivingantidepressants.org which explains the chemical background of withdrawal which i have found extremely helpful. Let me know if you want the link or want to pm me . Good luck ! 😁
Thanks for your comment Rosie. It has ban a roller coaster ride since ! Still struggling with alcohol cravings and my indecision about quitting anti ds is because I don’t know if the alcohol is related to the medication or the depression. I have decided to try and quit alcohol and start a taper. My birthday is coming up in a few days and I really want to feel some progress by then! I hope you are getting on ok with your withdrawal. They say it can be hard to determine if the effects are due to discontinuation or return of original withdrawal. Thanks for your support and good luck 🙂
I have been on citalopram/lexapro for years on and off. I have always enjoyed a drink. But for a few years now I have not known when to stop. I have young children and never start drinking until they are asleep. That can generally be 8 or 9pm. If I open a bottle of wine it will always be finished and normally a few beers afterwards. I recently started drinking vodka to avoid the calories of wine due to the amount of weight I have put on but it just goes down like juice and it is too easy to consume almost a whole bottle . If there is a good socially acceptable reason to begin drinking during the day such as a BBQ or birthday party then it always continues from there. Lately I have weaned myself off lexapro but it’s been weeks now and I’m finding my tendencies for alcohol consumption (only once I start) remains the same. So I can avoid but usually only for one night then I want to drink the next night and I have no off switch. I have found that my tolerance is not good now i am off the drugs but the inclination to drink is the same once I’ve started. I have done some really embarrassing things in the past few weeks and have injuries from them, physically and mentally because the things I’ve done have been completely out of character for me. I also feel that these drugs provided an unrealistic tolerance to alcohol that I just don’t have now that I am not on them. I am really happy that I have come off these drugs but I am scared that a pathway has been built in my brain that when u start drinking U can’t stop. Many blackouts and crazy behaviours have happened but I am still having brain zaps occasionally from this medication even weeks of coming off it. I am seeking some counselling help but although I have a history of alcoholism in my family I am not ready to commit myself to it quite yet, not until I’m sure these meds are truly out of my system. Thank god for this sharing of experiences it would be amazing if local groups could be established through this.
Rosie I don’t know if this would work for you but either Allen Carr or Jason vales book on drinking worked like a charm for me. Granted I read them prior to starting ssri so I am not sure if they will work for me now ( I will know soon enough). Another book I highly recommend is Alcohol Explained by William porter. Imo this is the best book about alcohol, and I have read many. I am also trying Ailsa Frank hypnotherapy, control alcohol. It has great reviews, on her website she has a case study about a guy that gradually reduced his drinking to very little, lost a lot of weight and relieved his depression.
I wrote my story here a month or so ago. I wanted to share with you all that I’ve found something that has helped me with depression. It’s called Enlyte and was prescribed to me by a naturopath. It’s basically methylated B vitamins, especially a high dose of folate. Most of us can’t process the usual form of B vitamins. You could also buy methylated B on Amazon, i think Thorne makes them. This one I am taking is just a really high dose. It took about a week to get used to it, as I felt a bit speedy, but now a month on, I am actually taking two a day, because I figure I am super depleted due to decades of drinking. Anyway, I’ve been sober for ten days now, and I credit the vitamins to helping me feel well enough to do this. I now have zero cravings for booze and no depression. It’s a vicious cycle of vitamin depletion, alcoholism and depression. I am also sleeping better than I have in over seven years. Please at least try this form of vitamins. I don’t recommend Deplin (a high dose prescription folate) unless you also take it with methylated B-12, since too much folate depletes B-12. Getting out of depression and alcoholism requires addressing our serious nutrient depletion. I am feeling better than ever. I also found I’m more assertive now and have gotten rid of toxic people in my life. This has been a godsend.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m going to try this for my husband.
This site is wonderful! my husband has been on antidepressants for around 15 years. He has a heavy drinker when I met him in 1989. He wanted to stop, it took 3 years of off and on drinking until he quit.He had depression which turned into anger and violence. He has COPD one night he was very angry and having a sever attack of not breathing. His brother took him to the hospital he was admitted. When he called me I told him he had to talk to the Dr. about getting help for his anger. His Dr. put him on Welbutrin. It helped his anger and drinking problem,he also quit smoking. A few years went buy with a few bouts with drinking and smoking,then he got the anger back. His Phyc Dr. added ativan, He seemed to be better for a year then the anger came back and drinking,but lying about it.The Dr. added Buspirone. It seemed to help a little the Dr. told him to take it three times a day. He started drinking more often and was more depressed. I looked up on the pc side affects on these meds. The Adivan was only to be used for 6 months! he had been on it for 3 years! He stopped taking it and stopped taking the third Buspirone. he felt better,but started drinking more in secret.I could tell be his eyes he was drinking ,but he denied it.He always has a lot of tic tac to cover it. He went to his GP for the drinking and she put him on topiramate 100 mg twice a day. It seemed to help for a couple of weeks,the anger was gone for a few months. The last two months he has gotten very angry and started drinking again. Not everyday. The last two months he is a different person more anger and when he drinks he is violent to me. Sunday was terrible,it was like he had different personalities. he was very violent. I told him he had to get help or leave. I wasn’t doing this another year.I started doing research on meds for drinking. Then I thought maybe its the meds. I put in search Meds that make you drink and this site came up. Thank God. I read the posts and it was like I was reading about him. I started weaning him off two meds tonight. I think this is whats needed. I read in another post about taking Enlyte which is methlatated B you can et it on Amazon. I’m getting him some to take I’ll let you know how it goes. Thank you all for sharing.
I have a story very similar to your husband’s. I tried several things on the internet too. I just want to add an option for you because it worked so amazingly well for me. I went from not drinking at all, to drinking an entire bottle of whisky a night and not feeling it and it started when I started taking an ssri. I stopped taking the ssri and my doctor prescribed me acamprosate for the alcohol cravings and the cravings stopped almost immediately. Good luck to you guys and thank you for sharing your story!
Thanks for the heads up on the Acamprosate. He goes to the Drs. on Jan. 19th. I’ll have him ask her for a prescription By them he’ll be off the antidepressants. His mood is a lot better..
I’ve been clean from marijuana for a year straight. I started taking Latuda at 20 mg 2 years ago & now I’m up to 60 mg. I’ve been experiencing the weirdest things with this drug lately, for example I’ve been craving to smoke weed again. I can’t seem to get my mind off of it.. which doesn’t make sense because prior to these meds, I could go weeks without smoking and not think twice about it. But now? I think about it all the time. It’s all I can talk about. I don’t smoke it, however, because I get anxiety attacks due to the mixture of the medication with the weed. And I know it’s the mixture because I’ve gone through points in these 2 years where I’d stop taking the medication just to smoke weed and after that, the panic attacks went away.
The other strange side effects include gaining weird obsessions and a lot of nostalgia. Sometimes it’s so bad that I can’t concentrate on what I’m doing. Has anyone else ever gone through anything like this with their medication?
Thank you for writing this. I read it a while back and it was like you wrote my story. Alcoholism runs in my family so the gene is there, but I never had a problem drinking before. Then I couldn’t go a few hours without itching for a strong drink. I am average height and weight for a girl and I went from not drinking at all to quickly drinking a 750ml of Jack Daniels in a few hours and not feeling a thing. I woke up the next morning not remembering anything, but people would tell me I was aggressive and did things that were way out of character, never been in trouble before but was almost arrested. After I read this I stopped taking Zoloft. After 3 months without it and my doctor prescribing me Acamprosate for the alcohol cravings (my doc really listens and is willing to try things – she is awesome). The Acamprosate really cut the cravings – I would go days without even thinking about a drink and it started working pretty quickly. Thank you again so much – you saved my life. As much as I was drinking I was admitted to the hospital for alcohol poisoning twice so I was well on my way to drinking myself to death.
I know my story is exactly what others have said, but I wanted to make sure any doctors or other people suffering out there – if the read it and thought “meh its just one person maybe they really did just have a drinking problem…” I did not have a drinking problem.
I have been on SSRI’s like crazy, and JUST RECENTLY have become the worst I’ve been EVEr in terms of alcohol consumption. a 1.75 litre of rum or vodka lasts 3 days. I am 5 foot 2 inches in height, weight 170 pounds (my point being, I’M SMALL!) I was put on Cymbalta in the past few months, am noticing I get NO hangovers, I black out and don’t remember doing things, and am getting VERY worried about it along with all the other medications I take. My skin is also falling off in dime to quarter sized chunks due to dehydration from too much drinking. I took a shot in the dark and searched for “antidepressant induced alcohol use” and came up to this site. I think this site has saved my life. Thank you so much for being on here, my doctors are all telling me I’m an alcoholic and should go in for treatment, telling me that it’s MY fault, not the meds too. I will definitely PRINT THIS ARTICLE OUT and give it to my primary care physician, therapist, psychologist and psychiatrist who don’t believe me that this has gotten worse FROM the meds! I CRAVE drinks before bed, can’t sleep without them really, and NEVER was like this before I started SSRI’s. BLESS YOU!
It’s interesting that you mention not having any hangovers. I’ve experienced the exact same thing. I can drink a bottle or three of wine at night; pop an Effexor RX before I go to bed; and no hangover the morning. Only deep cravings for more alcohol the very next night. I was never like this and I am so thankful to have found this blog and comments section. I don’t feel like I am at fault. For a year now I’ve been trying to get to understand what is wrong with me. This makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing.
I’m so grateful you’ve posted this information and for the comments. I started taking Effexor RX 9 years ago, and have not been able to stop craving alcohol. Prior to taking Effexor I would have the occasional drink, but never had cravings for alcohol.
I too have started drinking more heavily and daily. Often with weird, totally out of character behaviour resulting from it – including making bizarre phone calls, even to the police, have been driven home by the police when they found me on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Which is completely strange. I even got into arguments with hotel staff and have had arguments with friends. Weird telephone conversations with friends late at night without even remembering any of it.
For a year now I’ve been telling myself I my drinking is out of control, but unlike before I have no off switch. I can start with one drink, go to another and before I know it I am waking up without much recollection except for family and friends telling me about the awful, weird stuff I’ve done.
I was never like this prior to Effexor RX… it happened slowly. I keep thinking it cannot be the drug, but I just don’t recognize myself any longer. It’s like I am watching all this happening to another person; except it is me.
My husband is drinking less and is in a better mood than he’s been in for years. (since he started taking antidepressants) Wean your-self off slowly and you’ll notice the difference. This blog has saved my marriage of 29 years.
My husband no longer drinks at all. As soon as the anti-depressants were out of his system. B6 multi-vitamin and multi B everyday stopped all the depression and anger.
Thank you for writing this. I’ve been on sertraline for 20 years. I switched to escitalopram and am in wonderment as to why I no longer crave alcohol when I assumed I was to some degreean alcoholic. now out of habit, I pour a drink, and feel blessedly disinterested. I don’t get drunk. I wake feeling like normal person. I’m overjoyed, and I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before. Antidepressants definitely have upsides and downsides. I’m thankful that I had the bravery to switch to another medicine.
Well I lost my appeal to clear my name but I then came across this Zoloft Prosecutors Manuel afterwards.
Unless there is proper Scientific research into SSRIS we do not stand any chance of fighting our cases. They have already prepared a manual to fight us back in court and most of us are/were unaware of it.
Talk about had hook, line and sinker. I feel like such a fool for 1.Trusting Dr’s 2. Taking the tablets in the first place 3. Trusting our regulators and Drug Company’s 4. Having any trust in the courts. In fact the whole system is well and truly against us and there is almost nothing we can do about it.
Advise: Do not take SSRIS (or any psychiatric drugs) full stop! because no one will help you if and when it goes wrong!
Hi, I have a family member struggling with SSRI and increasing cravings. The doctor also doesn’t believe him but has changed him to Thaden a tricyclic antidepressant. Will that help or what other antidepressant is recommended. He struggles with anxiety.
I left I reply yesterday but do not see it anywhere. I wanted to know if there is any group of antidepressants that people found “saver” if SSRI has this reaction. I have a family member suffering with the exact cravings everyone is talking about and he is now slowly weaning of the SSRI, I was just wondering if he could ask his doctor about an antidepressant that doesn’t have this effect.
Carinda I went from SSRI which gave me intense cravings to Mirtazapine which worked in the opposite way. Mirtazapine helped stop the cravings. Its different for everyone though what works for one may not work for someone else but Mirtazapine did work for me. It also blocks 5ht3 receptor the receptor thought to involve the cravings. Hope this helps.
Thank you Anne-Marie. He read up about the difference between Thaden and Mirtazapine and noted that it one is a tricyclic and the other a tetracyclic antidepressant anti-depressant but seem to be quite close although he couldn’t find anything about the blocks you are revering to. He is slowing coming of the SSRI. How long will do you think it takes for it to be out of his system. Is there anyway of communicating with you other than on the website.
Carinder if you ask Rxisk for my email I will gladly talk to you. I’m not an expert or Dr but can only go by my own experience. I was on the SSRIS myself for approx 9 years firstly Seroxat then Citalopram, (the longer you are on them the longer and more you will feel the withdrawal I’ve heard). I went straight from Seroxat to Citalopram and still experienced some withdrawal from Seroxat i.e. head zaps e.t.c. but probably no where near the withdrawal experiences someone coming off Seroxat alone experiences. I then came off Citalopram many years later over several months and suffered quite bad withdrawal reaction that got worse into the second month. I was then put onto a different antidepressant Mirtazapine. I didn’t miss out on the withdrawal of Citalopram though as Mirtazapine was a much weaker drug for me than an SSRIS with less side effects so experienced the withdrawal of Citalopram quite a bit for up to a year afterwards. I didn’t experience the detachment or emotional numbness you get with SSRIS on Mirtazapine so maybe that’s why I felt the withdrawal coming off the Citalopram so much but everyone reacts differently to these drugs.
Read this to see the damage criminal convictions can have on your whole life. This person was not on an SSRI but I wanted to show the effect a criminal record can have on your whole life, like it has done to me and many other’s affected by SSRIS and intense alcohol cravings. Hopefully you will not have something more serious happen to you under this combination but for this reason alone it should be enough warning to consider getting off an SSRI antidepressant if it is causing you a drinking problem with blackouts and out of character behavioural problems.
I”m 48, have been sober for 11 months now. I started cymbalta in late 2011. Was a social light drinker (maybe binge 3-4x year). Within about 6 months, the medicine really helped my depression, still has, but I started really liking alcohol more. My desire for and consumption went up enormously very quickly. I recognized it was a problem. I did try to quit for 3 years including going to support groups, aa, etc. . Finally, last spring I finally really took the 1st step, and was able I really feel now able to leave alcohol behind. I have no desire to do it again, but I have no doubt that the snri was the primary cause of my escalation. I’m happy I’m alive and didn’t hurt anyone. I’d love to get off this drug someday, but am afraid that I may be on it for life. It was lifechanging for me, but has had side effects. As a whole, I think I like me better now, than when I lived w/ crippling fear, anxiousness, sadness and endless self harm thoughts. I feel like the drug allowwed me to successfully utilize all of the “non” drug options for treating this. I wasn’t able to before. It’s really a mixed bag.
I thought I was a full blown alcoholic. My life was falling apart. That’s all I wanted to do is drink. My doctor moved and I accidently got off my antidepressant that I had been taking for 3 years (when my heavy drinking started). Within a week of being off my antidepressants I no longer craved or even thought about drinking. I noticed right away and never got back on the medication. I told my doctor and he didn’t even care. It pisses me off that my life was almost ruined because of medication that was supposed to help me and they don’t lIst alcohol dependence as a side effect. I’m lucky I figured it out on my own. I hope others read this and if your having alcohol problems, try getting off your anti depressant, it may change everything like it dI’d for me.
Hi Angela, thanks for posting your experience. I do hope it will work for me too as I am very frustrated and almost out of options. Did you quit cold turkey ? I have tried this a few times but got scared after a week and went back 🙂 . I will probably taper this time and hope I have a softer landing.
I keep coming back to this website for support. I have gained a ton of weight since last summer ( now 30 lbs gain and I’m 5’3). I attribute this to drastically increased alcohol consumption and corresponding junk food intake. I am on lexapro about 18 months. Initially I only had slight cravings for alcohol but now it is extreme. I have tried all my usual methods to quit which have worked in the past but to no avail. Each morning I get up and swear I won’t drink that day, but by lunchtime the thought of having a drink starts doing the rounds in my mind, and it is amazing how inventive the mind can be in justifying the use of alcohol. Even though I am experiencing negative effects and no longer feel like myself. Not alone the weight gain ( I have been skinny all my adult life) but my inability to quit is making me feel like I am no longer in control of my life. This is worse on some level than the original depression. As I am desperate to try something new I am going to once again attempt a taper, while doing the other interventions of healthy eating and exercise for mental health. For the alcohol, all I can do is keep using my hypnotherapy and hope that it becomes more effective as the lexapro leaves my body. Best of luck to all.
Hi Angelina if it is the Lexapro causing the weight gain and alcohol cravings then it should lesson over time when you wean off the Lexapro. There is a withdrawal guide on the Rxisk website if you want to follow that or surviving antidepressants forum you can join if you would like more support to help you. I’ve put the link in here to the Rxisk’s withdrawal guide.
Thanks Anne-Marie. I will check out that link. I do feel fine when on the lexapro but the problem with alcohol and weight gain is intolerable. I am not good at slow tapering … I get impatient, but I will try the guide you referenced. Thank you.
I am trying to start a forum for SSRI induced alcoholism, violence and behaviours and for people and for people who ended up in the criminal justice system because of it. So if you would like to join for/or support and help others then feel free to come and register. Your all very welcome.
Great write up. Thank you. I was researching because I find that I am now a drinker whereas I never drank before; probably would be considered a heavy drinker. I started drinking a maybe several months to a year after being prescribed Paxil. My spending habits have increased too. What do you all think about this: could it be that some of us have bipolar (undiagnosed) and the Paxil made it worse? I have bipolar II which was diagnosed after being prescribed Paxil but my therapist and doc seem to be ok with it.
Hi Renee I don’t know about the bipolar but I do know that the drugs can energise you and even make you manic. I would have thought if you were not like that before the medication then you cant be. I think a lot of people are being wrongly diagnosed myself then put on more drugs and they don’t realise until years down the line and half their life is over.
I think it is wrong to add more drugs as there are so many side effects and you would then become a worse zombie. No one wants to end up like that. I would come off the drugs myself and if the bipolar cleared up then you know it was drug induced.
SSRIS are after all Stimulants, to me this is just common sense and you don’t need to be a Dr to work that one out. I’m not a Dr though and just speaking from what I feel is common sense.
Glad I found this information! I’ve been on Cymbolta for less than two months and recently blew 12 years of sobriety. I quit drinking because the hangovers caused panic attacks, and was put on Xanax to combat constant panic and anxiety. It barely took the edge off, and I was put on disability because of it.
I’ve been on several antidepressants over the years with various results. Cymbolta (20mg) was a God send. After only two weeks, my anxiety completely vanished for the first time in 12 years. Not only did it fix my anxiety, it cured my IBS-C. But then, like everyone else here, The alcohol cravings started.
I told my med provider that I was drinking 3-5 beers two – three days a week, with one binge. The dr said that that shouldn’t be a problem…that 7-8 drinks a day is when we should become concerned.
Unlike some of you, I still get hangovers (the binge resulted in a 2 day hangover), so it does prevent me from going wild every time I drink. But the panic attacks have stopped (even when hung over – which made me stop drinking to begin with), so I’m hesitant to completely give up on the Cymbolta.
My head feels clear, my body doesn’t ache anymore, I can finally go to the bathroom normally again, the anxiety went from a daily 6 to a 2, and no sexual side affects.
In spite of what the dr says, I’m worried about the combined affects of the Cymbolta and the alcohol on my liver (I’ve read that the Cymbolta is particularly hard on the liver). But I don’t want go back to being anxious everyday. Any advice?
seems to me you need to find a new doc. that you showed concern about your drinking should have made it a concern for your doc.
hope you are doing better.
Geddy maybe you should try Mirtazapine if you still feel you need something because it helped me and is known to stop alcohol cravings in a sub type population and helps a lot with anxiety. It does also have side effects though one being paranoia, twitchy legs, drowsiness but I found it no where near as bad as the SSRIS which I had terrible trouble with.
Everyone reacts differently though from the medications but you could be one of the sub types Mirtazapine helps. The drowsiness is not nice at the beginning but you learn to deal with it and on the higher dose its less.
Either that or you could just come off medication completely and try natural alternatives.
same problem here. was never a big drinker, could take it or leave it, but I’d been anxious and depressed my whole life. Diet and exercise helped tremendously. I am a personal trainer and nutrition coach. I strength-train and eat a high protein diet with very few processed junk foods. Unfortunately my healthy lifestyle was not enough to eradicate my emotional pain. I went on Lexapro and soon after developed a love of alcohol I’d never had before. My depression and anxiety lessened but I drank more and more, to the point of blacking out and scaring my kids. I weaned off after four years, with the help of the internet, after stopping cold turkey brought on terrible withdrawal symptoms. I bought a pill cutter from Amazon, got a liquid Lexapro script filled and just slowly tapered off over a course of months. Within weeks my desire for alcohol went away, but my anxiety and depression returned even more intensely. Now I was having suicidal thoughts, walking around my neighborhood scrutinizing trees I might hang myself from. After a year of horrible anxiety and depression I went back on Lexapro. Suicidal thoughts vanished, I started feeling more confident and empowered and then, slowly, my desire for alcohol returned. Now I’ve been drunker than I am comfortable with twice in the past two weeks and just emailed this article to my new psychiatrist. I am determined to find a solution, and am confident that I will. Thanks for this article. It’s so very helpful.
About a week ago I ran out of my Effexor (375mg), I couldn’t afford to get more. I went through 4-5 days of horrible withdrawals, but I didn’t want to drink or stuff myself with food, I lost weight even. Ive really been struggling with alcoholism, for about a year now, even started going to AA meetings. I can easy drink ALOT every single day!!!! Four years ago I went through severe depression after my exhusband left. Effexor was the only thing that actually worked, and I absolutely gained 30lbs almost instantaneously!!!! I’m terrified to switch to something else, I never want to go that dark place ever again!!!
Someone please tell me what you’ve replaced the Effexor with!!!!!
Please contact me, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE email@example.com
I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories. Because of you, I have a little hope that I can move past this nightmare and finally find a little bit of happiness. I hope you don’t mind, but I would also like to share some of my story as well. I haven’t had anyone to talk to about this who really understands what it feels like, so I hope you will forgive me if I ramble a little bit.
When I found this site, I was relieved. Obviously not because my drinking was so out of control after I started taking Zoloft that I was getting black out drunk nearly every night, but because I knew that I wasn’t the only one. I started on Zoloft a little over a year ago when I was 28 after finally telling myself that enough was enough. I’ve been depressed for as long as I could remember, and I no longer had the will power to keep myself together without help. I remember feeling relieved when I finally started to get to a therapeutic dose, because it did seem like it was starting to help. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was now finding myself starting to bring home bottles of wine every few days. I would usually finish just a glass or two, but it didn’t take long for me to start just drinking the whole thing. It was so insidious, I didn’t even notice until I broke down after I really opened my eyes and thought, I just brought straight vodka to drink at work. I would never do that! But I did. There were other things too. Like getting black out drunk and somehow ending up some girls in a van (I think I was so drunk they were trying to take care of me?) and I don’t know why, but I had the driver stop and drop me off in some random place, far from where I had come from. I walked and walked and walked, trying to get home, for probably 6 or so hours. I finally broke down and started wailing on the street around 5am or so. A guy with his kid took pity on me, and ended up bringing me back to my car so I could drive home.
I realized that the only thing that had changed was my meds, and the night before my next appointment with my psychiatrist, I found this site. That was months ago. She agreed to change the Zoloft to Effexor, but expressed doubt that my medication was the cause, saying that it was more likely to decrease my cravings than to increase it. I could see in her face that she clearly just thought I was in denial, so when I came in a month later, and she told me that another client had told her that she had the same issue, nearly word for word how I had described it, I felt wonderful, and hoped the Effexor would change things for me finally.
It took me a couple months, but I was finally to a decent dose that my anxiety and depression were starting to go away again. But not the cravings. There hasn’t been a day that goes by that I haven’t thought about drinking. I tried to tell my husband so he could help me check myself, but I found myself sneaking out to get alcohol to continue to drink whenever I could. I would say that I was picking up groceries, rush to the liquor store, and then rush to the store to buy some food to cover my lie, and I’d get drunk when he wasn’t looking, or was sleeping. Other times, I would leave after he went to bed for the night and go to a bar, or the strip club nearby.
One of my worst moments was one of those nights where I started drinking at home, but then decided I would go into town. I got so drunk, I took our car and drove down town. I don’t really know where I was going, but I ended up at a tattoo shop, negotiating for a tattoo. He said he’d work on the designs and get back to me. I talked him into piercing my ear instead. I vaguely remember going back to the car, and then I have another flash of memory of me pulling into a stranger’s driveway, nowhere near my home. I remember throwing up, and then kinda coming to my senses a little while later. I was being cared for by 2 kind gentlemen that lived in the house at which I had parked. They saw the state I was in, and kept me from doing anything else too stupid, I even got breakfast out of this. It was about this time that I realized that my husband had to be at work, and I had no idea where my keys, wallet, or phone were. I even managed to lose a sandle after taking myself for a walk. JUST ONE. I was able to call my husband, who was understandably upset, but more worried for my safety than mad. Long story cut short, I was able to find everything but my shoe. I don’t even know how I paid for my piercing, my wallet was at home.
I broke down, sobbing. I could’ve killed someone, or myself, or both. Someone could’ve killed me. I could have been arrested, and my career would have been over. I don’t know why I’m destroying myself like this!
I have quit drinking in the past because I would often blackout and lose half of my night. My friends had told me that it wasn’t really that bad, and shit happens, but to me, it was terrifying. My family has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. I would go for months at a time without drinking, and then get wasted for 2 or 3 days a week for weeks at a time, and at the end of these benders, all I could think about was my psychotic mother. I remember being 6, my brother was 5, and we’d come home after school and be alone until the small hours of the morning. She worked during the day, but would go to the pool hall at night, or bowling, or wherever. She also got heavily into meth around this time, maybe a few years later. She was the reason my brother, who was 13, introduced me to it. I was 14. Anyway, she lost her mind to drugs and mental illness, and she is no longer a part of my life. I have been afraid my whole life that I was going to become her. I was so insecure, that I would snap when people called me crazy, even in jest.
So I am aware that my family history, and my own personal history may play a part in my issues, but in all my life, I have never had cravings for alcohol like I do now. I always think about how I’m going to get it, where and how I’ll drink it to keep it hidden, and I tell myself that I have to try to just hold on for a little bit longer, and I’ll get through this. But the cravings never stop, they are like that nosy neighbor who is always around when you least want to see them.
I had a bad relationship with alcohol for much of my adult life, but I took a couple breaks, once for a year, and then 2 years a little down the road. Alcohol would sit in my fridge for months at a time, even when I was between these breaks, and I never gave it a second thought until I started taking antidepressants. First with the Zoloft, and now with Effexor. The cravings aren’t even the only side effect, they just happen to be the one that is ruining my life now. These pills were supposed to help me. They were my last resort after a healthy lifestyle, exercise, reading, and other things that I tried to do to help me master my depression and anxiety failed. And they don’t even help me! I’m still depressed, even more so now because I have to constantly talk myself out of going to the store for more alcohol, or I have to pretend to be sick to hide my hangovers. Many of you above mentioned a lack of hangovers but I do, and I spend sometimes 2 or 3 days recovering from them. I don’t have a tolerance the way I once did because I cut back so much to protect myself, and I am absolutely destroyed for hours after 2 or 3 Four Lokos (this is what I drank the night I decided a tattoo would be a great idea in my condition).
Another shitty thing that I noticed, after years of being clean from drugs, I am now also trying to find drugs when I go out and get drunk. I was always fiercely proud of myself for my sobriety, I quit meth when I was 20 after a 6 year addiction. I just quit cold turkey and never looked back. Now I find myself willing to do whatever is at hand, which is not only obviously dangerous because I’m usually hammered by the time I start looking, and I don’t even know the people I’m talking to. This shames me in a way that I would have never thought possible after having done so many stupid and carelessly drunk things over the last year.
So this is my story, in a nutshell, about how my anti depressants have failed me. I have an appointment with a new doctor, and I am hoping and praying that he will believe me, and help me get off of this medicine. I want to try the Mirtazipine to see if that will help, or at least another class of drugs to at least try to get better.
Thank you again for being here for me, if I hadn’t found your site, I wouldn’t know what the hell is going on with me, and now that I know, I can take steps to change things. Hopefully for the better.
Our drinking has been hurting your children too. A new helpline for children of alcoholics.
Children of Alcoholics are three times more likely to consider suicide. Help line for children.
As others have said. I am very glad to have found this. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW. I’ve been stuck in the system for a couple of years now. I am a 34 year old male. I have dealt with anxiety and depression for pretty much my whole adult life. I have drank off and on for the majority of my adult life, but nothing crazy, social drinking, just enough to self medicate when needed. My wife convinced me to finally tell my doctor about it and “get help.” I went from Paxil, to Zoloft, and felt really good, but they both made me break out in hives after a couple of weeks of an increased dose. I ended up with Lexapro. Went from 10 mg to 20 mg. Never really felt great, but it was better than nothing is what I told myself. I had also been put on 300 mg of Wellbutrin a day, and 2mg of Klonopin, to be taken as needed for attacks. I was only taking about one Klonopin per day, never really needed more. But within the past several months, drinking became my life. I was fine throughout the day at work, but as soon as 5:30 started to come around, I could feel myself starting to fiend for it. Heaven forbid if i had to stay at work late, or go somewhere directly after work. It would put me into a panic attack because i knew it would be that much longer until i could drink. Unfortunately this caused me to miss most of my sons sports practices, and I will never get that back now. So i would get home and pour by first drink, which ended up being between 8-10 “glugs” out of a 1/2 gallon of vodka. Drink that, feel a little better finally. I’d do another one, this time it was usually more like 10-12 “glugs” and drink that, but feel no different than i did after I was halfway through my first one. I’d go to bed. Fall right asleep, and then wake up at 6:45 like I hadn’t drank a thing. I thought “wow this is great, for some reason I can drink a bunch and not get a hangover” Finally, a couple of weeks ago I ran out of my lexapro script. I figured I wouldn’t bother refilling it, because it never seemed to do much in the first place. After a few days, the brain zaps began, and as i am typing this, I am getting zapped every time I move my head. I was okay with it though. I had to try this out. After about 5 or 6 days, I got home from work and didn’t pour a drink. I saw the bottle sitting there, but never even thought about pouring one. Didn’t feel the need. That’s been 3 days now. I went to a new doc today, (my old one retired 3 months ago) And I explained how the cravings came on, and how they went away after stopping. All he wanted to know was why I stopped. I told him I knew I wasnt an alcoholic, and he told me that is what alcoholics say. So I asked him if he could tell me why the cravings went away mere days after stopping this medication. He had no response. All he could say is that he wants me off of the Klonopin, and to see him in a month so we can start to figure out what the right medicine for me is. I asked if there are different options other than ssris. He said there are plenty of options in that drug class, and we just have to figure out the right one for me. I JUST TOLD HIM THEY CAUSED ME TO HAVE SEVERE ALCOHOL CRAVINGS. I know he brushed that off any just wrote me of as a denial alcoholic. Maybe im crazy, but I dont feel that alcoholism can come on in a matter of a few months, and then all of a sudden go away days after discontinuing a perscription? I feel stuck. Do i take these and drink myself to death, or do i quit and fight the depression and anxiety the rest of my life? This sucks.
Joseph, if I was you I wouldn’t take another SSRI because it will more likely do the same thing and you will still get the cravings because they all work in a similar way. It’s up to you if you decided to try a different type of antidepressant though and if you do I would go for the Mirtazapine which would hopefully do the opposite for you as it did for me but Mirtazapine also has its side effects as do all the antidepressants. Hopefully this information will help to guide you but don’t forget that this website also covers ALL side effects of antidepressants so do come back here if you have any other problems you are worried about.
I’ve always been a moderate drinker, usually only during parties or other social gatherings to make me less anxious. I never drank during weekdays and sometimes I didn’t drink one glass for weeks.
Since I started using Sertraline, I became less depressed, less anxious, more calm, more in control. I guess I need this kind of medication? But, this being said, I started drinking more. I have now been drinking (moderately) almost every day (?!) for the past 6 months. This is not something I would have done in the past before the SSRI! Still, the drinking is under control (two glasses of wine or beer a day) and I hope it can stay like this. On the other hand, if I’m totally honest, I wish I could continue the SSRI but stop drinking during weekdays because it’s not very healthy and because the alcohol has a bad effect on my stomach (acid) and impacts my sleeping a little (need a bit more sleep than normal).
Anyway, the link with the SSRI (Sertraline in my case) is, without any doubt, very real in my case!!!
Thanks for writing this and sharing your research. I went through something similar and I knew it had to be the antidepressant, yet part of me felt like maybe I was just a horrible alcoholic. However, I do want to point out: I live in the united states and we didn’t get any warnings either.
This information has been confirming to my suspicions of Paxil and alcohol cravings. I was put on Paxil at age 45 for severe ocd that occurred when I was around 10. It was a severe, most likely due to a step infection reaction.
at age 45 I was in complete despair over this condition. well for some 2-3 years I the Paxil helped me start and finish a degree and thrive in the professional world. Soon there after I started thinking about alcohol every day. I rarely drank before, maybe 1 to 2 drinks every few months. I smoked 1 to 2 cigarettes a day. I maintained a steady habit of 2 drinks a day out of pure fear of becoming an alcoholic. I ended up smoking a pack of day although I also thought about cigarettes all day.
about a year ago I had to leave town and forgot my Paxil. after 1 week without it I quit smoking and drank no alcohol. I felt mentally alert and sharp. my belief is that Paxil while damping anxiety also caused me to get an emotion, a joy for life, energy that nicotine offers.
I knew this was true. I was back to my old self. however, eventually the ocd came back and I went back on Paxil and back to the same self control issues. what is there to alleviate severe ocd besides srri? I feel I have to choose between 2 evils but now I am picking the ocd over the Paxil again.
Thanks, hope to hear some advice
I have been trying to wean myself off of paroxetine and using the supplement inositol to help my anxiety.
It’s supposed to be helpful in controlling OCD.
So far I haven’t noticed an increase in alcohol cravings.
Give it a go and let me know if it helps
Reading some of these posts makes me think that you may be more prone to the alcohol cravings on SSRIs if you have a parent or relative who is/was an alcoholic. My father and grandmother and various others were alcoholics. I took paroxetine for many years and had terrible alcohol cravings, awful out of control behaviour when drunk, and memory loss. I assumed it was because I was an alcoholic, but when I stopped taking paroxetine I could drink again socially and all the bad stuff stopped. It could be something to do with genetics or even epigenetics, but i think it is worth researching. Won’t help me though sadly!
I have been taking Lovan for 8 years. Before that I rarely drank alcohol but suddenly I was addicted and thought about alcohol constantly. I would say I am not going to have any today but later off to the bottle shop I would go. I hated myself for my lack of control. I got arrested for drink driving. My psychiatrist labelled me as an alcohol abuser. They kept trying to up my medication. I decided to cut down and now am 2 days completely not taken any. No cravings today at all. The doctors will not believe me when I tell them it is the SSRI that is compelling me to drink. Don’t know how I will go mentally off my SSRI. I was pretty messed up without it.
I can’t believe how many people have had the same experience as me. I’ve been on Sertraline for about 2.5 years and crave alcohol. I’ve tapered down on the meds and have been off for two days and already I can tell a decrease in my cravings. I told my husband I look forward to buying a wine rack that will actually hold unopened bottles. It’s been hard having to make rules for myself so alcohol doesn’t control my life (only on the weekend, only 2 glasses, etc.) I look forward to freedom from these cravings. Can someone tell me where I can find more research on this topic?
It has been so interesting reading these comments.
I am on sertraline 50mg and have been for just over 3 months.
I used to drink before and often turned to drink after work to help unwind or escape. If I drank a bottle of Prosecco then I would feel a bit rough the next day.
Now I don’t seem to get hangovers? So now I drink a bottle and a half sometimes two and I feel fine.
I’m currently drinking at least a bottle a night and can consume that bottle in just over an hour unless I make myself slow down. I crave the feeling of happiness and relaxation that the alcohol brings more than anything else.
Before sertraline I was concerned about my drinking but it’s gone to a whole new level now.
My partner has commented that I’m more shady and snappy at times.
I’m worried and really not sure what to do.
I’m a primary school teacher aged 40. I started the medication when I let like I was having a bit of a breakdown and just couldn’t cope with anything back in October. My partner says the first 6 weeks I started to really improve and I was really hopeful that this medication would be the way forward. However the last 6 weeks including being back at work full time have been horrible. I’m either drinking, thinking about drinking or just utterly numb and detached.
Before sertraline I slept for 10pm-6am undisturbed and never had an issue with sleep.
Now every week is a different pattern, either I lay awake for two hours before I drop off or I wake in the night for an hour or two, horrible dreams too.
Can anyone offer any advice? I look back at memories from last year and photos and feel such sadness that I’m no longer the fun and loving girl I once was.
I’m really considering whether to wean off these drugs?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Oh my good lordy gracious me. Well here’s a turn-up for the books! So, here I am, sat at home for the past week because – in spite of being on 300mg of Effexor XR every day for the past 15 years – I’m too depressed and anxious to go to work. “Why?” I think to myself. “How can this be?” The paralysing anxiety and restlessness; the irritability; the crippling inability to deal with The Human Beings; the sleeplessness and self-loathing… A little drink usually fixes it…until it doesn’t. And then it makes it all much worse.
Of course, by “a little drink” I mean at least one bottle of red wine. And I KNOW from repeated experience that it may temporarily relieve the immediate symptoms of anxiety, but that it’s cumulative effect is to cause more sleep disturbances and increase the general paranoia. So, being a responsible adult, I give up the booze. This time, I was going for at least a week. I managed two days. Sure, I was feeling heaps better. Time to jump straight off the wagon, right!? So here I am, even as I type, with a glass of red in hand. Why? Because I simply couldn’t stop thinking about having a drink.
I’ve had depression and anxiety literally all my life. My first diagnosis and treatment (with some kind of valium-type thing) was in the late 1970s at age 9. We also have a history of alcoholism on both sides of the family, although my parents have only ever been occasional social drinkers. Personally, I’ve always ‘liked a drink’. I did the obligatory binge-drinking during my student years and graduated after that to ‘normal’ Australian levels of social drinking: Friday night post-work drinks, dinner drinks, weekend barbecues and whatnot. However, at some time, I stopped having a social life and began drinking alone. At home. In fact, I now drink pretty much exclusively at home, because I don’t actually enjoy going out and I don’t want anyone to know how much I drink.
I’ve put this phenomenon down to four things: 1) lifestyle changes: I got old, moved cities and no longer have a posse of drinking buddies; 2) I have a more stressful and responsible job now than I ever had before, so I’m more likely to turn to booze to relax; 3) I’m self-medicating my mental health conditions, which is dumb, but whaddya gunna do; and 4) I’m genetically predisposed to like alcohol – see point 3. It was only today that I thought: “But I KNOW drinking makes my anxiety/depression worse, so why the actual fudge am I craving booze?? I used to ENJOY a drink – and only ever in a social context – not drink just for drinking’s sake.” So I googled “alcohol and venlafaxine” and here I am.
Colour me gob-smacked.
Now I’ve thought about it, my ‘anti-social’ drinking and craving alcohol just for the purpose of getting a buzz (I think of it as “booze for booze’s sake”) actually coincided with the time I began taking Effexor. I almost can’t believe it.
But here’s the rub: my depression is very severe and Effexor is the only thing that has actually worked (and I daresay would work a whole lot better if I stopped screwing with my seratonin by drinking). Without venlafaxine, I am at great risk of suicide. It saved my life 15 years ago and I’m not about to risk that nightmarish shit again.
I’m also wondering about the “quadruple-whammy” effect: can I really ‘blame’ the medication when I always enjoyed a drink, have experienced lifestyle changes as I’ve aged; have a mental illness and a family history of alcoholism? (Although, I have to say, I never used to actually ‘crave’ alcohol before the way I do now.) I’d be really interested to know if there are any health professionals with a view on that.
In th mean time. I’m hoping this new knowledge will help me to cut out the drinking. After today, of course…. 🙄
I too have experienced this side effect from Cipralex. I have a family history of Alcoholism but I was never a heavy drinker until I was prescribed Cipralex. I went from drinking socially once a month to buying beer on the way home from work every day. The cravings were so intense I could not pass a beer store. I couldn’t get the alcohol in me fast enough either. I was chasing the high. I never drank hard liquor in my life and suddenly I was drinking tequila from the bottle! I became angry and started verbally abusing my wife regularly. Something I can never forgive myself for. It was absolutely horrific.
I have had a very rocky road with alcohol and antidepressants. I did have an inclination to alcohol before I was prescribed antidepressants. Historically I did go to alcohol to numb pain. However at the time I started taking them I had a very normal relationship with alcohol. E.g. I had periods of abstinence interspersed with normal social drinking. I started off on lexapro, which was a complete success. However after about 9 months, due to personal circumstances I started drinking more and more. I experienced a corresponding weight gain. Six months later, my GP, concerned about my weight gain, switched me to effexor. For my entire adult life I had been skinny, never had to diet or exercise. Now I was gaining and gaining fast. I am 3.5 yrs since starting antidepressants and I have gained 55 lbs or 25 odd kilos. That alone is distressing. I’m even over the vanity issue, the most unpleasant aspect is how uncomfortable it feels, along with lack of flexibility and fitness. I am 49 but I don’t think that is “old”. My parents do 50k cycles each week so I know it is possible to be fit in later years…..so I feel like I am wasting my life by being unfit and over weight. My confidence has taken a battering due to this. While I am not model beautiful I always felt confident that I was attractive. Now I struggle, but I make an effort by wearing clothes that are flattering to my size (14 if in UK or Ireland).
I digress slightly. After starting Effexor, my drinking started to increase and I also resumed my smoking habit (after 20 yrs of abstinence). The cravings were intense. I even drank during the day but mostly it was that after work stop at the off license. I learned to get two bottles of wine, not one. Because if I just got one, I would drive to the off license after the first bottle was finished. It was a complete nightmare. When I woke up in the morning, my first job was to hate myself, for having drank the previous evening. Towards the end, I went to an addictions counsellor. He wanted me to try AA. I was reluctant as my research ( dozens of books) suggested that it was one of the least effective ways to tackle addiction. I went along for a few meetings….while I liked being able to share experiences, I deep down felt I was not an alcoholic, and I didn’t want my life to revolve around AA meetings. Last August 2018 I started seeing a psychiatrist as my GP said there was no more she could do. The psychiatrist switched me from effexor to Prozac. While the Prozac didn’t do much for my depression, my alcohol cravings disappeared once I was off effexor. Some months later , my psychiatrist has started prescribing SNRI’s as I told her I felt better on effexor than on Prozac. I also tried Wellbutrin in the meantime, while it helped turn me off cigarettes, it did nothing for my depression. So we tried cymbalta. The alcohol cravings came back, then I tried effexor and the same effect. I stopped taking them and decided to just take mirtazapine… I had been taking these all along as an adjunct, so I knew I had no adverse effect. I only did this for a week, but I decided to add back in the cymbalta to boost the mirtazapine. However the alcohol cravings came back, within 24 hrs, I am now convinced that SNRIs are causing this. However it may be the case that if I can resist alcohol, the SNRI will be helpful. The search goes on, but I am getting close to giving up antidepressants completely and focussing on diet, supplements and excercise.
Thanks to all who contribute on this site. There is little scientific evidence to support the use of antidepressants so we just have to rely on others experience. Best wishes to all.
I’m 27. was a normal drinker. Would drink once or twice a month. After I went on Lexapro in 2018 I was pretty much a full blown alcoholic. The cravings for alcohol was intense and came out of nowhere. Especially beer. My gp then switched me to citalopram. Same thing. Intense cravings for alcohol. I would wake up early and go to the bar. And the bar wasn’t even open yet. I would drink 15 pints of beer a day plus wine and vodka and not even get drunk. My alcohol tolerance went through the roof. My life turned upside down. I really need something for my anxiety. But I’m really scared of going back on these “anti depressants”. I really think these drug companies are actively trying to hide the fact that one of the symptoms of their drugs are intense alcohol cravings. Yes antidepressants will cause you to be a full blown alcoholic in some people. Be aware.
EXACTLY what happened to me. was on lexapro and started to crave alcohol so the doc upped it to zoloft and upped to 100mg and i almost drank myself to death. stopped taking meds, within 36 hours alcohol cravings went
Same here. I was on Lexapro 10mg, I’m now going cold turkey and my desire to drink is almost nil. On Lexapro, I could drink like no other person I’ve known, and I have been doing this for over 10 years, other than the time I quit Lexapro for awhile, so I’ve finally connected the dots. And I was married to 2 ex’s that were full blown alcoholics, my drinking made their drinking look tame, and that is saying a lot. The damage I have done to the people I love is horrendous. My parents and siblings have stuck with me and have never given up, but I have lost my daughter, she hates me. There should be some kind of a genetic test or something to make sure a person will get better or become a frigin complete off the charts drunk before they prescribe this crap. I’m sure it is help to some, it help me at first. I’m just surprise I was able to keep a job with the amount I was drinking, truly, they need to do medical research on me.
I am 52 years old and was on antidepressants for 15 years of my life.
I became a daily drinker right after starting my medication and turned into a “functioning” alcoholic throughout the entire duration I was on SSRIs until my internal organs could no longer take it. I was drinking a bottle of Vodka every night for over 10 years straight.
6 months ago I would have never believed that I could quit both. I tapered off my medication over a 2 month period and subsequently found myself drinking less, being able to quit for weeks at a time until all interest and need for alcohol gradually disappeared just over 2 month ago.
I can confirm beyond any shadow of doubt that the two were interlinked in my case and that I would not have been able to stop drinking without first stopping the medication. I tried several times.
I was very worried that I might fall into depression again, as I had once before 13-14 years ago when I attempted to stop only to slowly and gradually realise how deep a hole I had actually sunk into with the use of antidepressants and subsequently alcohol abuse. Suicide was always on my mind as the optimum solution available to me every day for 15 years.
It took about 4-5 months for my mind and soul to reconnect and readjust again in ways they simply haven’t for 15 years, after ingesting my last tiny dose of antidepressants.
Should anyone have any questions or need any advise or help, please feel free to ask and do so.
It is not easy to
Thank you all for sharing. I have never contributed to a blog, but if my story could help another as much as you all have already helped me, I must do so. I have been having the same problems on Sertraline as many of you!
My early life was full of abuse, sometimes physical but mostly mental (my father told me I was rotten daily, my mother said I was a witch who ruined the family when I walked in the door.) By 10 years of age I had seriously considered suicide, sometimes daily. I was quite a brainiac however, and despite being poor, worked like a slave to better myself at two Ivy League schools and eventually become a lawyer (achieving a partnership at a top law firm, the first woman in my field in their hundred year history). By my early thirties I felt that I had escaped my awful childhood, built a great career, and married someone I truly loved. However, he turned out to be a charming sociopath, if possible MORE abusive than my parents (certainly, more devious and manipulative about his controlling me). Once we had children I was trapped, he moved me away from my job and friends to another country, I believed his promises that we would return soon–ha ha. Right now, he is still suing me over our divorce 15 years ago (my choice, he did not take it well. . . .) He has sued me for 13 of the past 15 years, the latest has cost me hundreds of thousands and I am dragged regularly from my happy life in Seattle to court in CT.
As you might expect, I have been in therapy–with a good psychiatrist who helped me dare to go the divorce route and also survive the ongoing legal mess. But the latest lawsuit (for the past three years) made me understandably depressed, so I started Sertraline, which I think I had used a couple of times before. . . . The same kind of cravings (plus weight gain) that you all describe have happened to me, but I was ashamed to tell even my psychiatrist, whom I otherwise trust. It is such an eye opener to hear you all say things about cravings, thinking too much about wine, having a huge tolerance, hiding how much you drink, feelings of shame, etc etc. I had begun to secretly believe that I must be an alcoholic in denial, despite the fact that my legal career of over 10 years involved so much hard work that I never thought to drink much, plus I spent ten more years pregnant or nursing so I drank nothing during those times–and felt none of my recent cravings.
I am now concerned that I cannot wean myself too quickly off the Sertraline because of my need to “perform” in the upcoming trial, plus two of my three doggies are seemingly at death’s door. . . . But, I have to do something–or I myself will be at death’s door.
THANK YOU, and God bless.
I just spent the last couple hours (4:30-6:30 am) reading all these posts. I started 5 mg Lexapro about 3 years ago to curb terrible anxiety surrounding performance anxiety at work and general anxiety. It worked, even at just 5 mg, to curb my anxiety.
I started drinking a couple glasses of wine per night. Prior to Lexapro, any more than that would cause me to have spins and nausea and feel horrible. But since taking Lexapro, I have not gone more than one night without a few drinks in a couple years. I can drink half a liter of vodka or 1.5 bottles of white wine at night and be fully functional the next day.
I feel much less motivated than I used to feel. I own a business. Anxiety used to help drive me to work REALLY hard and very long hours. Lexapro slowed me to relax a little, but now I just feel lazy all the time. I only get short bouts of inspiration. Other than those, I just feel like I have to push really hard to get things done.
I definitely feel that Lexapro has contributed to my increased nightly drinking. Prior to Lexapro, I never thought about drinking. I feel that my current feelings of low drive and depression will only prompt my healthcare providers to suggest I go UP in my dosage.
I am a healthy eater and do physical work in the garden every day as meditation. I feel like a different, better person during the day than I feel at night. I take my Lexapro at 6 pm.
I have felt for a while that I’d like to stop Lexapro and start exercising and meditating regularly to control the anxiety that started this whole cycle to begin with. Reading all these experiences encourages me even more.
I cant believe i have found this article. This is sooo me. My hubby is getting fed up of my drunken behaviour. I have also started binging with food. These are both issues i have had previously but had a bit of control over. On 150mg of sertraline and as happy as it has made me it is destroying everything with my lack of control. Stopped taking them 4 days ago but still craving alcohol and calorific food!!! Just want to be me again. I used to run 2/3 times a week and take care of my appearance but its like i no longer care about anything.
Thanks for this x i am hoping to come away from antidepressants all together x good luck to everyone on here that is struggling x
can you let us know if stopping sertraline kills the craving for alcohol?
Stopping lexapro greatly reduced my craving for about a year. I then got some cravings, not as bad and relapsed. I drank several times then had a bad night and now I’ve quit completely. I think being on lexapro so long changed my brain and I can’t go back. I will abstain forever now.
my story was as virtually a non drinker, i was put on effexor and within weeks was craving alcohol. I drank heavily and out of control for six months until i realised that the drinking started with the effexor. When i got off effexor the cravings went and i was able to control my drinking. life is good now but it was desparate then, no one believed me or tried to help. i was judged as a drunk and that was all the focus was on.
Some years ago it became apparent that my drinking was out of control – I’d gone from only drinking when I went out with friends once every couple of months with no cravings whatsoever (if I went to a pub during the day I would drink squash!) to literally watching the clock daily until I could start drinking at 5pm (the time I told myself it was “acceptable”), I have been on Antidepressants since I was 21 on and off (I’m now in my 40’s) and on Fluoxetine for 10 years. A couple of years ago I stopped taking my tablets and noticed that my alcohol craving disappeared – I was so happy! – basically I didn’t want to die because I drink, I just couldn’t stop, even when my brain was screaming WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? STOP!!! STOP!! Unfortunately I had relapse in my mental health problems and had to visit the doctor to be re-medicated, after trying many, many alternatives which did not help with my anxiety I had to return to the Fluoxetine for the benefit of my mental health, at which point the drinking (and the unstoppable compulsion to drink) slowly but surely returned. I am currently weaning off Fluoxetine again, and again, even at this early point the manic and desperate drive to drink is just not there. I am hoping that this time I can cope mentally as I’d love to live a healthier existence both mentally and physically. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories – hearing that I’m not the only one to experience this helps immeasurably.
Lexapro ruined my life. Went from 8 yrs sober to a spiralling black hole of rampant alcoholism . And to the point I now have liver disease.I Started taking it for anxiety and panic attacks after various health problems sidelined me. Coupled with 5 family deaths in 2 yrs. My cravings for alcohol got so bad I would leave work and have 8 drinks at lunch. To little or no effect to my demeanor. I wake up and it’s like I lost 10 hrs of my life besides sleeping has vanished. I became reckless in my drinking and behaviour. Often blowing a weeks pay in a couple bar trips. I went from virtually no drinking to feeling as if I’d die with out a drink I around 5 pm. The cravings are so intense. Constant embarrassment. I found if I changed the dose schedule my good cravings replaced the alcohol…for a couple hrs at least. Cut the lexapro cold turkey a week ago. I’m experiencing insomnia and itchiness. Slight irritability and anxiety. BUT I can recognize it and stave it off. Inerestingly my wife brought a liter of wine and a bottle of rum home and I havent even thought of touching them. Had a craving for a pint but the thought left as fast as it came. Libido is less.
It is unbelievable how these stories are so exact to my own. I have been on Zoloft for 15 years. First 25mg, then 50mg to 75 mg and now 150mg. I have increased through the years due to life struggles: divorce, single mother, etc. I always thought I had a problem with drinking. Would have a few drinks with friends, feel ok and not hung over the next day. The more I increased my dose over time the worse my drinking became. I would drink a bottle of wine like it was juice, then continue to want more. When I did drink (almost everyday for a solid few months) I would often wake up the next day with No hangover but with concerned friends and family saying I was making no sense, acting completely out of character and became mean and aggressive. I didn’t remember things I did (I mean completely, as though it didn’t happen) until my family recorded me. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. What kind of monster had I become? How could I be so unaware that this was really my behavior? I pondered for weeks why I had become such an “alcoholic” I joined AA, went to therapy and saw a Psychiatrist. After reflecting on my entire life. I realized the only two times I didn’t feel like I NEEDED a drink was when I went off of Zoloft for about a year (then went back in after my divorce) and when I was pregnant because I did not take it then. I knew that the person I had become was not the person who I am. I am now tapering off of this poison and look forward to getting my self and life back. This needs to be international news – everyone needs to know what these drugs are doing. I went to AA and asked how many people were on antidepressants, 90% raised their hands, so I shared this thread. Spread the word, save life’s and get off SSRI’s before it’s too late!
You have shared almost my exact experience. I had no idea what I was doing while I was drinking on SSRI. I would drink wine like it was juice too! I also went to AA and was sober for many years when my kids were young. I was truly white knuckling it though because the antidepressant made my cravings strong and my anxiety skyrocket. The messages of AA are good ones, but they did not help my underlying physical anxiety which as it turns out was intensified by the SSRI. Thank you for sharing.
Thank goodness the universe led me to this site. I am so thank for all of the stories shared. They are all similar to mine. I’ve been on Prozac for 3 months and at first it seemed ok. The weather was hot and I was taking long walks almost daily and I think my body was detoxing it more. Now that the seasons have changed I haven’t been as active as I should and I noticed recently I literally consumed 1 bottle of wine daily and 2 bottles daily on the weekends. It’s been hell. Every day after I take the Prozac in the morning it makes me ready to drink as early as 9am. I wait til the afternoon after my classes are finished to start drinking because I don’t want to have to drive and I was just drinking at home by myself. Strange behavior began and I would listen to music and video chat with a gf of mine as well as send stupid erratic text messages to random people. Very unproductive to the point My grades are suffering and my study habits have been almost nonexistent all semester. I have finals in 2 weeks and I stopped taking the Prozac for 2 days to see if I would crave alcohol and I didn’t. I went to the doctor to see if it was ok to go ahead and discontinue the Prozac and she said “No” and that I need to continue the 10mg dose. I’ll have to say when I quit the Prozac for the 2 days this week I felt alive and energized again. I made a mistake and took it yesterday after being fear mongered by different “tapering” videos I’ve seen on YouTube. I threw the Prozac away and my mom took it out of the trash to get it out of the house. I’m glad she was understanding about the horrible side effects I was experiencing and how our relationship was deteriorating from my daily drinking. This site gave me clarity and I know I’m not crazy or going through hormonal issues. Thanks guys
Good for you!
Thank you to all who have posted their experiences. I am now sitting here re-evaluating my own experience with SSRI’s and the abuse of alcohol. I do wonder what role Citalopram (Celexa) played in my own 5 year journey down a black hole of alcohol abuse, blackouts, memory loss, etc. While some of the above experiences have similarities to my own, there are other things that are quite different. And so I would love to know if anyone has any insight for me.
The key differences I see are that I did not begin excessive drinking immediately after starting Citalopram, I have managed to stop drinking despite still being on an anti-depressant, and I still got terrible hangovers when I was abusing alcohol while taking Citalopram.
I forget how long I was on it exactly before the alcohol abuse began but I would say about a year or so. After that, I experienced a series of losses (a break-up, death of a friend, and death of my father) and began drinking heavily. I will say that I am someone who always enjoyed a drink. And while I might drink to excess in an evening of fun, it was not a daily occurrence and never resulted in blackouts or inappropriate behaviour. During the 5 years of drinking while taking Citalopram I drank most days of the week, I binge-drank, I blacked out all the time, fell off my stool at the pub, fell down a lot, made questionable choices, went to ER twice for abrasions on my face, and broke my ankle one night. I experienced weight gain and memory loss, although I think those are natural side effects of drinking copious amounts of alcohol.
I have now been sober for five years but continue to take medication. This is also different from what people are describing here. After getting sober, I switched the Citalopram (I thought I had “burnt out” on it) to Sertraline briefly, then Escitalopram, and now take Duloxetine ( Cymbalta) after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
Part of me thinks that I was the problem, and that’s that. But part of me wonders what part Celexa played? I am not drinking now. So does this speak to the SSRI not being part of my problem? Or am I stronger than I think, and have beat the drinking odds despite still taking an SNRI?
I also noted that the only other time I took an SSRI (Paxil) about 20 years ago, I was on it very briefly and one night drank a bunch of tequila and decided to take the bottle of Paxil. I had my stomach pumped. I didn’t even want to commit suicide. Anyhow, just something that I noted when reflecting after reading all of your posts.
The answer to my question most likely lies somewhere in the middle; my wiring, my grief, AND the Celexa all together probably combined to lead me to alcohol abuse during that dark time. I only stopped because the last time I drank I was outside my apartment and someone called the paramedics, police and fire department. Apparently, they all came and stood over me and spoke with me and I don’t remember any of it to this day. I woke up a few hours later and remembered none of it.
The last thing that I will say is that it is scary how little doctors still know about anti-depressants. How little all of us really know! When I first went on Citalopram it changed my life for the better (my PMDD and anxiety were “cured”). I always just thought that drinking while taking it was stupid because alcohol is a depressant, but I had no idea that it could maybe be causing me to drink MORE. I have worked in medical education for 9 years and been on an SSRI for longer, and only two months ago had a physician mention “disinhibition” being a problem with anti-depressants. I googled that yesterday which led me here. I had never heard this before.
Strength and health to all.
I have been on antidepressants for over 10 years but drinking alcoholically for maybe 5 years? I am now sober 3.5 months thanks to AA and have only just come across this website in the last couple of days. I used to be able to drink socially and on occasion get drunk but mostly knew when to stop. I did horrible things in the past during blackout periods that my husband would tell me about the next day. I was also abusive towards him only but we’d had some ups and down s periods so could be why. I am encouraged and saddened to read everyone’s posts here. I am also extremely frustrated that my medication packet doesn’t tell me anywhere on it not to use alcohol. Even on websites it just says you “shouldn’t drink alcohol because it can increase side effects:
having sexual problems”.
Anyway, it’s good to know I’m not on my own.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you so much for replying to my post. It made me feel quite emotional. Apparently, I was also unkind to my partner during blackout drunk periods but I don’t remember. I mean, I’m sure it’s true, as terrible as it is. Anyhow, we just need to forgive ourselves; we were not in our right mind.
I have news! I have now weaned myself off my meds. It took about 7 weeks but I did it. I was dizzy the last few days and my head felt “wonky”… all this to say that I can’t quite say yet how life is going to feel without any med (after 10 or 11 years taking an SSRI or SNRI daily) but soon I hope to have a clear head and some insights.
All the best,
I can’t believe what I’m reading. There’s really not much more to add but I’ll put my thoughts down like everyone else in the hope that it may help others.
TLDR I’m tapering off Zoloft as of today.
I’ve only been on 25mg but the cravings have just been getting worse and worse over the last few years. The incessant rollercoaster of drinking like a fish with little to no hangovers, saying to myself at breakfast that it can’t be healthy and then by mid-morning justifying to myself why it’s OK to have a couple of drinks today. Then after the first one, the second and the third. I call it a compulsion rather than an addiction. Chug them down, one after the other. A compulsion to fill in time? But then it doesn’t give me the buzz, it feels OK, maybe just numbness of the mind, but I keep on filling a glass until dinner and then I’m bored and I go to bed. I don’t want to drink more, it’s just that part of the day is over now. How do you explain that? Why can’t I fill in time doing something more worthwhile?
I usually have Monday/Tuesday without drinking but my wife tells me I’m like a zombie those days. Am I happier when I am even looking forward to having a drink? I certainly don’t look forward to “chugging” beers. I’d much prefer to enjoy a couple or not at all during the week.
I get up and go to the gym a couple of days a week which I enjoy, but I’m not remotely interested in surfing, which I have loved for the last 25 years. Even small tasks around the house I put off because I can’t be bothered. Or is it because my head is clouded and I can’t prioritise enough to make a start until each of those jobs is critical? I go past the surf every day and then I think “oh, it’s pretty good, I should have checked the forecast”. But I didn’t think to check it. I’d go if I had made the plan, but I didn’t think to make the plan.
I can’t even think of what to make for dinner unless I’m standing in the kitchen. It’s like that with everything – I don’t/can’t think about what I’m doing on the weekend. I run a business with 10 staff; it’s not like I’m an idiot. I’ve thought about it from every angle.
I’ve always liked a drink, but I’ve never been obsession like this. Allowing the first thought into my head starts me debating with myself. But get to dinner time without a beer and the craving is gone. It’s so bloody weird. I am even wondering if it’s something to do with time of day you take the Zoloft that creates the peak time for craving??
Anyway, I will taper off, and come back and report the results.
Thank you all for sharing.
It’s so interesting to read your story. I can relate to just about everyone on here but when you wrote “But get to dinner time without a beer and the craving is gone. It’s so bloody weird.” described me to a T.
I’ve only just stumbled across this page but I’m overwhelmed with how many people there are like us who have been suffering – thinking we’re alcoholics!! I’ve been going to AA for the past 3.5 months which has helped me not to drink but I feel frustrated as I knew that I wasn’t an alcoholic. It’s only been the past 10 years since I’ve been on antidepressants that the “compulsion” to drink has been like it is.
I know it’s not even a month since you posted on here but would love to hear how you are feeling with weaning yourself from the Zoloft.
Hi Helen. It’s a little hard to answer at the moment. I tapered right down to a minute amount, maybe 2.5g a day and then stopped. I suddenly couldn’t control my temper. I was semi-OK towards the outside world but holy crap, when I did something that frustrated me (ie what a dumb thing that was to do, or even stub my toe, or miss a turnoff in the car) it was like a grenade exploding. I just couldn’t help myself. That was last week. We had a long weekend away just gone so I went back to a teeny amount so I could be confident I wasn’t going to start lashing out at family and friends.
Back to the answer though. Yes, for a few days I was like “wow this is going to be a breeze”. It was like the compulsion was gone. That moderated (as in went back to slightly more compulsive) in following weeks.
But absolutely definitely
Sorry hit Return by mistake. ^^
What I was going to say was … Absolutely definitely helped, but perhaps not to the immediate goal I had in mind.
I have found myself working away in the shed and an hour goes by since the last drink and I think “wow, that’s different, normally it’s straight back for another”.
Even when I’ve been in social situations I can finish a drink and wait for a bit and then have another when I am ready, rather than just being so manic about it.
Overall, I feel more chilled out, and definitely more likely to look for something to do for the day, ie getting on with the day’s tasks comes naturally rather than procrastinating.
I’m definitely not consumed by the thought of it like I was.
My wife says she’s found no significant improvement in my mood, even though to me I reckon I’ve outwardly been more relaxed. Perhaps some of it was all in my head that I thought others were seeing but they weren’t. Could also be that my chilled quietness was taken by her as a bad mood.
I have had some other issues with bad knee and shoulder which has been getting me down as I can’t take advantage of having more get up and go, as I think I would have had more success not drinking if I’d been able to do more.
I’m keen to hear if you still have the same compulsion after the AA – as in did getting out of the habit of drinking help at all?
I would definite’y recommend trying to lower your dosage and continuing with whatever path you are on to see if that helps.
I mean if you want to do AA and lowering the dosage helps you stop thinking about drinking then that can only be a good thing.
This article was a relief! 8 years ago, I started taking escitalopram for depression. Initially, I felt as though that it made me feel so good, so ‘up’, that the cravings were because I wasn’t used to it and needed to ‘come down’. I went from being a casual drinker to a drunk for the first year. Jail, relationships and family problems started occuring. Then, because I’m middle-aged and went back to university, I was ‘managing’ the cravings only. This meant at least a 6 pack of beer every couple of days. I gained 60 pounds! When I finally decided to try a different antidepressent, immediately the interest in drinking completely left me. My God, I’m so glad I switched. I never knew that there was a correlation whatsoever. And I was afraid of going off of a drug that finally made me feel good. I’m so glad I did. Trying Effexor now.
Effexor likely to cause similar problems
Hi Dr.David Healy! I have similar problems with others in this site from SSRI. i would like to ask you which antidepressants are more save in this matter. what about Trazodone or maybe some other that you could suggest. Thank You.
trazodone or mirtazapine should be safer as regards alcohol issues
And Vortioxetine? Is likely to cause the same problems with alcohol?
I’ve read it’s an antagonist of 5-ht3.
Really to say i’ve been taken Brintelix for 2 months and i’ve haven’t drunk less than before with Pristiq
Yes vortioxetine can cause everything other serotonin reuptake inhibitors can cause
hi,Im really sorry to read so many similar stories as mine. i am 45 years old and i take SSRI antideoressants for fifteen years. for almost 10 years now i have theese strong cravings for more and more alcohol every time i start drinking.
i would like to ask if anybody had this cravings while taking Trazodone antidepressant. i am considering trying it. its not SSRI . you can also answer on my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. thank you very much. Good luck to everyone!
I was prescribed zoloft in high school. I had a very bad drinking problem from age 17 when I got put on it until I was about 18 almost 19 and quit taking it. I lost friendships, tons of people I don’t even know hate me, my life was generally a mess and I came to and was so disgusted with my behaviors and how I was acting. On top of alcohol addiction which I was able to quit, I also had a severe drug addiction which I was unable to quit despite no longer having a desire to drink, but I never put two and two together. Finally got clean at age 20. Fast forward and I gave birth to my son just 2 months shy of my 21st bday. I got represcribed zoloft again because my anxiety was so severe I wouldn’t sleep and was hallucinating. It made me feel jittery and gross for awhile but then I started drinking and I mean BAD drinking. I got into fights with my partner and it ended with us breaking up. I would get drunk and make stupid decisions when my son wasn’t around. I’d get drunk when i was supposed to go get my son. I was drunk almost 24/7 and I was disgusted with myself when I got sober and i couldn’t remember anything so i’d drink again. The zoloft made it to where one beer would make me black out and be crazy. It also had a tendency to make me violent and agressive. I absolutely despise that drug and when I lost my script and didn’t go get it refilled for a few days, I IMMEDIATELY noticed I no longer had a desire to drink. It was night and day. My son’s father and I are back together and happy. I still have PPD and PPA but I have been using coping skills instead of medication. I don’t get drunk and put others at risk any longer. I get to remember every precious moment with my child. This issue really needs to be adressed. I was never told that SSRI medication can cause alcohol cravings like this. I know you said the UK doesn’t warn anyone but neither does the U.S. What was something I’d dealt with before and could have overcome again became a nightmare from hell for an entire year. I missed out on so much from the first year of my son’s life and this stupid medicine took it away from me. Alcohol is aboslutely disgusting to me normally. I’ve had addiction and this wasn’t a normal addiction. It doesn’t just come and go by stopping medication. Sorry for the comment I just can’t believe they’d hide this from people who are taking this medication for mental health issues.
My story is very similar to all of these here. Directly after starting Celexa, I became a person I didn’t recognize. I was a moderate drinker who turned into a raging alcoholic in a matter of 2 mobths. A literal switch went off when I started this SSRI for anxiety. Not knowing the connection, I went to treatment, got sober, and found this site.
What’s crazy is- after asking my doctor directly if I could drink while on them, him saying yes, and then visiting again in 6 weeks with increased alcohol issues- he doesn’t take me off of them- he INCREASES my dose making me crave alcohol even more.
The correlation is astounding. Warnings NEED to be on every bottle that absolutely NO alcohol is to be consumed with ssri’s, or the patient will risk alcohol dependence. The hell I went through for 3 months could have been avoided by a simple warning label.
Hi all. I thought I’d write back with some good news. (I posted above ^ December 10 2019 if you’d like the backstory).
So I weaned myself off Zoloft. Things were going OK until about late Jan and I noticed a lot of depressive signs creeping back in, but mainly anxiety. Dread. Lack of motivation. Not even enough motivation to think about motivation.
The big thing I noticed was that my cravings for alcohol dropped plenty after stopping the Zoloft, but then I started using it as a crutch through COVID for stress (I own my own business and the sh*t hit the fan).
OK so I went and saw a great GP. He took the time to go back over things with me and said I may have had ADHD or low-level anxiety all my life and that ended up in depression.
So we tried Seroquel. Damn good results at first as far as relieving anxiety and not reaching for a drink. But it absolutely bombed me out. I could sleep 12 hours a night and still want more.
I bit the bullet and said I’d try another AD and he suggested we try some of the “new-age” ADs which have less side effects.
First was mirtazapine which our good Doc Healy here said was one alternative to try. It had good AD effects but I was starving! I was lucky enough to be able to fight the cravings so I didn’t stack weight on but I don’t ever recall being hungrier in my life.
We then tried Valdoxan. I didn’t get on well with it, the anxiety and depression symptoms started to return so we tried something else.
Third time lucky…. I can’t say I’ve hit the jackpot, but Brintellix has had me feeling the best I have in years.
I have enough self-control to go four nights a week no problems without a drink, and anyone who knows the feeling of all the posts on this forum will know what I mean when I say yes, I still like a drink, but I am not obsessing about a drink.
Now, I want to explain that I don’t think it’s exclusively the drug making me feel better. But it hasn’t caused the cravings. Therefore I don;t drink as much. Then I have enough motivation to get stuck into jobs around the yard, I’ve been boxing a couple of nights a week, I feel better about myself for not drinking as much. An upwards spiral instead of down!
My relationship with my wife has improved. I have time for my kids instead of being a grumpy sh*t half the time. I’m more comfortable in my own skin.
Yes, I’ve learned bad habits that got out of control with the Zoloft and that’s taking some time to unwind. Unfortunately once I have a couple of beers the switch kicks back over and I have more than I should, but I’m not drinking until it’s time to go to bed. And I’m not feeling like starting drinking many days, so that’s a big positive.
I am honestly now better than I have been in 10 years or more.
If you are getting these alcohol cravings, get to your doctor and demand a change. Don’t be scared to keep changing (as long as you are following directions and giving the new AD time to work). Or go find a better doctor.
These SSRIs mentioned above DO ABSOLUTELY CAUSE CRAVINGS and there is a way out of it.
Glen, thank you for coming back and telling us how you got out of it. I agree with you the Mirtazapine does make you very hungry and also makes you put on weight. I put on over a stone in weight but lost the same amount on SSRIS. Just that in its self shows they work in opposite ways hence why it helped stop the cravings for me completely.
It’s always good to hear a story of recovery and you are so right there is a way out of it.
Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you all the best for the future.
Thanks for this., i was on Zoloft and it turned me into a raging alcoholic and as soon as i stopped cold turkey my alcohol cravings disappeared within 36 hours. I’m monitoring to see if any anxiety comes back but i was only put on AD 7 years ago due to divorce and my doctor just handed them to me like candy.
This article saved my life.
Well, here’s story number five thousand or so (seriously, between this page and the David Healy site, it is UNREAL how many people have this EXACT same type of experience, right down to the details).
I never had a problem with alcohol in my life. I actually had a reputation among my female friends as a fun, safe guy to drink with. In my late 20s, I started getting bizarre, intense upper-back pain and after a lot of negative tests, my doctor, correctly as it turned out, guessed that it might be because of anxiety-exacerbated IBS. He put me on Lexapro.
It worked. He told me, “you shouldn’t really drink on this”. So for years, on Lexapro, I didn’t drink at all, which was no big deal. I did used to really enjoy the occasional single malt scotch or craft beer, and after moving to an area where craft beer was a local draw, I asked my new doctor there if it was ok to have a couple drinks on occasion while continuing to take Lexapro. “Yeah, that should be fine.”
Cut to 6 months later. Constant, intense alcohol cravings. Hiding alcohol (this seems to be a common theme in the comments), usually straight vodka (which I previously detested), drinking constantly. Embarassing myself in bars. Being an absolutely nightmarish ghoul to my long-time saint of a girlfriend. Memory loss. Got arrested twice. I was eventually pretty sure it had something to do with the Lexapro – what else could it be? This wasn’t the me I knew. Docs did not want me to get off Lexapro – they didn’t see a reason for it, and only recommended I try another SSRI. I was also afraid that the weird IBS-anxiety pain I used to have would come back, so I was nervous about getting off of it.
But, I was desperate to end my downward spiral, and weened off Lexapro on my own, at a VERY accelerated pace, which I know is strongly recommended against. At this point I was so sure that Lexapro was the issue that I took the risk. It was difficult – I felt both like a zombie and oddly wired at the same time, like I had been up for 48 hours drinking 10 pots of coffee.
When I got through to the other side, I felt normal again, a feeling I had forgotten. But I hadn’t found any sites like this at the time, and I wanted to test my hypothesis. After not drinking anything for a few weeks, I took the risky step of having a couple drinks. I figured that if I became a maniac again, my hypothesis was incorrect and I was simply an alcoholic, and I’d seek treatment. My fear beforehand was that “I drink way too much and it’s ruining my life, but it’s not me, it’s the medication I’m on that’s making me this way, and I have no self-control because of it” would sound like the excuses of an addict, and would actually prevent me from escaping my behavior pattern.
I was right. It worked. I had no desire to chug alcohol whatsoever. It was like a switch had flipped. It’s now years later, and I continue to have a totally normal relationship with alcohol. I can not drink, or have a couple drinks, and it’s no big deal, like it used to be. I think back to that awful period in my life here and there, and found this site. It is unbelievable that this is not a widely publicized side-effect. It’s destroying lives and it’s killing people. My feeling towards Lexapro itself are complicated, because it did help so much, and I was very lucky that the unbearable pain that I was taking it for never came back. I was even luckier that my girlfriend somehow put up with my behavior during this period, and recognized that something was making me not me.
The relationships between SSRIs/alcohol/gut mobility/IBS and seratonin are complicated in ways that aren’t yet fully understood, but if someone had at least told me, “if you drink at all on this medication, there’s a chance that you will develop an uncontrollable urge to drink”, it might have saved me a couple years of absolute misery.
Sounds exactly like my experience (which I wrote just now below) went through divorce so doc put me on cipralex and i drank a bit then he changed to Zoloft and my drinking went out of control, then the dose was upped and my life spiralled into a complete alcoholic. I stopped taking Zoloft cold turkey 4 days ago and have zero alcohol cravings nor anxiety. In fact i have an aversion to alcohol
I’m glad to have found this thread, I can’t believe it’s gone on as long as it has! But I’m also saddened to see so many of you have had to figure this all out for yourselves like me.
My story is a big tangled mess of migraines, alcohol intolerance, depression….and alcohol cravings.
About 11 years of undiagnosed depression from age 17 to 28 + chronic headaches/migraines + alcohol intolerance. On sertraline + trazodone for 2 years now.
Around 26 my migraines were getting so bad and frequent it was leading to suicidal ideation. I’d been through triptans, amitriptaline/nortriptaline, topomax with no luck. I was at the end of my rope. The depression had bled into every aspect of my life.
I finally reached out for help from a therapist and it stuck (many failed therapy relationships before) and she suggested SSRI’s to me for the first time.
My GP prescribed Sertraline starting at 50mg. They’d help at first and then I’d need to up my dosage. I’m all the way up at 250mg now, with 50mg of Trazodone for the resulting insomnia.
I rarely drank at home before meeting my partner, and I was already diagnosed with an alcohol intolerance. I could only ever have 1-2 drinks or id be horribly sick. However, my partner loves to have a couple glasses of wine a night, and I started to do so as well, just keeping under my limit. I began to realize that alcohol+sugar were big triggers for headaches and migraines. Id succesfully wean myself on and off without issue but it wasn’t enough.
That’s when my migraines were becoming a huge problem re: suicidal ideation from the pain. I didn’t have a life of any kind anymore. I started seeing a pain doctor, and after trying weekly nerve numbing injections and then botox, he started me on a new new drug that I now take once a month. Its working!
So with the migraine situation more or less sorted, and getting favorable results from Sertraline, I starting having those daily drinks again, thinking I was in the clear on that front. I noticed a pattern of the alcohol compeltely negating the Sertraline’s effects the next day, even at 1-2 glasses of wine.
My doctor reiterated that alcohol is technically a poison and it’s bad for depression, sertraline’s serotonin functionality, AND my intolerance.
For the first time in my life, I’ve been craving that glass of wine. I never craved alcohol in my life before starting all these drugs, and I KNOW it will make me feel horrible. I’ve fought for so long to not be depressed and im finally doing better, but now sacrificing those happier days for 1 glass of wine the night before!
I know its not a lot of alcohol, but it really troubles me that I feel I need it, despite it harming me in such acute ways.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences. It is helping many, many people.
Every time I try to get Escitalopram (Lexapro) out of my system, after about 3 weeks to a month I become so agitated that it is unbearable. For family as well. And yes it also dramatically increases alcohol cravings with me, it is very clear. My GP acted like it was the first time ever reported. Frustrating. What I found that helps to curb the alcohol cravings is a full stomach, even if it’s just water. Try this if you can relate. When rhe cravings come, eat healthy food or lots of cold water.
I have had a similar experience to all of you, which has left me embarrassed, ruined relationships, lost jobs and caused me to be 11 kilos overweight.
I have had anxiety most of my life and was put on lexapro at the age of 15. When I was 19 I was put on paroxetine. This caused a lot of weight gain and a significant reduction in what was previously a very high sex drive.
I decided that it was time to switch antidepressants because of the weight gain in 2016 at the age of 23. The withdrawal effects were horrendous and I ended up in hospital because my blood pressure was dangerously low. I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed me 7 different drugs over the course of a year, none of which helped with the severe anxiety caused by withdrawing from paroxetine too quickly. I decided to go back to paroxetine as the anxiety was unbearable. My alcohol consumption quickly increased to dangerous levels. I went from only being able to handle one glass of wine to consuming a whole bottle and more in one setting.
It has turned me into a monster and something that I am not. I have lost friends and family members because of my behaviour when drinking. I have acted completely irrationally and out of character. I have cheated on my bf, engaged in unprotected sex, got into physical fights and stolen alcohol from loved ones. My bf had to lock up his wine collection because I couldn’t help but steal it. When the cravings hit I feel like a woman possessed, and would feel extremely unsettled and agitated until I drank. I will literally do anything to get alcohol and would drink scary amounts of vodka by myself. I have gone from a good looking woman to haggard looking 27 year old. I do stupid and dangerous stuff like smoke a whole packet of cigarettes and take benzos when drinking. I, like many on this forum, would constantly call people multiple times when drunk, talk about embarrassing! Even naltrexone hasn’t helped. I am slowly weaning myself off of paroxetine. So far I have reduced from 20mg to 15mg and although it has caused extreme dizziness, fevers and anxiety, my alcohol cravings have decreased. I am going to continue but do it extremely slowly, over the course of a year or so to minimize the unbearable withdrawal effects. For years I have convinced myself that I “need” the SSRIs because there is something inherently wrong with me, but now I’ve realised that this idea has been pushed on me by doctors.
I have lost at least 5 years of my precious 20s due to this drug, and I feel so alone because no doctor believes me.
Thank you to everyone on this website for the support and information.
Not sure if this would help anyone but I have been taking inositol twice daily to help with my anxiety while withdrawing. Hopefully this can help some of you too.
I dont have an addiction or overuse, but i do notice when I am taking Lexapro, I do not want to consume any alcoholic drinks, even an occasional wine at dinner. Just feel averted to it.
Anyone that went back to drinking after stopping saris, is it still going ok? Are you able to control your drinking several years after?
I’m happy to report that even though I’m not depression or anxiety free (it’s been creeping in but I’m learning to deal with it), my alcohol tolerance and desire to drink has dropped significantly.
I’m on approx 12.5mg of paroxetine, down from 20, and although I’m still in the “habit” of drinking, everything is to a lesser extent. For example, tonight I had 2 shots worth of brandy and one beer and I was done! (in fact I felt pretty wasted!). Usually I’d have a whole 300ml bottle of brandy, a 6 pack of beer and still be craving more.
Instead of smoking a whole packet of cigarettes I smoked 3 and felt disgusted.
I feel like I only drank and smoke what I did tonight out of habit.
I’m excited that I will probably be able to have a somewhat tame new years: no taking random drugs, not drinking 2+ bottles of wine and chugging spirits.
Have faith, It’s taken 3- 4 months of reducing paroxetine to get where I am now. Even though I have some anxiety and depression coming back, it’s a relief to know that I can experience emotion outside of agitation and irritability (which seemed to be the only two whilst on 20mg paroxetine, and which could only be relieved by alcohol).
I had been taking Celexa (citalopram) for probably 10 years to deal with mood swings. About 5 years ago, my primary care provider (an LPN) added in Adderall to help me concentrate at work. It was brilliant at first– felt great, and got so much done! These last few months though I’ve been depressed, and had severe anxiety related to work. I told my LPN and she threw Wellbutrin into the mix. After a couple days on both Celexa and Wellbutrin I felt amazing! Positive, competent, confident. But I also noticed I didn’t have the craving for alcohol.
I didn’t even realize I was “craving” alcohol. I just thought I was drinking a lot because I was depressed. By “a lot of alcohol” I mean easily a bottle of wine a day. Or a box of wine in 3 days. Maybe some straight liquor thrown in for good measure. Or just straight alcohol. I don’t have the dramatic stories I’ve seen here but do have some of the same behaviors–hiding alcohol, drinking and driving, and NEVER having a hangover. I was drinking all day long, even during work, both in the office and during this work-from-home period. My husband once said he’s never seen me drunk even though I know I’ve been drunk around him, passed out, and had memory lapses from the night before. (He’s a recovering alcoholic, but doesn’t mind others drinking around him.)
That one day when I felt amazing, I realized I had been craving alcohol but I wasn’t craving it that day. So of course I googled it and found this site and HOLY SHIT! others are having this experience. I was still taking the Celexa (though not regularly), and my cravings returned, as did the depression and anxiety.
It’s probably been a week since I’ve taken the Celexa, but I’d still been drinking more out of habit and for the holidays. On Jan 1, I made a resolution to stop drinking. And I did. Haven’t had a drink for 3 days, and I’m not having a craving, even though there’s still alcohol in the house.
I told my LPN about the alcohol cravings and sent her this link. I’m hoping its something she’ll ask patients in the future–if they’re CRAVING alcohol. They ask how much you drink but who’s really going to tell the truth in this situation; it’s always 2 or 3 drinks a day. If she had asked me about craving it, I don’t know if I’d have told the truth, but it might have made me start thinking about it differently.
SSRI’s and alcohol ruined my life for nearly 10 years, nearly wrecking my health and my relationship with my children and career. I divorced in 2013 and my doctor handed me cipralex like candy but it was a low dose and i did start drinking at the same time, then the drinking got worse and last year my doc switched me over to zoloft so he could increase the does as cipralex has a max. Then i started drinking even more so went back to my doc who told me i shouldn’t be drinking while on the tablets and increase the Zoloft dose even more and then it just went out of control. The alcohol cravings were unbelievable. I was drinking every single day to pass out and could not stop the cravings. It was like i was possessed. I had the shakes and the urge to do whatever I took to get drink. I then connected two and two together and stopped taking Zoloft completely cold turkey and within 36 hours all alcohol cravings had gone completely. Just the though of a beer or wine (unless with a meal or a celebration) turns my stomach and I’d rather have tea and a nice nights sleep. I am still in COMPLETE SHOCK as to how anti depressants ruined nearly 10 years of my life and health
Thank you for sharing all your stories & mine is very similar. I’ve been put through the ringer the last 6-9 months. And no one would believe me something was wrong. I was a alcoholic they said. Who can be fine & then 6-9 months later be a completely different person? Act & say things completely out of character. In recently had a epiphany that it must be the meds (venl 37.5 mg). It’s been been a week of weening now & I’m already staring to feel like myself again. I hope that I caught this in time for minimal damage to myself. I will never try another one of those kind of meds again.
Here is info on SSRIs and alcohol cravings
I started lamictal 4 months ago and have not had a craving for alcohol since. I hope that keeps up
I write this from the other side of the equation.
I haven’t suffered like the people who have written before me with the assortment of anti depressants they have. I have sat and watched my beautiful partner suffer with alcohol as a result of anti depressants. The result once alcohol was consumed, was pure anger directed at myself and family. The stuff being said just didn’t make sense.
We all walked on egg shells not knowing if the demons would come. Some nights it was all fine but we were wary and nervous.
None of us knew what was happening and why this would descend into pure anger on some nights. I begged her to stop, go see Drug and Alcohol counsellors, own your $hit!, why are you addicted to this? Don’t we matter to you? Why are you destroying the people you love? Buy a fish tank to help calm you down and ignore the booze!
It broke my heart that she was suffering, the exhaustion was extreme. For her to tell me the following day on many occasions after drinking a lot of alcohol, that she remembers nothing and starts the day normally, but then sees the carnage left from the night before was extremely traumatising. On some mornings she would wake up, I wasn’t there and her first thought was oh $hit what have I done? I couldn’t handle it on those occasions and left to be able to just breathe. I was angry a lot of the time but knew this just wasn’t right. But I can tell you I second guessed myself all the time. Maybe it was me asking too much? Maybe I need to be stronger and just say no more! Who do I talk to?
She once likened it to waking up in the morning and seeing there has been a terrorist attack on TV and me pointing at her and screaming you did that! She has no recollection of this occurring but all around her is the carnage of her work. Kids going into their bedrooms and me walking out saying this can’t go on like this!
The feeling of helplessness was immense for me, so I can’t even to begin to understand how she felt when I told her things she did and what she said. The look on her face was just pure frustration and sadness.
The feeling of walking in after work and seeing a glass of wine on the counter made me want to climb into the cupboard and hide till the morning. To make it worse she would see me anxious and drink a bit more to help calm her down for the evening. It sometimes would not end well. We both would suffer for different reasons. She would tell me I don’t have an alcohol problem? So my thought was you are purposely doing this???
We had no idea what we were fighting against……till now.
Three days ago it near broke us and possibly we have lost dear friends because of it. It was a brutal night and really was the final straw. My partner who is way stronger than she will ever give herself credit for spoke to her GP explaining how she felt truly and opened up. Then searched like all people who know something isn’t right and found the post above.
To say she is not alone is an understatement. To say I’m not alone sitting on this side watching someone you dearly love implode is also a massive understatement. The guilt I feel is immense that I wanted to give up but love her dearly, before she sent me this post to read.
Now I feel I can see a path forward.
Reading all the comments above I think you are all incredibly strong. Don’t ever give up. Keep a look out for the ones like us who are stumbling in the dark crying out for help not knowing the connection you have found between Antidepressants and Cravings for Alcohol.
Thankyou for all posting your stories. I keep reading them to understand. We see we are both not alone anymore.
I can so relate to everyone on here and the main story. I wouldn’t say that I had cravings for alcohol as such but after a few drinks sometimes 3 or could be by 5 or 6 I would blackout. Not out cold on the floor I would still be alert etc half the time my friends didn’t notice until the iratic or verbally abusive behavior would start and I have absolutely no memory of it. I’ve had the police called. So much embarrassment and guilt with no memory the next day. I’ve also had a concussion twice with no memory of it. That started 3yrs after taking Sertraline and a year of this happening I did research to find out that they cause blackouts and issues with alcohol. I would also wake up in the night and be abusive with no memory after a drink. Before taking SSRI I had never been like this after socially drinking. So my doctor suggested Duloxetine and 3 years on the same thing started again. I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship in that time and suffered some trauma but with more more intense research I found this drug can cause blackouts and REM sleep issues.
My question is has anyone tried a non SSRI or SNRI antidepressants and found that the blackouts and behavior have stopped when they enjoy a social drink? I’m looking at Valdoxan or Wellbutrin as being off antidepressants entirely is not an option.
Thank you to everyone sharing their story I feel human and understood in a very alone situation not truly understood unless you have experienced it yourself.
It took me a very long time to figure this out/find this information…
Same thing happened to me.
I took Lexapro/prisique ..
I would crave drink with them.
Then I quit. And quit 90% of drinking too. Occasionally very recreational drugs… But even after a while… I drank 4/5drinks
could not tolerate more without feeling like I’m hallucinating or something…say dumb things…
These meds rewire your brain… when you tell the shrinks they act like you don’t know what you’re talking about….
I know a relative on Lexapro…she doesn’t drink much. But she seems to be zombied out when she’s doing something….her depression is “better”…but her empathetic/sympathy feeling seems numb?…..not sure what, or how to talk about it…
I started taking sertraline 8 years ago because I used to get blackout drunk all of the time. If it was before during of after work it didn’t matter to me . I have had my ups and downs over the past years but I have found that the sertraline has 100% helped with my alcohol addiction. I now find if I go off of the sertraline even for a day or two I already start craving alcohol again. I want to go off of my meds but I don’t want to go back to relying on alcohol to get me through life so I guess for now I will just stay on them so I can keep the stable life I currently have
I had a very terrible event happen in my life, my PCP decided the best thing for me was to go on Effexor in 2013. “You will love it, Effexor will help you with your anxiety and give you more energy.” My PCP had me sold when she told me it would give me more energy, so I started Effexor…
Growing up and throughout my college years I never had a urge to drink alcohol. If I did drink, 3 beers would be my max (that is if I didn’t start puking before that). I was a lightweight and I was proud of it.
After starting Effexor I felt no change, so my PCP increased my dose. Eventually, I was taking 375mg/day. I would have my good days and my bad days. Then one day I stopped at a gas station on my way home from work and thought maybe I just needed to unwind with a stiff drink (because that’s what people do on tv). So I bought a bottle of Captain Morgan not knowing that this bottle would change my life for years to come.
I poured myself drink after drink. My tolerance was sky high, my body’s intoxication warning system was gone. I could drink and drink and it felt so good. I drank until I blacked out. I had no hangover whatsoever, nothing. I was the epitomy of a functional alcoholic and I was happy. It was a “high” feeling that I loved.
I was soon out of control drinking every other day and making horrible decisions. I was neglectful towards my daughter and my family. After being mortified by my actions over and over again, I sought help from my PCP. During this visit I professed my alcohol abuse and was prescribed Seroquel to add to my Effexor regimen. This combination would later land me in the ER with alcohol poisoning.
I became severely depressed I could not stop drinking, so to make myself feel better I would drink. I gained weight gallor. Then one day I decided to stop my Effexor cold turkey – because anti-depressants cause weight gain. It was rough. My anxiety was through the roof, but my alcohol cravings dwindled. When I presented my finding to my PCP she told me there was no link between anti-depressants causing alcoholism. So, due to my anxiety I was encouraged to restart my Effexor.
BAM, my cravings were back full force. I was on Effexor once again. I was back to being a raging alcoholic. At times I wouldn’t trade the “high” for anything. But on days I didn’t drink, I would have overwhelming feelings of disgust and resentment towards myself. I became paranoid that everyone knew I was a closet alcoholic. I became my own worst enemy.
During one of my blackouts, I was brought to the VA and admitted for detox by my family. At the VA they stacked meds on top of my meds. I did quit drinking with Antabuse, but after 6 months my stomach was ripped to shreds. So I stopped it and started drinking again. More meds were thrown my direction.. Finally I got sick of all the medications and flushed them down the toilet… to include my Effexor.
It took more than a few weeks to rid my body of all the medications and get through withdraw symptoms. But it was something magical, my cravings for alcohol went away almost completely. I say this feeling was magical because I was on the verge of ending my life, I was about to give up. I had a plan.
Who knew all my problems were caused by a single pill. For 5 years I suffered, my daughter suffered and my family suffered with my alcohol abuse. This should not have happened.
Now I am a stigma, a stigma that most people don’t believe. I truly believe that big pharma should be held liable for not fully disclosing all side effects related to there product. BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW, THEY KNEW!
Thank you for reading, hope it helps…
Comment found on Reddit.
So I had been diagnosed with anxiety and major depressive disorder from a young age and have been on anti-depressants, specifically Paroxetine and Citalopram, for the vast majority of the last 25 years. I’ve also struggled with abusing alcohol for the majority of my life. I am a functional alcoholic. I am able to get up in the mornings, keep a stable job and coexist with other people. My hope is that this post helps at least 1 other person avoid what I’ve been through.
My alcoholism was peculiar in that it wasn’t always severe all the time, and at times in my life it just seemed non existent with no explanation. I would go from drinking 6 to 25+ standard drinks a day to a sudden lack of interest where over 2 or 3 weeks my consumption would go down to 0 and stay that way for sometimes over a year. And this was always with absolutely no effort on my part. When I was heavily drinking I went to AA and to treatment programs and have tried with every fiber of my being to stay away from alcohol with little more than a couple of weeks at a time to show for it. I was given ultimatums from women I loved dearly and people I cared about to please stop and I could not. And at other times I had nothing to lose at all and no consequences to my actions, alcohol being consumed in front of my face and being offered and I wasn’t interested – even when I would go to a gathering with prior intentions of drinking I didn’t.
I stopped taking taking Citalopram back in April of 2019 after being on it for a 6 year stint. Since April I have drank a total of 3 times, all pre-planned and each time I drank very little even though my intention was to have 3 or more drinks. The craving was gone. The insatiable urge that in years prior would have been impossible to ignore all of a sudden doesn’t exist and doesn’t manifest, even with prompting. I wracked my brain for months trying to figure out what was going on. Why was I so addicted at times where, despite my best efforts, I could not control myself and at others I could not drink even when I went to a party with the prior intention of drinking? Then I read the following article that made me realize something extremely important. https://rxisk.org/driven-to-drink-antidepressants-and-cravings-for-alcohol/
(AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE THERE IS A RESEARCH PAPER ATTACHED that was conducted in the UK and in conjunction with a Canadian university that comes to the conclusion that the use of SSRIs is very likely to cause, among a myriad of other alcohol related issues, alcoholism and uncontrollable cravings for alcohol that can prove fatal. Subjects in the study died or committed suicide. YES – More studies need to be done, with many more test subjects involved before this can be claimed to be irrefutable.)
MY REALIZATION: Every time I went through a phase where I had no interest in drinking was at a time when I had stopped taking SSRI anti depressants. Those are the times in my life where I went back to school. Exercised regularly. meditated. Found meaningful employment. Found meaningful relationships. I would hit a bump in the road and head back to anti depressants and lose everything. And to go from barely drinking at all to not being able to stop, even when a loved one is begging you and threatening to leave you, is heart rending to say the least.
Is there any one else out there who seems to have developed an unstoppable desire for alcohol or out of control drinking after taking SSRI anti depressants? Do you know anyone in your life who is in this situation and could benefit from looking in to this with their doctor? Keep in mind I have been taking SSRIs for 25 years without making the correlation between the 2. You may know someone with a history of drinking who might be on one of these meds and perhaps talking to their doctor to see about switching to a new med or stopping all together may save their lives or at least greatly improve the quality.
I know someone with a similar issue. On Lexapro. She was very depressed. But even though she seems to drink light she acts like she doesn’t feel anything either. She only seems to show empathy for her kid. Which is good. But she seems fixated too much on her job and talks very little to anyone else. Even too her “friend”….she seems detached and void of feeling anything, with few exceptions only….
I stopped drinking for the most part. But on occasion, when I do I seem to behave weird too… Talk annoying nonsense…etc…I used to be able to drink allot without becoming annoying. Granted… I probably shouldn’t drink at All… I took an SSRI… Lexapro…
I think it ruins your drinking experience…. I rarely drink…but now I seem to have this issue when I do…
Antidepressants are very tricky….not sure what to really think about them… They only seem to sideline your depression…not fix it…
Hope you get better Jane…you sound like the person I know…
I seem to crave occasionally alcohol…but I think Lexapro messed this up fo me …I can’t drink more than 3 pints of beer or a few shots without acting weird..
It killed my tolerance? Or I’m just getting old…. alcohol is a serious drug… always a double standard when it comes to doing other drugs… when alcohol is just as bad…
I took Cymbalta for nearly 3 years, and I have been off of it for nearly that long. While I drink far less now than I did while taking the drug, I still drink far more than I ever did prior to taking it.
These drugs are still being prescribed, and the medical industry (from prescribers to the pharmaceutical manufacturers), still aren’t admitting what every commenter in here absolutely knows to be true.
Use of the words “compulsive” and “cravings” are not nearly strong enough to express the urges to constantly consume alcohol by many (How many? What percentage?) people taking these drugs.
The most infuriating part of it is the knee-jerk reaction of others to couch the maniacal quest for alcohol as a moral failure. It is an inflicted injury, and nothing less.
Thank god someone overheard my wife telling me not to forget to take my Cymbalta. That person (someone I had known for decades, and who had noticed my drinking behavior and had known that it was not a part of my regular/historical behavior), told us that her daughter-in-law (married for more than a decade and with adolescent children, who, like me, seldom drank anything), had been prescribed Cymbalta, and, at two months in, had begun staying out a bars until 4 a.m. The daughter-in-law’s behavior stopped completely, several months after she stopped taking the drug.
That was all my wife (bless her patience with me), and I needed to understand what was happening.
The prescribing physician didn’t want to hear it, and treated me horribly when I tried to address the issue with her.
Worst. Drug. EVER.
Stopped taking Lexapro 10mg cold Turkey. It hasn’t been the most pleasant experience but my craving for alcohol is completely gone. I haven’t had a single urge to drink since I stopped. Today is day 9 for both the Lexapro and no alcohol. The withdrawal to the Lexapro has been far worse than the alcohol. Website’s I’ve looked at say that it typically takes around 3 weeks for the withdrawal to stop. I feel so much better both mentally and physically minus being irritable a lot which is expected. Keep fighting everyone! There is hope!
glad to have found this!
years ago i was prescribed zoloft for fibromyalgia, not for depression. it made me want to consume alcohol like nobody’s business, in fact i thought to myself “wow, is this what being an alcoholic feels like?” i stopped it cold turkey.
later i was prescribed lexapro, also for fibromyalgia. same thing happened. also stopped it cold turkey.
no way will i ever take ssri’s again.
i would like to recommend johan hair’s book “lost connections”.
good luck to you all.
I just started effexor a few wks ago after yrs of not taking it. I drank heavily in my 20s around the time I was on it last but didn’t know the correlation. I haven’t really drank in over a decade then the last two days I’ve had these sudden intense craving for alcohol which only seemed odd because I never drink or crave it. I looked online to see if there was a link between the cravings and the meds, sincerely assuming there was just no way. Whoa I am beside myself. Growing up in an alcoholic home, I never wanted my child to witness alcohol abuse & it’s scary that something that’s supposed to help me with depression/anxiety could actually push me into alcoholism. Thank you so much for writing this!
I am thankful that I found this article. I was on several SSRI’s over a 10 year period. The last one I was taking was Cymbalta. At 55 years old I had always been a social drinker but after being put on SSRI’s I began drinking very heavy daily to the point of making myself very sick many many times. After 10 years of this I went off the SSRI’s and began a health food regime and exercising. I have not had a drink in over 2 years now. I don’t have a desire to drink but I am often curious if I am still the alcoholic I was for those 10 years or the person I was for the first 55 years of my life before the SSRI’s. I am too afraid to test it. I do believe that a strong mind can do about anything including control addictions (unless they are caused by other medications like the case of SSRI’s). Thank you for this article!!!
My brother was on antidepressants and Klonopin for decades since high school….Various different SSRI….His doctors were not keeping track of all the different meds. He became very addicted to alcohol, especially the last 15 years of his life…He also was at one point addicted to Meth. He went to alcohol rehab once, then a mental health hospital. He was on all of these meds the whole time. This article makes me seriously wonder if the meds were driving the alcoholism…
Eventually all of this came to a head and my brother died….maybe suicide maybe heart attack…..
I blame the doctors mainly, the prescription drugs, and of course some of it was my brother…but honestly…..I wonder about how much the SSRIs and Klonopin changed him, made him not care….drove him to drink and caused a premature death.