View Full Version : Alcohol cravings on SSRIs/SNRIs?


1Buster
04-20-13, 11:43 AM
Has anyone else experienced an increase in alcohol cravings on Celexa (or any other SSRIs and SNRIs for that matter)?

If so, has anyone relieved this effect by switching to another med or adding another med?

I'm working on a theory that if serotonin reuptake inhibitors further reduce dopamine levels in someone who is already inclined to use alcohol heavily, their craving for alcohol will increase because they have trained themselves to use alcohol to increase dopamine.

immabum
04-20-13, 12:45 PM
Some people get carb cravings on the SSRIs
Why? I do not know (I would have expected the opposite) *shrugs*
Beer is a little 'carby' maybe that's what you're craving -or maybe it's through a similar mech (reward/pleasure center)
from the alcohol.

1Buster
04-20-13, 01:29 PM
Carbs do raise dopamine level so, yes, it is in the same realm. There's lots and lots of anecdotal evidence that SSRIs and SNRIs increase alcohol cravings in some people and a little bit of scientific support. "Why" is not known. For some people, it's the exact opposite and for others they simply never feel drunk or hungover. And some become raging alcoholics.

I'm worried I could fall into that last group because though I drank plenty before, it was more due to boredom or to self-medicate. On Celexa, it feels like more of a NEED. But it didn't start until after I took the first drink on the med after abstaining the first 2 weeks. The cravings felt different almost right away.

zebb123
04-22-13, 07:01 PM
Buster the same thing happened to me on SSRIS I began having intense cravings for alcohol which got me into all sorts of trouble and it wrecked my life. I told my story on Dr Healys blog "out of my mind driven to drink" .

I researched as much as I could and I understand it seems to have something to do with serotonin 5ht3 receptor. Serotonin 5ht3 is the only serotonin receptor with a gateway into dopamine. I came off SSRIS and went on to Mirtazapine and noticed my cravings completely go. Mirtazapine blocks serotonin 5ht3 receptor. There are a few research papers on this Serotonin 5ht3 receptor and alcoholism.

1Buster
04-25-13, 01:54 PM
Buster the same thing happened to me on SSRIS I began having intense cravings for alcohol which got me into all sorts of trouble and it wrecked my life. I told my story on Dr Healys blog "out of my mind driven to drink" .

I researched as much as I could and I understand it seems to have something to do with serotonin 5ht3 receptor. Serotonin 5ht3 is the only serotonin receptor with a gateway into dopamine. I came off SSRIS and went on to Mirtazapine and noticed my cravings completely go. Mirtazapine blocks serotonin 5ht3 receptor. There are a few research papers on this Serotonin 5ht3 receptor and alcoholism.

Did you ever take Prozac (fluoxetine) during that time? I've seen some studies showing it also inhibits the 5ht3 receptor and might reduce alcohol cravings. However, I've also seen studies that it might only have that effect for certain sub-sets of alcohol abusers.

emily848
04-25-13, 02:45 PM
When I was on Prozac I drank MUCH more than I ever had before or since in my life. It didn't seem like cravings though, it was more like I didn't see any reason not to, didn't care about the consequences, and had an increased capacity for alcohol consumption. Looking back on it, I can't believe the quantities of alcohol I could and did consume.

My wife has developed terrible alcoholism over the last 4-5 years that she's been taking prozac. She spent 7 weeks in rehab last year and is still struggling with terrible cravings. She can't seem to stop herself from drinking, though she's fighting it. She's been working on weaning herself off of prozac and has felt tired and zombie-like for the last few weeks on a half dose.

I never should have been on prozac, it was to counteract the side effects of zyprexa which I was taking for BP II, which it turns out I don't have. My wife does actually suffer from depression and anxiety, so it makes more sense for her to be on an antidepressant.

Of course, this is just experiential. I don't have any theories or studies to back anything up.

emily848
04-25-13, 02:49 PM
If so, has anyone relieved this effect by switching to another med or adding another med?

My wife's psychiatrist recently prescribed her Naltrexone for alcohol cravings, but she hasn't tried it yet (takes a few days for prescription to go through - Kaiser).

1Buster
04-26-13, 09:47 AM
I feel like I've researched myself into a corner. I probably should have stopped trying when I read, "... although increased serotonin levels ... in the brain can moderate alcohol consumption, additional factors contribute to continued alcohol abuse."

Oh well, wish me luck. Going to a therapist for the first time Monday then back to the P-doc Tuesday to talk about the meds.

Fuzzy12
04-26-13, 11:27 AM
I've been on one SSRI and two SNRIs and I haven't had that experience. It was the opposite in my case. I used to crave alcohol and drink way too much still I started taking anti depressants. I think I was using alcohol to self medicate the depression.

I don't think that SSRIs and SNRIs reduce dopamine levels (I could be wrong though). Some anti depressants (like Sertraline/Zoloft or venlafaxine/effexor) work on dopamine reuptake as well at higher doses.

I'm also not convinced that alcohol increases dopamine levels (again I could be wrong though). Alcohol is not a stimulant but a depressant. Anti depressants have made me a lot more restless, maybe that has happened to you too and you crave alcohol to reduce the restlessness or calm yourself down.

But then anti depressants affect everyone differently. If your current anti depressant isn't working for you or introducing unwanted side effects it makes sense to change them.

1Buster
04-27-13, 12:27 PM
A common misconception about alcohol's effects. While alcohol is certainly a depressant it also has a stimulant effect when you start to drink. Think about it - what happens if you drink a couple or beers or glasses of wine quickly? Start to loosen up, talk more and faster, face gets a little flushed, etc., right? That's the stimulant side. Short article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201006/your-brain-alcohol

It's also been shown it can elevate dopamine in 2 ways: first, the anticipation of drinking stimulates dopamine release in the brain's reward center and second, the alcohol itself give the drinker pleasure which causes a release of dopamine. Of course, I'm stating all this more simply and definitively than the studies to. Alcohol's effect on the brain is complex and very specific to the individual.

I think my brain was already wired for a stronger response to alcohol even before the Celexa. For example, I rarely get tired because of drinking - I would have to stop drinking because I would be too hammered or sick feeling before I would ever pass out. I think this is the effect of a greater stimulant response in my brain.

Monday will be when I double-down on treatment and try cutting the beers again - at least during the weekdays. ;)

justsumgurl
06-11-13, 11:50 AM
I was probably drinking too much before I started Prozac. I let it settle in my system for about two weeks or so without any alcohol. I felt no difference. Genuinely disappointed that I don't feel better because it worked well for me in the past. Anyway, I'm back to drinking too much wine in the evening or earlier because it makes me feel better. I get an energy boost and my mood improves temporarily. It's just my version of self medicating. But yes, I would say it's just as bad if not worse from the Prozac.

greystealth
06-17-13, 11:47 PM
Has anyone else experienced an increase in alcohol cravings on Celexa (or any other SSRIs and SNRIs for that matter)?

If so, has anyone relieved this effect by switching to another med or adding another med?

I'm working on a theory that if serotonin reuptake inhibitors further reduce dopamine levels in someone who is already inclined to use alcohol heavily, their craving for alcohol will increase because they have trained themselves to use alcohol to increase dopamine.

Absolutely, SSRIs made me drink like a fish- so much so that I had to cut alcohol completely out of my diet...

I think it's because alcohol + SSRI = extreme calm feeling and very care-free.

Dangerous to binge drink tho. I recommend going cold turkey on the alc.

janiew
07-23-13, 02:09 AM
This is related to what Zebb posted. She's been all over the internet and in the UK media about it and it makes since.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430300308/pdf