Prozac for Alcoholism

Depending on the situation and the individual, many private treatment centers will opt for Prozac to help replace the addictive drugs. Often, a 45, 60 or 90-day course of treatments will incorporate both medicinal and psychological components. Your first step is getting connected with a drug abuse or behavior addiction abuse treatment center that's going to keep you happy, comfortable and well-situated. When you're ready to explore your luxury inpatient addiction facilities, call 888-885-8202 to speak to someone toll-free who can help you start down the right path.

Alcoholism is often not an isolated struggle. It can come with a whole host of other problems, especially anxiety and depression. According to WebMD, one-third of people who suffer from major depression also struggle with alcohol issues. Whether these psychological conditions influence a person’s addictive behavior or if the addiction itself leads to such conditions is not wholly understood but medical science can help patients overcome both issues. Combined with behavioral therapy and other lifestyle treatments, medication such as antidepressants can help a person along their road to recovery.

The prescription drug fluoxetine, most commonly known under the brand name Prozac, is sometimes used to treat alcoholism and may also be moderately effective in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It cannot reduce the effects of alcohol but it may be able to address the emotional distress so commonly associated with addiction. There are dangers involved in mixing Prozac and alcohol, so any attempt to use Prozac or any other medication to treat alcoholism should be a joint decision between an individual and his or her doctor.

What Is Prozac?

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Prozac is the most common brand name for the antidepressant fluoxetine hydrochloride. It most often comes in the form of a pill or capsule taken orally on a daily basis. Prozac, like many antidepressants, is in a class of drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

SSRIs like Prozac increase the effectiveness of the neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin regulates many important functions of our brains and bodies, from how hungry we get to how happy we feel. When a body becomes serotonin-deficient, it can adversely affect mood, leading to feelings of sadness, anxiety and restlessness. Taking an SSRI can regulate the serotonin levels in the brain and thereby regulate a person’s mood.

*Common Uses for Fluoxetine

The National Library of Medicine lists fluoxetine, the generic name for Prozac, as an effective treatment for the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Serotonin and Alcohol

One of the effects of alcohol is an increase in the release of serotonin. This is why alcohol intoxication can lead to the feelings of euphoria that some drinkers attempt to repeat with frequent and excessive drinking. While it’s uncertain why it occurs, many medical studies have shown an overall reduction in the amount of serotonin in the bodies of alcoholics. Put simply, while a moderate amount of alcohol consumed by a non-addict can result in feelings of euphoria, the ability to achieve that same high disappears when excessive consumption becomes an everyday habit. Alcoholics may be chemically incapable of feeling joy the way non-alcoholics do.

Prozac and Alcoholism

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, antidepressants can have a moderate effect in treating alcoholism. The ability of Prozac to regulate the body’s serotonin levels can have two positive effects in the treatment of alcoholism.

First, Prozac can address the serotonin depletion in the brain that has resulted from chronic alcohol abuse. It won’t increase the amount of serotonin, but it will allow the body to make more efficient use of the small amount of serotonin it already has. Over time, the body will start to produce more serotonin on its own, so the elevation in mood and impulse stability can make the recovery process less strenuous while also reducing the desire to seek out the long-lost high of excessive alcohol consumption.

Second, Prozac can start to treat any underlying psychological pain that can influence a person’s desire to escape through intoxication. Many people with severe depression or anxiety self-medicate with alcohol when things like SSRIs are actually much more effective and far less harmful. Prozac can treat these underlying problems and, with behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes, reduce the sting of the reasons why the alcohol dependency happened in the first place.

*How to Identify Depression and Anxiety

According to the CDC, roughly one in 10 adults in the US experience some form of depression. If you have suffered from the following symptoms before developing an alcohol addiction, you may have been experiencing depression and/or anxiety.

                            Depression
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering details
  • Frequent fatigue or lethargy
  • Feelings of intense guilt, hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irregular sleeping habits (insomnia, excessive sleeping, frequent waking)
  • Restlessness
  • Short temper
  • Disinterest in sex
  • Irregular eating habits (overeating, long periods without appetite)
  • Pain such headaches or cramps that aren’t eased with common treatment
  • Frequent sadness
  • Thoughts of suicide or attempts at self-harm
                            Anxiety
  • Intense fear and self-consciousness
  • Sudden fear of enclosed spaces
  • Sudden urge to escape
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent headaches or other pains
  • Muscle tension or jaw-clenching
  • Depersonalization (feeling disconnected from yourself)
  • Difficulty learning or remembering things
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat or chest pains
  • Chronic itching
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Paleness
  • Faintness

Dangers of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol

Alcohol and antidepressants should not be in the bloodstream at the same time. While a moderate amount of alcohol (one serving) will not result in any adverse interactions with antidepressants like Prozac, higher-than-moderate amounts of alcohol mixed with antidepressants can be very dangerous.

The primary concern with interactions between alcohol and antidepressants is the marked increase in drowsiness that often results from the combination. Both alcohol and SSRI antidepressants can cause a drowsy or sluggish sensation. When taken together, this mental and physical slow-down is essentially doubled. As few as two drinks with Prozac can cause drowsiness equal to four or more drinks, making it incredibly ill-advised to drive, operate machinery or do anything else that requires fine motor skills and full attention.

The impact alcohol can have on serotonin levels can also be a concern while taking Prozac. Instead of regulating mood, as it does when taken alone, the antidepressant can be rendered ineffective when mixed with alcohol, potentially leading to a feeling of acute depression.

Adjusting to Antidepressants

The effects of an antidepressant like Prozac may take several weeks to fully manifest. It is very important to work with your physician to find the most effective dose and closely monitor the impact the drug has on your life when taking antidepressants for the first time. This adjustment period will allow you to get used to the feeling of the drug in your system and the way it alters your state of mind.

Consuming other mind-altering substances, like alcohol or other intoxicants, while adjusting to antidepressants can severely hinder your ability to determine the right dose and regimen for you. It is also more likely that you will experience the adverse effects of mixing Prozac and alcohol during this adjustment period because you simply won’t have an understanding of your new limits.

Prozac and Alcohol Withdrawal

Antidepressants will not treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, especially severe symptoms like delirium tremens. The most effective drugs for alcohol withdrawal symptoms are called benzodiazepines.

A benzodiazepine is designed to create relaxation, curb anxiety and aid with sleep. This is very important, as convulsions and delirium tremens are responsible for the deaths of as many as 10 percent of withdrawal sufferers. Some doctors may prescribe an antidepressant as well as a benzodiazepine to treat withdrawal, but the combination is sometimes counterproductive. For a portion of withdrawal patients, benzodiazepines and antidepressants can actually cause an increase in anxiety, though that side effect tends to diminish after a few weeks of treatment.

If a withdrawal patient is severely depressed or suicidal, an antidepressant will likely be prescribed as a safety precaution.

Prozac or any other drug containing fluoxetine is a preferred antidepressant for addiction recovery because of its low likelihood of forming its own addiction. Fluoxetine has a long half-life, meaning it takes a long time to break down once released into the body. This avoids the sudden need for more once the body has become accustomed to it, as the amounts of the drug in the bloodstream diminish slowly. Prozac withdrawal is mild and often unlikely to occur at all, especially when the dose is gradually scaled down with help from a physician.

Finding Your Best Treatment

Prozac and other antidepressants can be highly effective tools for combating alcoholism and its underlying motivations, but they are far from a miracle cure. Like every aspect of the recovery process, it is important to seek help from qualified professionals and other support structures when adding a medication to your treatment.

By working closely with a physician to determine if Prozac is right for you and how to use it if it is, you can make the most of this mood-stabilizing drug on your road to good health. It takes patience and persistence to overcome addiction, and that includes the choice to improve your state of mind with antidepressants.

If Prozac or other antidepressants aren’t effective in your recovery process, there is nothing wrong with you. SSRIs and other mental health pharmaceuticals work a little differently for different people. There is an effective treatment for everyone – some treatment plans include antidepressants and others do not. The fact that you reached out and took a proactive step in pursuit of your own recovery is more important than the effectiveness of the medication you try. By establishing a strong relationship with a recovery program, your doctor and other support structures to treat your addiction and any emotional distress in your life, you will already have the means to overcome.

Make sure to ask about what anti-addiction medications may be available to aid your rehab. First things first, though: call our toll-free hotline at 888-885-8202 to speak with one of our caring advisors who can assist you in finding great exclusive therapy programs.