Prozac and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

By Andrew Yocum, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
March 15, 2022

Prozac is a brand name of fluoxetine, an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drug used for treating depression and other mood disorders.

Prozac works to slow the speed that the brain removes active  serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of balance and calm, leading to a better mood, feelings of well-being, and positivity.

People who clear serotonin too quickly may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety, and SSRIs like Prozac can help to balance this out.

Drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants is not recommended.

Alcohol can increase the chance for serious side effects and can change the way that your body responds to medications, including Prozac.

If you are taking Prozac, you may be wondering how long you have to avoid alcohol.

In this article, I’ll explore why alcohol and antidepressants can be a dangerous combination, possible side effects, and how to know when you should see a doctor.

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Prozac and Alcohol Effects

Prozac works to support serotonin in the brain.

When people consume alcohol, they usually do so because it leads to a short-term increase in dopamine—positive feelings, social energy, reduced stress, and other similar effects.

However, alcohol is actually a depressant and when the initial positive feelings wear off, your depression or low mood may actually worsen.

Prozac and alcohol can also have some overlapping side effects.

Mixing them can make it hard to distinguish what is causing symptoms, or it can make the side effects stronger.

Effects of mixing Prozac and alcohol can include the following.

  • Tiredness and drowsiness: Alcohol on its own can make people feel tired, as can Prozac. When they are combined, the results can lead to increased risks of sedation, fatigue, or decreased inability to function. These effects can last for a while after the alcohol is consumed.
  • Poor coordination: Alcohol can impair balance, lead to clumsiness, and decrease spatial alertness. Prozac can have similar side effects, especially if you are adjusting to it as a new medication. Mixing the two can lead to more serious problems with coordination and can increase the potential for falling, injury, or other accidents.
  • Impaired thinking: Alcohol decreases cognitive awareness and inhibitions for some, and pairing it with Prozac may lead to clouded thinking, inability to reason well, and poor judgment. It may be harder to make smart choices when you have mixed the two.
  • Decreased effectiveness of Prozac: Prozac is metabolized by the liver. When you consume alcohol, the body prioritizes metabolism of alcohol, which means that it changes the way that your body absorbs and uses Prozac. This can make it less effective, which can lead to an increase in depression symptoms or make it harder to treat.
  • Suicidal thoughts: Pairing alcohol with any antidepressant can increase the risk for hopeless feelings, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidality, especially in younger adults. If you notice thoughts of suicide, a preoccupation with death, or other scary or abnormal thoughts and you take Prozac, always report these to your healthcare provider right away, whether or not you have also consumed alcohol.

What is Prozac and How is it Used?

Prozac (fluoxetine) is an antidepressant that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of depression and other mood-related disorders.

Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which means that it blocks the clearance of serotonin from the brain.

By increasing how much serotonin the brain has, it can stabilize mood, leading to feelings of calm, well-being, and positivity.

Prozac is FDA-approved to treat the following conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Bulimia
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Bipolar disorder (along with olanzapine)
  • Treatment-resistant depression (along with olanzapine)

It may be used off-label for other purposes, including:

  • Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Raynaud phenomenon
  • Selective mutism

Prozac Side Effects

Prozac may cause some common side effects, including:

How Alcohol Affects Depression

While people may drink alcohol because it leads to temporary feelings of pleasure, relaxation, or social confidence, alcohol itself is a systemic depressant.

While alcohol may temporarily increase dopamine in the brain, when the feelings wear off, depressive symptoms are typically worse.

Drinking alcohol during depression or treatment for depression can worsen symptoms and make it harder to treat.

To ensure that your doctor can safely prescribe antidepressants, be transparent about:

  • How much alcohol you routinely consume
  • How many ounces and what type of alcohol you drink
  • How long you have been consistently consuming this amount
  • Events, seasons, or triggers that may lead to a change in your alcohol intake pattern

When Can You Consume Alcohol Again

Prozac is metabolized by the liver and eliminated from the body via the kidneys.

Prozac has an extremely long half-life. After you have been regularly taking it, the half-life is 4-6 days, which is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half.

At this rate, it may take 25-30 days before Prozac is fully out of your system.

It may take longer than this for people who are over age 60 or have kidney or liver problems.

Only your doctor can tell you when you can safely consume alcohol again after stopping Prozac, but for most people, it will take around a month before your body is no longer responding to the effects of Prozac.

When to See a Doctor

If you take Prozac and have questions about alcohol consumption, speak to your doctor.

If you take Prozac and want to know if it is safe to have an occasional drink on a special occasion, you should ask your doctor before assuming that it is okay.

In many cases, even a single drink of alcohol is still not advised while taking Prozac.

If you have already had alcohol while taking Prozac, watch for signs or symptoms of overdose or other changes to how you feel, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you have consumed alcohol with Prozac and notice these symptoms or other changes to how you feel, call Poison Control (800-222-1222) or seek emergency medical help right away.

Don’t wait for symptoms to develop to speak to Poison Control or to report a possible overdose to your doctor.

If you’re having a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also get free 24/7 support from a suicide and crisis expert by calling or texting 988. If you’d prefer to chat online, you can chat with a suicide and crisis expert by visiting the Lifeline Chat.

Because of the way that alcohol and Prozac interact, it is possible to experience overdose symptoms even on your normal daily dose of Prozac if you drink alcohol.

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How K Health Can Help

Think you might need a prescription for Prozac (fluoxetine)?

K Health has clinicians standing by 24/7 to evaluate your symptoms and determine if Prozac is right for you.

Get started with our free assessment, which will tell you in minutes if treatment could be a good fit. If yes, we’ll connect you right to a clinician who can prescribe medication and have it shipped right to your door.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Andrew Yocum, MD

Dr Andrew Yocum is a board certified emergency physician. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology before attending Northeast Ohio Medical University where he would earn his Medical Doctorate (MD).

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