Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Cymbalta?

By Andrew Yocum, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
March 4, 2022

Cymbalta is a brand name for a medication called duloxetine.

Whether you are taking Cymbalta, to treat your depression or anxiety, or your doctor has prescribed Cymbalta to help with nerve pain, there are lifestyle changes you may need to make to ensure the drug works safely and effectively in your body.

Mixing alcohol with certain drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter medications can result in serious side effects and cause complicated, dangerous interactions. 

Duloxetine is a type of medication called a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI.

It works by helping to restore the balance of certain natural substances (serotonin and norepinephrine) in the brain; alcohol may throw off this balance.

Alcohol mixed with Cymbalta may also cause liver damage or disease.

In this article, I’ll talk more about mixing alcohol and Cymbalta, including the risks for your liver and other side effects.

I’ll also talk about how Cymbalta may be used to help with alcohol withdrawal. Finally, I’ll tell you when to talk to your doctor.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Cymbalta?

Drinking alcohol while taking Cymbalta can have serious implications on your health.

Mixing medication with alcohol can result in serious side effects.

Be sure to always read the label and follow the instructions given to you by your doctor or pharmacist.

Risk of liver damage

You run a heightened risk of liver problems if you drink alcohol while taking Cymbalta.

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s prescription label for Cymbalta, the medication is not recommended for people who regularly consume alcohol, who are heavy drinkers, and people with a history of heavy or chronic alcohol abuse.

Talk to your doctor before consuming alcohol while taking this medication.

Some tell-tale signs that you may have liver damage from Cymbalta and alcohol include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Jaundiced skin or eyes
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

Worsened side effects

According to the label for Cymbalta, mixing the medication with alcohol should not increase the impairment of your motor and mental skills that’s caused by drinking.

But drinking alcohol while taking Cymbalta can still exacerbate unwanted adverse effects.

Some common potential side effects associated with Cymbalta include:

Increased depression and anxiety

Cymbalta is often prescribed to treat depression and anxiety.

Alcohol is a depressant and can cause symptoms of depression or anxiety to become significantly worse.

You may experience  temporary euphoric feelings from the alcohol, but in the long term, mixing alcohol and

Cymbalta may destabilize your mood and result in the following symptoms:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Increased anxiety or panic
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal thoughts
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Can Cymbalta be Used for Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol use disorders can induce anxiety-like behaviors.

Because of this, if you are trying to stop drinking or have recently quit, Cymbalta may be an option to help you with alcohol withdrawal since the drug works to calm nerves.

Research has found that a low dose of duloxetine may be useful in lessening anxiety-like behaviors and alcohol intake.

Talk to your doctor to see if duloxetine is an option for you.

They will be able to evaluate your lifestyle, risk of liver injury, and medical history to determine whether Cymbalta may be an effective drug for your alcohol withdrawal.

When to See a Doctor 

Antidepressant medications such as duloxetine are used to treat depression and other illnesses.

When taking a new medication, it’s important that you understand the potential side effects you may experience and follow the advice given to you by your healthcare provider.

According to the FDA-approved prescription label for Cymbalta, you should consult a licensed healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Aggression, anger, or violence
  • Agitation
  • Impulsive, reckless behaviors
  • Insomnia
  • Mania
  • Mood changes or swings
  • New or worsened depression or anxiety
  • New or worsened irritability 
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Uncontrollable, excessive talking

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much alcohol is safe to drink when taking Cymbalta?
It is advised not to drink alcohol while taking Cymbalta, as it increases your risk of liver damage, can worsen side effects, and may make the medication less effective in treating your anxiety or depression. Always follow the medical advice given to you by your healthcare provider.
Are certain people more at risk when combining alcohol and Cymbalta?
People who consume alcohol regularly, heavy drinkers, and people with a history of chronic alcohol abuse are more at risk when combining alcohol and Cymbalta.

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).