Abilify is an antipsychotic drug used to treat mental health disorders, including depression and schizophrenia. If you were recently prescribed Abilify or have been using it for some time, you may wonder what would happen if you drank alcohol while on this medication.
Here’s more about what could happen if you mix Abilify and alcohol, and how to contact The Recovery Team if you need treatment for any addiction, including alcohol or prescription drug addiction.
What Are the Side Effects of Abilify?
Abilify is a medication commonly prescribed to treat schizophrenia in people aged 13 years and older. It may also be used alone or with other medications to treat bipolar disorder, depression, autistic disorder, and irritable behavior in children, including aggression, temper tantrums, and mood changes. Abilify can treat these conditions by interacting with various brain chemicals that play a role in your mood and mental health.
Using Abilify exactly as directed is of extreme importance to your health, as the medication comes with a warning that says it has the potential to cause sudden, unexpected changes in mental function. Some of these changes include panic attacks, suicidal ideation, agitation, and aggressive behavior. The NLM reports that any changes in mental health that do occur usually happen when you first start using Abilify, and any time your dose of aripiprazole is modified.
Other potential side effects of aripiprazole include:
• Stomach pain
• Changes in appetite
• Weight gain
• Increased salivation
• Pain, especially in the joints, arms, or legs
• Changes in vision
• Allergic reaction (rash; itching; hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in the face)
• Poor balance and coordination
• Uncontrollable shaking
• Irregular heart rate
• Tightening of the throat and neck muscles
The NLM suggests contacting your doctor right away if any of these side effects become severe or do not go away.
What Are the Effects of Alcohol?
When used in small amounts or in moderation, alcohol produces calming effects. Alcohol is a depressant and sedative that slows down the central nervous system. It can slow your breathing and heart rate to help you feel more relaxed.
However, if you’re drinking alcohol in high amounts regularly or too much on a single occasion, it can cause a range of unpleasant effects that put your health and well-being at risk.
Some of the negative effects of alcohol include:
• Nausea and vomiting
• Impaired thinking and judgment
• Slow reaction time
• Poor balance and coordination
• Sleep disturbances, including nightmares and insomnia
• Mood swings
• Blackouts or memory loss
• High blood pressure
• Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
• Liver disease
• Loss of consciousness
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) adds that alcohol abuse can also increase your risk for heart problems including stroke and cardiomyopathy, and weakened immunity which can make you more susceptible to serious illnesses and diseases, including cancer.
Can Alcohol Affect Your Mental Health?
Alcohol interacts with many of the same brain chemicals linked to your mental health. When used chronically or in high amounts, alcohol can increase your risk of developing one or more mental health disorders.
Major brain chemicals affected by alcohol misuse include serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), reports the NIH. Each of these brain chemicals plays a critical role in your mood and mental health.
Serotonin is responsible for regulating feelings of happiness and anxiety, while dopamine is responsible for regulating feelings of pleasure, reward, and motivation. GABA helps control anxiety, depression, and sleep and is also involved in most central nervous system processes. GABA is partly responsible for the seizures some people experience during alcohol withdrawal when the body and brain try to rebalance after a period of heavy alcohol use.
Can Abilify Be Safely Mixed With Alcohol?
Alcohol use is not recommended for people who are using Abilify. The NLM says that mixing Abilify with alcohol can intensify the drowsiness typically caused by Abilify. This can lead to serious impairment and increase your risk for sleep problems, falls, and other accidents.
Consult with your doctor if you are using Abilify and want to drink alcohol—even if you plan on having only one or two drinks during a special occasion. Your doctor can talk to you about the potential consequences of mixing these two substances and may give you the green light to use alcohol, depending on how much you plan on drinking.
What Are the Consequences of Mixing Alcohol and Abilify?
Alcohol use can lead to temporary mental health problems and increase your risk of developing a mental health disorder even if you’re healthy and are not using Abilify or other antipsychotic medications. This means using alcohol while using Abilify can increase the severity of your mental illness and lead to more serious problems, including suicidal ideation and suicide.
Results from a 2017 study published in CNS Drugs found that alcohol can increase the severity of depressive and manic episodes in people diagnosed with bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction. Also, the study suggests that people with this dual diagnosis tend to experience higher rates of hospitalization and suicide than those who are diagnosed only with either bipolar disorder or alcohol use disorder.
Does Alcohol Interact With Other Antipsychotic Medications?
All antipsychotic drugs work in similar ways to interact with the brain chemicals that contribute to mental illness. Many of these medications come with warnings that advise against using any alcohol due to side effects, including increased drowsiness, worsened mental health, and suicide.
If you are using an antipsychotic medication, consult with your doctor before drinking any alcohol, or read the warnings and instructions included with your medication. Taking your medication exactly as directed can help you stay safe and reduce your risk of complications.
Is it Possible to Get Addicted to Alcohol While Using Abilify?
Anyone who drinks alcohol regularly and in high amounts can become addicted, regardless of whether or not they are using Abilify or any other drug or substance.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that roughly half of all people with a mental illness will also develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives, and vice versa. Because of this, many drug and alcohol rehab centers offer dual diagnosis therapy, which is a specialized therapy that treats people with both a mental illness and addiction. Dual diagnosis therapy can help you recover from both disorders simultaneously or teach you how to live with a mental illness while staying sober and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
If you have schizophrenia or a severe mental illness that requires you to be stabilized or hospitalized while in recovery from alcohol addiction, it may help you to know that many rehab centers offer inpatient and residential programs that offer 24-hour medical care and supervision.
These programs allow you to detox from alcohol while being closely monitored by medical professionals who can reduce your symptoms and make you feel as comfortable as possible. The nurses and doctors who oversee these treatments are highly experienced and trained to help you manage your mental illness as you recover from alcohol addiction.
Recovering From Substance Abuse With The Recovery Team
At The Recovery Team, we offer an array of therapies and addiction treatment programs for those who need help recovering from co-occurring disorders, including Abilify misuse and alcohol addiction. We offer alcohol detox and residential treatment and will be more than happy to meet with you to discuss all your available treatment options when you’re ready.
Contact us today at (800) 817-1247 to make an appointment so we can discuss advice, diagnosis, or treatment for your dual diagnosis.
The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not to be viewed as a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis.