Understanding what to tell a young person who is on antidepressants and wants to have alcohol.

Alcohol and Anti-depressants

Understanding what to tell a young person who is on antidepressants and wants to have alcohol. 

Let’s understand how anti-depressants affect the brain?

Anti-depressants work to help balance the chemicals in a person’s brain that effect a person’s mood and emotions.

Let’s understand how alcohol affects the brain?

Alcohol affects part of the brain that controls a person’s movement, speech, judgment and memory. This in turn leads to “signs of drunkenness” – having difficulty walking, slurring words or forgetting things.

Now alcohol, anti-depressants and the brain…

Now that we know that both anti-depressants and alcohol affect the brain separately, what happens if they are taken together? When they are taken together they can make a person drowsier than usual and impair a person’s alertness and thinking. This is because both antidepressants and alcohol are sedatives. Alcohol can also increase the side effects of antidepressants. This might mean that when taken together they can reduce the effectiveness of the anti-depressant. In order to prevent any potential dangerous side effects when taking anti-depressants it best to drink in moderation. It is important to remember that the positive effects of alcohol are only temporary and excessive use can result in feelings of anxiety or depression. 

Remind the young person that it is important for them to not randomly stop their anti-depressant without speaking to a worker

If a young person you are working with is planning on having a drink, here are a few tips and articles to pass on to them.

Gently remind the young person that it is important for them to not randomly stop their anti-depressant without speaking to a professional first.
Have a look at the pamphlet that comes with the medication. Check that there is no mention of any harmful interactions between the medication and alcohol. 
Suggest having a conversation with the prescribing doctor about what to expect and to ensure their safety.
Tips for helping a friend who has had too much and Tips for staying safe.
Drugs alcohol and your mental health
Work on some strategies that enable a young person to say no.

YoDAA – 1800 458 685 is always available to answer any questions that might come up in relation to young people and anti-depressants.