Many people mix ADHD medication and alcohol to experience certain side effects. However, as with most, if not all, prescription medications, drinking while taking certain drugs can cause adverse reactions. Because ADHD medications such as Strattera are being prescribed at a rapid pace these days, our drug experts at Clearbrook Pennsylvania wanted to share what happens when you mix Strattera and alcohol and how to avoid adverse reactions.
What Is Strattera (Atomoxetine)?
Strattera is the brand name for atomoxetine, which is a prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Unlike other ADHD medications, Strattera is not classified as a central nervous system stimulant but instead belongs to a drug class called selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.
Atomoxetine isn’t a stimulant, which makes it different from other types of ADHD medications. It works by increasing noradrenaline (norepinephrine) levels in the brain.
This neurotransmitter is released from nerve endings to carry messages from one nerve cell to another. After sending these messages, norepinephrine is then reabsorbed by nerve endings.
Atomoxetine or Strattera stops the reuptake of norepinephrine, increasing its levels in the brain. High levels of norepinephrine increase alertness and improve concentration, focus, and impulse control in people with ADHD.
However, outside of the brain – such as in the heart, gut, and lungs – Strattera can lead to some unwanted effects. Alongside increased alertness, attention, focus, and control over impulsive behavior, Strattera effects include:
- Stomach upset
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased sexual desire and ability
- Irregular or missed menstrual cycles in women
Strattera can also heavily affect the liver and your blood pressure, so it’s important to get these areas checked regularly. Other more serious side effects of atomoxetine that can occur include difficulty urinating, fast or irregular heartbeat, fainting, and numbness.
Users should also keep in mind that as a stimulant, Strattera dependence and withdrawal may occur as a result of long-term use. For this reason, individuals who want to stop taking the medication should seek out the support of their doctor to reduce the likelihood of any adverse withdrawals and safely stop use.
If you experience any of the side effects mentioned, speak to your doctor. They might be able to adjust your dose or prescribe a different medication.
Can You Drink on Strattera?
Since atomoxetine is different from other ADHD medications, many people wonder if you can mix Strattera and alcohol. But the answer is no, you should not drink while taking Strattera at all.
Drinking on Strattera can not only increase your risk of experiencing adverse side effects and potentially overdosing, but it can also decrease the effectiveness of the medication, preventing it from alleviating the symptoms it was prescribed to treat in the first place. Although Strattera is not a stimulant, it still produces stimulating side effects, unlike alcohol, which is a depressant.
When you combine a medication that acts as a stimulant with a depressant, alcohol could counteract the effects of the medication. In this case, while someone with ADHD may mix atomoxetine and alcohol in an attempt to experience relief from symptoms or feel relaxed, the combination does the opposite.
Alcohol can inhibit or block Strattera from working properly, preventing it from producing desired effects like increased energy, improved concentration and focus, and improved impulse control. One possible risk of this reaction is the abuse of Strattera.
When a person who mixes alcohol and Strattera finds that their medication isn’t as effective, they may take higher doses to experience relief. This only increases the risk of addiction as well as overdose.
Additional side effects of Strattera and alcohol include:
- Impaired concentration and judgment
- Reduced motor coordination
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- Heart attack
Alcohol can also cause Strattera to be released too quickly into your body and can lead to life-threatening reactions like an overdose. What’s more, because atomoxetine produces opposite effects from alcohol, a person who drinks alcohol on Strattera may increase their alcohol consumption because they aren’t feeling as relaxed or sedated as they would feel if they were only consuming alcohol.
This could lead to alcohol poisoning, including symptoms like slurred speech, incoordination, confusion, vomiting, seizures, slowed breathing, low body temperature, and more. So remember, you cannot drink on Strattera.
Be sure to speak to your doctor about any interactions that can occur when taking atomoxetine with alcohol or other medications that could produce adverse reactions. If you’re in the process of starting Strattera treatment for ADHD, be honest about any alcohol consumption habits you may have to avoid any unwanted and potentially life-threatening side effects.
Can You Drink Alcohol With ADHD Medication?
As with Strattera, you cannot drink alcohol with any ADHD medication, including common ones such as Adderall, Mydayis, Focalin, and Vyvanse. As we previously mentioned, combining alcohol with ADHD medications can not only prevent the medication from working as it should reduce ADHD symptoms, but it can also lead to adverse reactions that may make symptoms worse and lead to additional health problems. For this reason, it’s important to be honest with your doctor about your drinking habits when being prescribed medication for ADHD and adhering to their directions.
How Long After Taking Strattera Can I Drink Alcohol?
Although it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol entirely while taking Strattera, your doctor may inform you of windows in which it’s safe to drink because the medication has left your system. This has largely to do with the fact that Strattera is an immediate-release medication rather than an extended-release one.
Because Strattera works quickly after being ingested, patients should wait 4 to 6 hours after taking the medication to drink alcohol. For any other extended-release ADHD medications, it’s advised that individuals wait more than 8 hours. However, always speak to your doctor about safely drinking while taking medications such as Strattera.
Treatment for Strattera Abuse
Unfortunately, many people abuse ADHD medications either by taking them in higher doses than prescribed or mixing them with other drugs or alcohol. In the end, while the Strattera high is pleasurable, it’s minuscule compared to the long-term effects of drug abuse.
Just because a medication is prescribed does not mean it’s safe to take any way you want. Be sure to take all prescription medications as advised by the prescribed physician.
Additionally, for those who have developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol, our Northeast rehab in Wilkes-Barre provides various recovery resources, from medically monitored detox to substance-specific rehab programs, to ensure that patients receive the care they need for physical and mental recovery from substance abuse.
Clients at our Northeast addictions treatment center will have the opportunity to work with our addiction specialists to learn more about their conditions, develop relapse prevention skills, and engage in group sessions with others in the recovery community to promote peer support. Our inpatient drug treatment in Pennsylvania even includes family therapy to help the spouses and family members of our clients recover from the impact of their loved one’s addiction.