Written by: Nicki Hari
Medically Reviewed by: Dr Mateen Durrani – MBBS, DPM, MSc, BCPsych
Last Updated: January 24th, 2023
Mirtazapine, commonly sold under the brand name Remeron, is an antidepressant prescribed to treat depression, anxiety and insomnia. While mirtazapine can be an effective medication for these conditions, mixing mirtazapine and alcohol can be a dangerous combination.
Taking the two substances together can lead to serious health risks, addiction and even death by overdose. If you are struggling with mirtazapine and alcohol addiction, Primrose Lodge offers effective treatment which can help you break free from this cycle.
Why do people mix mirtazapine and alcohol?
People mix mirtazapine and alcohol for various reasons. Some people want to magnify the effects of alcohol and mirtazapine either to provide extra relief from the symptoms of mental health conditions or for recreational purposes.
Others may take alcohol and mirtazapine because the latter hasn’t started taking effect yet. Mirtazapine can take several weeks to start working so some people turn to alcohol in the meantime to help manage their symptoms.
Other people may have been prescribed mirtazapine but not be aware that mixing it with alcohol can cause a mirtazapine and alcohol interaction. This is why it is so important to discuss all prescribed medication with your doctor so you know the risks.
What happens when you mix mirtazapine and alcohol?
When you take mirtazapine and alcohol together, the effects of both can be magnified which can bring feelings of extreme relaxation and happiness.
However, mixing the two substances can also cause a range of physical side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia and sexual dysfunction. In some cases, mirtazapine and alcohol blackouts and memory loss can also occur, both of which can put you at risk of accidents, potential crimes and other dangers.
If you are taking mirtazapine for a genuine condition like depression, mixing mirtazapine and alcohol can actually make the condition worse. This is because mirtazapine works by blocking the effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin and norepinephrine. Alcohol has similar effects on these neurotransmitters, which can lead to an increase in feelings of depression, anxiety and irritability when mixed with mirtazapine.
Can you overdose on mirtazapine and alcohol?
Overdose is always a risk when mixing mirtazapine and alcohol. Death can result from overdose so it is important to know the warning signs to look out for:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness.
If you or a loved one are exhibiting these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Is simultaneous use always dangerous?
According to the NHS, some people can take mirtazapine and alcohol together but it is advised that you stop drinking the first few days you begin taking mirtazapine to see how it affects you. However, it is usually advisable not to mix antidepressants with alcohol as the combination can reduce the effectiveness of the drug, exacerbate symptoms and cause serious side effects.
How does alcohol and mirtazapine addiction develop?
Mirtazapine and alcohol abuse can also lead to addiction. When taken at the same time, they can create a cycle of dependency, where you need both substances just to feel ‘normal’. Once you are physically dependent on alcohol and mirtazapine, certain underlying risk factors can then increase your chances of complete psychological addiction, including:
- Stressful life events
- Unresolved trauma
- Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety
- Lack of support and coping mechanisms
- A history of substance abuse
- Easy access to mirtazapine
How to treat co-occurring mirtazapine and alcohol addiction?
If you are addicted to both mirtazapine and alcohol, then the best thing to do is seek professional help at a recovery centre like Primrose Lodge. Effective treatment for co-occurring mirtazapine and alcohol dependency includes three stages: detox, rehab treatment and aftercare.
Detox is the process of removing all traces of mirtazapine and alcohol from your body. This will help you to overcome physical dependence on the substances so you can focus on the psychological aspects of your condition.
During mirtazapine and alcohol rehab, you will explore the underlying causes of your addiction and develop healthy coping strategies for long-term recovery. At Primrose Lodge, this is done through a combination of different therapies which have been proven to be effective for treating every type of substance dependency, including alcohol and mirtazapine.
Primrose Lodge provides both these stages at our inpatient treatment centre. Inpatient treatment is widely believed to be the most effective recovery method as it:
- Prevents any access to mirtazapine and alcohol
- Gives you the opportunity to focus solely on your recovery away from daily stressors and triggers
- Ensures round-the-clock support and supervision from a team of experienced specialists
- Provides access to a wider range of evidence-based therapies
- Gives you the chance to connect with staff and other clients
At the end of your mirtazapine and alcohol rehab programme, Primrose Lodge provides one year’s free group therapy sessions in our aftercare programme. This will help you to consolidate your recovery, prevent relapse and stay on track with your long-term goals.
Are there any alternatives to mirtazapine?
If you become addicted to mirtazapine, there are alternative medications which can be taken to help manage the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Some of these include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) drugs
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
These alternative medications may be prescribed depending on the severity of your condition but it is important to note that most if not all will also react with alcohol and should not be taken together.
There are also non-medicinal alternatives to mirtazapine. These include psychotherapy, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise and self-help techniques such as meditation or mindfulness. Some forms of psychotherapy that may be beneficial in treating depression without medications are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), both of which you will receive during treatment at Primrose Lodge.
How to get help for mirtazapine and alcohol addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with mirtazapine and alcohol addiction, please contact Primrose Lodge to get the help you need. Our qualified team of professionals will be able to assess your condition and provide a treatment plan that will help you achieve long-term recovery.
Frequently asked questions
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Loss of consciousness