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Is It Safe to Take Lamotrigine with Alcohol?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Experts believe there are some moderate known risks for patients who take lamotrigine with alcohol. While abstaining from alcohol is not unilaterally advised for patients who use this medication, some may need to cut back or stop drinking altogether. It can be difficult to determine how a patient will respond to the combination of lamotrigine with alcohol without testing it. Patients who react poorly may need to avoid alcohol for the duration of their therapy on the medication.

Lamotrigine is an anticonvulsant medication originally approved for the management of seizures. It is also used for some patients with mood disorders. It, like alcohol, acts on the central nervous system, and can interact with some of the same receptors. The concern is that alcohol could increase the intensity of side effects, which might put the patient at risk of accidents and injuries caused by sluggishness or confusion.

Patients who start taking lamotrigine may find it helpful to stop drinking while they get accustomed to the medication and the doctor determines the most appropriate dose. If the patient tolerates the medication, moderate amounts of alcohol can be added. If side effects like dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness increase when patients take lamotrigine with alcohol, these can indicate a bad interaction. The intensity of such reactions can be difficult to predict from patient to patient.

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Another concern is that for patients with seizures, alcohol can increase seizure activity. The lamotrigine may not be able to control the seizures as effectively, and the patient could be at risk for complications. For this reason, some doctors recommend that patients not take lamotrigine with alcohol. Patients with mood disorders may also be more susceptible to problems while drinking, or could take other medications that interact poorly with alcohol, which would make drinking ill-advised while in treatment.

Doctors can review patient history and any other medications being used to determine the level of risk involved in taking lamotrigine with alcohol. If the risk is low, the doctor may advise the patient that the occasional drink should not be dangerous, although drinking should be avoided before operating heavy machinery or performing complex tasks. Other patients may have moderate to severe risks, and are a greater cause for the concern. Those with concerns about alcohol dependency can talk to their doctors about cessation programs and treatment options to help them control their drinking more effectively and limit the risks of a bad medication interaction.

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anon994083
Post 7

Important topic. I am taking 175mg Lamotrigine per day and 40mg of Imipramine. Although at first I would sometimes get strange numbness in my brain (not dizziness but the physical sensation of numbness) this soon waned. Most times, now, when drinking I actually do not feel drunk at all. For some reason, I do not get dizzy or nauseated and can walk just fine - even do fine motor activities like throw darts (but I don't drive, ever!). The strangest thing is that my speech still gets slurred, which I hear to my own amazement because I don't feel intoxicated.

On quite a number of occasions I have drank myself "almost totally sober". I am *very* concerned about this unusual reaction

to alcohol and what additional effects this is having on my overall health. The ironic part here is that I tend to keep drinking (almost daily) despite the alcohol having either no effect, or just negative effects. If you do not drink and are taking this medication, I would not start. If you DO drink I would limit it to one or two and only maybe once or twice per week. I would not drive or operate machinery after mixing alcohol with Lamotrigine. It's possible the alcohol is counteracting the Lamotrigine and creating some sort of strange acute manic state that *feels* like it is counteracting the intoxicating effects of the alcohol. This is a bad experiment that I am doing, and I really want to stop and I hope nobody else tries this. I believe it to be dangerous.
anon961482
Post 6

In the past I could usually can have five drinks in a night without a problem (I'll admit I would get pretty buzzed on five), but on Fathers Day I had one drink and felt buzzed right away. I was given another mixed drink and had a couple of sips and the next thing you know I'm in the bathroom, throwing up nonstop until nothing was left! It took two days to feel normal.

I just started this med on in early June and was taking 50mg for a few days before this incident but it was so severe, I'm afraid of drinking again. My meds are up to 75mg/day. I want to be able to socially drink but I'm afraid. I'm hoping that now it's been in my system for over a month it might be different. Should I try one drink?

anon356958
Post 5

@stonemason: I have exactly the same experience, even if it is one beer. I have given up drinking for life now.

anon355427
Post 4

I find that I can barely tolerate even one drink on lamotrigine. I used to be able to handle three drinks with no problem, but not anymore. One drink might be okay, but more than that, I feel drunk and have no energy, headache all the next day. Wine is the worst. Single malt is okay, maybe because it has fewer impurities.

stoneMason
Post 3

I don't know how others react to lamotrigine and alcohol but the combination gives me a terrible migraine that lasts for more than a day.

I've also noticed that I get drunk more easily while on lamotrigine. Just a few drinks make me feel very drunk, which never happened to me before.

I avoid alcohol completely now because it's not a pleasant experience anymore. It just doesn't mix well with this drug.

candyquilt
Post 2

@anamur-- It's best for your doctor to decide that. He has to consider your dosage as well as any other medications you might be taking.

If you're on a low dose of lamotrigine with no side effects and no other medications, you can have a drink occasionally. I'm on this medication too but I only have a drink on birthdays and special events. It's not a good idea to drink regularly on this medication, it will be very bad on your liver.

serenesurface
Post 1

I've been on lamotrigine for the past two months. I think I tolerate it well, I don't have much side effects from it. Can I go ahead and drink now?

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