Bupropion is an antidepressant that affects the same chemicals in the brain that alcohol does. Combining bupropion and alcohol can increase the effects of alcohol because the two substances create similar reactions in the brain. Since alcohol acts as a depressant, consuming it, particularly in large amounts, while taking bupropion can increase depression symptoms and affect both motor and judgment skills to a larger extent than if the patient had consumed the alcohol while not on the antidepressant.
Patients who wish to drink lightly or socially can sometimes combine bupropion and alcohol without suffering any adverse effects. People taking the antidepressant should check with their doctors before consuming any amount of alcohol, since other medications and previously diagnosed medical conditions could also affect the safety of the combination of bupropion and alcohol. Patients who suffer adverse affects when using bupropion and alcohol concurrently may be able to take another antidepressant for their symptoms that does not react in the brain the same way alcohol does.
In general, most doctors recommend patients on bupropion drink light to moderate amounts. Moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. How much constitutes one drink depends on the type of alcohol. For example, one drink could be 12 ounces (about 355 ml) of beer, 5 ounces (about 148 ml) of wine, or 1 ounce (about 30 ml) of 100-proof liquor.
It is important for patients who take this antidepressant to be aware of the potential for an interaction between bupropion and alcohol before drinking. Any alcoholic effects may be intensified, so consuming an amount of alcohol that does not normally result in impairment could significantly impair a person's motor or driving skills while taking bupropion. It is also important for patients on bupropion to disclose their drinking habits to their doctors prior to starting the medication. While drinking excessive amounts of alcohol when taking bupropion can cause problems, patients who consume regularly should not stop drinking suddenly while on the medication, as this can increase the risk of seizures.
Another risk of consuming alcohol while taking bupropion is an increased risk of alcohol addiction. Some patients find that they feel euphoric or have other intense feelings while drinking on bupropion. The desire to replicate these feelings, especially in patients who are dealing with depression, could lead to alcohol abuse and addiction.