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Can You Mix Weight Loss Drugs and Alcohol?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 10, 2019.

Obesity or weight loss drugs may be prescribed in the short-term or the longer-term in addition to diet and exercise to treat weight gain. But even if you are losing weight with medications, you might like to have a beer or a glass of wine every once in a while. So the question is - do weight loss drugs have interactions with alcohol?

Yes, many weight loss drugs can interact with alcohol. Weight loss medications, such as the amphetamine derivatives like phentermine work in the brain (also known as the central nervous system or CNS). Adding alcohol to weight loss medications can lead to side effects with both drugs.

The effects of adding alcohol to certain weight loss medications can include:

  • dizziness
  • mental depression
  • problems with concentration, judgement or thinking
  • altered mental alertness which can make driving or operating machinery hazardous
  • dangerous heart side effects
  • seizures

Heart disease

The use of CNS stimulant weight loss drugs should be avoided with the use of alcohol, especially in patients with heart disease. When these amphetamine-like drugs are combined with alcohol, dangerous cardiovascular (heart) side effects such as rapid heart rate, chest pain, and blood pressure changes can occur.

Many weight loss or obesity drugs are also controlled substances and have addictive potential and can be misused.

Diabetes

Alcohol may affect blood glucose (blood sugar) levels in patients with diabetes. In general, moderate alcohol consumption generally does not affect blood sugar levels if your diabetes is under control. However, both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) may occur, based on how much you drink and how often.

Many diabetes medications may lead to hypoglycemia as well, so it's best to ask your doctor about drinking alcohol if you have diabetes.

Seizure risk

Drinking alcohol during treatment with bupropion and naltrexone (Contrave) should be minimized or avoided altogether due to reports of adverse nervous system and liver side effects.

Contrave should not be used in patients undergoing an abrupt discontinuation of alcohol. Combining alcohol with bupropion or abruptly stopping alcohol use can increase the risk of a seizure. Liver toxicity may be increased if you combine alcohol with naltrexone. If you frequently or excessively consume alcohol, discuss this with your doctor before starting treatment with bupropion and naltrexone (Contrave).

Learn More: Guide to Weight Loss Drugs

Table 1: Common Obesity and Weight Loss Drugs

*This is not a complete list; always check with your pharmacist for possible drug-alcohol interactions.

Do all weight loss drugs interaction with alcohol?

Not all weight loss drugs have drug interactions with alcohol; for example, lorcaserin (Belviq, Belviq XR) and orlistat (Alli, Xenical) do not list alcohol drug interactions in their product labeling. Nonetheless, always check for drug interactions with your pharmacist or doctor to determine if it's safe to combine the two agents.

Types of Drug Interactions With Alcohol

Sources

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.