Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

    Kristin Hall, FNP
    Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 7/26/2020

    Bupropion, sold under the brand names Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin XL® and Zyban®, is an antidepressant used to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and as a medication for people that want to quit smoking.

    Like other antidepressants, using bupropion with alcohol isn’t recommended, as it may increase your risk of experiencing certain side effects.

    Below, we’ve explained how alcohol and bupropion affect each other, as well as the side effects you may experience if you drink while using bupropion. 

    We’ve explained how use of bupropion may affect you if you’re a frequent drinker and decide to abruptly stop during treatment. 

    Finally, we’ve explained what you can do if you’re currently using bupropion and have already consumed alcohol. 

    Can You Drink Alcohol While Using Bupropion?

    As a general rule, it’s not recommended to drink alcohol while you’re using bupropion. 

    Make an effort to avoid drinking alcohol if you’re currently taking bupropion to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder or as a smoking cessation aid.

    According to the FDA, there have been some reports of adverse neuropsychiatric events among people who consumed alcohol during treatment with bupropion.

    There have also been reports of bupropion reducing people’s alcohol tolerance. 

    This means you may become intoxicated faster or become more intoxicated than you normally would, even after drinking a relatively small amount of alcohol.

    Because bupropion and alcohol have similar side effects, drinking while you’re using bupropion may increase your risk of feeling dizzy, confused and uncoordinated. You may be more likely to misjudge your ability to drink alcohol and/or injure yourself while intoxicated. 

    Drinking may also affect your recovery from depression. Research indicates that alcohol can have a harmful effect on depression and could potentially hinder recovery, making it best to either avoid drinking or limit your alcohol consumption while taking bupropion.

    If You’re a Heavy, Frequent Drinker

    As a general rule, it’s best to either not drink alcohol while you’re using bupropion, or to restrict your alcohol consumption to as little as possible. 

    However, if you drink alcohol heavily or have been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, abruptly stopping your alcohol consumption before or during treatment with bupropion may increase your risk of experiencing serious side effects.

    This is called alcohol withdrawal syndrome. In people who are dependent on alcohol, suddenly stopping drinking can lead to a range of unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects, from insomnia, nausea and vomiting, to potentially life-threatening withdrawal seizures.

    If you drink heavily on a regular basis, have been diagnosed with alcohol use disorder or have a history of alcohol-related health issues, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider about this before you use bupropion. 

    Tell your healthcare provider everything they need to know, including how much alcohol you drink, how often you drink and many weeks, months or years you’ve been drinking. Make sure to tell them about the type of alcohol you usually drink, as well as any other relevant information. 

    If you feel uncomfortable talking about your drinking habits to your healthcare provider, try to remember that they’re there to help you stay healthy. They won’t be judgmental — instead, they’ll make sure that any medication you’re prescribed is safe for you to use. 

    Depending on your health, alcohol use and other factors, your healthcare provider may advise you not to use bupropion, to use a different medication or to make changes to your lifestyle and general health before using medication. 

    What to Do if You’ve Already Consumed Alcohol

    If you’re currently using bupropion and have already had an alcohol drink, don’t worry. Although bupropion may increase your risk of experiencing side effects while drinking, consuming a small amount of alcohol doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely experience these issues.

    If you’ve had more than one serving of alcohol (for example, one beer or glass of wine), it’s best to stop drinking for the rest of the evening. 

    Over the next day, pay attention to see if your depression symptoms get worse, or if you notice any unusual or severe side effects from bupropion. 

    If you experience any serious side effects, such as uncontrollable tremors, disorientation, poor coordination, confusion, anxiety or loss of consciousness, contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can. 

    If you have a seizure or experience severe shaking or suicidal thoughts, call 911 for immediate medical help. 

    In Conclusion

    Drinking alcohol is best avoided while you’re using bupropion, whether you’re prescribed it for depression, seasonal affective disorder or as a smoking cessation aid to help you quit.

    If you’re a heavy drinker or have alcohol use disorder, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you use bupropion or any antidepressant. Together, you’ll be able to work out a treatment plan that doesn’t put you at risk of alcohol-related side effects.

    Finally, if you forget to avoid alcohol while using bupropion and accidentally have a drink, it’s best not to panic. Instead, limit your consumption as much as possible and pay attention for any side effects that may occur.

    Learn More About Bupropion

    Interested in learning more about bupropion? Our detailed guide to bupropion goes into more detail about how bupropion works, its side effects, drug interactions and everything else you need to know before using this medication. 

    This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.