What Happens When You Mix Phentermine And Alcohol?
- Phentermine is a prescription medication that is commonly prescribed for weight loss.
- Because of phentermine’s stimulant effects it can be misused and abused.
- Alcohol can cause many different problems for those that take phentermine.
- The effects of phentermine and alcohol can be severe.
- Knowing the signs of phentermine and alcohol misuse can help someone seek the help they need.
Combining substances such as phentermine and alcohol can lead to a variety of undesired side effects, including the risk of becoming addicted to both substances. These side effects and risks can cause your body harm and cause the medication not to work as well as it should. Typically, when someone is prescribed phentermine, they are told they should not drink alcohol while actively taking the medication.
What is Phentermine?
Phentermine belongs to the class of sympathomimetic amine medications that are considered anorectics. It is a prescribed drug that is used to help patients who are obese or have weight-related medical problems lose weight. It can also be used to help someone keep the weight off and prevent them from gaining it back quickly.
Phentermine comes in extended-release capsules and tablets. Phentermine must be used with an exercise regime and a healthy diet. This medication is commonly only prescribed for short-time use (less than 12 weeks).
This drug may also be prescribed alongside topiramate when used for long-term weight loss. The combination of the two weight loss medications (called Qsymia) is commonly prescribed to people who have a body mass index (BMI) greater or equal to the 95th percentile.
There are many different brand names for the medication. These brand names include:
How Does It Work?
Phentermine works in the body as a stimulant. The medication will stimulate three specific hormones in the body which will help lead to appetite suppression. In the appetite centers of the brain, norepinephrine and epinephrine will be released.
The release of these hormones into the body will help reduce the amount of food that is consumed at mealtimes, help someone avoid binging on unhealthy food, and reduce hunger between meals.
This medication is chemically similar to amphetamine, another stimulant drug. Because it is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, it carries a risk of dependence and abuse.
Effects Of Phentermine
Phentermine is different from alcohol because it is a stimulant and not a depressant. While alcohol may make someone sleepy, phentermine will typically make someone more alert. The effects that phentermine has on the brain are different from alcohol.
Some effects that phentermine has on the brain include:
- Mood changes
Effects Of Alcohol
Whether someone drinks alcohol just once or drinks it often, there are many different physical and mental effects that will take place. These effects can cause serious harm to your body and brain.
Alcohol may affect how the brain works and looks. This is because alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. This will cause these areas of the brain to have trouble with making commands and doing their job, which may result in poor balance, speech, judgment, and memory. This will usually result in negative situations and increases the chances of injury.
The physical effects of alcohol depend on how much has been drunk and your body’s blood alcohol content (BAC). These feelings include:
- Relaxed, talkative, and more confident mood and demeanor
- Feeling of wellbeing
- Reduced inhibitions
- Impaired movement and judgment
- Unstable emotions
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired reflexes, balance, coordination, and vision
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Poor bladder control
- Trouble breathing
- Needing help to walk
- Coma or Death
Long-term effects of prolonged alcohol use can include many different illnesses. These long-term effects include:
- Substance abuse
- Issues with sexual performance or impotence
- Reduced testosterone levels and sperm count in men
- Heart problems such as heart attacks, heart damage, and high blood pressure
- Cirrhosis of the liver or liver failure
- Weight gain and increased risk of diabetes
- Mental health problems
Risks Of Using Phentermine and Alcohol
Because the two substances are very different in the way that they work in the body, if the two are combined it will cause various unpleasant side effects. This is why people who are prescribed phentermine are advised not to consume alcohol while taking the medications.
Inhibit Weight Loss
Even though phentermine is prescribed for weight loss, combining alcohol with the medication may cause someone to stop losing weight. Alcohol is full of calories and will cause someone to make poor decisions when it comes to food. This can cause the purpose of the medication to not be fulfilled.
Cardiovascular Side Effects
Cardiovascular side effects may occur when someone mixes phentermine and alcohol. This is especially the case if they have a prior heart condition or disease prior to taking the medication. Some cardiovascular side effects include:
- Heart failure
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Chest pain
Alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach, which will cause gastrointestinal problems if alcohol is combined with phentermine. Some of these problems include:
- Stomach aches
Effects on The Central Nervous System (CNS)
Alcohol is a depressant that may cause certain problems to the central nervous system. It is important that if alcohol and phentermine are taken together, the person does operate heavy machinery or drive a motor vehicle. Common effects on the CNS include:
- Difficulty concentrating
Misuse And Abuse
When phentermine and alcohol are used together, it may cause someone to become dependent on the effects of the drug combination. This is because phentermine is a stimulant, and alcohol can intensify that feeling. This is the greatest risk of mixing phentermine and alcohol. Misuse and abuse may lead to overdose, addiction, and even death.
Phentermine And Alcohol Misuse
Phentermine and alcohol are often combined to achieve a euphoric feeling. This medication is often misused by people who have a prescription for it, but it may also be found on the streets as well. While this medication doesn’t typically cause a psychological craving and dependence, it can still be abused for its stimulant effects.
Signs Of Phentermine And Alcohol Abuse
Signs of phentermine and alcohol abuse may be similar to those of other kinds of drug abuse. Those who drink alcohol heavily and take phentermine will likely have the same symptoms of other drug abuse.
These signs may include:
- Lying to be able to use or get more of the substances
- Isolating from friends and family
- Craving the substances
- Obtaining the substances through illicit means
Signs of phentermine abuse specifically will be more geared toward the drug’s effects. When someone is abusing phentermine, you might notice:
- They smoke or snort the medication
- Extreme weight loss
- Someone who is not overweight begins using the drug (this can be a sign of an eating disorder)
- Having trouble concentrating without the medication
Treatment for Polysubstance Use
Treatment for prescription stimulants such as phentermine may include a couple of different treatment methods. If someone is also suffering from alcohol use disorder, other approaches may be recommended.
The first thing that will happen is the body will need to detox from the phentermine and alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol can be dangerous and even life-threatening, so it is best done in a facility with medical staff. To detox safely from phentermine, the person using it may be able to taper off the drug. This can help with the overdose symptoms of the medication.
Along with detox programs and advice, many people will be recommended to attend therapy. This can help treat someone who is addicted to stimulants such as phentermine and alcohol. Behavioral therapy can be done in a partial hospitalization or outpatient setting.
Oftentimes, someone who is struggling with their weight will also have feelings of depression and low self-esteem. When an addiction is present along with other mental health issues, they will need to be addressed at the same time.
It is possible if someone is struggling with using phentermine and alcohol to get on the road to recovery. Epiphany Wellness can help get you back to living your life to the fullest.
Phentermine and Alcohol FAQs
Alcohol will amplify the negative side effects of phentermine. If someone wants to drink alcohol while on this medication, it is recommended to wait till the effects of phentermine have subsided. This typically takes about 12 hours.
Because alcohol will increase the effects of phentermine, the overdose symptoms of phentermine will likely be felt. These symptoms include:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fatigue and depression
- Diarrhea and stomach cramps
- Weak pulse
Phentermine does interact with other types of medications and these should be avoided.
- Other weight loss medications
- Fintepla which is a medication that treats seizures
- Medications that affect serotonin. This includes St. John’s Wort, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), some antibiotics, and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) which can treat medical conditions such as depression or Parkinson’s disease.
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). FDA approves treatment for chronic weight management in Pediatric Pati. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/news-events-human-drugs/fda-approves-treatment-chronic-weight-management-pediatric-patients-aged-12-years-and-older
 LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012-. Phentermine. [Updated 2020 Jun 4]. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547916/
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Health topics: Alcohol and the brain. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/health-topics-alcohol-and-brain