Is Mixing Cymbalta (Duloxetine) and Alcohol Safe?

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Cymbalta is a brand name for duloxetine, a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) that is prescribed to treat a variety of conditions including anxiety and depression.

It is also used to treat fibromyalgia, nerve pain, and chronic pain. It may also be prescribed off-label to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, lower back pain, and stress-related urinary incontinence.

This medication can have a variety of effects on your body and it may create unwanted side effects if you mix it with alcohol or other substances. If you are currently taking Cymbalta, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects, interactions, and risks of mixing this medication with alcohol.

Can You Drink When Taking Cymbalta?

A concern with drinking when you are taking Cymbalta is the potential risk for liver damage. This is generally more of a concern for people who are heavy drinkers or who have a history of heavy or chronic alcohol abuse. 

While increased mental impairment is often a concern when mixing medication with alcohol, the manufacturer stated that Cymbalta did not increase the impairment of mental and motor skills caused by alcohol.

That does not mean that there are no risks. Alcohol may contribute to an increase in mood-related symptoms or might even interfere with your treatment.

If you are taking Cymbalta and want to know if it is safe to have a drink or two, talk to your doctor. Because they understand your situation and history, they can make recommendations based on your needs and health.

They can also inform you about some of the potential dangers of mixing Cymbalta and alcohol. These dangers are listed below.

Risk of Liver Damage

Both alcohol and Cymbalta can lead to liver damage. Taking these two substances together can heighten this risk.

Your liver breaks down the substances you consume and removes toxins from your body. Because alcohol contains a number of toxins, chronic use can eventually overwork your liver and lead to liver damage. Cymbalta has also been linked to liver damage.

According to the FDA's prescribing information for Cymbalta, the medication is not recommended for people who regularly consume alcohol. People who have a history of liver problems or liver damage will have reduced metabolism of this medication.

Some signs of potential liver damage include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Cymbalta, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Worsening of Side Effects

Drug interactions can sometimes heighten the unwanted side effects of each substance. The FDA reports that when Cymbalta and alcohol are taken so that their peak effects coincide, the use of Cymbalta did not worsen the motor or mental impairment caused by alcohol. However, combining the two substances may contribute to a worsening of other side effects.

Common side effects of Cymbalta include:

You may find that you experience such symptoms more acutely if you drink alcohol while you are taking Cymbalta.

Increased Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

While Cymbalta is often prescribed to treat depression, it can destabilize mood in some instances. When combined with alcohol, it may also decrease the effectiveness of the medication. This can lead to a worsening of symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Some mood symptoms that might increase in severity as a result include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Changes in sleep
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide

While it may seem like alcohol can lead to improvements in mood in the short term, it likely will contribute to an increase in mood symptoms such as depression and anxiety over the long term.

Children, teens, and young adults may also experience an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors, particularly when they first start taking Cymbalta. Alcohol may heighten this risk if it is consumed while you are taking your medication.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Taking Cymbalta for Alcohol Withdrawal

If you are trying to stop drinking or if you have recently quit, talk to your doctor about whether Cymbalta might be an option. There is some research suggesting that duloxetine may be useful in lessening anxiety-like behaviors and alcohol intake, which may make it useful as a treatment during alcohol withdrawal. 

One study found that treatment with a low dose of duloxetine significantly decreased alcohol use. The study also found that this decrease in drinking was also accompanied by a drop in anxiety-related behaviors.

If you are withdrawing from alcohol, however, you should never take Cymbalta or other medications containing duloxetine without first consulting your doctor. Your doctor can evaluate your health and guide you through the withdrawal process based on your unique needs and situation. 

Before You Mix Cymbalta and Alcohol

If you are thinking about trying Cymbalta for depression, anxiety, or other illness, discuss your options with your doctor. Be sure to ask whether or not it is okay to drink or take other medications while you are taking Cymbalta.

You should also be sure to tell your doctor about any other medications, supplements, or substances that you are taking. Other substances that can interact with Cymbalta include other antidepressants, blood thinners, and St. John's wort.

Your doctor may recommend that you avoid alcohol during your initial treatment or suggest that you consume only small amounts of alcohol while taking the medication. Or they may recommend that you avoid it altogether based on your physical and mental health history.

Be sure that you do not stop taking your antidepressant or change your dosage without first talking to your doctor. Your doctor can help you safely stop taking your medication by gradually lowering your dosage.

A Word From Verywell

If you are taking Cymbalta or another type of antidepressant, it is always important to be aware of any risks you might face when consuming alcohol or taking other medications. Each medication is different, so don’t assume that because it was okay to drink when taking another antidepressant that it will also be alright to consume alcohol when taking something else.

If you are concerned about your alcohol intake or want to reduce your consumption, your doctor can also help. Treating underlying conditions such as depression and anxiety can be helpful, but your doctor may also recommend additional treatments such as therapy or medications designed to help reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. FDA. Highlights of prescribing information.

  2. Skelly MJ, Weiner JL. Chronic treatment with prazosin or duloxetine lessens concurrent anxiety-like behavior and alcohol intake: evidence of disrupted noradrenergic signaling in anxiety-related alcohol use. Brain Behav. 2014 Jul;4(4):468-83. doi: 10.1002/brb3.230

By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is the author of the "Everything Psychology Book (2nd Edition)" and has written thousands of articles on diverse psychology topics. Kendra holds a Master of Science degree in education from Boise State University with a primary research interest in educational psychology and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Idaho State University with additional coursework in substance use and case management.