phentermine and alcohol

Phentermine and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combo? 

Last Updated: Sep 24th 2021

Reviewed by Laura Riley

There are several risks connected to mixing alcohol and Adipex-P, a commonly prescribed brand name phentermine. Besides making already-present side effects worse, combining the substances can cause gastrointestinal (related to the stomach and intestines), cardiovascular, and central nervous system (related to the brain, spinal cord, and nerves) problems.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Effects on the gastrointestinal system are common in people who mix Adipex and alcohol. Mainly because alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach. This can bring on: 

  • Stomach aches 
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

Cardiovascular Side Effects

Using phentermine and alcohol can increase your risk of cardiovascular side effects such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Abnormal increases in blood pressure
  • Heart failure (if you have an underlying medical condition such as heart disease)

Central Nervous System (CNS) Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating

You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while you are using phentermine. In addition, avoid any activities that require you to be alert like driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know its effects on you.

How Long Should You Wait to Drink Alcohol?

In general, you really need to wait 12 hours between alcohol consumption and taking phentermine because the effect of phentermine lasts that long. This needs to be done so that they don’t combine and cause the severe reactions mentioned above. Mixing phentermine and alcohol is actually like multiplying the negative side effects of phentermine.

What Is Phentermine?

Currently, phentermine is considered the most popular choice for patients who are looking for a pharmaceutical solution to their weight-related problems. Phentermine is extensively used today and is often recommended to people whose obesity is affecting their health. It’s necessary to have a doctor prescribe the drug. Some of the other brand names of phentermine are:

  • Obenix
  • Ionamin
  • Phentercot
  • T-Diet
  • Zantryl

Similar to amphetamines, Adipex-P stimulates the central nervous system. This increases your heart rate and blood pressure and decreases your appetite. Usually, it is used along with diet and exercise to treat obesity, particularly in people with risk factors such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes

Phentermine is for short-term use only because the effect of decreasing appetite may wear off after a few weeks and it may be habit-forming. Misuse can cause:

  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death

How Does It Work?

When an individual uses phentermine, the drug stimulates the release of 3 specific hormones in their body:

  • Epinephrine
  • Adrenaline
  • Norepinephrine

The release of these hormones is what ultimately causes the person to feel less hungry. It reduces their risk of overeating at mealtimes, reduces hunger pangs between meals, and helps them avoid binging on unhealthy foods in the middle of the day.

Side Effects of Phentermine

Even though Adipex is generally considered to be a safe and effective drug to treat obesity among the general population, it’s important to be aware of the side effects. Most of the time, the side effects are mild but there have been reports of more serious effects. 

One scientific study reported that in Germany, phentermine has been taken off the market. And it is often seized in various other countries because of the potential dangers that have been linked to its use. The study reports that one of the most important risks is to the person’s cardiovascular health.

Physical Effects

Call 911 if you have signs of an allergic reaction to phentermine such as:

  • Hives
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling of your face, tongue, lips, or throat

Call your doctor or if you have these symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Feeling restless
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Ankles or feet swelling
  • High blood pressure; hypertension
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Chest pain and feeling like you may faint
  • Feeling short of breath after even mild exertion
  • Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Intense headache, blurred vision, pounding in your ears or neck, constriction of the blood vessels, and diseases of the blood vessels

These effects become even more serious with the long-term use of phentermine.

More common side effects include:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth; unpleasant taste
  • Diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain
  • Decreased or increased interest in sex
  • Elevated blood pressure

Psychological Effects

There are also psychological effects associated with phentermine. People who depend on phentermine to help control their weight may develop mental illnesses. Also, there is concern about the person developing dependence on it, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. Or, when the doctor decides to stop prescribing it for treating their obesity.

Is Phentermine Addictive?

Although phentermine is not the most commonly abused stimulant, it is abused. Because of its stimulant characteristics, it is sometimes misused by people who have a prescription for it. And it also has a street value and is sold in illicit marketplaces as a drug of abuse.

Phentermine doesn’t cause psychological dependence and craving when people use it according to medical instructions. So, although it doesn’t appear to result in psychological or physical dependence, there is still a potential for abuse. It is still a stimulant drug, and some people will abuse it for its stimulant effects.

Signs of Phentermine Abuse

  • Weight loss – Since one of the intended side effects of the drug is weight loss, phentermine abuse can cause extreme weight loss. Someone on phentermine for weight loss who loses an extreme amount of weight may be abusing the drug.
  • Use by someone who is not overweight
  • If someone who is not overweight begins using the drug it could be a sign of abuse. This could be the result of an eating disorder or just trying to get high by taking it in excessive amounts.
  • Snorting or smoking it.
  • Difficulty concentrating without using it

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms usually peak within the first few days and subside over the next week. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Low energy
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Menstrual abnormalities
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of memory
  • Irregular, rapid heartbeat

If you are using phentermine regularly at a high dose and stop using it too quickly, you can cause more serious problems including:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Nerve damage

Can You Overdose on Phentermine?

Because phentermine is similar to amphetamines, prescriptions are highly regulated and usually only allowed for a short period of time. So this often results in illicit sales and yes, you can overdose.  Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Confusion
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Depression and fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weak pulse
  • Seizure
  • Slow or stopped breathing

Treating Addiction to Prescription Stimulants

Detox

Detoxing from stimulants occurs by tapering the drug dosage the patient was using. This helps ease the withdrawal symptoms. Medical supervision is beneficial to make sure the individual is actually tapering off and succeeds in getting the toxins out of their body.

In addition, alcohol is commonly used along with prescription drugs. If the person is also suffering from an alcohol use disorder, the withdrawal symptoms may be very severe and even life-threatening. A supervised detox in a professional detox center is vital to safe detoxification.

Counseling

Behavioral and individual therapies can be effective for treating addiction to stimulants. During therapy, any underlying reasons behind the drug use may be discovered. Depression and feelings of low self-esteem often accompany obesity and might need to be addressed. Also, people who use drugs recreationally commonly have a co-existing mental issue. The presence of a mental issue and an addiction is referred to as a dual diagnosis and both conditions need to be treated simultaneously, preferably by the same treatment team.

Do You Need Help?

Did your weight-loss plan get out of control? It’s easy to become dependent on the good feelings, energy, and compliments. But you found yourself hooked on the drug as well. At North Jersey Recovery Center, we provide quality treatment for you and your family. We have tried and true programs that address prescription drug abuse and alcohol use disorder. This includes cases of phentermine and alcohol. 

North Jersey Recovery Center has medical professionals who can help you through detox right on to sober living if that’s what you need. Your program will work specifically for you because you are not like anyone else. We’re here to work with you, not tell you what to do. You will have input about your treatment. 

If you want to help a loved one or someone close to you, NJRC can work with you to help your loved one. We have interventionists who can assist you in this very important matter. Whatever your situation, if you need help or just have questions, contact us today.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-Profile-150x150Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.

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