Prozac and Marijuana – Why It’s a Bad Idea to Mix Medications, Even if They Are Prescribed and/or Legal
It is estimated that more than thirty-seven million Americans take prescribed anti-depressants including Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft. And although the intention of these drugs is to help people manage their depression, they often come with uncomfortable side effects like anxiety, stomach aches, loss of appetite, insomnia and headaches, among others. As a way to manage these side effects, and for other reasons including coping, relaxation, stress relief, and the self-medication of co-occurring mental health disorders, sometimes people add marijuana use to their routine. But combining drugs without a doctor’s supervision can have dangerous consequences.
For people managing a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, the stakes are even higher, because they walk a very thin line between self-medication and addiction or relapse. Sober living and recovery programs that include medication management can help patients to develop healthier ways to deal with stress, anxiety and medication side effects. But in order for these alternative approaches to be taken seriously, it sometimes helps to fully understand the risks – especially when talking about substances that are mistakenly perceived as less dangerous because they are legal.
Mixing Medications & Marijuana Is Not a Good Idea
There are countless prescription and non-prescription drugs on the market that individuals take for legitimate reasons. From blood thinners to decongestants to seizure medications, these medications have the potential to relieve symptoms of illness and even save lives. But when combined with marijuana, and without proper research into potential interactions and side effects, the results can range from uncomfortable to deadly. Symptoms ranging from tachycardia, hypertension, increased risk of bleeding, drowsiness and confusion have been associated with combining marijuana with certain medications.
Because cannabis can affect the metabolization of other drugs, one of the most recognized side effects is an increase in drug concentration in the body. For example, studies have found that, when combined with marijuana use, concentrations of the drug tacrolimus, which is used to prevent organ failure in transplant patients, increase threefold. Meanwhile, the anti-fungal, Ketoconazole, when used concurrently with marijuana can double both TCH and CBD levels.
If you are on prescription medication – or if you regularly take over-the-counter medication – it’s important to consult with a doctor about interactions. Just because these types of drugs are legal or legally prescribed does not make them harmless, and combining them with each other and/or with marijuana can have dangerous unintended consequences.
CBD-Only Products Can Also Cause Issues When Used with Prescription Meds
It’s important to note that it’s not just marijuana in its traditional form that can cause problems. There are numerous CBD-only products currently on the market that do not contain THC and are often considered safer. However, a study out of Penn State found that CBD-only products do have the potential for drug interactions, with some potentially serious complications arising from combining them with drugs ranging from blood thinners to thyroid medications to heart rhythm drugs and medications that treat seizures.
What Happens When You Use Prozac and Marijuana Together?
Though more research is needed, existing research into the effects of using marijuana while taking Prozac indicates that the combination can decrease the efficacy of the anti-depressant by interfering with its metabolization. The combination can also cause additional anxiety symptoms and increase the possibility of uncomfortable side-effects, including appetite changes, sleeping problems, dizziness, constipation, sweating, and headaches, among others.
What About Alcohol and Antidepressants?
Similarly, combining alcohol and antidepressants is not advisable because it can worsen both the depression and the severity of antidepressant side effects. Further, if you take an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) anti-depressant, there’s an added risk of triggering dangerous spikes in blood pressure.
Whether it’s Prozac and marijuana or another combination of drugs and/or alcohol, not taking prescribed medications exactly as directed can seriously impact recovery.
If you’re managing a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder, it may be that you are taking prescription medications such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, or antipsychotics. In this situation, it is critically important to use these medications as directed by your mental health management team and not mix them with other drugs or alcohol.
The Grounds transitional living provides residents managing mental health disorders with physician-assisted medication management when necessary.