Cymbalta And Alcohol: What You Should Know?

There are some drugs that you should never combine with alcohol. SNRI, Cymbalta, or Duloxetine as it is also known, is one of them. Read on to find out why. 

What Is Cymbalta?

Cymbalta is an SNRI (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) that is used to treat a number of conditions. The most common of these are GAD generalized anxiety disorder and MDD Major depressive disorder. Although it is also used to treat conditions such as dementia with depressive features and depressive psychosis. 

Also known by its generic name Duloxetine, Cymbalta can likewise be prescribed to ease pain in conditions such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathy. 

Cymbalta works by making it harder for the brain to reabsorb neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrineF, which means there is more available for use which can help with pain management and boost mood. 

Can You Drink Alcohol On Cymbalta?

​​The clear answer to this question is NO! Cymbalta is a drug that should never be combined with alcohol because doing so will impact your safety, as well as the efficacy of the drug. Read on to find out why. 

Cymbalta and Alcohol interactions

There are multiple reasons to avoid alcohol when taking Cymbalta. 

Exacerbated Depression

The first is that combining Cymbalta with alcohol can make any depressive symptoms you are experiencing worse. The first reason for this is that alcohol is depressive, and so taking it can counteract the benefits associated with using Cymbalta. 

Also, alcohol interferes with the way your body uses Cymbalta, which can make it less effective, or trigger your brain chemistry and cause an increase in depressive symptoms. 

Liver Damage

Another serious consequence of the interaction between Cymbalta and alcohol is liver damage. Indeed, merely using Cymbalta increases a person’s risk of liver damage, and this is only exacerbated when it is used in combination with alcohol. Indeed, those drinking three-plus alcoholic drinks a day are at the highest risk. 

It is for this reason that the FDA recommendations state that Cymbalta should not be prescribed to anyone that has a history of liver damage or that uses alcohol on a regular basis. 

Signs of liver damage while using Cymbalta include yellowing of the skin, or whites of the eyes, itching, fever, joint swelling, joint pain, exhaustion, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, and a skin rash. If you notice any of these symptoms you should contact your doctor immediately. 

Increased Side Effects

While there are many uses for Cymbalta, it is also a drug that can cause a range of side effects that most commonly include constipation, dry mouth, cough, loss of appetite, weight, voice or strength, headaches, drowsiness, and nausea to name but a few.  

Unfortunately, when taken with alcohol, these side effects can become enhanced. This is because Cymbalta and alcohol can have a similar action in the brain, so by combining the two, the side effects you are suffering would be worse. 

How Long After Taking Cymbalta Can You Drink Alcohol?

It is not safe to drink alcohol when taking Cymbalta. Therefore if you wish to drink you must ensure that you have fully tapered off the drug before you do so. However, you should never stop taking a drug like Cymbalta without a tapering-off period. This is because around 30-50% of people coming off antidepressants experience withdrawals

Indeed, while nausea is the most common withdrawal symptom reported by people coming off Cymbalta, there are a number of effects that can be both serious and long-term, including brain zaps, tremors, increased anxiety and depression and even a risk of increased suicidal thoughts. 

It is for these reasons that experts usually recommend that you do not suddenly stop taking Cymbalta and instead taper off it slowly, as this can help reduce the withdrawal effects. 

This usually means it will take around 4 weeks to fully come off Cymbalta, although it will depend on the dose you are on and your individual circumstances. 

That is why it’s so important to come off Cymbalta under the supervision of your doctor. Of course, you should absolutely avoid using alcohol during the entire tapering-off time. 

Other Interactions With Cymbalta

Alcohol is not the only thing that can cause interactions with Cymbalta. Indeed, there is a range of other drugs and conditions that can also cause problems. 

One of these is the condition of hypertension. This is because SNRIs can raise blood pressure which can be dangerous for those already experiencing the high blood pressure associated with hypertension. 

Additionally, there are over 500 drugs that can interact with Cymbalta, and these include the commonly used aspirin, Xanax, Vitamin B12, tramadol, gabapentin and Adderall. 

To that end, checking with your doctor to see if any medications you are taking will negatively interact with Cymbalta is crucial before you begin treatment. 

How Can DrHouse Help?

If you have any questions about Cymbalta and interactions with other substances including alcohol, you can get the advice you need by booking a fast and convenient online doctor appointment with DrHouse. 

Additionally, if you are looking to come off Cymbalta, our knowledgeable and understanding doctors can offer support and advice on time scales as well as withdrawals. 

Similarly, if you are concerned about your alcohol intake, and would like to stop drinking, talking to our trained and non-judgemental professionals can be an important first step in the recovery process. 

Get in contact now, and you could be speaking to a medical professional within 15 mins from the comfort of your own home. 

Key Takeaways

  • You should not drink alcohol when using Cymbalta 
  • You should not come off Cymbalta suddenly but slowly taper off using it 
  • It would be best if you did not drink alcohol until you have completely tapered off using Cymbalta
  • Combining Cymbalta and alcohol can cause a range of serious problems from exaggerated side effects, to worsening depression and liver damage. 
  • Cymbalta has known interactions with a range of drugs including vitamins, and it’s important to check these before using it or changing your medication routine. 


DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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