Mixing medication and alcohol comes with serious risks – and it’s extremely important to understand the dangers. Findings from studies suggest a significant percentage of people do know about the risks of mixing medication with alcohol, but their perceptions of danger somewhat differ to what doctors and pharmacists say.
Results from research also indicate that alcohol is a significant part of many people’s social lives, and the perceived dangers of drinking with medication are perhaps not enough to stop this behavior. Understanding how best to address American health and safety, especially in a nation where, over half the population consumes prescription drugs is important. We can help ourselves, our friends and our community by understanding the dangers and taking steps to prevent harm.
What is Contrave?
Contrave is a prescription weight-loss medicine that contains naltrexone hydrochloride and bupropion hydrochloride, for oral use. It was approved by the US FDA in 2014. Contrave may help some adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater (obese), or adults with a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) with at least one weight-related medical problem such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes, lose weight and keep the weight off. Obesity is a serious and costly health problem in the United States, with more than one-third of adults (34.9%) and 17% of children suffering from this condition.
Contrave should be used with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. It is not known if Contrave changes your risk of heart problems or stroke or of death due to heart problems or stroke. It is not known if Contrave is safe and effective when taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight-loss products. Contrave is not approved to treat depression or other mental illnesses, or to help people quit smoking (smoking cessation).
How should I take Contrave?
Take Contrave exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Do not crush, chew, or break the tablet. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not take more than 2 tablets at once.
Do not take Contrave with a high-fat meal, or you may be more likely to have a seizure. If you need to use opioid medicine for any reason (such as pain, surgery, or treatment for drug addiction) you may need to stop taking Contrave for a short time. Follow your doctor’s dosing instructions very carefully.
Contrave may affect a drug-screening urine test and you may have false results. Tell the laboratory staff that you use this medicine.
If you have not lost at least 5% of your starting weight after 12 weeks of treatment, Contrave may not be right for you.
What are the side effects of Contrave?
Contrave can cause serious side effects including:
Suicidal thoughts or actions: One of the ingredients in Contrave is bupropion. Bupropion has caused some people to have suicidal thoughts or actions or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking medicines used to treat depression. Bupropion may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults within the first few months of treatment. If you already have depression or other mental illnesses, taking bupropion may cause it to get worse, especially within the first few months of treatment.
While taking Contrave, you or your family members should pay close attention to any changes, especially sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. This is very important when you start taking Contrave or when your dose changes.
Stop taking Contrave and call a healthcare provider right away if you or your family members notice any of the following symptoms, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you: thoughts about suicide or dying; attempts to commit suicide; depression; anxiety; feeling agitated or restless; panic attacks; irritability; aggression, anger, or violence; acting on dangerous impulses; an extreme increase in activity and talking; other unusual changes in behavior or mood; trouble sleeping.
Contrave is not approved for use in children under the age of 18.
Do not take Contrave if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure; have or have had seizures; use other medicines that contain bupropion such as Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin Sr, Wellbutrin Xl, Aplenzin And Zyban; have or have had an eating disorder called anorexia or bulimia; are dependent on opioid pain medicines or use medicines to help stop taking opioids, or are in opiate withdrawal; drink a lot of alcohol and abruptly stop drinking, or use medicines called sedatives (these make you sleepy), benzodiazepines, or anti‐seizure medicines and stop using them all of a sudden; are taking or have taken medicines called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) in the past 14 days; or are allergic to any of the ingredients in Contrave.
Tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions including if you have: depression or other mental illnesses; attempted suicide; seizures; head injury; tumor or infection of brain or spine; low blood sugar or low sodium; liver or kidney problems; high blood pressure; heart attack, heart problems, or stroke; eating disorder; drinking a lot of alcohol; prescription medicine or street drug abuse; are 65 or older; diabetes; pregnant or planning to become pregnant; or breastfeeding.
Can you drink alcohol with Contrave?
Do not drink a lot of alcohol while taking Contrave. If you drink a lot of alcohol, talk with your healthcare provider before suddenly stopping. If you suddenly stop drinking alcohol, you may increase your chance of having a seizure. Alcoholic beverages should be limited or avoided while taking Bupropion. You may feel drowsy or more tired when taking these drugs together, or side effects from Bupropion may get worse if you take alcohol. Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how these drugs affect you.