There are lots of occasions when you know alcohol might be a bad idea. This could be when you are sick, if you are pregnant or even when you are taking medication. But the huge new growth market in the beer world is in the non alcoholic/alcohol free subsection. Supermarket shelves are filling up with alcohol free beer but new converts have many questions, one i see a lot is… “Can you drink alcohol free beer on antidepressants?”
Can you drink alcohol free beer on antidepressants?
Yes, you can drink alcohol free beer on antidepressants, in moderation. You would have to drink a lot of alcohol free beer to have an interaction with antidepressants such as increased drowsiness, increased depressive risk or blood pressure changes with MAOIs.
100 alcohol free beers is the equivalent of 1 alcoholic beer so drinking one or two alcohol free beers is very low risk of any interaction. However, it is important to understand why alcohol is not recommended with antidepressants so as to make an informed decision.
Can you drink alcoholic beer on antidepressants?
A good first step in understanding if you can drink non alcoholic beer when on antidepressants, is to consider why alcohol is not recommended.
What is it about alcoholic beer that can interact with antidepressants and then does non alcoholic beer carry the same risk?
Increased side effects
The side effects you might experience from antidepressants is magnified if you drink alcohol along with them.
Some of these include…
- dry mouth.
- loss of appetite.
Not only will the antidepressant side effects increase, so will the side effects of any other medications your are taking such as sleeping or pain medication.
Some of the antidepressants can directly cause drowsiness, as will alcohol. When taken together this can be magnified and become more intense.
You are prescribed antidepressant medication in order to boost your mood and lift depression. Alcohol is a known depressant so will counteract any of the benefits of the medication you are prescribed.
Blood pressure spike on MAOIs
One of the most dangerous interactions between alcohol and antidepressants is with a particular set of medications called MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors).
Alcohol can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure with these medications so it is best avoided.
Decreased alertness or sharpness
Needless to say, alcohol dulls your senses and mental sharpness. This is magnified when taken with antidepressants and you may feel like you are in a fog or can’t concentration or make decisions.
How much alcohol is in alcohol free beer?
So what about alcohol free beer. This concept confuses many people. No other foods or drinks has an alcohol percentage printed on it so any alcohol percentage must be significant, right?
Alcohol free beer looks like beer and is called “beer”. It has 0.0% or <0.05% alcohol by volume on the can, so just how much alcohol is in alcohol free beer.
There are lots of different labelling and names in the alcohol free beer world. Ive written a full article on what all the names mean and how to navigate your way around it, you can read it here.
A non alcoholic beer has an ABV of 0.5% or less.
An alcohol free beer will have an ABV of less than 0.05%.
To get a clearer idea of just how low <0.05% ABV actually is, you can look at some common foods and drinks that contain similar amounts of alcohol. Fruit juices have way more alcohol by volume than alcohol free beer and even breads do!
For a full article on the hidden alcohol in common foods, you can read here
How many alcohol free beers equals one beer?
The USDA describe a standard beer as having 5% alcohol by volume. If we compare this to a standard alcohol free beer of 0.05% alcohol by volume, you would need 100 alcohol free beers to equal one alcoholic beer.
An alcohol free beer will have less than 1% of the alcohol of an alcoholic beer.
Will alcohol free beer cause the complications alcoholic beer does?
The biggest difference between alcoholic and alcohol free beer is the amount of alcohol in each. As we have seen above, alcohol free beer has about 1% the amount of alcohol or less than alcoholic beers.
It is therefore a good assumption that would would be able to drink up to x100 as many alcohol free beers as you would alcoholic beers before you get into any interactions or issues with antidepressants.
If you are drinking a few alcohol free beers in moderation, 2-3 times a week, that is not enough alcohol to have any significant interaction with antidepressants.
However, if you feel you are having some side effects then it would be a good plan to abstain and discuss it with your doctor.
Can alcohol free beer get you drunk?
To get drunk, you need to drink x400 12fl oz cans of non alcoholic beer in less than 2 hrs.
This equals 4800fl oz of alcohol free beer, 35 gallons of alcohol free beer or 142 litres of alcohol free beer in 2hours.
Anther way to look at it is you will have to drink a 12fl oz can of non alcoholic beer, every 18 seconds, for 2 hours, to get drunk.
It is not possible to drink 4800fl oz of alcohol free beer in 2 hours, so it is not possible to get drunk on alcohol free beer.
Can you drink alcohol free beer on antabuse?
I have calculated can drink up to 25 12fl oz cans of alcohol free beer before you would reach the minimum blood alcohol concentration where a reaction with Antabuse might occur. Initial symptoms would be very mild so more severe symptoms would not occur until after many more.
Therefore if you want to have a few cans, there should be zero risk of any issues.
My full article on non alcoholic beer and antabuse can be read here
Can you drink non alcoholic beer on metronidazole?
Metronidazole (Flagyl) is probably the main antibiotic you will be prescribed which has a strong interaction with alcohol so i it worth just reiterating it. It actually causes the reaction that antabuse does. The issue is, i cant find any evidence as to what blood alcohol concentration you start to get symptoms at.
However, i would expect the blood alcohol threshold for a reaction to be similar to antabuse so drinking alcohol free beer in moderation shoaled have no to very low risk.
For a full overview of if you can drink non alcoholic beer with antibiotics, you can read my article here
Can you drink alcohol free beer on antidepressants?
In general, you can safely drink alcohol free beer in moderation, when taking antidepressants. If you feel you are having unwanted side effects, increased drowsiness or the medications are not as effective as they should be, then it would be wise to abstain from alcohol free beer.