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 subsection. Supermarket shelves are filling up with non alcoholic beer but new converts have many questions, one i see a lot is… “Can you drink non alcoholic beer on antidepressants?”
Can you drink non alcoholic beer on antidepressants?
Yes, you can drink non alcoholic beer on antidepressants, in moderation. You would have to drink a lot of non alcoholic beer to have an interaction with antidepressants such as increased drowsiness, increased depressive risk or blood pressure changes with MAOIs.
10 non alcoholic beers is the equivalent of 1 alcoholic beer so drinking one or two non alcoholic 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 non alcoholic beer?
So what about non alcoholic 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?
Non alcoholic beer looks like beer and is called “beer”. It has 0.5% of alcohol by volume on the can, so just how much alcohol is in non alcoholic beer.
There are lots of different labelling and names in the non alcoholic 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 0.5% ABV actually is, you can look at some common foods and drinks that contain similar amounts of alcohol. Fruit juices have more alcohol by volume than non alcoholic beer and even some breads do!
For a full article on the hidden alcohol in common foods, you can read here
How many non alcoholic beers equals one beer?
The USDA describe a standard beer as having 5% alcohol by volume. If we compare this to a standard non alcoholic beer of 0.5% alcohol by volume, you would need 10 non alcoholic beers to equal one alcoholic beer.
A non alcoholic beer will have less than 10% of the alcohol of an alcoholic beer.
Will non alcoholic beer cause the complications alcoholic beer does?
The biggest difference between alcoholic and non alcoholic beer is the amount of alcohol in each. As we have seen above, non alcoholic beer has about 10% the amount of alcohol or less than alcoholic beers.
It is therefore a good assumption that would would be able to drink up to x10 as many non alcoholic beers as you would alcoholic beers before you get into any interactions or issues with antidepressants.
If you are drinking a few non alcoholic 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 non alcoholic beer get you drunk?
To get drunk, you need to drink x40 12fl oz cans of non alcoholic beer in less than 2 hrs.
This equals 480fl oz of non alcoholic beer, 3.5 gallons of non alcoholic beer or 14.2 litres of beer in 2hours.
Anther way to look at it is you will have to drink a 12fl oz can of non alcoholic beer, every 3mins, for 2 hours, to get drunk.
It is not possible to drink 480fl oz of non alcoholic beer in 2 hours, so it is not possible to get drunk on non alcoholic beer.
Can you drink non alcoholic beer on antabuse?
I have calculated can drink up to 2.5 12fl oz cans of non alcoholic 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.
However, as with metronidazole, the safest practice would be to avoid non alcoholic beer when on antabuse.
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.
Non alcoholic beer has the same alcohol content as orange juice, if not less and you would not be worried about drinking that on Flagyl but to be cautious and avoid any possible reaction, i would avoid non alcoholic beer when taking Flagy.
For a full overview of if you can drink non alcoholic beer with antibiotics, you can read my article here
Can you drink non alcoholic beer on antidepressants?
In general, you can safely drink non alcoholic 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 non alcoholic beer.