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How is Celexa used to treat alcoholism?

While the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram) is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcoholism, some doctors prescribe it for this purpose anyway. ("Off-label" prescribing is a common practice among doctors.) Celexa belongs to a category of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Doctors believe it improves depression by adjusting the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain. In addition to its effects on mood, serotonin is also thought to play a role in whether you crave alcohol and how your brain and body react when you drink it.

In studies, animals reduce their consumption of alcohol when given SSRIs. In human studies, people who were heavy drinkers reduced their alcohol consumption by about 15% to 20% when they took an SSRI. One study found that taking Celexa reduced not only how much alcohol people drank but also how much they craved it. However, results have been mixed or much less significant when SSRIs are given to people who are severely addicted to alcohol, so more study is needed. Drinking alcohol may worsen some side effects of Celexa.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.