HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Aripiprazole overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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Taking Lithium
On a journey out of a very black hole, medication, particularly lithium, has provided some much needed foot holes, it’s just other stuff has, longer term, helped me not to slip back down

You can drink alcohol while taking aripiprazole, but it could make you very sleepy

  • You can continue to drink alcohol while taking aripiprazole but having the two together might make you very sleepy.
  • So, during the first few days, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you.
  • If you want to drink alcohol, remember that you might be sleepy and make sure you can get home safely.

Do not drive a car or ride a bike just after you start taking aripiprazole 

  • Taking aripiprazole may make you feel very tired or dizzy, and may affect your eyesight, when you start taking it.
  • This could affect you if you drive a car, ride a bike, or do anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people drive as normal while taking aripiprazole.

Try not to take aripiprazole for the first time just before your exams

  • Aripiprazole could make you feel very tired and dizzy, make you feel restless, and affect your eyesight.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting aripiprazole.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them.
  • If they are more than a week away, however, you might find that it is better to start aripiprazole to improve your motivation to study.
  • Do not worry - most people do exams as normal while taking aripiprazole.

Aripiprazole is not a banned substance in sport

  • Aripiprazole is not a banned substance in sport.
  • Taking aripiprazole may make you feel tired and dizzy, and affect your eyesight
  • This could be dangerous in some sports like riding a bike or driving.
  • It might be best to stop such sports for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people do sports as normal while taking aripiprazole.

Your weight can be affected by aripiprazole 

  • A side-effect of aripiprazole can be both weight loss and weight gain, although it is less likely to cause weight gain than other antipsychotic medicines.
  • Weight gain is more common than weight loss with antipsychotics.
  • It is very difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it.
  • Sometimes aripiprazole is given to people taking other antipsychotics not only to help their symptoms but also to revearse some of the weight gained.
  • Your doctor should measure your weight regularly when you are taking aripiprazole.
  • Young people will be gaining some weight each year as they grow, but anything more than that should be watched.
  • Good practice for doctors suggests this routine for checking the weight of people who start taking antipsychotic medicines like aripiprazole:
  • You could do these measurements yourself, and keep a chart to show your doctor.
  • If you put on weight, there are other antipsychotic medicines you can try, and ways to try and lose it again.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it worries you.
  • Get your weight noted when you start
  • Get your weight checked every week for the first 3 months
  • Get your weight and waist measurement checked at least every 6 months

Aripiprazole may make you feel very sleepy, but may also make it hard to get to sleep

  • Aripiprazole can make you feel very sleepy, but it can also make it more difficult to get to sleep
  • Sleepiness has been shown to affect young people more than adults
  • See how it affects you for the first few days of taking it
  • Go back to your doctor if this causes a big problem for you.

Let your family and friends know you are taking aripiprazole so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • The side-effects of aripiprazole might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You might feel nervous, anxious, agitated and restless.
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
  • You should then be getting the good effects of aripiprazole, and that should improve your relationships in itself.
  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking the medicine!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website.
  • They could help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it’s hard for us to see it ourselves).

Aripiprazole is unlikely to cause side effects that affect your sex life

The good effects of aripiprazole may have a good effect on your sex life as your symptoms settle and you can concentrate on your relationships.

  • Antipsychotics can cause sexual side-effects, but aripiprazole is less likely to.
  • Aripiprazole is the antipsychotic that is chosen when people have had problems of sexual side-effects with other antipsychotics.
  • In men, an erection that is painful and lasts for a long time (priapism) can happen when taking aripiprazole. This side effect has been reported by people, but we do not have information about how common it is.
  • If it happens, you must go to a doctor straight away.

We do not know if aripiprazole can affect fertility

There is no information to suggest aripiprazole has any effect on fertility

Get advice on continuing aripiprazole if you are trying to become pregnant

  • You should use good contraception while you are taking aripiprazole
  • Talk to your doctor about other options if you are trying to get pregnant 
  • There is nothing to suggest aripiprazole will harm the developing baby.

Aripiprazole can cause side-effects in newborn babies

  • If you decide to carry on taking aripiprazole through your pregnancy, you should talk to your doctor and midwife about it before the birth
  • Your dose may need to increase later in your pregnancy as the body gets rid of aripiprazole more quickly. After delivery your dose will go back to what it was before
  • Your baby might be born a little earlier than expected
  • Symptoms in the newborn can include agitation, muscle spasm or weakness, shaking, drowsiness, feeding problems or breathing problems.
  • You will need help from the midwife and doctors, so it is better if they are looking out for these side-effects.
  • These usually are mild and go away in a few days without treatment
  • Aripiprazole is passed to the baby in breastmilk in small amounts. Breastfeeding may offset some of the symptoms. 
  • Talk to your doctor or midwife about your feeding options