Alcohol And Antibiotics

Antibiotic prescriptions are a common method for fighting off dangerous infections and ensuring safe recoveries from medical procedures. While maintaining an antibiotic prescription, it’s common to question whether or not alcohol and antibiotics mix safely.

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The Interaction

If you are concerned about any possible negative interactions with your prescription, speak with your medical provider or pharmacist. In general, medical professionals are hesitant to recommend drinking at all while recovering from infection. Most antibiotics don’t react dangerously, but drinking alcohol may lengthen and decrease the quality of the recovery period.

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Alcohol And Infections

Antibiotics kill bacteria in order to avoid infections or stop them if they’ve started. Understanding the interactions between alcohol and antibiotics as well as alcohol and infections may clarify why avoiding alcohol may be pertinent.

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Research since the early 1800s established the detrimental effects alcohol has on the body. More recent studies show how alcohol specifically weakens the immune system as it’s being metabolized. If your body is trying to fight an infection, drinking large amounts of alcohol can hamper the effectiveness of the immune response to infection. Responsible drinking (2-3 drinks or less per day) reduces the impact on the immune system and should not interfere with most antibiotics. While the impact may be smaller or even negligible, many health professionals advise against drinking while fighting an infection.

Negative Interactions Between Alcohol And Antibiotics

Barring any rare medicine allergies or disorders, most antibiotics do not react dangerously with alcohol. In most cases, the alcohol may have no noticeable impact. Another common scenario involves the alcohol triggering or intensifying the side effects of whatever antibiotic you’re taking. Several popular antibiotics list side effects that mirror those of alcohol and drinking, and drinking heavily may cause those symptoms to appear or intensify them.

Popular Antibiotics And Their Alcohol Interaction

Below is a list of the 10 most common antibiotics and their interactions with alcohol. While some may not have any serious interactions with alcohol, that doesn’t mean that they’re productive for healing. Consult your doctor or pharmacist before engaging in drinking behaviors while taking these prescriptions.

  1. Amoxicillin
    Responsible drinking should not interfere with Amoxicillin.
  2. Azithromycin
    Responsible drinking will most likely not impede the effectiveness of Azithromycin but may exacerbate side effects like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and diarrhea.
  3. Clavulanate
    Responsible drinking should not interfere with Clavulanate.
  4. Clindamycin
    Responsible drinking should not interfere with Clindamycin.
  5. Cephalexin
    Responsible drinking should not impede the effectiveness of Cephalexin but may exacerbate side effects like dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea.
  6. Ciprofloxacin
    Responsible drinking should not interfere with Ciprofloxacin.
  7. Sulfamethoxazole
    Do not drink alcohol while taking Sulfamethoxazole. The combination will cause effects like increased heart rate, nausea, and vomiting.
  8. Metronidazole
    Do not drink alcohol while taking Metronidazole. The combination will cause effects like flushed skin, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
  9. Levofloxacin
    Do not drink alcohol while taking Levofloxacin. The combination will cause effects like disorientation, nervousness, disturbances in attention, memory loss, and confusion.
  10. Doxycycline
    Do not drink alcohol while taking Doxycycline. The alcohol will reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

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Antibiotics And Alcoholism

Incidental and responsible alcohol consumption provides little risk for nonreactive antibiotics. Heavy drinking comes with its own risks, which may be exacerbated by the medicine.

Overwhelming the liver with constant alcohol use can interrupt important bodily processes involved in metabolizing and distributing medication around the body. Some interactions between alcohol and antibiotics may even harm the liver, if there’s enough alcohol consumed during the prescription. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before committing to hazardous drinking behavior.

Managing Hazardous Drinking

If, in searching for safety information about antibiotics, you’ve found an unhealthy pattern of drinking in your life or a loved one’s, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider to find treatment options.

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Author

Michael Muldoon

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  • Michael Muldoon earned a B.A. in Media Studies from Penn State University, but instead of shifting into an academic career in social science, he has decided to put his skills to work in the pursuit of helping those struggling with addiction. He enjoys spending his free time at the climbing gym with friends.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.

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Sources

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Recovery Unplugged – Harrison House of Northern Virginia

Annandale , VA

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Cove Forge Behavioral Health Center

Williamsburg , PA

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Bowling Green Brandywine

Kennett Square , PA

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MeadowWood Behavioral Health

New Castle , DE

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