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Prednisone And Alcohol: Can One Drink On Steroid?

alcohol and prednisone

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Mixing alcohol with prednisone can lead to serious side effects and even long-term complications. The safe amount of alcohol while taking prednisone depends on the duration of the treatment, the dosage of the medication, and the frequency of using ethanol. Due to the severe complications that can be caused by prednisone and drinking alcohol, it would be for the best to avoid spirits while on treatment.

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Is It Safe To Mix Prednisone And Alcohol?

According to the medication guides, when used as prescribed, the drug proved to be a very efficient drug for arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, allergic disorders, and other conditions. But when combined with ethanol, the patient is exposed to severe health risks such as osteoporosis, weakened immune system, and other health problems.

Patients who are under long-term treatment with this drug might experience more dangers and risks when mixing prednisone and alcohol. Even isolated occasions of ethanol abuse, such as binge drinking, pose a risk for the person under treatment.

However, any individual who wants to drink alcohol while on prednisone, even in moderate amounts, should first consult a doctor and seek advice.

Risks Of Mixing Prednisone And Alcohol

Prednisone and alcohol consumption has been linked to specific health problems.

Complications to affections treated with prednisone

Although moderate drinking is less likely to cause health problems in a healthy individual, for a person with an existing chronic illness who takes this drug, ethanol would be problematic. The issues which try to be fixed with this drug can be complicated by ethanol abuse, and these include ulcerative colitis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney problems, and even cancer.

Depression

Some of the prednisone side effects include mood changes, varying from euphoria to anger, anxiety, and depression.

On the other hand, ethanol is also a depressant, and frequent alcohol consumption can harm the brain and lead to depression.

As both ethanol and prednisone can cause depression, when these two substances are combined, the risk is even higher.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Prednisone and alcohol might cause gastrointestinal bleeding, and using them together increases this risk. Also, indigestion and stomach upset can be caused by both substances, and irritation of the digestive tract might lead to peptic ulcers.

man with stomach ache on a sofa

Consuming ethanol for a long time leads to inflammation of the stomach lining, which can cause heartburn and stomach ulcers. People with such issues should stay away from the alcohol-prednisone combination at all costs.

Osteoporosis

One of the risks of using this drug is linked to the risk of developing osteoporosis. Ethanol is also known to impact bone health. Therefore, using the two together increases the risk of early onset of this disease.

Weakened immune system

The optimal functioning of the immune system can be affected by both steroids and ethanol.

Although a suppressed immune system might be a desirable effect for people with autoimmune diseases, for the rest of the individuals, a weakened immune system means increased vulnerability to diseases and sickness.

This means that the body will not be as efficient in fighting diseases and infections that it usually would, such as chickenpox, measles, tuberculosis, or pneumonia.

Diabetes

Long-term consumption of steroids has been linked to increased blood sugar levels and the risk of developing diabetes induced by steroids. Ethanol abuse is also known to make blood sugar levels unstable. Therefore, consuming alcohol while on prednisone could trigger problems with the blood sugar and complications associated with type 2 diabetes.

Besides all these risks, prednisone mixed with alcohol might also make the patient forget to take the medication, which can lead to other dangerous complications.

Safe Dose Of Alcohol To Take With Prednisone

The safest dose of ethanol to be taken while on treatment with this medication is zero. But a drink or two, on some occasions, might not have an impact on the patient’s health. It is always for the best to consult a doctor before drinking alcohol with prednisone, to give a patient the best outcome and avoid possible complications.

man taking pills with alcohol

It would be for the best to avoid drinking altogether until the end of the treatment, as stated by several medical sources.

If a person is taking the drug temporarily, it would be for the best to wait until prednisone has cleared the system. Wait at least 24 hours after the last dose of this medication before having a drink.

When To See A Doctor If Mixing These Two Substances

There are some severe prednisone and alcohol side effects that the patient should be aware of before mixing the two substances. The side effects are not life-threatening as it is the case with other drugs, such as alcohol with Tylenol, a combination that leads to kidney and liver damage, liver failure, and even death.

Prednisone alcohol side effects:

  • Swelling
  • Coughing up blood
  • Seeing halos
  • Eye pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Chest pain

For any of these symptoms, the patient should address the doctor as soon as possible.

female patient talking to doctor

Drinking alcohol while taking prednisone might lead to severe problems, including addiction. The effects of addiction and abuse can make it difficult for the patient to stick to the prescribed treatment and forget to take one or several doses. If the patient suddenly stops the procedure, they might experience withdrawal symptoms.

If ethanol abuse pushes the patient to the point when they are unable to follow the treatment and put themselves at risk of the severe prednisone alcohol interactions, then it is time to seek medical help.

Prednisone And Alcohol Addiction

Mixing prednisone and alcohol can lead to addiction, and when stopping the drug at once, the patient can experience withdrawal symptoms.

Is alcoholism hereditary? People with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism are more prone to develop an addiction to the prednisone alcohol combination.

The treatment for people suffering from steroid and alcohol dependency is handled at specialized clinics and facilities and starts with detoxification. By reducing the intake of steroids gradually, the body will begin producing its own again.

The next step is alcohol detox and psychotherapy. The entire process is handled by professional medical staff, and the patient is continuously monitored and supervised.

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Sources
  1. Héctor Eloy Tamez-Pérez, Dania Lizet Quintanilla-Flores, René Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, José Gerardo González-González, Alejandra Lorena Tamez-Peña. Steroid hyperglycemia: Prevalence, early detection and therapeutic recommendations: A narrative review. World J Diabetes. 2015 Jul 25; 6(8): 1073–1081. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4515447/
  2. Dora Liu, Alexandra Ahmet, Leanne Ward,2 Preetha Krishnamoorthy, Efrem D Mandelcorn, Richard Leigh, Jacques P Brown, Albert Cohen, Harold Kim. A practical guide to the monitoring and management of the complications of systemic corticosteroid therapy. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2013; 9(1): 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3765115/
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

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