Mixing Antibiotics and Alcohol – Is It Dangerous?

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 10th March 2022


Clinically Reviewed by Dr. Olalekan Otulana (Advanced Practitioner)

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All information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
Last Reviewed: 10th March 2022

Mixing Antibiotics and Alcohol – Is It Dangerous?

Prescription antibiotics are commonly provided to treat an infection or illness. In the grand scheme of things, they are a controlled drug, causing supportive and healing adaptations in the body. Through consumption, many individuals have however raised a concern when mixing antibiotics and the likes of alcohol.

As a whole, alcohol consumption is heavily normalised, even while suffering from an illness. Although this is discouraged by medical professionals, many individuals will continue to mix both drugs, especially those who suffer with alcoholism. Through this behaviour, it raises the questions of ‘is it dangerous?’.

Ultimately, alcohol consumption, while completing a course of antibiotics can interrupt the healing capabilities of the drug, can cause dehydration and can reduce physical and psychological health. However, there are also greater concerns when mixing antibiotics and alcohol, such as addictive tendencies and severe side effects.

If you are mixing both substances, at Cassiobury Court, we encourage you to increase your awareness of common side effects, highlighting the dangers of interface between antibiotics and alcohol. Here we answer the questions of ‘mixing antibiotics and alcohol- is it dangerous?’, helping you see what’s going on internally through this discouraged interface.

The interface of antibiotics and alcohol

In the large majority of cases, mixing antibiotics and alcohol is discouraged. Through prescriptions, this message will likely be communicated on the labelling of your antibiotics or through your medical centre. However, it’s also recommended to familiarise yourself with the unrecommended interface of each, helping you make a personal decision.

Before mixing antibiotics and alcohol, it’s recommended that you read the ingredients, the exact contents of your prescription. While the majority will be medical jargon, if ethanol, an active use of alcohol is present, you should avoid this mix.

Common antibiotics which discourage an interface with alcohol include Amoxicillin, Thalidomide, Ethionamide, Cefotetan and Doxycycline. While we’ve shared this guidance, there are many other antibiotics and painkillers which promote avoidance when considering alcohol consumption, with a focus on those to treat mental health issues or infection.

While a mix in some cases may result in minimal side effects, in some situations, chronic side effects can be experienced while mixing both substances. To avoid this, you should always consider the contents of antibiotics before consuming alcohol. Understandably, this may not be possible for some, especially those with addiction, which we urge you to seek professional guidance in this event.

Mixing antibiotics and alcohol – is it dangerous or not?

When considering the dangers of mixing antibiotics and alcohol, it’s important to focus on the definition of dangerous. Many will argue that life-threatening side effects are unexpected when mixing both. While other medical professionals will advocate for avoidance.

To answer, ‘mixing antibiotics and alcohol – is it dangerous?’, it can in fact carry dangers, causing physical and psychological health problems. Down to this foreign mix of substances, side effects can be very common, deterring optimal quality of life.

A further danger lies with the likelihood of developing a dependence on each when considering such a strong mix. Some antibiotics can carry addictive tendencies, as can alcohol. By mixing the both, there is a potential that physical and psychological associations can be made, reducing future inclination to avoid interface.

Lastly, consuming alcohol while unwell can hinder recovery capabilities. As the body absorbs and metabolises alcohol, it will find it difficult to also complete this with the antibiotics. With this in mind, there are risks of reduced levels of antibiotics entering the body, posing as dangerous when considering recovery.

It’s important to note that the definition of dangerous will depend on the type of antibiotic to hand, along with the excessiveness of alcohol, the general wellbeing of the user, and the strength of the underlying illness/infection.

Common side effects of mixing alcohol and antibiotics

Mixing antibiotics and alcohol can result in a wide range of side effects. Again, they can differ in form and severity, depending on the contents of your prescribed antibiotic.

However, across the board, there are common side effects, causing concern for those leaning on alcohol consumption as a coping strategy. Nausea, rapid heart rate, stomach problems, cardiovascular issues, chest pain and headaches are some expected side effects. However, an interface can also affect the central nervous system, leading to sedation, irritability and drowsiness.

As mentioned above, the risk of addiction is also a side effect, linked to heavy abuse of each legal substance. As some antibiotics can act as depressants, as can alcohol, addictive traits can heighten, as can mental health conditions; posing as a dangerous mix for those with ill health or weaknesses.

Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption with support

For some, reading these potential dangers will reduce their inclination to mix antibiotics and alcohol. However, for others, for those who rely on alcohol, who abuse it and who experience the signs of alcoholism, those dangers can be difficult to process.

If you are struggling with alcoholism, at Cassiobury Court, we urge you to consider professional support. Your quality of life, your physical and psychological health, and your future are very important. By mixing antibiotics and alcohol, you could be posing risks to those very important parts of your being.

By consuming antibiotics in the first place, there’s a likelihood that you may be experiencing health problems or an infection, requiring initial focus. However, to avoid this future mix, reaching out to our team will be recommended. We can help you overcome your problems with alcohol rehab, by promoting withdrawal through alcohol detox. Yet, we will only recommend this once you’re fit and safe to do so, usually post-antibiotics.

Understandably, many individuals will have differing opinions when considering the topic of ‘mixing antibiotics and alcohol – is it dangerous?’. It is however the general consensus that those risks can be heightened for some individuals, and lowered for others, all depending on the exact interface. With this in mind, recommendations from medical professionals should be followed, helping your body heal through the support of antibiotics, rather than worsen through alcohol consumption.

Side effects can be bearable for some, and highly unpleasant for others. Avoid this risk by separating the consumption of antibiotics and alcohol

John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 10th March 2022

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.

Dr. Olalekan Otulana (Advanced Practitioner)

Dr. Olalekan Otulana (Advanced Practitioner) - Medical Reviewer - Last Reviewed: 10th March 2022

Dr. Olalekan Otulana MBChB, DRCOG, MRCGP, DFSRH, FRSPH, MBA (Cantab)

 Dr Otulana is a highly experienced GP and Addiction Physician. He has a specialist interest in Substance Misuse Management and he has a wide range of experience in the assessment, management (including detoxification) and residential rehabilitation of clients with various drug and substance addiction problems.  His main aim is to comprehensively assess patients with addiction problems and determine their treatment needs for medical detoxification treatments and psychological interventions. He is also experienced in managing patients who require dual drug and alcohol detoxification treatments.

A strong healthcare services professional with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Cambridge University Judge Business School.