It’s one of the most common questions asked at the pharmacy: Can I have a few drinks while taking this medication? There is not always a simple answer to this question. Alcohol can interact with many medications and cause harmful effects. And even if a medication does not interact with alcohol, drinking still may not be a good idea. Alcohol makes some health conditions worse, including those PPIs are used to treat.
Alcohol’s Effects on Your Body
Alcohol can affect every organ in your body. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system and acts as a depressant. It can lead to decreased coordination and slow a person’s reaction time, causing accidents and injuries. Alcohol may be harmful when used in large amounts and can become addicting. Continued use of excessive alcohol can lead to:
- Liver problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep disturbances
- Bleeding in the stomach
However, moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women and two for men) may be linked to improved heart health. One drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.
Alcohol Interacts With Medications
Drinking alcohol while taking medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can be dangerous. Alcohol interacts with medications in a variety of ways. If a medication causes drowsiness, alcohol may intensify this side effect. Alcohol also causes problems by speeding up or slowing down the enzymes in the liver that break down medications. Alcohol increases the risk of ulcers and bleeding when taken with aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). Some other medications alcohol may interact with include:
- Blood thinners
- Diabetes medications
- High blood pressure medications
- High cholesterol medications
- Seizure medications
- Sleep medications
Even if you don’t drink at the same time of day that you take your medicines, alcohol may still interact with them.
Should I Avoid Alcohol While on PPIs?
There are no specific warnings about alcohol use in the prescribing information for the PPIs. Although, alcohol is not usually recommended for people with the conditions that PPIs are used to treat.
Alcohol affects your digestive system in a number of ways. It is irritating to the lining of your esophagus and stomach and increases acid production. Alcohol relaxes the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus leading to increased acid reflux. In addition, it can make your ulcer symptoms worse and slow the healing process. Large amounts of alcohol slow down your body’s digestive process, leading to decreased absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Think Before You Drink
While moderate alcohol use may have health benefits, alcohol can be dangerous. Remember, alcohol not only interacts with medications, it can also worsen certain medical conditions. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about how alcohol use may affect your medications and your health.