Call us now! Open 24/7
International: +44 345 222 3508
Back
By Boris M | 28 September, 2020 Published in Resources
2

The dangers of mixing medications are endless: as are the risks of mixing alcohol and other party drugs with certain prescriptions.

While many adhere to the guidelines surrounding medication and precautions, many people misuse them in order to achieve a certain effect.

In this blog post, we will look at one of the ways in which people misuse prescription drugs: taking prednisone and alcohol.

Not only does mixing prednisone and alcohol cause harmful effects, but research has been conducted into how drinking alcohol excessively can result in missed medication.

This concern is increasing and needs to be addressed to reduce health risks for many across the nation.

What Is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a type of steroid medication that is used to fight against inflammation and other symptoms of allergic reactions. It can also be used to suppress the immune system and treat a few different autoimmune disorders. Doctors regularly prescribe it to treat a variety of ailments.

Prednisone And Alcohol 

It can be dangerous to drink alcohol while taking prednisone, even if a doctor prescribed it, so it is generally recommended that you talk to a doctor before doing so.

The level of risk depends on a variety of factors such as dosage (of both the prednisone and the alcohol) and duration of use. When you are on prednisone, it is crucial to understand the risks before you drink alcohol and figure out if you are at increased risk for any reason.

Side-Effects and Risks of Mixing Prednisone And Alcohol

All of the following are risks that you face if you are on prednisone and drink alcohol. It is recommended that everyone talk with their doctor before they drink while on prednisone.

Still, if you already have problems with any of the following, it is especially important because you may have an increased risk level of developing one or more of the following issues.

1. Gastrointestinal

Even without drinking, prednisone can increase the risk for someone to develop gastrointestinal problems. Alcohol, especially long term-use, can also cause gastrointestinal problems such as inflammation on the stomach lining; therefore, it can make the unwanted potential side effect of prednisone more likely and more severe.

2. Weakened Immune System

Prednisone suppresses the immune system, but if it does so too much, it can leave a person significantly more susceptible to infections like measles or chickenpox.

Once they have the infection, they may also have a harder time trying to fight it off. Since alcohol also weakens the immune system, the combination can be extremely dangerous if the person develops any infections.

3. Weight Gain

Once again, weight gain is a possible side effect of prednisone and also alcohol. It is worth noting that weight gain due to alcohol use could be due to a number of different factors. Nevertheless, the two substances together can lead to excess or even dangerous weight gain.

4. Brittle Bones

Osteoporosis (a condition where the bones become brittle) is a side-effect of long-term prednisone use or abuse. When people abuse alcohol, they may also deal with malnutrition that can lead to the bones becoming even more brittle. The combination of the two can put a person significant risk for brittle bones and dangerous fractures.

5. Blood Sugar Changes

When someone drinks alcohol, their blood sugar levels can drop anywhere from a little bit to quite drastically. Prednisone has the opposite effect, and the combination can be dangerous, especially to someone with diabetes.

When someone has diabetes, they have to pay close attention to their blood sugar, which can be hard when having two competing substances in their system.

How Alcohol May Cause Someone to Skip Prednisone Medication

First of all, it is quite common for someone who occasionally abuses alcohol to skip a dose accidentally ever now and then. This is even more common amongst people who have developed alcohol addictions.

In fact, some people with addiction may even purposely skip or stop taking their prednisone so they can drink more. While they may think this is making their drinking habits safer, it can actually lead to a number of adverse symptoms such as aches, dizziness, nausea, and overall weakness.

Prednisone and Lifestyle Tips

Prednisone is a steroid, so it can have a lot of side-effects on its own. If you are going to start taking prednisone or a similar medication, there are some things that you can do to minimize any side effects or bad reactions. If you are going to drink while on prednisone, these tips become even more critical since you are at a higher risk than those who don’t.

Below are some tips someone on prednisone should follow whether they are drinking or not to decrease side effects:

  1. Take prednisone after a meal. This helps protect the digestive system. If you are prone to digestive problems, you may also want to take an antacid
  2. Eating small meals throughout the day can help stabilize your blood sugar levels
  3. Steroids can prevent you from feeling full, so pay special attention to portion sizes
  4. Prednisone can affect your sense of taste, so you may be tempted to add extra salt, avoid doing so to prevent water retention
  5. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine as insomnia is a side effect of prednisone, and stimulants can make it worse

Prednisone And Alcohol: To Drink or Not to Drink?

Overall, it is a safer option to avoid drinking alcohol while you are on prednisone. However, if you really want to drink for whatever reason, you can talk to your doctor about having a drink or two every now and then.

If you are about to start taking prednisone and tend to be a regular drinker or you abuse alcohol, you must talk to your doctor before starting the prescription. Remember always to be honest with your doctor about your drinking habits.

What About Just One Drink?

Studies have shown that when adults start to take prednisone, they need to reduce or stop their alcohol intake. [1] However, with a doctor’s permission, drinking just one drink may be perfectly fine, though before doing so, you need to understand the risks and the symptoms that you need to be on the lookout for.

When to See a Doctor If You’re Mixing Prednisone and Alcohol

If you do decide to drink while taking prednisone, there are certain side-effects that you should be on the lookout for. If you or a loved experience any of the following, reach out to a medical professional immediately, as it could be a sign of a more severe reaction: [2]

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

Treatment Options For Prednisone And Alcohol Abuse

If you develop problems due to prednisone and alcohol use, including dependency, there is a number of different treatment options. If it is a side effect of the combination, you can seek medical care at a hospital/ER or with your primary care doctor depending on the severity. [3]

If you are dealing with dependency, there are many different places (clinics, hospitals, private offices) that you can go to. There they will help you detox and then deal with the psychological aspects of dependency with a psychotherapist or other professional.

What Else Can’t You Mix Prednisone With?

Alcohol is not the only substance that can be dangerous when combined with prednisone. If you are on or use any of the following, make sure to let your doctor know before you start taking prednisone:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anticholinesterases
  • Anticoagulants
  • Antidepressants
  • Antifungal medications
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • Aspirin
  • Epilepsy medication
  • Contraceptives with oestrogen
  • Heart medications
  • HIV medications
  • Immunosuppressants
  • NSAIDs
  • Other corticosteroids
  • Potassium-depleting agents
  • Some asthma medications
  • Vaccines
  • Medications such as bupropion, digoxin, and thalidomide

As long as you tell your doctor of all the medicines and drugs you are on or may take while you are on prednisone, they will be able to tell you what you need to avoid and what is okay. For that reason, it is especially important to be completely open with your doctor about what drugs you use, prescription or not. [4]

Looking for more advice?

If you or someone you know is misusing prednisone and alcohol, contact us today on 0800 140 46 90 to discuss your treatment options.

References

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/steroid-tablets/

[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/how-are-anabolic-steroids-used

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4913072/

[4] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1412278