Mixing alcohol and Bactrim is not entirely safe. Alcohol can interact with many types of medication, including antibiotics like Bactrim. A general rule to follow is that if you are sick enough to require antibiotics, you should not be drinking alcohol. However, alcohol is a common part of social lives. Whether it’s a wedding, date, or birthday party, you may be interested in having a drink while on an antibiotic.

Bactrim is a commonly prescribed antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections including those in the ear, urinary tract, and respiratory system. You may know it by its generic name, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, or SMZ-TMP.

While some antibiotics may be taken with moderate alcohol consumption, Bactrim is not one of them. Potentially harmful side effects can occur if you mix alcohol and Bactrim.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Bactrim

Your body relies on specific enzymes to break down alcohol into something that can be easily eliminated. Through this complex process, several byproducts are created. One of the byproducts is a toxic substance called acetaldehyde.

Bactrim may prevent the enzyme responsible for breaking down acetaldehyde from working, creating a buildup of the toxic substance. This interaction can lead to many side effects, including:

  • Flushing
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Rapid heart rate

These effects may occur five to 15 minutes after consuming alcohol.

Key Points: Alcohol and Bactrim

There are several important points to remember about alcohol and Bactrim use.

  • Overall, it is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking antibiotics
  • The combination of Bactrim and alcohol specifically can cause serious side effects
  • If you require antibiotics and plan on drinking alcohol, be sure to tell your doctor
  • If you are finishing up a course of Bactrim, wait about a week before drinking alcohol

Have other questions about alcohol use? Check out these resources from The Recovery Village:

Need help now for an alcohol abuse issue or addiction? The Recovery Village can help. We offer comprehensive treatment for alcohol addiction and our representatives are available to help you choose a program. Call today to learn more.


  1. Steckelberg, James M. “What are the effects of drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics?” The Mayo Clinic, 2018. Accessed March 22, 2019.
  2. Heelon, MW, White, M. “Disulfuram-cotrimoxazole reaction.” Pharmacotherapy, 1998. Accessed March 22, 2019
  3. Drugs.com. “How long does it take Bactrim DS tablet to get out of your system?” Updated July 2018. Access March 2019.