Prednisone is a type of medication known as a corticosteroid and is used to treat various health problems that cause inflammation in the body. Corticosteroids are widely used in almost all fields of medicine currently.

Because of prednisone’s widespread use in medicine, there has been much research invested in the short- and long-term effects of prednisone. Combined with the consequences of alcohol misuse, there are health risks associated with mixing prednisone and alcohol.

Relationship between Prednisone and Alcohol

One study found that 1 in 5 Americans received a prescription for a corticosteroid over three years. The same study also noted an increased risk of adverse health effects.

With more than 86% of adults reporting alcohol consumption in America, the possibility of ingesting both prednisone and alcohol is relatively high. Is this something to be concerned about, though? What are the specific risks associated with prednisone and alcohol?

Side Effects When Mixing Alcohol and Prednisone

Alcohol misuse is associated with a variety of health problems. Some of these risks are shared with the use of prednisone. Though existing separately, these risks are potentially increased when a person mixes prednisone with alcohol:

  • Decreased immunity: Drinking too much alcohol even on a single occasion can slow the body’s ability to fight off infection, even 24 hours later. People who use prednisone must beware of suppressed immunity and take precautions to avoid contracting other illnesses or diseases.
  • Pancreatitis: Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that inflame the pancreas and prevent proper digestion. There have been several reported cases of pancreatitis induced by prednisone.
  • Damage to gastrointestinal lining: Excessive alcohol use is associated with the deterioration of the stomach lining, making it more vulnerable to digestive juices and ulcers. Corticosteroids have been shown to increase the risk of damage to the stomach, including the increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding in hospitalized patients.
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias): Both excessive alcohol use and prednisone can cause irregular heartbeats.
  • Mood disorders: Alcohol use can cause alterations in mood and chronic alcohol abuse or addiction can worsen mood disorders. Even short-term use of prednisone can cause changes in mood and the development of mental health symptoms such as anxiety and even mania.

Key Points: Prednisone and Alcohol

What about having just one drink while taking prednisone? The NHS and other medical sources indicate a need for moderation or the reduction of alcohol intake while on prednisone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list moderate consumption for adults, with a limit of one to two drinks per day.

However, considering the long list of possible side effects, it is advised to consult with your physician before consuming alcohol while taking prednisone. Remember to ask your doctor whether you may be at increased risk for common side effects of mixing prednisone and alcohol, including:

  • Decreased immunity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Damage to the gastrointestinal lining
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Mood disorders

In the case of people who are taking prednisone and struggle with binge drinking or another alcohol misuse issue, the risks for health problems are much higher.

If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol addiction, reach out to The Recovery Village. You can speak with one of our representatives to learn more about our comprehensive treatment plans and how they can help. Your call is free and confidential and you don’t need to commit to a program to learn more about treatment.

    

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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” Accessed April 24, 2019.

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NHS. “Steroid Tablets.” March 3, 2017. Accessed April 24, 2019.

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