Mix NSAIDs with Alcohol Is it Okay? The Surprising Facts Revealed!

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited JULY 01 : , 
| 3 Sources

Mix NSAIDs with Alcohol. NSAID is a type of painkiller that is typically used to reduce inflammation and lower the discomfort associated with arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps or sore muscles. These drugs can be purchased over-the-counter at any pharmacy without a prescription.

However, when taken in large doses or mixed with alcohol they may cause serious damage to your liver. In this blog post we will discuss how these two substances affect each other and what you should do if you want to minimize risk of side effects.

What are NSAIDs and What Do They Do

NSAIDs are one of the most popular classes of drugs used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They work by blocking enzymes in your body that cause pain, fever, or swelling. NSAIDs work to reduce pain by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins in your body. Prostaglandin is responsible for triggering inflammation which causes pain or discomfort when it does not function properly.

There are many different types of NSAIDs available on the market today including ibuprofen, aspirin, ketoprofen and diclofenac sodium. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are drugs that can be purchased over-the-counter even without a prescription. For centuries they have been a go-to for any type of aches and pains you may be experiencing.

The number one thing to remember is that there are risks involved with taking NSAIDS so it’s important to speak with your doctor before you take them if you have any chronic health conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

Why Do People Mix NSAIDs with Alcohol?

People might use NSAIDs after a long day of physical activity to help with muscle swelling and general aches. It's worth noting that, in most cases, the benefits from taking an NSAID far outweigh any potential side effects.

However, some people may feel more tired or sleepy when they take it--especially if they are also consuming alcohol.

This is because both substances have sedative properties which can be amplified by the other drug resulting in sleepiness and fatigue. For this reason, many medical experts advise against mixing these two types of drugs on a regular basis since there are very few significant health benefits for doing so while risking serious adverse events such as stomach bleeding or liver damage.

When Should You Avoid Mixing NSAIDs with Alcohol?

NSAIDs work by reducing the production of chemicals that cause inflammation to reduce the pain you experience. Alcohol is a depressant drug which slows down your brain's activity so it can't function properly--this means that if you drink alcohol while taking an NSAID, there is a high risk of gastrointestinal bleeding or liver damage occurring due to effects on blood clotting agents. For this reason, it is not recommended to mix NSAIDs with alcohol.

A person who has a history of ulcers, alcohol abuse or liver problems should avoid taking NSAIDs with alcohol to prevent any potential risks. If you are prescribed an NSAID and plan on drinking while taking it, speak to your doctor before doing so--as they may be able to provide advice as well as alternate treatment options for pain relief.

Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol which can lead to stomach irritation, nausea and vomiting if taken in large quantities when mixed with certain medications that have the same effect on the gut lining.

Drinking too much also causes dehydration which is dangerous because severe cases of dehydration can cause death without medical intervention; this is more likely when these substances are combined due to their diuretic effects.

Mix-NSAIDs-with-AlcoholPhoto by Anh Nguyen

The Dangers when you Mix NSAIDs with Alcohol

Mixing NSAIDs and alcohol is a dangerous combination that can cause serious health concerns. Alcohol is a drug that dehydrates the body, while NSAIDs are drugs commonly used to relieve pain or reduce fever. When these two substances are mixed together, they can have adverse effects on the stomach lining and cause ulcers to form.

GI ulcers can be fatal if untreated and can lead to serious conditions like peritonitis, which is an inflammation in the abdomen's membrane lining that causes severe pain and fever. Internal bleeding could lead to death as well. Individuals who take NSAID’s on a regular basis have an increased risk of gastrointestinal  (GI) bleeding. Those who drink alcohol while taking them have an even higher risk.

Another problem is called acetaminophen intoxication, which occurs when your liver cannot process the acetaminophen that you consumed. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or discomfort, sweating profusely (diaphoresis), slurred speech (dysarthria), confusion or change in mental state (altered level of consciousness).

In order to reduce your risk of serious medical conditions, it is recommended that you never mix NSAIDs and alcohol. If you cannot avoid taking these drugs together, take them at different times so that they will not interact with each other in a way that could cause harm.

The best course of action would be to wait 24 hours after any consumption of alcohol before taking an NSAID or vice versa. Taking an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol® can also help buffer the side effects of mixing medications if pain persists when combined with alcohol.

How to Know If Someone did Mix NSAIDs with Alcohol

Mixing NSAIDs with alcohol is never a good idea, because it can lead to serious health consequences. If you are wondering how to tell if someone mixed these two substances, there are some things that you should be looking for.

For example, if the person is vomiting or has bloody diarrhea then it is possible that they have been drinking alcohol with a medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. There are other symptoms as well, such as stomach pain and skin rash.

They might be less talkative than normal, which could also be chalked up to them being tired from drinking too much alcohol in general.The best way to find out for sure is to ask them about what they've taken and how much of it they have had!

What to Do in Case Someone Mixes NSAIDs with Their Alcohol?

In the event that someone does mix NSAIDs with alcohol, there may be serious side effects that could lead to death if they are not treated quickly by emergency personnel. The following is a list of steps to take while waiting for help:  

  • If the person has passed out or stopped breathing, do not attempt CPR without proper training - instead call emergency services at 911.
  • If the person vomits blood (or looks like they will vomit blood), have them lie down on their left side as soon as possible.

Is There a Way to Avoid the Risk of Mixing These Two Substances?

Yes, there is. There are a few things that you can do to avoid the risk of side effects when you mix NSAIDs with alcohol..

  • First, make sure you drink plenty of water before taking any medication or drinking alcohol. This will help your body process them more effectively so that they don't interact with one another as much when they get into your bloodstream.
  •  Second, take ibuprofen at least two hours before drinking alcohol if possible because it has a longer half-life than some other types of NSAIDs like naproxen which only needs to be taken an hour before consuming alcohol for it to remain effective in the body after consumption.
  •  Finally, speak with your doctor about what type of pain relief medications are right for you.

Mix NSAIDs with alcohol-Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to know the dangers when you mix NSAIDs with alcohol. If you suspect someone has mixed these two substances and they are showing symptoms listed in this article, call 911 or consult a medical professional immediately. One way to avoid this risk is by taking care not to mix them together.

By educating yourself on what NSAID medications do (they help reduce inflammation) as well as when and how much it's appropriate for people who drink alcohol to take them - you can be proactive about avoiding any potential problems that might arise from using both at the same time.

"If you're unsure whether alcohol may be a problem, speak with one of our supportive counselors. With many having first-hand experience they understand the struggle. The free chat is confidential & they are available 24/7."

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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