Amoxicillin is an antibiotic in the tetracycline class. In the U.S., antibiotics are prescription-only medications designed to suppress or destroy bacteria growth related to infection. However, antibiotics are sometimes required because foreign bacteria are prone to attack the body excessively, making it difficult for bodily defense mechanisms to fight infections independently.
The most common infections it amoxicillin is used to treat include those related to the chest, throat (strep), tonsils, urinary tract, and ear and nose. It is also used to address dental abscesses. Unfortunately, in some instances, alcohol can undermine the therapeutic of these medications.
Drinking alcohol can directly influence liver enzymes, resulting in a subsequent decrease or increase in the body’s available naturally occurring antibiotics. As a result, alcohol can make antibiotics ineffective or can even cause toxicity and raise the risk of experiencing unwanted side effects associated with antibiotic medications.
Risks of Drinking Alcohol While On Amoxicillin
The combined use of amoxicillin and alcohol has been associated with side effects that can be severe. Therefore, combining the two is frequently ill-advised—drinking while on antibiotics can lead to headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, stomach pain, rash, and heart palpitations, among other unwanted effects.
Potentially Dangerous Interactions Between Antibiotics and Alcohol
Many antibiotics are known to cause highly adverse reactions when used with alcohol, such as those noted above, including anxiety, chest pains, respiratory distress, and heart palpitations. These symptoms are similar to alcohol intolerance related to medication, such as Antabuse (disulfiram), prescribed to persons with an alcohol use disorder.
Combining antibiotics like amoxicillin with alcohol can cause damage to a person’s organs and result in liver failure or death in some cases. In fact, it is often recommended that a person who has a history of alcohol dependence should not be prescribed certain antibiotic-based medications.
Antibiotics That Shouldn’t Be Used With Alcohol
In addition to tetracyclines, individuals are advised to avoid alcohol while using antibiotic medications, such as fluoroquinolones (e.g., levofloxacin), macrolides (e.g., erythromycin), nitroimidazoles (e.g., metronidazole), oxazolidinones (e.g., linezolid), and sulfonamides (e.g., sulfamethoxazole).
Although consuming a moderate amount of alcohol while taking antibiotics won’t likely prove fatal, it can produce unpleasant side effects. Moreover, heavy consumption of alcohol and antibiotics can result in severe health issues that can lead to dire health complications, and death related to a high blood alcohol concentration is a possibility.
Should I Skip a Dose of Amoxicillin to Enabling Drinking?
Skipping a dose of antibiotics to drink alcohol is warned against and will likely impact the medication’s overall effectiveness. Treatment can fail if an individual does not take antibiotics as directed. In addition, the infection may last longer or reoccur, requiring a dose and a prolonged treatment period. There’s also a risk of becoming antibiotic-resistant.
Does Alcohol Use Impair the Effects of Antibiotics?
Alcohol use can cause organ damage when consumed independently or in addition to antibiotics. Without a liver that functions correctly, antibiotics can’t be broken down efficiently. Moreover, it is metabolized in the liver using the enzyme ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase). If a person drinks an excessive amount of alcohol when they take antibiotics, the actions of ADH can be repressed.
Drinking alcohol in moderation will probably not wholly undermine antibiotics’ actions in most instances. However, it can diminish the body’s ability to heal in numerous ways. When recovering from infection or sickness, the individual needs sufficient rest and a nutritious diet. Alcohol makes it difficult to rest adequately and maintain a balanced diet.
Alcohol interrupts sleeping patterns. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not improve sleep but, in fact, reduces REM sleep. It also prevents the body from absorbing nutrients. As a result, it can make sleeping challenging and reduce the body’s ability to overcome infections.
Getting Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Abuse
If you or a loved one are taking antibiotics or other medications that adversely interact with alcohol but have been unable to quit drinking, professional help is available.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer intensive addiction treatment for those who need treatment for addiction most. Our programs feature many therapeutic services essential for the recovery process, including medical detox, behavioral therapy, counseling, peer group support, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, alumni events, and more.
Our highly skilled mental health providers are committed to providing each person we treat with all the support, education, therapy, and coping techniques needed to recover from substance abuse and forge the satisfying and substance-free lives they deserve!